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Helen Keller on grief

Helen Keller on grief

Helen Adams Keller died 65 years ago today. She was an American writer, advocate, activist and lecturer born in 1880. She lived a long life, but had many struggles to overcome having lost her sight and hearing after an illness when she was just 19 months old. She communicated primarily using home signs until she was 7 when she met her first teacher and life-long companion Anne Sullivan. Sullivan taught Helen language, including reading and writing. During her lifetime she travelled to 35 countries around the globe advocating for those with vision loss and wrote 14 books, hundreds of speeches and essays.

Writings on grief

Though Helen Keller is most renowned for her incredible achievements in the face of blindness and deafness, she was also a prolific writer and thinker. For many indeed, Helen Keller is known as THE voice of grief, loss and life.

In 1929 she published the book “We Bereaved” for individuals experiencing grief. Many of her words are familiar to us, even if we don’t know immediately that she wrote them. Over almost a century her writings have been a source of much comfort to many people in many forms. Helen had an ability to chose to communicate the idea of the enduring presence of the departed via her words. Her insights into life and society are as relevant today as they were when she first shared them. And particularly this passage filled with beautiful visual imagery.

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. A sunset, a mountain bathed in moonlight, the ocean in calm and in storm — we see these, love their beauty, hold the vision to our hearts. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.

Our beloved ones are no more lost to us when they die than if they were still laughing and loving and working and playing at our side.

Words to find comfort

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

Theforeverloved heart

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

“With every friend I love who has been taken into the brown bosom of the earth a part of me has been buried there; but their contribution to my being of happiness, strength and understanding remains to sustain me in an altered world.”

“We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world – the company of those who have known suffering.”

“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”

“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”

“A little boat with sails like snowy wings sailed out of the harbour. The sea was grey and menacing, the sky was darkened by threatening clouds. ‘It will be an evil day’ said those who beheld the little ship and its going. ‘See how dark it is!’

Helen Keller grief TheForeverLoved

But the little ship sailed on, and there, in the open sea, suddenly it passed the region of storm, and the sun beamed brightly upon its sails, turning them to silver.

And all about the little ship flowed waters that were blue and gold, with dancing lights.

So the little spirit which departs in darkness amid sighs and tears and regrettings, finds, despite all the terrors of those who stay behind, its haven of sunshine and joy.”

We bereaved

If you would like to read more of Helen Keller’s beautiful words, we recommend her famous book “We Bereaved”.

Excerpt from We Bereaved

I have received many letters from people stricken with grief, and I have always felt poignantly my helplessness before their sorrow. My heart yearns to speak the word that would soothe their anguish, but how futile are words in the ears of those who mourn.

I can only take their hands in mine and pray that the love and sympathy in my heart may overflow into theirs. I too have loved and lost, I too must often fight hard to keep a steadfast faith. When I fall to hear the Divine Voice, grief overwhelms me, my faith wavers; but I must not let it go, for without faith there would be no light in all the world.”

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