Tag: Grief

A Historian’s Trip to the Graveyard

bardo, noun (In Tibetan Buddhism) a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person’s conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death. Origin: Tibetan bár-do, from bar “interval” + do “two.”1 For someone who spends their time obsessing over history, I don’t read much historical fiction. Given… Read more →

Option Whatever: The Corporatization of Grief in Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B

Two years ago, my husband Clayton was murdered. That summer, I wrote a lot in my journal. I felt angry at how so many people reacted to Clayton’s death. I wanted to memorialize our memories together. I wanted to remember through writing. I snarkily told my family I was going to publish my own how-to… Read more →

More Than Blood

We awoke to news of the carnage in Orlando. I had slept in — the first long, good night’s sleep after a hell of a week: a funeral, my 45th birthday, graduation, another funeral, and a graduation party. I woke up refreshed, but not for long. Several friends had already texted or sent me Facebook… Read more →

Enforcing Death Rituals after Miscarriage is Just Plain Cruel

The Indiana legislature claims it wants to protect unborn children and their parents. Last week Governor Mike Pence gave his blessing to a new bill aimed primarily at restricting abortion but also addressing miscarriage, explaining, “I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families.” But… Read more →

We Grow Accustomed to the Dark

Unless we’re toiling away in an English PhD program, most of us don’t pause in our daily lives to read poetry — to read anything closely, really. We might scrutinize a job offer or rental contract, or devour a Facebook feed. Seldom, however, do we allow ourselves to pause over a verse, to wade into… Read more →

Premature Birth and the Right to Grieve

There are quite a few ways to experience loss of pregnancy. When I was expecting my own daughter, no woman ever warned me about what could go wrong during pregnancy and delivery. I was told to be wary of sharing the news of pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, but also that I… Read more →

Anne Bradstreet’s Elegies for her Grandchildren

Unless we’re toiling away in an English PhD program, most of us don’t pause in our daily lives to read poetry– to read anything closely, really. We might scrutinize a job offer or rental contract, or devour a Facebook feed. Seldom, however, do we allow ourselves to pause over a verse, to wade into a… Read more →

The Boy Who Lived: Stillbirth and Life after Death

Ghostbelly: A Memoir. By Elizabeth Heineman. (New York: The Feminist Press, 2014. 320 pp. $16.95.) How do you grieve for a stillborn child? How do you ensure your child is remembered for having lived, not just for having died? These are the questions that Elizabeth Heineman explores in the unflinching, yet deeply intimate, Ghostbelly: A… Read more →

“Blossoms of Hope”: Our Cultural History of Pregnancy and Infant Loss and Grief

By Ginny Engholm

In a recent Adventures in the Archives post, Adam Turner recounts a moving story of grief and loss he found in Today’s Health of a woman whose daughter was born three months premature due to a hemolytic disease in the 1950’s. In the comments section after the post, blogger Historiann remarks, “I find it fascinating that she writes of her RH baby as being born ‘just three months too soon,’ and very much as a daughter rather than as a fetus or a patient. Even now, a 3-months preemie is still an extremely premature child with no guarantees–it’s interesting to know that some woman in 1950 thought about her daughter in the ways that seem familiar to [how] those of us in the post-Roe, post-ultrasound era think about pregnancy & children.” The commentator’s surprise at this mother’s conception of her fetus as a “daughter,” I think, mirrors a current trend in the feminist scholarship of pregnancy and childbirth that seems to divide cultural ideas around pregnancy, fetuses, and infants into pre- and post-Roe. Furthermore, advances in prenatal technology, particularly the development and increasing use of ultrasound technology, encourage us to imagine that women today have different, and in some ways, more personal relationships with their children still in the womb. And no doubt we do.