Stages of Grief by Joan Leotta

November 30, 2013 | By | 16 Replies More

The first week

My world is spinning

“That’s nothing, the world always spins,”

“They” tell me.

Their world is fixed

on its axis, firm and sure

Mine has lost its axis,

whirling and twirling

out into space,

out of control.

Oblivious to all except my loss.


Three months after

I am quiet

Instead of chatty.


Not merely pensive

Often awake

Late into the night



After a year

Words begin

to make sense again

when I lay them out on paper.

I hung his stocking up at Christmas

and filled it with a letter.


One plus one

Makes 11.

Two years later, I


this joke between us,

we two who hated math.

It’s time to speak his name,

So he will not be forgotten.



Joan Leotta is a North Carolina writer and a performer. She has authored fiction and non-fiction books and countless articles.


Category: 3 - Grief, When Women Waken Literary Journal

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  1. Brag or PR | Joan Leotta | December 2, 2013
  1. Kelly DuMar says:

    Joan, I appreciate your poem. Very moving in its simplicity. Thanks for sharing this healing process.

  2. Erin Elizabeth Peterson says:

    Love. Very beautiful.

  3. Lynn Darby says:

    Yes, for those I know that have survived the loss, it will ring true. I will share it with them. Excellent.

  4. Very simple and profound. I think of my dearest friend Gail who left me 18 months ago. I will never get over her.

  5. Julie Davies says:

    Joan, I too will show this to a recently bereaved friend. She is severely disabled with post-polio syndrome and her husband and the love of her life was also her carer. I can’t say to her that one day she will be able to cope with the grief, even though she will never stop grieving – it sounds too trite and I haven’t lost my partner. But I think your poem will help. Her man was Ron. Also never to be forgotten.

  6. Holly says:

    Simple yet clear- you’ve captured the stages beautifully.

  7. They say in acting that you can always tell when the actor is ‘faking it’ and when the emotion they are wearing really rings true – I felt that truth in your poem. As someone who has experienced loss, those stages felt very real. Beautiful.

    • Anora McGaha, Editor says:

      Jeannie, your comments are wonderful. Thank you so very much for your generous gift to me as editor, and to our contributors. What a heart like yours, I’m going to look up your work. – Anora McGaha, Editor, When Women Waken, Our Stories and Women Writers, Women Books

  8. Joan says:

    Jeannie, the focus of the grief in this poem is the death of our nineteen year old son in 2002 after he was hit by a car while crossing the street one evening at Virginia tech

  9. Mary Ann says:

    Very moving. What a lovely poem, Joan! So simple. relatable and healing. Thank you.

  10. Joan says:

    Thank you, Mary Ann

  11. Wendi says:

    Joan- This is absolutely lovely. YES to the speaking of your son’s name. YES to continuing to keep his memory alive through your writing. This poem is just stunning in the way you create the stark description of your grief, which is likely as large as the universe. What a gift.

  12. Joan says:

    Thank you so much for your comment and even more for speaking Joes’s name

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