We’ll Find a New Way of Living, We’ll Find a Way of Forgiving

I dropped into a Deep Well of Grief this morning. I grieved for dreams shattered, especially for younger people, for dying humans everywhere, for a struggling world and suffering planet. Then I did what I do when depression threatens to devour me.

I put on my boots and went to the forest with my dogs.

As I walked, a song began repeating in my head, not from a head set, but from memory. I listened to this song over and over again in 1958 and 1959 when I was 13 and my dad was dying. It gave me hope during my first experience of despair. Now, so many years later, I still remembered the tune and most of the lyrics, even though my hearing makes it difficult to enjoy music except in dreams.

It’s a love song, but also a prayer for a peaceful life for those locked in a hate-filled divided world. The lyrics by Stephen Sondheim plea for “peace and quiet and open air, time together and time to care. Somehow. Somewhere.”

Some of you will remember the original 1957 musical “West Side Story” including the song Somewhere:


With my sons 6 months ago

There’s a place for us
Somewhere a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us

There’s a time for us
Someday a time for us
Time together with time to spare
Time to look, time to care

We’ll find a new way of living

We’ll find a way of forgiving

with friends at an easier time

There’s a place for us
A time, a place for us
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there

Tears slipped down my cheeks as the lyrics rolled on with the hopeful words: “Hold my hand and I’ll take you there.”

I have no wise advice, but can offer a glimpse of the world that holds me. Someday, somehow, I’ll again share my world with people I love.


How are you getting through this stressful time as we all grieve together? What helps you?

My walking buddies

I’m well and hope you are, too. I have food, a private place to take long walks, and a place to grow vegetables. After living alone with compromised hearing for many years, I’m used to solitude, although not so extreme.  I’m strict about staying home now which is both a luxury and necessity. My local son and his friend buy supplies as needed and my North Carolina son checks on me daily and sends care packages of bird houses and Clorox wipes.

I pray for those who are ill and those, including good friends, on the medical front lines. I’m high risk because of age, but healthy. I don’t want to clog the medical system by getting sick, so I’ll wait this out at home, keep active, and imagine a better place and time. These lyrics will be my covid-19 crisis theme song for years to come.

For an excellent article about grief during the time of covid-19, see Grieving the Losses of Coronavirus by Lori Gottlieb. For my post about finding peace in hard times, see Ten Ways to Create Sacred Space Every Day.  For a post about living with fear, see Facing Our Deepest Fear.

  1. Dear Elaine, I feel like I’m in that same well of grief with you. As soon as I climb out, the next minute I fall back in. It’s reminding me of a dark time in my life when I couldn’t shake off feeling low and anxious. No wonder people call depression the black dog (unlike your beautiful Disco!) because it goes wherever you go. Hmm, I’m still in shock about it all, I’m grieving ordinary freedoms like meeting family and friends and attending classes. Today, I felt so low I just had to pull on my walking boots and go out despite feeling weary with it all.

    The song you write about makes me think of how we search for that promise land, the land of milk and honey, somewhere over the rainbow, way up high. If only peace and tranquillity were contagious too what a beautiful world we would live in! Yes, I know I’m a dreamer … but not the only one. Oh, I loved your sunset photo, gorgeous! How do I cope? Well I’ve come back in and am still feeling low so now sat at my desk hammering out a new poem about me and this plague! I’m not sure I’ll have much to offer but feel honour bound to share.

    I’m pleased you’re well, have food and woods to wander. Waiting it out at home is what I’m doing too. Sadly, two friends have died within ten days of each other. They’d been lovers for 37 years and although both have been cremated together, a funeral was not allowed at this time in the UK. Hopefully, later in the year there’ll be a celebration of their lives. Thank you Elaine for including your other links which I’ll explore in the coming days. Please excuse my misery, it’s so unlike me but difficult to shake off. Sending you much love and light in these dark times, Deborah.

    • Deborah, I feel weary, too, but also tolerant of the situation right now. I’m glad you can walk outside. Hearing that old sentimental song within surprised me and that I remembered all the words from over 50 years ago. So it brought me back to the silence of my father’s death since feelings and tenderness were not allowed by my mother. Amazing what we hold in our minds and heart. In the end, the lovers are killed in West Side Story, but that song holds the hope I need now. You’re not the only dreamer…and we find each other. Writing poems is a wonderful way to share, Deborah. I feel poems are an essential healing balm for me. I will look to see what you’ve posted.

      Did your friends die of covid-19? That’s close to you. No one can mourn their dead properly, as in wartime, or die with support. There are so many stories here of people dying alone in hospitals or nursing homes since no visitors are allowed. I hear your misery and love your honesty. I’m not miserable at the moment, but have been in contact with a few who are in the deep well of grief this morning. It’s a shocking and horrifying and grief-filled time. The best we can do is hold each other up and pray. And write poems. Please put that misery into poems. There are many hopeful poems out there, but we need poems that recognize the misery and foreboding of this time. I send you buckets of love and spring bird songs.

