In the years since our twin daughters died, I've shared in this space some of what helped me grieve. Scripture, of course. Community, in the church and among parents who have experienced loss like ours. Prayer, at turns angry, sorrowful, empty, or hopeful. What I've never written about is poetry. On my computer and in my filing cabinet, I keep (giant, growing) folders of poetry that I love. Every time I come across a poem that clutches the core of me, I tuck it there. Essays and novels and memoirs I can read by the dozen, and I do, and they change me. But poetry stays with me longer than anything else. After Maggie and Abby died, I started a new collection of poetry. For me, for grief. A few that friends and strangers sent to me or tucked into sympathy cards. Many that I found myself, unbidden. Some that I rediscovered, now knowing what they meant. I poured through books of grief poetry, gut-grateful for others who knew the healing power of words. But I also needed to … [Read more...] about the power of poetry (when words pale)
Starting today, you can get Grieving Together: A Couple's Journey through Miscarriage from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or direct from Our Sunday Visitor (with free shipping)! We're thrilled that Grieving Together is making its way into the hands of parents who need it after infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage, or the loss of a child. The greatest joy has been hearing from couples who are reading it together or talking about aspects of grief they might not have shared or understood before. (In the words of Billy Collins' poem on sending a book out into the world, "stay out as late as you like, don't bother to call or write, and talk to as many strangers as you can.") Learn more here and here about what makes the book unique. To learn more about Grieving Together, check out these resources: Franco and I did a live webcast with Our Sunday Visitor to share more about why we wrote the book and how all of us can support people in our lives who are grieving. You can listen … [Read more...] about p.s. the book is here!
If a word is mysterious and also a mouthful, it’s sure to become my favorite. When I heard “anamnesis” for the first time, I was sparked. The concept is deceptively simple. By calling to mind the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ (as Catholics do at Mass in each Eucharistic prayer), we enter into these mysteries of salvation. Let me put this more simply and shockingly: we do not simply remember, in a past, passive way. We participate in a present, palpable reality. Memory is a powerful, potent process. We return in our minds to a time and place that is not here and now. We sift through the impressions of experience, in constant conversation with the changes that have happened since. Beyond mere recollection, memory is the deeper imprinting of what mattered in the past that we carry with us into the future. In Catholic theology, memory is an act of prayer, faith, and transformation. Celebrating communion is not a memory of the Last Supper; it is a participation in … [Read more...] about do this in memory of me
He and I stare down at the freshly laid gravestone, edged by spring-green grass. "When people come into our office for this," he trails off, shielding his eyes from the morning sunshine, his weathered face suddenly young in disbelief. "It's the absolute worst when this happens," he shakes his head, unable to speak the words "baby" or "dead" in the same sentence. I nod. I can say anything; I have already baffled him with my sunny cheer, interrupting his silent, solitary task by jumping out of a minivan full of (living) children to ask if this was my daughters' gravestone he was laying. When you start having a Strange Conversation with a Stranger, you can say anything and it is marvelously freeing. (It wasn't theirs; there is another baby buried next to them now; she lived two months; my mind calculates the math every time; dates are codes in this terrible club.) "It's not like Grandma who got 80, 90 years, lived a full life," he continues, waving a heavy hand toward his … [Read more...] about hearts of flesh & hearts of stone