The Taylor Memorial Bridge in Hudson/Photo by Douglas Flynn

Over the course of caring for another person many losses are deeply felt that need to be recognized, grieved through along the way and eventually accepted in order to make it through.

Too often, this is the work that is neglected and pushed aside due to the daily tasks taking precedent. However, if left unattended for too long this is the stuff that bubbles up and brings people to their knees in coming to terms with the emotional pain from losing someone, some aspect of themselves or some connection.

Grieving losses is important work that grows exponentially as losses are endured.

Introduction to the poem, “The Box”

This is a description of what it feels like to work through loss and come to some kind of acknowledgement and acceptance.  It is based on a conversation with a caregiver caring for her spouse of a lifetime and not being ready for the next milestone in her decline, knowing she’s not ready to deal with it, but also aware she will have to go there eventually and come to terms with yet another major loss of her life, her relationship, her independence, what she thought retirement would be.

She was so aware of her need to not go meet this new reality which was epitomized by a large box of Depends purchased by her loving, practical daughter who had tried to be frugal and efficient by going to a wholesale store. The box represents so many different kinds of losses faced by so many along their caregiving journey.

The Box
by Leslie May-Chibani

I don’t want that box.
That box needs to go.
I don’t have a box.
That box is not for me.
I want another box.
I am not opening that box.
Take that box away!

I hate that box.
Why do I have that box?
I did not order that box.
I don’t want what’s inside that box.
I am not going inside that box.
That box is scary.
That box is too deep.
I don’t want to go down into that box.

That box is still here.
That box is still here!
Damn it! Damn it!
That box won’t leave.
Make it go away.
Make it go away.

I see that box.
It’s a big box.
Maybe I’ll just lift a corner today.
I know it’s my box.
I know I have to open it.
But I still don’t want that box.

I really want my old box.
I want the box we planned to order,
Not this one.
This box is hard.
This box is so hard to open.
I’m afraid to open this box.
I don’t want what’s inside the box.
To face this box will take everything I have.

I need help opening this box.
Help me.
Help me open this box.
It’s heavy.
It’s so heavy.

I opened the box today.
It’s awful, but okay.
It stinks, but I can breathe.
I talked to my daughter about the box.
We cried.
Nobody likes the box.
You don’t get to choose your box.

I looked through the box.
You just can’t believe some of the stuff in this box.
What a jumble!
I recognize some of the stuff in the box.
Some things I can’t even say.
So hard to think about.
So hard to see.
I sat in the box and cried.

I fell asleep in the box.
Who could believe I would be in this box?
I never thought I’d be in this box.
But look, here I am in THIS box.

I climbed out of the box today.
To hell with the box.
I went for a walk.

I know the box is still here.
My daughter helped me organize the box.
We laughed at the box.
We cried at the box.
We moved the box across the room.

It’s my box.
The corners are ragged, but it holds a lot of stuff.
My stuff.
So I’m heading out for awhile, I’ll be back.
I know my box will be here when I get back.
It’s okay.
It’s my box.

Contributed by Leslie May-Chibani©2014