In the past four years here at KotaPress, we have done so much peer-to-peer work with other bereaved parents, but often, that work doesn't seem to be directly connected with our literary, arts, or bookmaking endeavors. So I wanted to spend part of this "review" space to do a bit of report on how all our work connects to be a cohesive mission in our lives. I'll tie some pieces together and offer you some information about the publications we have available here at KotaPress -- publications for bereaved parents, but also for anyone who is interested in creativity and grief, healing and the arts.
This work started when my son Dakota died four years ago, and in my crazy-grief I wrote several collections of narrative poetry very quickly. It was a watershed of the insanity we were living through at the time. And as I began to share some of that with others, people began urging me to share it more widely. So my husband Hawk and I began publishing the works. And we found that the work of the art was also very helpful to us. It was movement, it was connection to the world at large, it was a channel for all the love, time, energy, and money we had thought we'd be giving to a child.
I believe that those activities, this "mission" work of raising awareness about bereaved parents and their children, this art *literally* saved our lives. There have been many time when I just wanted to drive into a tree. But then my phone would ring or my email would chime and there was another bereaved parent who needed something -- a hug, an ear, some gentle caring. And suddenly I didn't have time to drive into the tree just then.
just a day ago, we discovered
an article published in
the Lancet medical journal,
talking about how the mortality
rates of bereaved parents
is much higher than parents
in families where no children
have died. They did not
bereaved parents to "go
it alone" bereaved
parents, but they did look
at families with dead children
and families where all children
are surviving. The results
are shocking and yet not
surprising at all. There
is a news article on this
My point is this: Our work here at KotaPress saved our lives many times. I hope that our outreach through KotaPress, MISS, and the National Stillbirth Society is, in turn, offering some small hope to other bereaved families in the effort to keep them alive, too!
So you are saying, "Okay, Kara, but where's the review? What's the connection?" Well, the review follows, and it is a listing of information about some of our publications, some narrative poetry, some print zine format, etc.. Please peruse, purchase, ask questions. If you are a bereaved family and want to be in touch with us, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a friend, family member, or caregiver to a bereaved family, please look at what we have and take advantage of having these resources available to educate yourself, to provide these resources to the bereaved family directly, to learn more about what those parents are really living after the death of a child.
KotaPress is an arts organization, a poetry outlet -- but all our art works are done with the mission of giving voice to our experiences. That voice changes over time, gives us perspective, maybe healing, and definitely the will to keep living. Though the voice evolves over time, it is still sharing the story of our son's death. He was our child. He continues - even in death - to matter to us. And your children matter, too. This is art as resource. Art as voice. Art as mission.
Duck and The Woman
The result of that writing is the book Mrs. Duck and The Woman. Other than changing the gender of the deceased child in the story so that any parent could identify with it, the story is pretty much exactly as I "free wrote" it that day. The "literary" folks in my life don't believe me when I tell them that, but I swear it is true.
This is a story of how to put one foot in front of the other and just keep living in the honor and memory of your child -- even in the middle of the overwhelming pain. A good starting place for helping parents see that they can still be parents, still have their children making a difference in this world, even after death.
This book includes photos of me when pregnant AND a photo of my son after his birth. It is a GOOD way to help professionals, friends, and family -- even those who are currently expecting and may encounter something similar to our stillbirth -- that the baby is a baby, beautiful, and looks as though he was sleeping. When my time came to be with my son, I didn't hold him because I was afraid he'd look like "death" (whatever that looks like) -- so I really recommend the sharing of photos of our stillborns to make the real and not at all scary to people.
The pregnancy story is included here as a way of making the reader have an investment in the "character" in the story who dies half way through the narrative. But tender, grieving parents may want to skip that and go straight to the grief poems for a look at one family's navigation through life after child death.
At the back of the book, we've included a resource guide for finding online and offline support. These are all supports that we have checked out, used, or had some contact with over the years. I've done my best to make sure they are safe and positive supports.
Kind of Parenting: zine
for parents whose children
This is a quarterly, print zine that is available in single copy for $2 or by subscription for $8/year. It includes helpful articles, reviews, and memorials. While it's often me who is writing all the contributions, we do sometimes get guest contributors - and I'm always open to more! - who offer articles about a range of issues specific to bereaved parents. We cover everything from keeping your child's memory honored during family holidays to self care and being gentle with yourself on the dark days -- from perspectives on grief over many years (decades) to the personality of grief support groups. Sometimes we have book or film reviews on items that address child death in some way.
Every issue is different. Every issue is about parenthood after the death of a child. Every issue is offered with resource & support in mind and heart.
always, be in touch if we can be of
help or services in some way!