Poetry by Grace
Grace Dunzo, a junior in high school, enjoys painting, swimming, and playing with her dog. During her freshman year, the unexpected death of her father rocked her very consistent world. She grieved his death throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually learning that he had died of a drug overdose and, further, had been a drug user for the majority of her life. This knowledge reset Grace’s grief process, compelling her to deal with raw, difficult emotions. Grace found that most of what she was reading about grief didn’t give voice to anger towards the lost one. In her poetry, below, she writes honestly about that rage and resentment as well as the good things because, in her words, “it’s okay to be upset with a person, even if they’re no longer here.” Grace recently joined her school’s track team as a way to feel connected to her father, who was a track star himself. Grace shares, “while grieving is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, I am extremely optimistic about my future, particularly my college endeavors.” We are thankful to Grace for so poignantly speaking her truth and sharing her own personal grief process.
– Haven Parrott, Manager of Bereavement Services, Transitions GriefCare
An Unplanned Process
There are things you prepare for.
You prepare for the chapel picking,
and the casket shopping.
You prepare to see a body,
you prepare for his hands that are no longer warm
And then there are the surprises.
The things you don’t prepare for.
How many times you have to recount a story
you’re still in denial about
The different smells you notice people have when they hug you.
How many different casseroles people can make
and how they smell in your fridge when they go bad,
cause you refuse to eat anything but frosted flakes.
That the kids who bullied you will call to give their condolences.
That people will treat the word “dead” like a curse word,
too scandalous to say out loud.
For the realization to hit,
that all you’ll ever have with him
has already happened.
You don’t prepare,
for everything to be over.
For mom to go back to work.
For the flowers to rot,
for the meals to stop coming.
For the school work to pile up.
And now you’re left with a smelly flowers,
feelings you don’t know how to deal with.
And a couple of shirts that smell like him
But not for long.
The Lying Tree
When you look at a tree,
busy and bustling in the spring,
What do you see?
The squirrels squirming around the branches?
Maybe the bees that buzz around the tips,
Hoping they don’t have to use their stingers.
Perhaps the way the way the branches twist and tangle,
leaving small gaps for the sun to shine through.
They’re so overwhelming,
I tend to notice the leaves,
If each were a soldier,
the army would slaughter me in seconds
If each were a bended truth,
they would form the world’s biggest circle.
If each were fib,
billions of books could be filled with them.
If each were a flat out lie,
they would flatten miles and miles of flowers.
Wouldn’t one go mad, trying to count them all?
Where would you start?
How would you keep your place?
Do you count the ones that are dead on the ground?
That crunch underneath your feet.
What about the ones children plucked,
and discarded a few feet away?
Do you count the tiny ones at the ends of the branches?
The ones still growing?
I’ve stopped trying to count your leaves
I was simply going mad.
Instead I step back
Admire the way your roots come up of the ground
try not to trip on them.
The way you give shade to many
And provide a safe home for a few.
I’ve stopped trying,
Shall I come back and count in the winter?
What am I to say to you,
if you were alive?
That I forgive you?
That I’m sorry?
That I regret every terrible thing I’ve ever done?
Should I treat you differently because I know it’s a miracle?
That people pray day and night for this
That saints teach children about it
That it is a wish millions whisper under their breath.
Should I bite my tongue?
Silence all the awful things I want to say?
like how you’re a hypocrite
and a liar
how your lies could fill a book front and back
like how you died
From a choice you made
How you put all of us through this
to get one final high
How you left your children and mother of them
and left everyone else to think you’re a marauder
a good person
a role model
Because wouldn’t I be the asshole for blaming the dead guy?
Just – wow! Keep writing poetry.
Thank you, my dear sweet Grace, for your gift of language and words. I love you so much.