Duluth woman offers Honor & Comfort Poems

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As we remember fallen service members, Memorial Day can also highlight grief in all its forms. A Duluth woman hopes poetry brings both honor and comfort to families left behind.

"It really came out of my own journey. Both of my parents died decades ago. They were in their early 70s," Cathy Cato said. "I’d always enjoyed poetry and had been writing some, and it just really helped me through the grief process."

Cato used her experience to inspire a business meant to offer healing to others.

"I think that words help give form to memories," she said.

About two months ago, she launched Honor & Comfort Poems.

"I chose the name because I really want to honor a person’s loved one and then … comfort those people who are remaining," Cato said.

The poem can come at any time. She’s written for a mother who had lost her young daughter years before and families who wanted a short poem quickly to put on a memorial service program.

A retired nurse, Cathy is comfortable with the emotions around loss. She starts with a simple discussion with someone interested in a remembrance poem to see if it’s a good fit. She might ask them to bring photos or write down favorite memories.

"I take the information, I sit with it, I really absorb it, kind of immerse myself with it for a day or two, and then write a draft poem," she explained.

Her poems are typically one or two pages long. And she chooses each word with the utmost care.

"I think by really drilling down to choose those specific words, you can really get at the kernel of who someone was," Cato said.

She wrote this poem for her friend Irma Holmgren, who Cato says was known for her unconditional love:

"There’s no need to say goodbye.
We hold our hands directly over our hearts in gratitude,
for all the love you placed there.
You are home now,
only after preparing us for your absence."

Above all, the passion project has taught her humility and showed her what a gift it is to connect with each other.

"As you gain more years, you really focus on what’s important and what’s more life-affirming," she said.

Cato also works with a local artist, Clare Cooley, to offer art adornments that accompany the poetry.

For more information, visit honorandcomfort.com.