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Robert D Stolorow Ph.D.
Robert D Stolorow Ph.D.

Grief Chronicles

Poetizing, not pathologizing, grief.

As a countermovement against those in the field of psychiatry who wish to classify grieving that endures beyond a certain length of time as pathological, I offer a selection from my “Grief Chronicles,” a series of poems in which I grieved for my late wife, Dr. Daphne (Dede) Socarides Stolorow, over a ten-year period following her death 21 years ago today at the age of 34. I continue to grieve.


Endlessly I search

here and there

in this corner of my life or that

in your face or in mine

for some trace of Dede

but she is nowhere to be found

except in the ache of her absence

and in the torture chambers

of my dreams.



A glacier of sadness

frozen within me.

A little piece breaks off

and melts into tears,


Ice immobile

in a hollow sea

melts no more.

Dede fades.

I am dead.


Two years nearly

since she died.

I turn fifty this November.

No big event

in Iceland.



I dreamed that Dede was learning a new language,

preparing for travel to a distant land.

I wanted to go too.

But I am left behind,

bilingual, lost,

A Man Without a Country,

frozen between two languages

and two worlds,

between the lands of the living

and of the dead.



It took two years, nearly,

to give away her clothes.

I keep a few precious things,

holding on to distant treasures

slipping further from my grasp,

our closet a half-emptied shell,

a mocking mirror of my heart’s remains,

its hollowed-out darkness,

a grim reflection

of the Dark Nights of My Soul.



Today I gave her ashes

to the sea she loved so much,

my loss its gain forever.

Goodbye my love.

The tide swooped in

and washed her from the death-black rocks

as I sat watching

with the stillness of a fallen gull

adding a few salty tears

to her new home.

Goodbye my love.



Today I visited her

as I do from time to time.

“Is it okay to feel happy again?”

I asked with nervous apprehension.

“Oh yes,” she said,

holding my little-boy face

softly between her hands,

“I want that more than anything.”

The warm glow of her smile

melted back slowly

into the sun-drenched sea.

Goodbye my love.



Each anniversary

(this the fifth)

I visit the sea

where I scattered her,

aging atheist

conversing with an angel,

her smile,

knife-wound in my heart,

still warming.


XIII: Transformation

It was a little scary

when I visited her last night,

shimmering midnight moon

lighting up the black, rocky home

where nine years she lay scattered,

pummeled by crashing, high-tide waves.

On the walk back to my car

after our yearly conversation

I figured out my life:

In its remains

I would give to others

the gift Dede gave to me.

Through me

her loving smile

will warm and brighten

those I love,

lifting us both

from the dark world of death

into the glow of life.


XIV: Time

Ten years ago

my sweetie died.

What’s in a decade?


XV: The Leather Jacket

I wore the jacket

she picked for me

for 18 years

till it was torn and tattered,

leather showing holes,

frayed lining falling,

and I looked the homeless one

her dying left me.

When it was time

I left it

on a park bench by the sea

for my successor,

another homeless warmed

by Dede’s gift to me.


Copyright Robert Stolorow

About the Author
Robert D Stolorow Ph.D.

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D., is one of the original members of the International Council for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, which stems from the work of Heinz Kohut.

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