A story of grief by a man and a boy

happy birthday

How do hold onto something that’s gone?

How do make something that’s finished go on?

How do you get through the day pretending you’re fine?

How can you light candles that will no longer shine?

How do you smile about something that makes you feel sad?

How do you try to feel happy when you still feel so bad?

How do you begin to put aside all of your fears?

How do you get through the day without tears?

How do you think they’d recognise you now you’ve changed so much?

How do you embrace someone you can no longer touch?

How do you put on face and say you’re okay?

How can you ever take this pain away?

How can we be us if you can’t be here?

How can I keep you close when you can’t be near?

How can I show you if you cannot see?

How can we be us if I’m not quite me?

How can I show you I care today?

How can I do it and what can I say?

Would it make a difference if I even tried?

Is it even your birthday now that you’ve died?

How can I say the word ‘happy’ today?

How can I be happy now you’ve been taken away?

How can this word feel so out of place?

How can I be happy if I can’t see your face?

Maybe the years will soften and then,

I can feel happy on your birthday again.

Until that time I don’t know what to say.

All I’ve got is that I love you whatever the day. 206

21 comments on “happy birthday

  1. Mrs Moo
    October 4, 2014

    Thinking of you today xxx

  2. Mrs Moo
    October 4, 2014

    Reblogged this on The Breakfast Club and commented:
    This summarised how I’m feeling as I approach 6 months tomorrow

  3. Caroline
    October 4, 2014

    Beautiful. Well done – you can do no more and she will know. I face the first anniversary and first birthday soon too…but you put your grief so much more eloquently than I can.

  4. Kate Connolly
    October 4, 2014

    Beautiful heartbreaking words Ben

  5. Maureen Iles
    October 4, 2014

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your son – a beautiful poem.

  6. Natasha Thornton
    October 4, 2014

    This is so beautiful I am in tears. Big love to you & Jackson for today and every day xxx

    Sent from my iPhone


  7. Pat Fordyce-Gale
    October 4, 2014

    Beautiful says it all ,thinking of you, give Jackson an extra hug today x

  8. Paul R
    October 4, 2014

    I’m sitting at my in-laws home in southwest Denver looking at the wonderful sunrise on the mountains. Later today I go to Laura Richard Days. It’s a fundraiser for the Carousel of Happiness. A non-profit that only charges $1 a ride and generates smiles for people of all ages.

    This is how I chose to recognize Laura. Yes, it is a sad day, but it is also a celebration of her life and our time together. Laura would have been 54 on October 5th.

  9. petrovna4
    October 4, 2014

    Dear Ben and Jackson, I am so sorry for your pain, tears falling as I am writing this, I don’t know either, similar questions, but no answers. Love is a higher power than life, I guess, and she knows that too. Know you are not alone. Many hugs from us R& r , awaiting his birthday and 8 months coming up….

  10. handikwani02
    October 4, 2014

    Dear Ben and Jackson,
    Trust that you managed to go through today,the poem is just BEAUTIFUL the one thing I know even as an outsider is that Desreen knows you miss her so much and she looks down on you both with a heart which is content because of the love the three of you share even if she is no longer with you that can never be taken away from you both. I pray that she continues to rest in eternal peace

  11. upallhours
    October 5, 2014

    God Ben, amazing words, beautiful written. Sending love x

    October 5, 2014

    Hi Ben,

    Your poem just popped up in my emails, what it tells me is like me, the birthdays and the anniversaries, only remind us of what we have lost.

    I was given your book by my best friend to help me with my grief, and on some levels it did as grief is uniform and the loss of someone close we all feel the same things afterwards. Like yours my shock came out of nowhere, not the same though , I lost my 20 year old daughter last year on 11th October to suicide and I have the first year anniversary of this next Saturday. I was told I should mark it with something, so we are having a short memorial at the church where she is buried and blessing by the stone which is being placed this week. Like you I miss her constantly, people tell me I’ve been so strong over this year and they say I’m inspirational, but their wrong, inside I feel like I’m dying and sometimes I just want to be where she is. I won’t though as I have 2 other sons who still need me, so you have to be outwardly strong, and this is what others see, they think your strong.

    We had her 21st birthday in April and her sister took a picnic along with her friends and had fun by the grave which was a nice way to get through it. But that’s all I can say we do is get through it…. There is nothing ‘happy’ about any of the anniversary reminders.

    Not sure why I’m telling you this, but I can completely identify with your poem, its like you’ve written my thoughts as I approach my anniversary.

    We have to keep going for the children, but the paid never goes….. best wishes Ben x


  13. charlieeasterfield
    October 5, 2014

    I can’t attach a photo, of a cartoon/poem by one of life’s great empaths, Michael Leunig, but I’ll write the text of it here….

    All my father left me was the moon
    “when I’m dead, it’s yours” he said,
    And all too soon his will was read
    But he continued speaking from the grave:
    “It will not save you, this moon I gave you
    From sadness, human madness, life and death
    But step outside into the night and take a breath
    And while you do, for what it’s worth,
    that happy man up there who got away from earth
    Will smile at you.”
    It comforts me, in my loss, from 22 years back. xxx

  14. Lonely in Lb
    October 6, 2014

    Hi there, my husband passed away a year and a half ago. Our birthday happens to be on the same day… That day for me is the worst, i cry to myself when nobody is watching and minutes after i have to smile and sing HB with my 6 years old daughter, who keeps me going… Who mentions her daddy every chance she got, and we try to go on as we must but deep down inside we wish we could be as happy as we were before… The other half who contributed to almost everything is missing, how can we be happy again?when your 6 years old wants to create a butterfly robot that will help her get to dad.It’s a different kind of happiness now… What i mean is the grief will never end, birthday or no birthday, they will always be remembered, from their favorite food to a situation they managed, a book, a kiss… And in my case, my daughter who has so many habits taken from her father, things i never noticed before, become obvious now… And i couldn’t be more happy, in a different way of course. Ben, i wish you to be happy always, there will be harsh days and less harsh days but you have done more happy people than you know. Prayers for you and your lovely son.

  15. Shelly
    October 6, 2014

    “All I’ve got is that I love you” are the most beautiful and truthful words that you can say, Ben. I am thinking of you, and dear Jackson, as you fumble your way through this horrible reality without the love of your lives- your precious wife and Mummy. I know your pain, 100%, and I have no words of wisdom, as my son and I continue to live through the pain of not having our precious husband and Daddy, 6 1/2 years on. Take care- tonnes of love, Shelly

  16. David Kelly
    October 7, 2014

    Thank you for sharing Ben.

  17. Claire
    October 10, 2014

    Beautiful words Ben and an incredible photo.

  18. Hem
    October 12, 2014

    Dear Ben, my prayers r with u and ur son. I lost my wife last October to cancer. I thought I will not give her away. I was so overconfident. But in 10-15 minutes, she was gone. I could not do anything. I have two growing kids. we all try to forget the loss in our own ways. But it becomes more painful with the passage of time.

  19. Belle365
    October 4, 2015

    So beautiful and poignant. Thinking of you and your beautiful wife and little boy today. X

  20. Stuart McCubbin
    October 4, 2015

    Beautiful words, Ben. Thank you. However cathartic they must be for you to write them, I hope you see the help and comfort your posts give to so many people in similar situations – including me, even after nearly six years. Thinking of you and Jackson at this time, my friend. Stuart

  21. dot scharz
    October 4, 2015

    Every word pressed my skin

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