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Odd subject for The Guardian

How do you grieve for a child who barely lived? A new book has some profound answers
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

I thought abortion was empowering?

17 thoughts on “Odd subject for The Guardian”

  1. High-flown stuff from Rhiannon Loose My Corset!

    «The book asks the question: in the absence of societal or religious rituals, how do you mourn, and mark, a life scarcely lived?»

    Could it be that the materialistic and transactional lives of guardianistas lack something that matters?

  2. Siblings, too, will have their rituals. Some of the most affecting parts of Norwood’s book detail how the then four-year-old Anatole, Gabriel’s big brother, tries to process his death through play, acting out the ultrasound scans and later the funeral, incorporating the objects, the baby’s blankets and anklets, in his memory box, and blowing kisses from his skylight towards the church where his brother has been buried.

    Sorry, I’ve got something in my eye.

  3. You can’t plan it, you can’t imagine it, you just have to get on with it. You probably won’t get over it.

  4. ‘I thought abortion was empowering?’

    Perhaps it’s simply that so many children are aborted these days, it’s necessary to have some sort of ritual to commemorate them.

    In the good old days, you just went and had some more. This meant you had less time to mourn for the one who was gone

  5. «The book asks the question: in the absence of societal or religious rituals, how do you mourn, and mark, a life scarcely lived?»

    If she asked her grandma the answer would be: bury the little mite with the other three, and get started on making another one.

  6. “in the absence of societal or religious rituals”

    The modern-day religion is the NHS. Presumably when your child dies, they treat you with appropriate levels of sympathy and respect. Oh, they don’t?

  7. I’m sure I’ve posted about this before. Our Mark was born lifeless in 1987. He was incompatible with life, he had hydrocephalus, spina bifida and, to add insult to injury, a club foot. We had a priest on standby to baptise him as soon as he was delivered. He had a funeral which meant he had a death certificate but not a birth certificate. He has a plaque in a churchyard near Johannesburg.

    I do think naming him and having the funeral helped the grieving process, but it still really hit me hard for many years, Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” always got me going.

    In 2012, I visited South Africa with a colleague and said I’d like to go and see Mark. I really thought after 25 years I’d just have a moment of quiet reflection, but I very quickly started crying uncontrollably. My colleague just held me and thanked me for introducing him to the one member of our family that, to that point, he had not met.

    That colleague is my firmest friend to this day.

  8. DocBud – sometimes words are painfully inadequate…

    You have a good friend there. You deserve to have good friends, because you are a good man.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  9. The Other Bloke in Italy

    My parents left us in their 90s, still mourning my littlest sister, who died in 1957.

    It does not go away.

    Bud, you are among friends.

  10. DocBud

    Thank you for writing that.

    We all need our perspectives challenged. Nothing matters very much and very few things matter at all – to quote Arthour Balfour – but what will remain of us is love.

    All we can do is cultivate that love, of the living and the dead, who remain with us still.

  11. DocBud

    I’m sat here playing various games and generally messing around with my kids before they go to bed and they’re asking why I have a tear in my eye.

    Sometimes no words are necessary

    Deepest sympathy on your loss. I am afraid time is not always a healer as many on here will testify.

    May your friend and your family give you comfort in your grief

  12. Doc Bud

    You have my sympathy. My best friend’s son died just after getting a first class degree and I don’t really know how to comfort him, apart from listening if he brings the matter up.

    A child aged 8 to 10 is the most grievous loss, according to experts from the Institute of Studies. So much potential, so much happiness remembered, so much investment lost. And in the current age of late motherhood little chance of replacement.

  13. My family in rural Scotland were never particularly well off. Life for my mum’s side of the family was never easy, long hours and hard work being the norm amongst a farming community.
    My grandparents had my mum, my aunt and my uncle and that was that as far as everyone was concerned. It was only after my gran’s death that we discovered that I had an uncle (and they a sibling) that never made it out of the hospital, and was buried discreetly in a local Kirk.
    I think some things can hurt too much for words and for certain generations, all that’s left is to mourn and get on with things.

  14. “In the good old days, you just went and had some more. This meant you had less time to mourn for the one who was gone”

    The missus’s hobby is researching local history, so she spends a lot of time with parish registers. We all know what infant mortality was like two or three centuries ago, but it seems to have been common practice to have a child called Fred (say) who died young and then to have another boy and name him Fred again (probably because the original Fred was a relative). This might be repeated two or even three times.

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