Robert Frost is one of the most readable and understandable authors of poetry that we read. A lot of his poetry is on everyday events told like a story or conversation between two people. In a lot of his work there is a deeper and oftentimes darker meaning and exploration of the human condition.
All but two of Frost’s children, his wife, and his parents died before he did. Deep loss affected him at a young age and greatly influenced his writing and tone. Probably one of the best examples of experiencing loss in Frost’s works is the poem Home Burial. It is a heated dialogue between a husband and wife over the loss of their child.
The wife sees her husband digging their child’s grave through the window and is shocked that he could be so insensitive and uncaring about how he buried their child. She wants to leave the house and be anywhere else but her husband stops her and pleads with her to talk about her grief and work through it together. She doesn’t realize that burying their child was the hardest task her husband has ever had to do but he hides his emotions better than she can.
The way Frost shows how males and females experience grief is intriguing. Men for the most part experience grief inwardly, meaning they don’t need to show their emotions and talk through it with someone so they feel understood. Women on the other hand show their grief outwardly through emotions of anger, depression, confusion, and frustration. They need to talk through their grief with someone who understands and it generally takes longer to move on.
The husband wants to understand his wife’s grief but she refuses to talk to him because he is insensitive and can’t understand. When she finally begins to open up to her husband he says that she is slightly overreacting. The man is not trying to be insensitive but experiences and interprets grief differently than she does.
Frost observes that this is the way that men and women grieve in his culture but not all cultures grieve the same way either. In Papua New Guinea for example both men and women experience grief outwardly, mourning for days. If Frost’s observation is not always true for every circumstance is the observation only true in his case or could it be an underlying truth in every human?
Researchers agree with Frost that men and women most definitely grieve differently but they also say that when it comes to grieving, every person is different. This may be why men and women in Papua New Guinea seem to grieve the same way. Tradition and culture play a big part in grieving and what is and isn’t acceptable.
Frost could have been writing of his own experience of grief when he lost his children but either way his loss spreads to the intensity of Home Burial.