Robert Frost wrote "Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and its thought has found words."
Many of the informal carers in our Carers Connected group have found reading, or writing their own, poetry is a great way to channel the emotional challenges of caring for a loved one into thoughts and words to express that jumble of feelings. So, to mark National Poetry Day, we are sharing their poems to help other carers find a sense of togetherness and to offer non-carers an insight into their experiences.
For some carers, poetry may be a way to express gratitude for something positive, perhaps on the power of nature to give some respite, like the poem below shared by Judy.
For other carers, poetry might be a way to process feelings, recognise their limits and find the strength to ask for help. Holly told us "poetry helped to vent my feelings and frustrations, plus document the act of care-giving, the progress of my Mum's dementia, entity of Covid up to and beyond the death of my Step-Father at home, and 'red light' my own mental crisis - which led to my change of role from Primary Carer (24/7 live-in) to Secondary Carer (supporting my brother, now non-resident Prime Carer, and the family and professional Care Teams)."
Other carers might find comfort through reading poetry written by others.
Claudia told us, "When my fiancé suffered a catastrophic brain injury back in November 2020 my life as I knew it changed forever, leaving me to make some of the hardest and most brutal decisions on behalf of my partner I would have never envisaged were even conceivable.
One of the hardest challenges for me being a carer, an advocate and devoted partner was the loneliness and isolation I would suffer. Even though he has professional care from the home he resides in, I believe, we, the loved ones often, can be the only ones able to be the psychological support that is so fundamentally important. So my journey began to find some support, some connection and self-care, this being something so easy to neglect when caring for someone else.
People find this in various ways, it could be friends and family, support groups or therapy, but initially for me, unable to connect or cope with anything from the outside world I found my solace through Poetry.
To quote from a book called “The Poetry Pharmacy – Tried and true prescriptions for the mind a soul” William Sieghart says in his intro: “To find the right poem at the crucial moment. One capable of expressing our situation with considerably more elegance then we can. Ourselves, it is to discover a powerful sense of complexity. And that precious realisation, I'm not the only one that feels like this.”
And how true I found that to be, the words of someone you have never and will never meet can be of so much comfort; comfort that can be impossible from all those that may know you.
Some days when I am feeling lost, alone and desperate for guidance I reach for my friend ‘poetry’ and open the book at a random page and ask for guidance. A particular book I turn to is called “Along the way” by Nikki Banas and, on a particularly dark and lost day, my book gave me some advice that has given me the strength and faith on the toughest days. It's called “Surrender” and below is an extract."
Huge thanks to Judy, Holly and Claudia for sharing their poems and reflections about poetry with us.
You can find more poems and reflections written by members of our Carers Connected group on our Reflections by Carers page. Do keep an eye out for new reflections posted regularly.
If you are an informal carer and would like to join our Carers Connected support group, or browse our resources for carers, please visit our For Carers page.