      • Thank you Elaine for your truly, kind-hearted reply! Sadly, each of my friends was being treated for different cancers but for them to die within days of each other seems so cruel, and with COVID-19 present worldwide I do wonder if there was a connection as both spent time in both hospitals and hospices over this past year. No mourning can take place as I feel too stunned by the way I’m living to even think about them.

        “It’s a shocking and horrifying and grief-filled time” indeed!

        Some mornings when I wake up and forget I’m in lockdown for a few seconds I find myself wondering what’s in the diary today … only now there is no diary, only a weekly trip to the supermarket where I have to queue for an hour to buy some food with money that I haven’t earned. The world as we knew is over and around ten days ago we metaphorically all had our last supper with family together but didn’t even realise it.

        Sending you love and buckets of birdsong back to you! Deborah.

        • Deborah, your situation sounds grueling and difficult, with grief added to the mix. I’m sorry about your friends. I worry for those who have sick or elderly family and friends they can’t visit because of the lockdown. I wonder if you’re seeing clients online which is the way things are happening here. Zoom Meetings are easy and I talked to my dream therapist in a one-on-one Zoom Meeting yesterday. It was a helpful hour. She continues her important work (including being paid) and I continue receiving her support and help with meaning. The week before we used Facetime which wasn’t as good. We spent most of our hour on one image–someone sat on my glasses which I use for distant vision and they were broken and unusable. Hmmmm… I can’t see in the distance now (never could, but I pretended my plans would happen as I imagined). I’m also doing a writing class with Zoom meetings. For food, we have something called Instacart available at larger grocery stores. My son, his partner, and I coordinated an order. Instacart people do the shopping and we pick the groceries up curbside. That keeps me and many people out of the grocery store for now and lowers congestion. There is also a small farm market a few miles away and a local organic grower who plans to deliver for free this summer since many of the places they usually sell are closed. It’s interesting to watch community action quickly rise in this practical way which is more the way things used to work. I hope you’ll find local support in this way, solace in spring, and have dinner with family again before too long.

          • Thank you so much Elaine for reassuring me that the Zoom online platform works well, I’ll investigate it more in the weeks to come, once I feel less overwhelmed by grief and sadness. Hmm, it seems that just when I needed a therapeutic rest myself, the universe has conspired to give me one … but not the one I would’ve wished for.

            It’s great to know that you’re doing okay re local food deliveries and that you can still work with your dream therapist and attend classes. On a lighter note I’ve been walking new trails today and entered new ancient woodland I’ve never seen before … that lifted my spirits up! Okay, back to the labour pains of birthing a new poem.

  2. Bernstein wrote the music. Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics (just for the sake of accuracy).

    • Thanks, Fred. Only your friends will tell you. I like accuracy and will edit the post. I didn’t check my memory on that part.

  3. I’ve always loved that song. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Harriet. It felt innocent and brought me back to my girlish broken heart at that time. The young girl within is grieving again.

  4. I remember that wonderful song! I’m just recovering from coronavirus, have never felt so ill. We are in total lockdown here in the UK. The loss of my beautiful daughter over 9 years ago has come very much to the fore during this time, the grief runs so deep.

    I’m clinging on to hope. Thank you Elaine, you are an inspiration.

    • Oh dear Sue, I’m sorry you had to go through coronavirus on top of the grief for your daughter you already carry. I used to think 9 years was a long time but now that my husband has been dead almost 12 years, I realize grief doesn’t care about time. I can only imagine how deep your sadness runs. UK was dumb about the threat of this virus, just like the USA. “It can’t happen here!” I know a few people who’ve had the virus and it was painful and frightening. We’re on lockdown in New York State, too. I’m a 5 hour drive from New York City, and the virus is just starting here–or testing is just starting because we couldn’t test before, so we’re finding out the extent of what we already have. The government was naively unprepared. I haven’t been in my car or off my property for over two weeks and my son delivered food and left it on the porch.

      Please keep clinging to hope, Sue, however you do that. It’s hard when you’re grieving such a deep loss, but we will rise again. Someday, somewhere, somehow. May there be peace and healing.

  5. Elaine, I love this song and wouldn’t have thought of it as a theme song for these trying times, but you did. As I read your post I heard the bittersweet melody and words in my head and heart.

    You have solicitous sons, wide open spaces for your Disco and Willow to run, and a full pantry. And I know you are counting your blessings even as you at times feel despondent as do I.

