The Anniversary of Loss

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The Anniversary of Loss

The Anniversary of Loss

This poem, The Anniversary of Loss honors the annual process of reflection and remembrance that for some, feels increasingly potent as the anniversary date associated with a traumatic event nears. It is an aspiration for how we might continue to cultivate the balance required to remain present with the truth of our most painful experiences and simultaneously build the necessary energy to move forward after enduring the darkest trials of life – no matter how many times we fall, no matter how deep our wounds. Catalyzed through the study of yoga and meditation, the poem encapsulates an awareness of how the practice of listening inside can serve to refine one’s ability to recognize their resilience and remember the core of their indefatigable spirit.


The Anniversary of Loss

How can I quantify the tears when my inner body feels like the Southern ocean –

salty, swelling, stormy

with a sinking weight that can only be measured by its desire to be pulled up

and out of me

by the round silver of the moon?

Heart and ribs and uterus suspended, tender –

ether and elements all found within,

all felt without.

I cannot count this journey in years –

although the date, the vision, the realization that there is no escape

in an alpine forest that has no end,

has been seared into my cells.

My brain reminds me with its annual ache that requires no medicine, just remembrance.

My sacrum gently pulling towards hips that it couldn’t protect that day, trying its best

to earn my forgiveness

for its failure to give me flight.

I know the persistence of brain and bone is organically intentional –

so I do not forget, so I can come back after I have come undone, so I will not go numb.

And that the years that pass matter just as much as they don’t –

when the timeline of healing trauma mirrors that of a burning star.

I live within my wound since my biology and my soul both beg that I stay open,

and sealing myself up tight would close the only space I know,

with intuitive desperation, must give

and receive life.

The sometimes uncomfortable, and occasionally awe-inspiring

ongoing re-birth

of recovery.

Governed and guided by the principles of nature, the laws of the Universe,

and the absolute tragedy of the one thing I could not shield myself from.

Yet, this tender ache, when bathed in my stretched out breath

allows for travel that cannot be described in miles,

only felt like the dirt of your childhood

and the stardust of your dreams.

Cycling through years of transformation and still this will not make sense,

my sensory organs were not equipped to grasp that which is beyond body,

beyond space,

beyond time.

The ratio of healing is relative to my heart, my lungs and my body.

The rhythm of my physiology quietly illuminates the pace of how I will process,

how I will practice,

how I will be transformed.

The psyche of survival, requires a willingness to risk not ever knowing why.

Still humbly new to the magic of healing, I anticipate my anniversary’s dawn

with clouded eyes, restless nerves

and a modern mind that nudges me to wonder:

What is my purpose in this earthly embodiment?

Then I recall 3 things a yogi once said –

“Recognize that time can be measured in lifetimes.”

“Become aware that you are in a body, and also aware that you are not your body.”

“De-evolve your mind back to its natural state – secluded within, quiet, pure, bliss.”

No epiphanies, no closure, no certain meaning.

Infinite time, a vessel encompassing the cosmos, original peace.

Each day reveals a revelation about how suffering has catalyzed my desire to live.

Every moment creates a micro-revolution when I articulate my search aloud.

All my fears confirmed, and all my dreams manifested, when I stopped agreeing

that it was simply time alone that heals.

Instead, giving myself over, fully dedicated to this meticulous technique

requiring essentially everything I am,

inviting all that I am,

every answer quenched now leading me to the next –

the 360 degree perspective of a second chance.

Hopelessly heartbroken, relentlessly resilient,

the constant chrysalis of the soul –

and my whole body

still breathing.


The Anniversary of Loss was written by Molly Boeder Harris. Its inspiration came from her reflections within her essay “Remembrance and Resilience through Yoga” in which she describes the parallels paths of healing from sexual violence and navigating the journey into her personal yoga practice.

Molly Boeder Harris is the Founder and Executive Director of The Breathe Network as well as a certified yoga instructor teaching private and group classes for the general public and for survivors of sexual violence. Learn more about The Breathe Network‘s mission to connect survivors of sexual violence to sliding-scale, trauma-informed, holistic healing arts practitioners here. You can read about Molly’s work with survivors of sexual violence via the practice of trauma-sensitive yoga by visiting her practitioner page.