Ever since losing Alex at full term back in the dark ages of 1995, I've been looking for stories of other bereaved parents who might have shared their stories in books. I became particularly interested in celebrities that have had losses, but much to my dismay, none had written autobiographies. I purchased the book of the biography of Jackie Kennedy once because I knew she lost a baby at birth-the same year her husband was assassinated, but I didn't realize this: there is a BIG difference between biographies written by a third person and autobiographies, written by the person him or herself. This biography of Jackie was great at giving 'dates' and what happened and what not, but did not really delve into the feelings, on what happened to her psyche. How in the world did she cope when within six months she lost her child AND her husband? This is the reason why I am obsessed with biographies, I've always been interested in finding out how people coped when life gave them lemons. Gigantic lemons.
Just recently, as I am writing Alex's story for the book I am writing about Nicky's life, I did more research for celeb's autobiographies to see if I could find some gems previously unreleased. While I did find a few released since 1995 of other moms who speak quite generously and eloquently about it (and I read those books in record time!), still, celebs who have had stillbirths are rare, but there are a few that I WISH would share their experiences. I know, how selfish of me! LOL. Probably the most notable in recent years has been Katie Segal, whose pregnancy had been written in her show Married with Children, and when she lost the baby they had to pretend Peg's pregnancy had just been a "dream". Common Katie, we want to know more. Another famous celeb who lost a child at the 8th month of pregnancy was Keanu Reeves' girlfriend Jennifer, and Jennifer herself died in a car accident two years later. I am dying to hear a father's point of view. I did get a morsel of his feelings in an article I found online:
“Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better.’ They’re wrong.
“When the people you love are gone, you’re alone. I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here—what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be.
“Damn it! It’s not fair! It’s absurd. All you can do is hope that grief will be transformed and, instead of feeling pain and confusion, you will be together again in memory, that there will be solace and pleasure there, not just loss.”
“Much of my appreciation of life has come through loss,” he said. “Life is precious. It’s worthwhile.”
Common Keanu. Autobiography please.
Did Oprah write an autobiography? There are so many out there about her, but not sure which one she wrote or which one she speaks about the baby she lost.
So... in the end I did find a couple of books, autobiographies of "celebs" (although I didn't exactly know who they were prior to my research, but it's okay) that speak about their losses. Here they are:
Kym Marsh is probably unknown to most people in the US, but she's probably a well known name to the Brits. According to wikipedia, she first came into the public eye in 2001 after appearing as a contestant on ITV's talent show Popstars where she made the final line-up for the band Hear'Say along with four others. Marsh left the group in 2002 and now plays Michelle Connor in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street. On 12 February 2009, Marsh released a statement announcing that her son Archie had been born 18 weeks early on 11 February, and had died moments after birth. Her book recounts her difficult childhood, her raise to stardom and the death of her son.
Katherine Graham was an American publisher. She led her family's newspaper, The Washington Post, for more than two decades. She has been widely described as one of the most powerful American women of the twentieth century. Katharine had to endure the stillbirth of her first child, and several subsequent miscarriages.
According to a reviewer, she does speak of her losses in her memoir, and I do hope she speaks candidly about it, she does have 642 pages to do it! This book is next on my list to get.
This is the book I am reading right now, "Life Touches Life" by Lorraine Ash. I love it because her story is eerily similar to mine. Gives me the chills just to read it.
Another book I just finished is the one below from Elizabeth McCracken, 'An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination". Very neat title, the story though is hard to follow at times, but it's okay, it jumps around from the pregnancy she lost at full term (once again, very similar situation as mine) to the pregnancy a year later where she gives birth to a healthy baby.
I have a few more in my 'wish list' but I will need to read more about them before I get them. I have very little precious time to read and I alternate these grief books with autobiographies just as not to get too depressed, but my next autobiography is
Mackenzie Phillips, so I am not sure how cheerful that book is going to be!
One more note about grief in general before I end this. For years now, since Alex died, people have told me 'God does not give you more than you can handle'. Please everyone, stop saying that to me or to anyone. It's simply not true. After Alex died I remember going to the newslist alt.support.grief and I read TWO posts at a couple of months distance where mothers whose children had died committed suicide to go be with their babies. God gave them more than they could handle. I stopped reading posts there after that because I simply could not handle it. There is also a story in my family that deserves to be told and I recount the details in my book, but I will mention part of it here just to help people understand what I am trying to say.
My grandpa had an older sister, Maria Corradin, who married a wealthy farmer and they had 4 boys. In 1919 the whole family was infected by the 'spanish flu' (which killed millions around the world) and in a matter of WEEKS my great-aunt Maria lost her husband and all 4 of her boys. When she came home after the last funeral of her oldest son, she went 'numb'. I researched this and what I surmise is that she either had a psychological shock or suffered an acute post-stress disorder of some sort and while she could do the "basics" of eating, dressing etc, she was unresponsive otherwise. She lived well into her 90s and died in the late 1970s, so she lived 55+ years in a rest home, unable to fetch for herself. God did give her more than she could handle.
I understand WHY people say that, they want to give people some imaginary strenght, ohhh 'you can handle it, chin up', but while I am certain it's meant to encourage and it's given with the best of intentions, it's almost a dismissive statement. I love THIS BLOGGER for example, who explains what's really in the bible.
I think a better way to express the sentiment that people are trying to get across with this is something more along the lines of, "God won't abandon you in the hard times" or "God is still with you." Really though, even better is just to let someone know you are there for them, offer your help, and listen to them. The people I have appreciated the most in hard times have been the ones who said the least, usually. They were just there for me.