Poets for a Cause Spotlight: C. Churchill Bravely Speaks about The Isolating Grief of Widowhood
Every month, I have the honor of talking to a poet in the community about a cause that they are passionate about spotlighting through their writing. Last month, I spoke with Elizabeth Diane Daniel about the heartbreaking realities of childhood cancer but also the hopeful ways that we can help make a difference. In past spotlights, we have discussed topics such as mental health, chronic illness, trauma, domestic violence, and self-empowerment.
These conversations have been such a blessing to me as they have helped open my eyes to the hardships and experiences that so many people battle every day. It is helping me see people and see situations in a whole new way, and that is my hope for this series: that it opens up harder conversations and helps us work to understand each other and reach out in compassion and love. Talking about these things takes immense strength and vulnerability, and I am so grateful to everyone that takes the time to open up and champion such important subjects.
This month, I got to speak with C. Churchill about her heartbreaking experience with grief and the lonely and painful journey she has embarked on as a widow. She discusses how being widowed led to feelings of isolation as people moved forward, not really sure how to interact with her. I know that this conversation will help so many people feel seen in their pain as well. And, I know that her words will inspire us to walk alongside each other, even when they’ve been through hardships we’ve never experienced or been to places we’ve never encountered.
“A topic that I have tried to shed light on through all my poetry collections is loss, and in my release of Racing Ravens, I touch on the struggles of becoming widowed. In 2006, I saw my husband get murdered and my world was turned upside down and inside out. I felt insane half the time and scared the other half. Being only thirty-one at the time, I really had no one to turn to. Of course, friends and family were there, but I still felt incredibly alone. My husband was my best friend and we never spent more than a day apart. I write about loss in a way that several people can relate to—not just widows but anyone who has experienced deep loss. The widows that have read Racing Ravens have reached out to me and told me that they appreciate it so much that someone else knows what it feels like. Being a widow is uncomfortable; people treat you differently, society treats you differently and no one ever wants to talk about it.
There is a reason widows feel so lonely—aside from losing their better half—and that is because all of a sudden, they lose everyone else in a way. Writing such a powerful collection of poetry about a subject no one wants to talk about wasn’t only difficult—it was terrifying. I almost pulled it from the shelves and put it in the closet to let it gather dust and be swept under a rug, but then I realized at that point I would be just like everyone else not wanting to talk about it. So Racing Ravens is here to stay to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but as long as it helps one person through a very hard reality, then it has served its purpose.”
As we talked, I was so moved by Churchill’s bravery in releasing a collection of poetry for a group of people who are often made to feel left behind or overlooked in their grief. I know that her vulnerability will be such a blessing not only for those who have been widowed but also for anyone who has experienced deep loss and suffering. Grief looks different for everyone, but we all need the same hope for healing, and that healing requires that we show up for each other and walk through the darkness together. Churchill’s writing reminds us to take a closer look at our own hearts and the hearts around us. We do not need to hurt alone. We do not need to heal alone. Let’s leave no person behind in their grief.
During our talk, Churchill shared a poem of hers that really gets to the heart of what she does with her writing.
Who do you seek
in the darkness of night?
hand outstretched grasping
the cold pillow next to you
what do you feel in the rain?
longing for a kiss long lost
what do you see in the future mirror?
a sting of past reflection
may your woes and worries transcend to
peace and hope
for the yesterdays
are blurry in distance
your future lies in a clear tomorrow
energy moves forward
only halted by regret and sorrow
She writes for everyone who has ever felt alone in their pain. She writes about the realities of grief and the hope for healing. She writes for anyone who has been widowed, anyone who has experienced deep loss, anyone who has felt swallowed up by the darkness. Her writing sheds light on grief and helps guide others through it. Resilience and strength saturate the words that she spills, and I hope that you can sense the heart and passion in each line she writes. I know that her words will help so many, and I hope that they help you too.