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Navigating Grief Through Poetry: Until We Meet Again

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“They say time is a healer, but I don’t know if that’s true…All I can promise you is that The Almighty will get you through!”

Rubena Mangera’s debut poetry collection strikes a chord from the very title: ‘Until We Meet Again’ encapsulates the themes of both hope and sadness that are entwined through the verses within.

Motivated by the harrowing impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had – and is having – upon countless individuals and families, this collection sets out to take us on a journey through the various stages of loss.

From receiving ill-fated news to grieving for a loved family member, the author’s evocative words are both cathartic and stimulating. This makes the poetry a real source of solace for those experiencing grief and sorrow.

In ‘Where the nightmare begins’, the verses address the tumultuous emotions that arise upon receiving bad news. The perfectly rhymed lines accurately reflect feelings of unease and worry: All-day you’re on edge, frantically pacing/Your heartbeat and your mind, constantly racing. And the writing is as raw in each of the poems:

To somehow survive through the sorrow and the grief

All whilst upholding, the values of belief

Sometimes it’s hard, to not question the why,

Or to feel like it was too soon to say goodbye

And then for feeling such despair or having these doubtful thoughts,

You may feel a ‘bad Muslim’ and in a vicious cycle be caught

[The Remaining Ones…]

It is this unflinching expression of the thoughts and feelings that one experiences in such difficult times that makes the collection cathartic. The writer does not shy away from discussing these sentiments, but acknowledges them, which provides a release.

However – and importantly – this is tempered with coping mechanisms from an Islamic perspective. Towards the end of each poem, Mangera gently guides the reader to remember how our religion teaches us to manage emotions such as grief:

But know this, it is normal, to go through these stages,

The Almighty is still with you, through each of these phases

It’s ok to cry, to feel sad, and to grieve,

None of these things means that you do not believe

and

I can’t ever repay you Father, all I can do is plea,

To Almighty, The Merciful, that He does grant you the highest rank,

And try my best in your bank to sadqa jariya bank. 

and

So even though my little Prince we weren’t

together here on Earth,

Hopefully one day in the gardens of Paradise

We’ll be together, and I’ll forget all the sadness

Surrounding your birth

Thus, the turn to religion at the end of each poem provides a reassuring reminder that, although painful and distressing, the anguish of loss is ultimately only temporary – because as Muslims, we are hopeful of reuniting with our loved ones in Jannah (inshaAllah).

As well as describing the various stages of the grieving process, the book includes poems that address the loss of specific relations – from parents to children, spouses to siblings – which makes it meaningful to various people, and not only for those who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

The collection concludes on a comforting and inspirational note, with the poem ‘The Almighty Will Get You Through…’. 

Another day, news of yet another death,

Once again, we hear of someone who has just drawn their final breath

[…]

None of these people can ever be brought back,

And yet for each of them to live on you don’t need a memorial plaque

[…]

They say time is a healer, but I don’t know if that’s true

All I can promise you is that The Almighty will get you through!

This firm declaration of belief – that the Almighty will get you through whatever struggle you are going through – provides hope and affirmation, capturing the key message of the collection. 

Until We Meet Again is a thought-provoking anthology that would make a useful gift not only to those grieving the loss of loved ones, but is also a meaningful read that reminds us all of our mortality and final destination.

You can find out more, including how to buy a copy of Until We Meet Again here. 

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