A grown daughter recounts how her mother suddenly left her family for another man and moved away. The author feels alternately puzzled and betrayed by her mother's leaving. With her mother's help, she explores the complex connections between her mother's action and her mother's experience of having a stillborn child many years before.

She describes how each family member reacted to the discovery that the child was stillborn, how the nurses took the baby away and wouldn't let her parents hold him, and how little they actually grieved over or talked about the baby afterward. In her role as protector of her family, shielding everyone else from the pain of the stillbirth, the author's mother lost something central of herself. She left her family in order to begin to find it.


This essay is an articulate and emotional depiction of how the avoidance of grieving corrodes the soul, the spirit, and relationships. It is helpful to be reminded that in caring for the dying, we should never forget those who are left, for the grieving process is an important and complex experience which health care providers can help to facilitate.

Primary Source

The Iowa Review


Univ. of Iowa

Place Published

Iowa City, Iowa



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