Grief: Intentionally Speaking

“…In our shared grief

and exile,

we hang our hopes

on the willows

and the willows join us…” Robert Bly

Grief is the proper response to all losses, changes, and transitions. One thing I’ve shared with clients is that it is also necessary to mourn what never was or will be.

The Welsh word is “Hiraeth.” It is an attempt to come to terms with something that is absent in us. This word carries on its shoulders a mixture of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, and a deep desire not only for the past but something in the past that did not happen, words there were not spoken, for people we never knew but in some way still miss.

These hard to pin down feelings are found in German and Portuguese words.

The German word is “Sehnsucht” which means longing, desire, yearning or craving for something that never was or will be.

The Portuguese word “Saudade” is my favorite expression. The word carries the felt sense that the object of our longing might never happen again but also for things and people that never existed in the first place.

Someone once asked me who do I miss the most. Dipping into saudade I said, “The eyes I’ll never look into, the people I never got to meet.”

“…I will turn slightly

away, our eyes will not meet and out

in the field

there will be no one.” Robert Bly

John Lee is available for in-person and/or online 50-minute sessions and 1- and 2-day Intensives with local, national, and international clients. Schedule yours now by contacting