Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Book about Loss: "The Mercy Papers"

UGH. I'm reading another book about loss. I find myself drawn to frank and raw stories, where the authors discuss their experiences without bathing in false hope and creating recipes for "fixing it." My latest read, "The Mercy Papers" by Robin Romm is stark. After the first few chapters I almost gave up---too close, too painful, too much reality. I skipped to the afterword at the end of the book, looking for a reason to keep reading. I found it; she writes:

It seemed to me that most books sought to close the wound, hurry it shut. But death doesn't heed commands. The wound, large as it is, can't close up in a week, in a year, in two years. You can't talk it away in groups, you can't meditate it out of you. The truth of loss is loud and ferociuos. This book is a tribute to that truth.

I returned to my place and continued to read "the violence of the actual event," as Romm describes her book. I gave myself permission, though, to skip and read through in a shallow manner when it becomes too hard for my tender heart to take. And with my new approach, I am still able to find many experiences that resonate with my own.

I wonder of this need I have to pour a cup of another's pain with my own. How is it that there is comfort in that? Perhaps it is that another's pain informs my own. I don't feel better that someone else suffers as I do, but I do learn from those who have suffered tragic loss and can articulate and describe and make meaning of it.

My approach to Caitlin's death was and is to allow it to be what it is, and to have the courage to feel the emotions it conjures in me to be felt. To express in words or images the meaning I find and to hug her life close to me until it becomes a physical, tangible part of me. I think, maybe, that's what Romm has accomplished with her book. 

(But, when I'm finished, I'm going to watch the movie "Wall-E" 'cause I'm gonna need a little yang to go with my ying here.)


  1. I can't even begin to imagine what you have and are going through. Hugs


  2. I haven't read this one yet, but I did go through a point where I read a lot of books by bereaved moms. The most recent (and an excellent one, if you haven't read it yet) is An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination

    emily from stepping stones

  3. That book sounds amazing.

    I think the 'pouring a cup of another's wound for your own pain' as you so eloquently stated it is very human. I think that's what got me into reading infertility and loss blogs in the first place, as well as sharing my own story.

    I've only read two posts so far, but I really am enjoying discovering your place. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for being so real.

  4. "The truth of loss is loud and ferociuos."

    No truer words have been written.

    I will add this to my reading list.