Little Snowdrop was the first poem I came across in the ‘between’ time, when we found out Isobel had died but before she was born. I wanted to read it at her funeral but I couldn’t get past the line “The little one we longed for” without crying. She was so longed for. Our lovely humanist minister read it for me.
Too Soon by Mary Yarnall was the other poem we picked for the funeral. There is little comfort in stillbirth, but knowing that Isobel experienced “Just love – Only love – In your lifetime.” is of some small comfort to me.
Project Heal is by an Australian artist Carly Marie whose first baby was stillborn. Carly Marie organises various events for parents to channel their grief, such as the Day of Hope in August and the Capture Your Grief project in October.
We had the reading On Joy and Sorrow from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran at Isobel’s funeral. “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Truly Isobel was my delight.
My sister sent me this link not long after Isobel died and I’ve read the words many times. True about scars, shipwrecks and waves of grief. When times are hard, I remind myself it’s just another wave and I will survive this one too. “But in between waves, there is life.”
When The Heart by Michael Leunig is beautiful written advice on letting your heart feel all the pain of your loss and not becoming closed off from life. Trying to “Let a bird lean in the hole and sing” for me is about living a full life, and not excessively avoiding things that might be painful.
In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver contains the lines: “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” I’m still working on the ‘letting it go’ part.
Secular Views on Life and Death
Stardust is an essay by an athiest writer Adam Lee reflecting on death and what happens afterwards. Part II, is beautiful. “Billions of years from now, when our sun swells and blasts the Earth’s atmosphere away, I will be there, streaming into space to rejoin the stars that gave my atoms birth.”
Song of the Star by Suzy Kassem is in a similar vein. I don’t think of Isobel as being anywhere in a conscious form but I love the idea of “With the stars, Home again”.
The Old Astronomer (To His Pupil) by Sarah Williams. Sufficient beauty in my favourite lines that I can ignore the ‘God’ reference at the end! “Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
On Living With Isobel
I chose the EE Cummings poem [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] for our wedding. I didn’t know at the time of our wedding that I was pregnant and carrying the beginnings of a little flicker that would become Isobel. It seems so appropriate now for the idea of living life with and for Isobel who didn’t get the chance. She will be with me always. We have chosen the “I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart” line for her headstone.
A friend sent me Of Tears and Terrible Sounds on a bad day, it is the most perfect sentiment of complete empathy you could ever hope to convey to someone who is hurting. “I sit suffering in solidarity with you, here in the absolute wrongness of it all.”
Invictus by William Ernest Henley is a poem that I read frequently for strength and a reminder that no matter what happens to me, I get to choose how I cope with it. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
Life After Loss
This was my initial reaction, when surviving was all I could hope for: “The only thing I know is this: I am full of wounds and still standing on my feet.” Nikos Kazantzakis.
I remember talking to clients ‘before’ about kintsukuroi and the idea that our broken parts can come together, that we can heal in a way that makes us more beautiful and stronger than we ever were before. I hope that some day I can reflect and feel that this has been true for me.
This quote by a mysterious N.T has a similar idea about growth after devastation. “For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth. ”
The Thing Is by Ellen Bass describes grief so perfectly, the all consuming and heavy weight of it – “an obesity of grief” – but acknowledges that despite this, and now being under no illusions about the cruel reality of life, we have to choose to love life anyway. “yes, I will take you I will love you, again”