A story of grief by a man and a boy

difficult company

I’ve tried, so far unsuccessfully, to find out who wrote this poem. Whoever did has done a brilliant job of capturing the ‘please always be there for me except for all the times I don’t want you to be’ need state of a grieving person. I trust the author won’t mind me reproducing it here but I’d love to add a credit if anyone knows who was behind it.

From my personal standpoint, this is for all the people I hope will check in on me but whose calls I ignore when they do. Believe me when I say that I love you all but grief’s a bitch like that.

Hold me close and go away
Please visit me and please don’t stay
Talk to me but please don’t speak
I need you NOW – come back next week.

Emotions muddled, needs unknown
To be with others or on my own?
To scream out loud? To rant and shout?
Or hide away and push you out?

I smile at you – “She’s not that bad”
I shout at you – “She’s going mad”
I speak to you – “What do I say?”
I show my tears – “Quick, walk away”

It’s not catching, the grief I feel
I can’t pretend that it’s not real
I carry on as best I know
But this pain inside just won’t go.

So true friends, please, accept the lot
I shout, I cry, I lose the plot
I don’t know what I need today
So hold me close and go away.

18 comments on “difficult company

  1. Paul R
    May 11, 2013

    Perfect poem. In doing some searches I find this all over but only found one reference to an author, Tony Rayns. However, I couldn’t find any confirmation that it is written by him. He is a film critic and there is no mention of him writing poetry. Good luck with the search.

  2. Cheryl Flatt
    May 11, 2013

    The most amazing poem ever. Thank you so much for posting it. X

  3. Donna
    May 11, 2013

    Someone has said they think it was written by a lady who lost her partner in a motorbike accident? It is a good way to explain the turmoil of grief. x

  4. Kate
    May 11, 2013

    Amazing words

  5. Rebecca Moore
    May 12, 2013

    I remember all these feelings when, as a child, I lost my mother. I feel for you and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I think the key is not allowing the grief to consume you and shape your future.

  6. michaela turner
    May 12, 2013

    Very very true!!

  7. Patrick Brady
    May 12, 2013

    I’m 6 months out after losing my wife to cancer after a 5 year battle. The poem strikes so many familiar chords of feelings during the last six months. Thanks for posting it.

  8. Lunar Hine
    May 12, 2013

    Not just me then.

  9. C
    May 13, 2013

    These words are so true. The good people keep coming back. x

  10. Jane
    May 13, 2013

    I just wanted to reply to Rebecca’s comment… I think grief does consume you, and it does shape your future.

    My fiance died suddenly of Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome the night before our wedding. I would say I was consumed by grief for at least a year/year and a half. I think it is necessary to allow all the feelings of pain and despair to flow, so that you can start to assimilate and move on from them. It’s all part of the grieving process and 6 months is too soon to not be consumed by grief.

    The good news is, that two and half years on, you will start to feel better, unbelievable as it may seem at the moment. Human beings are designed to survive these types of devastating circumstances, and if you allow the grief to flow so that you move through the process, you will come out the other side.

    My life has been shaped by it – undoubtedly – how can it not? But here’s the thing, it doesn’t need to be in a bad way. I now see the life of my fiance as a blessing, that I was lucky to have had him for the time I did. Grief took me to the depths of my existence but I also learned a lot of lessons along the way. I have a huge appreciation of the life i have been given, as I know it can be extinguished in an instant. My fiance doesn’t get to be here but I do, and that has made me pursue my goals, seek out love, find happiness for his sake, as well as my own.

  11. sunnyjane
    May 14, 2013

    Reblogged this on Walking the Widow's Path.

  12. sherry
    May 15, 2013

    wow…great poem…i havent lost anyone to death, but have lost a great love of mine, in the past by breakup…i felt EXACTLY the same as the poem describes…you appreciate your friends/familys concern, but want to go somewhere and loose yourself every now and then, without interference…thanks for sharing this…it also helps me understand, somewhat, what a widower feels the first few years…

  13. Christy
    May 23, 2013

    Thank you for sharing this. Over 2.5 yrs have passed & this feeling has passed too, but not until recently and I’ve been told that it tends to return on occasion as does all the other feelings, thoughts…

  14. Emma Cobb
    June 4, 2013


    I am amazed. I wrote this poem in about 2002 after I was widowed at the age of 29. A friend told me it had been posted on another site so I ‘googled’ it and found it has spread to so many places. I am so pleased it can provide some support to others. I have it published in a very little known anthology, but I also use it in my work to help people understand the unpredictability of grief. It was inspired by a colleague almost criticising me for not telling her how she should be reacting towards me to hep her to deal with my grief (!). I was at the time speechless with her comment, and so wrote ‘Hold me close and go away’ to try to get the message through that there is no ‘manual’ on how to do this

    I wish you all strength in this rollercoaster

    Emma x

      June 4, 2013

      It’s outstanding, Emma. I read it to my best mate whose dad died two and a half years ago and we just sat in my kitchen just nodding. So poignant x

  15. Emma Cobb
    June 4, 2013

    Sorry just to tell my story a little it was sudden death but not a motorbike accident – my fiancé died in a climbing accident in Scotland during our annual Easter trip to Scotland – Easter Sunday 2000. He was 28, I was 29, and his climbing partner died as well. So once I had got my head around losing Andy it suddenly hit me that I had lost Alex as well. I had chose not to climb with them that day. We had just bought our first house together, boxes still to unpack, and got engaged a couple of weeks earlier after 7 years together. 13 years ago – wow – but some bits so vivid.

    Another thing I found useful is this analogy:

    The ball in the bucket

    Grief is like a ball in a bucket. To begin with it fills every space, and there is no room for anything else. But over time the bucket grows. It becomes a room, than a floor, then a whole house. The ball never gets any smaller, but your life grows and you have more space to move around your ball. With time there are days when you may not see the ball at all. Other days you open a door in your life and it trips you up. Some days it corners you. But with time you have more space to move the ball out of the way. Other people believe that the ball grows smaller and smaller and eventually vanishes. That is not the case. It will always be the same size.

    For me, on anniversaries and similar reminders, I seek my ball out. I carry it around with me, and I hold it. they are the days I want and need my ball with me, not matter how much it hurts. And when I put it down again, it is no longer cramming into a small space, but is encompassed in my larger life that it is part of.

    • Anne Evans
      June 12, 2015

      Thankyou Emma. You have truly blessed me with the idea of the ball in the bucket. I understand exactly what you mean about carrying the ball around. I lost my lovely husband 5 years ago now and am no longer actively grieving. But, birthdays, anniversaries etc, I can identify with the ball in the bucket. At those times I actively embrace the ball, savour the sweet/saccharine/bitter sense of loss that I can now caress and remember the loss of my late husband. Time doesnt so much heal as you are capable of dealing eith it better. May I have your permission to re-use your allegory of the ball in the bucket and your lovely poem please?

  16. Emma Cobb
    June 15, 2015

    Of course Anne, I am really pleased you have found them both helpful and am more than happy to re-use these

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