    After weeks of heat, odd for March even in Florida, we got showers of blessings, about 1/2 inch last evening. I’ll put that in my gratitude book today. Like you, I find writing therapeutic these days. Keep those songs in your heart too. How wonderful you could remember ALL the words from 50 years ago – amazing! 🙂

    • Marian, I didn’t think of it exactly. It just showed up. The song had its own life in my head and completely surprised me. I hadn’t heard that song in decades, but there it was–related to the despair of the time when my dad died and the little girl in me who feels unbalanced and frightened by a new world. I’m counting my blessings for sure with periods of despondency, not so much for my personal situation, but for younger people and children, for the whole world and country, for the deep suffering, for the damage already done and still coming. I love hearing you got needed rain for the sake of the earth.

      When I felt so, so sad and the song came into memory out in the trail, I mixed up the words in a few lines, but remembered almost all of them. I kept singing (the dogs don’t howl so it must not sound too horrible) and more and more words came. When I got home, I could look for the lyrics on line, verify, and correct. I must have listened to that song 200 or more times when I was a girl and the other favorite after my dad died was “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess which I also listened to over and over again. I loved music and musicals, so it’s still there in memory. My mother was tolerant about me playing the same records over and over again. That’s amazing in itself. May you be well and safe.

  6. Thanks Elaine for sharing with us, Deborah too and words fail me re her friends recent deaths. I was out in my garden this morning, back breaking work, filling in a designated area for succulents that were previously dotted around. These succulents I’ve gathered from various places, Graaf Reinet in the Karoo, from my sister’s home in Cape Town and a few from her holiday home in the Wilderness and from one or two from other places. I was digging them up from their original place and re-planting them and thinking back on my parents and wondering about their WW2 experiences. To me this time seems like a dark night of the soul, one that we’re being forced to experience, as the detritus of all that has gone before rises to the surface. I also think about how necessary it is to ‘keep death alive on my left shoulder’, knowing that this invisible enemy may come for me in spite of all precautions.

    Thank you for the lyrics of Somewhere … right now I’ve got Barbra Streisand playing this song on my lap top prompted by you. The imagery in the video is at times stark but those smiling faces are a joy.

    The Sec Gen of the UN has put out a call for cease fire in war ravaged countries and ‘focus on the true fight’. May this be the beginning of real change for all those marginalised victims of war.

    Love to you Elaine, thank you for this lovely post.

    • Susan, I also think of World War II now, but through the eyes of Etty Hillesum’s writing. I think we’ve interacted about her before. She’s an inspiration to me because she refused to lose her humanity and heart even as Nazis closed in on her and her community. As you know, I also have that exercise of carrying death on my L shoulder, but I’ve been lax about that. Thank you for reminding me, plus I need to read a little Etty Hillesum today. It’s a tenuous time and will get worse I fear.

      I just read a National Public Radio article about the 3 week lockdown in South Africa. I hope you have local sources for basic supplies. People are becoming local-focused and innovative here quickly. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the world saw the true fight involves all of us helping each other rather than warring against others? I don’t know if we’re learning that here, but we have to. We have yet to accept that this is a multiracial country with terrible disadvantages for those who aren’t white males, but I keep hoping and praying that will change. Someday… Love and safety to you and everyone.

    • Thank you so much Susan for your generous, kind-hearted mention. Elaine, your replies to readers touch my heart deeply. Am listening to Barbara Streisand sing “Somewhere”… it’s such a beautiful song so many thanks for sharing the lyrics and your rich memories with us! xx

  7. Hi Elaine. I’m just getting my self sorted in blog world after having a lovely winter escape and getting back just before the madness. I am glad to hear you’re staying safe and looked after. That song you just sang has always been one of my favorites. I can totally feel the chills by remembering it again now. Mother Goddess is teaching many lessons as the world is opening their eyes. Stay safe 🙂

    • Whew! I’m glad you got back, Debby and didn’t get quarantined on a boat or stuck at a border. I don’t like this “being looked after,” but my age puts me in the vulnerable group and the most compassionate thing I can do is stay healthy and not clog up the medical system. My dogs make it possible to live at a distance from humans without going nuts. They’re sunning themselves on the back porch right now. I look at it this way: Mother Goddess raised her heavenly eyebrows, scowled, shook her finger at humans, and said, “That’s enough! Go to your rooms.” That’s what I did with my sons and it feels like that now. I hope your husband and you are well. Thanks for getting in touch and you stay safe, too. I think you have a balcony but hope you can hear the birds from somewhere.

      • Thank you Elaine. And what you said about Mother Goddess is so true. In fact, I just a left a message on your new blog with something similar. Stay strong. Stay masked. And stay safe. 🙂

        • Thank you, Debby. You stay safe, too. I’m grateful this is happening in the spring and not in the harshest part of winter. May all be well–and soon. Blessings to you and yours.

  8. Elaine, I love the photos you post on Facebook of you out in the woods with your beloved dogs. Nature is indeed a balm for this grief.

