Sitting at my desk, working on words of loss, I watch a thousand cottonwood seeds drift by the window. White wisps rising on the breeze, lifted from my sight. Summer's snow globe, shaken and set to spin. I remember noticing them, as if for the first time, the summer after our twins died. One afternoon the blue sky was filled with a million floating puffs, light and airy. As I stumbled staring up at them, circling, I could see, startling: it's like every small soul who's leaving this side of life and rushing to whatever comes next. Right before my eyes. Suddenly I could see. The flash of an instant when the tiny and the cosmic connect. They weren't nothing, these babies we lost, so many of us, millions. They weren't just seeds either, mere possibility and potential. They were life, they were hope, they were real, they were all around us, they were too many to count. We wanted them to stay, but they floated just beyond our reach, and every time we grasped after them, the … [Read more...] about in an instant
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!
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