Elegy: expressing your feelings to loved ones in hospice

Some deal with life’s transitions with efficiency, removing themselves from emotion until the work is done, the illness passed, the loved one laid to rest. Others immerse themselves in sentiment, sharing stories and memories and letting the tears flow. And some turn to artistic expression to articulate their thoughts, wishes, and feelings. Daughter and poet c.a. allen fell into this third category as she sat vigil by her mother’s side at the end of her life.


to my mother on her deathbed

everything is okay.
there is an empty house next
where you can move when
you leave.
I hear it’s endlessly big,
but I’ve never been there

tell me about it.

behind where the curtains are
there are green fields, a stone
wall beyond which

is everything.

there are crinkled leaves
carpeting the ground
so soft
you could pull them apart
with your

lie there long enough
and you won’t need to lie
anywhere else

think of the last lullaby your
mother ever
sang you,
the first time you heard crows
early in the
morning and felt electric
with life.

the first time you bled.
the first time someone kissed
it and made it

think of unnaturally warm rain
coating your face, pattering
at the windows,

the fire-red branches of autumn,
the puddles after the last flood,
the warmth of the right words at exactly the right

think of all this and more and it still
will not encapsulate what
I think of when I think
of you.

when your sleep soothes you down into the
place of that one questionless

all of this will be your name
and I will breathe it
as long as
I can.


Holy Redeemer

Holy Redeemer

For nearly 80 years, the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer have served the community through their mission to care, comfort, and heal. The visionary Sisters created a health system committed to helping people achieve optimal health no matter where they are in life. This includes delivering exceptional medical care not only within the hospital, but also through our outpatient, home care, and long-term care facilities and services. As a result, our health system is well-positioned to serve the community now and in the future.
Holy Redeemer

5 Responses to “Elegy: expressing your feelings to loved ones in hospice”

  1. Joanne Squires

    WOW! I see myself in all three categories. The analogy of the house next door is priceless. Thank you for sharing the poem with us.

    • Barbara L'Amoreaux

      Joanne, this poem is truly full of imagery, isn’t it? It does make the “next move” seem less scary for both the one leaving and the one left behind.

  2. Debra Kessler

    Breathless! I wanted c.a.allen to continue with a few more stanza to get better closure, but that was the beauty of the poem – there is always more wanted and always more at end.

    • xcaallenx

      Thanks, Debra! There is actually more to it as it turns out, but it got cut off somehow. Hopefully it will be fixed soon 🙂

    • Barbara L'Amoreaux

      I just received the second half of the poem from ca allen and have updated the post. The poem was beautiful before; now it’s complete, and, I think, even more meaningful.

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