    I am fortunate to have my sister 5 minutes away. We see only each other and take walks together. Having a good mask and gloves, she is now my personal shopper–doing the grocery shopping for both of us. She enjoys the outings, whereas I’m happy to stay in unless I’m going out in nature.

    As you said, those of us with plenty of food and a safe house are among the fortunate, yet we still grieve for our common losses.

    • Thank you, Lynne. The flowers, bugs, and birds are coming, so photos will be more colorful. I look forward to that. How wonderful that you get to see your sister and walk with her–and that she prefers doing the shopping. Yes, we are the fortunate ones, but there’s a universal grieving we all feel in our bellies and bones as the old way of living ends before the new way reveals itself. It’s a lot like personal grief, as you know so well, but on a world-wide scale. Wishing you peace, safety, and more beautiful spring days.

  9. Oh yes dearest Elaine, we can learn a lot about our history tells and arts. I love this movie not only because of the music and the dance scene but as I knew it is a well-made adaption of the Romeo and Julia by Shakespeare. Thank you and grateful as always
    Sincerely Aladin

    • I love West Side Story as an adaptation, too, so thanks for bringing that up, Aladin. Other operas and tragedies in plays can teach us so much about these times. I just remembered loving the movie Black Orpheus that came out a few years later. Thanks for all the good work you do. I send you peace and good health across the ocean.

  10. Thank you so much for printing out the words to this song which has long been a favorite of mine as well. I loved having the words so I could sing this out loud before my sweet dog who sees me singing and dancing a lot lately (as there’s no one else around to witness my unusual behaviors now). Hiking in the woods almost every day keeps me going these days. And photo-shopping. And when it rains and I’m couped up at home, I go online and love hearing how you and the rest of the world are coping with the situation we’re in. What a crazy time it is.
    Please stay well.

    • I hadn’t thought about this song for many years, Robin. It showed up on its own in memory while I was hiking, probably related to the devastation I felt when my dad died in 1959. My mother was tolerant as I played West Side Story and Porgy and Bess over and over and over again. I’m glad you’re hiking. I hike no matter what the weather, but my dogs may be sturdier than Suki. They don’t seem to mind (although Disco has a jacket) and I know it’s good for me. I get warm when I get home. I’m still taking a writing class with Ellen Schmidt–a Zoom meeting now which is challenging with a cochlear implant, but we’re all facing challenges. This morning I got a produce delivery from a local organic farm. How nice is that! They usually sell to local restaurants, but those restaurants are closed now. They support me and I support them. You stay well, too, and thanks for taking time to comment.

  11. Oh, Elaine, you have once again inspired your readers, along with providing solace. I, too, have the song “Somewhere” playing on my laptop, and it does bring much needed hope.

    What a grief-filled time this has been for me. We took my 99-year-old mother-in-law out of her assisted living facility last week (where she could see no family), and she died in our home four days ago. We knew she was nearing the end of her life, but no one had a clue it was this close. It’s as though she knew where she needed to be and let go. Unlike your mother-in-law, she made everything easy for others, always full of gratitude. On top of the grief, the caring for her night and day threw my chronic illness into a literal tailspin, and my vertigo has been so severe that I’ve been in bed for a few days. (I know you know all too well what vertigo is like.) I just keep reminding myself that this is the wave I must ride right now and feel compassion for my suffering along with the rest of the world’s. And despite the suffering, I have so much to be grateful for. May you be peaceful and have ease of well-being, Anne

    • Thanks for reading and commenting at such a rough time, Anne. I’m grateful your mother-in-law could die in your home and not in isolation, but it’s an exhausting job accompanying someone to their death and then dealing with the aftermath. It’s no wonder your body took a tailspin–mixed with quarantine, the virus, and the moral wreckage surrounding us. I’m sorry about extreme vertigo, because I know from experience that everything must stop. There is no choice. I have episodic vertigo rather than constant, and it responded to medication once we found the right one for me and once I overcame my resistance to prescription drugs. I hope you have medicines that work for your particular kind of vertigo. Rest and sleep are always the main healers for me. I hope your days of rest work for you, too. I’m glad you have the ability to hold your suffering with compassion. So many are suffering now that we are not alone in that aspect of being human. I’m glad you’re home. I’m glad you have a warm bed and I hope spring flowers. I’m glad you were able to give your mother-in-law the most important gift and now you need to recover. May you heal quickly and may that vertigo devil leave you in peace.

  12. Thanks for all your kind wishes, Elaine ~ they mean a lot. And there are spring flowers starting to bloom, and our violet-green swallows have returned!

    • Anne, I just wrote a blog about these times which I think you’ll appreciate. It goes up tomorrow night. I don’t know what we can do except turn to the kindness of others and the beauty of nature–and push for voting by mail. I hope you’re feeling better and more stable.

  13. Very good post. I am going through many of these
    issues as well..

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