Tag Archives: grief

an hour after patting down the earth

Trains on the floor of your room

it would have found you, brushed
itself against your leg, plopped
down in the middle of the track. 

‘Mi-Yeow alive Daddy?’

You button your lip
hold deep breaths in your belly
and stare at the memory
of a bag in the ground.

Twenty minutes
on my lap
you hold back

my explanations.  Look up
occasionally, ask my eyes for

a change in the situation.

Until Mummy walks in 
and your whirring little mind
lets your heart burst
all your sadness.


Piece of pain in my pocket

Tomorrow marks three years since Isaiah died.  It is true, time makes a difference.  It doesn’t heal, it becomes more familiar each bout in the ring.  We learn to live with the pain and carry on.  Written back in January 2008.


In my pocket is a piece of my heart.

It is a good place for it.

Close by to me

within reach.


This piece is broken from the rest.

Its weight changes

like a piece of wood

burdened with water, it sinks





Too heavy for my pocket


I pull it out

carefully, but the edges

are too sharp

to hold for long.


Not for my hands

the pain

cuts my eyes

and into my right.  Tears


splash concrete.

I place the piece

back in my pocket

and continue working.



self-indulgent grief

I’m never sure if I should post poems like this.  I wrote it Tuesday.  It was Isaiah’s birthday, he would have turned three.  I found myself thinking about MY loss and not really about him.  Then snapping out of it, I again realised how ridiculous the process of grief can be and where the mind wanders.  A psychologist told me that if the model of Adam and Eve in a perfect garden (all perfectly created) is our origin then we were never created for grief.  We weren’t given the proper capacity to handle loss very well.  Perhaps that is why it is so awkward and painfully emotional.  Scribbling the emotions down has certainly helped the process of grieving for me and I hope you don’t mind me sharing it.


self-indulgent grief

is a sticky film

the memory likes

to touch

feeling the tackiness

fingering the sorry feelings

wallowing in


hopeless sadness



to feel their tackiness again


like touching the sticky photo

of my brother’s engagement party

I’m standing to the side

an empty shell

still in shock

from the night before

wondering what I’m doing there

my Uncle’s voice plays in my head

“….you’re unbelievable

to be here”

but not coming

would be worse

and I play the tape again

to feel the emptiness


C.S Lewis

describes it:

a ‘bath of self-pity’

‘the loathsome sticky-sweet pleasure

of indulging it –

that disgusts me.’


and suddenly

you awaken

and notice your memory

fingering the



tearing your hand away…


“Happy Birthday Isaiah!”

“How are you little guy?

You are three today.

You would be running around

with your brothers

skinning knees

kicking footballs

riding a new tricycle

down a big grass hill


Have a great birthday

where you are,

skinning knees

kicking footballs

riding a new tricycle

down a big grass hill

we love you mate

Happy Birthday!”


Losing Isaiah

Isaiah Daddy Jonah

Isaiah Andrew Phillips 10 weeks (24th August – 2nd November 2007)

Two years ago on Friday night 2nd  November we unexpectedly found our second born, Isaiah without breath or life. The end of his short life didn’t make sense to us then and it still doesn’t make sense.

Rebecca and I were comforted/supported by many brave, sensitive and inspirational family and friends. Thank you to all of you.

We have struggled with our loss and pain and struggled with our God who we still love and trust but truly don’t understand… nor can we understand. I write this now as I hear stories from Samoan families losing loved ones in a surge of water from the ocean they live beside and read a blog telling me one person dies from hunger every second. There are so many ‘why’s’ in God’s inbox and I don’t know what he does with them.


Are You God

who made this water? This wave? This sand?

Are You God?

Are You God who made me?


Are You God

who started life? These pains… the pleasures?

Are You God

who controls seasons? Tells the Winter when to stop?

Are You God?


Do You see

the crab with broken claw?

the bird struggle with one leg?

Do You see me cry for my missing boy?

Do You see?


Is there reason

to change the tide? To set the sun?

Is there reason to burn or drown or dry the land?

Is there reason to know pain, hurt and tired loneliness?

Is there reason?


Where does Your hand end?

Do You tell the sun, the daisy or the wave… Do it again?


Where does Your hand end?

Do You sit and watch, play a move when you want, stay silent, unmoved… seated?


Where does Your hand end?

Where do You begin?

Are You God?


Copyright Andrew Phillips © 2008

Too Many Tears (Rondeau II)


We know a few families who have had their children suddenly snatched from this life.  This poem isn’t about us or anyone imparticular but probably a combination of all.  It is written from an outsider’s perspective looking in.  It is such a devastating situation.  Highly emotional, painful, raw and so awkward for those on the outside to watch all the grief and pain happening.


Too many Tears

Too many tears from so few eyes

Blue days become their retched skies

Broken lives in huddled weeping

Bellowed cries make restless sleeping

But how each day do they arise?

Will he check out in death’s demise?

As she breaks down without goodbyes?

Watch love’s torment slowly reaping

Too many tears

Packaged attempts to sympathise

Plainly will not relieve their cries

Compassion knocks with eyes seeping

Passing by… how are you keeping?

Please carry on but don’t disguise

Too many tears”

Want you near (To Isaiah)


It is almost two years since Isaiah died.  I wrote a fair bit to process the pain and grief.  There are some disjointed thoughts in the poem I see now but I remember it helped at the time.  Especially the dig at people who avoid the subject.  Please ask your friends about their lost loved ones… it shows you care.

by Andrew Phillips (December 2007)


Were they surprised?

When you arrived

As we contrived

To bring you back alive


My world is broken

My son was taken

The population count mistaken

I’m left among those forsaken


People try to say in kindness

He is with the Heavenly Highness’

Is this supposed to help us pine-less

Still at least they speak, more than the spineless


My grief does not resemble fear

I cry because I want you near

Wanted to grow and help each year

Well past the day we share a beer


A wise man stated to me in fairness

It is OK to be a mess

Even Jesus cried for Lazarus

While knowing He would wake his rest’


Copyright © Andrew Phillips 2007