A Review of UNITE's "Seasons
Several weeks ago, I got an email from Linda Visconti at UNITE telling me about their poetry anthology "Seasons of Grief" and asking if we might offer a review and some information about the book. Of course I agreed and asked her to send the materials to me. I had not expected to get a 450 page book!
This anthology is the most comprehensive collection of poetry about the grief, loss, and healing after the death of a child that I have ever seen anywhere! It is a collection of writings from bereaved parents and families who have been a part of UNITE over the past 25 years. If you had any doubt before, then simply the weight of this book (literally and figuratively) will tell you how much good work these folks have done over the past 25 years.
And if I had any doubt as to whether or not I should review this book, that was all cleared up for me when I saw that "Dakota Communications" had donated the printing of this book. Most of you know that my stillborn son was named Dakota and that I'm obsessed with seeing and hearing his name. I consider it a direct sign from my son himself when I see a "coincidence" like this. (No, I'm not insane.)
This collection has an impressive table of contents, let alone the actual poems included. There are sections covering everything from "Grief" to "Holidays," from "Stillbirth" to "Anniversaries," from "Multiple Losses" to "Memories, Remembrances & Riturals." I was a little disappointed to see the segregation of genders perpetuated by the inclusion (separation) of topics such as "Mother's Grief" and "Father's Grief." They do redeem it a little by then offering "A Family's Grief." I will just say that if we continue to accept gender segregation in these small ways, then we will never solve the larger problems of communications between *people* with different ways of grieving, different belief systems, different cultures, let alone addressing same sex couples who have the misfortune of enduring the deaths of their children.
*However* that aside, this collection is amazing. The poetry comes from beginners as well as seasoned poets from what I can tell. Collectively these pieces show us the "Culture of Grief After the Death of a Child" -- at least as it is in our Western culture. The section breaks include wonderful quotes from different sources such as past UNITE newsletters and Shakespeare. You'll find a few prose pieces mixed up in here, some rhyming poetry, some free verse and more. But regardless of the form, the content cannot be ignored. These are parents who will be heard, whose children will not be forgotten, who have learned to survive after the deaths of their precious children. And they don't hide the full grieving process from you either. You'll see the dark anger, the regrets, the questions, the survival, the subsequent family events, the long term effects of grief on the family members who go on to live the rest of their lives without their kids.
If you have a care giver or family member or friend who has proved to be clueless as to your struggle to survive after the death of your child, I highly recommend you get a copy of this book. Bookmark at least 100 pages that speak to you. Give the "clueless one" the book and ask them to read all that you have bookmarked. And then ask them to discuss it with you after they've read it. This should be mandatory reading for anyone offering "comfort" to bereaved parents! While we are all different and we all experience our grief differently, there is a vast range of experience here to offer the clueless something more than platitudes, so that they know more about the bereavement experience.
And if you are are a *clueful* friend or care giver, then this book makes a wonderful, thoughtful, kind gift to give to a bereaved parent to mark an anniversary date or for a holiday or for any day in general. Don't be afraid to "remind them" or "upset them" by offering this. I have news for you: Their dead child is top of mind all the time anyway! They just haven't found anyone patient enough to understand that. Your purchase of this book offers support to UNITE and offer something thoughful to the parent-- something tangible that marks the fact that you "get it" and honor the place their dead child has in their lives.
Here's the UNITE information about this title. Thanks to Linda for making me aware of this awesome collection!
UNITE Poetry Anthology "Seasons of Grief"
Please send your check or money order (made out to UNITE, Inc.) in the
amount of $20 per copy,