Book Shelf: Empty by Kerryn-Lissa Pocklington
As a friend, sister or mother on the sidelines, watching someone endure a miscarriage is simply heartbreaking. Meek and mild platitudes, flowers and care packages can barely disguise the deep disappointment one feels for a woman whose expectant joy turns so quickly to sorrow.
For those of us who have not experienced miscarriage, but who want to understand and journey with their friends through the pain, while offering them a small comfort bound in print, Kerryn-Lissa Pocklington's self-published book Empty is a thoughtful glimpse into the ether – the aftermath of miscarriage – and an ideal gift.
"I decided to write this book, not just to create another book, not to make something famous out of a horribly common situation, but simply to just talk about it," she writes. And her message has resonated far and wide.
"The places and people it has reached has amazed me," she says. "From miscarriage support libraries, to army chaplains, to hospital 'memory boxes', to road works staff rooms, and recently to winter Olympian Alisa Camplin who lost her little boy Finnan, at ten days old."
While beautifully composed, as if each page were crafted with the care of a mother's hand, there is nothing airy-fairy or patronizing about Pocklington's highly personal, respectful approach. She starts with a list of reasons why people don't talk about miscarriage and then, through the telling of her own story, dislodges some of the mental, emotional and spiritual barriers.
"One minute you're getting ready for work and have the next few months planned out. The next, you're in hospital and can't even comprehend what is happening, let alone the impact on how you saw the next year panning out... There's no point in asking, 'why me?' because there is no answer. It's not a personal thing. It's not because I have or haven't done something. It's not because I should have eaten one more carrot stick and one less chocolate. It's not because I had that late night. It just happens."
Written in honour of the two babies she herself lost, as well as the 'Honour Roll' of babies who never set foot on the earth who occupy one of her book's pages, Pocklington takes us through the ten days after her first miscarriage, offering up her thoughts, feelings and prayers.
She is honest and raw, writing of her disbelief, numbness, denial, self-pity and initial lack of motivation, as she weathers the ebb and flow of emotion to keep the grief, bitterness, regret and blame from settling in and robbing her of the experience to grow and to hope for the future; a future that has included the birth of two of her own children.
Just over a year ago, a dear friend of GWAS lost her yet-to-be-born baby girl to a late-term miscarriage. Since then, another friend has also suffered a miscarriage, too. I wish I could have bestowed this book on them back then. But if Pocklington's words are anything to go by, it's never too late for soothing words and hopeful thoughts to attend to the broken hearts of once expectant mums who lost their little ones.
Kerryn is selling Empty – which has made its way to New Zealand, the USA, South Africa, the UK and Ireland, in packs of two for $25 so you have the opportunity to 'pay it forward'.
"It's a way that they can provide help for someone, in the same way that they have been helped," she says. "I've even heard back from some readers, that they have donated their 2nd copy in honour of the child they lost, to an organisation that helped them, such as a counselling centre, so then that organisation has been able to lend it out as a resource to others in need. It's so exciting to hear these stories, as it means that the 'gift' doesn't just stop with the first person, but it keeps on giving."
You can order copies of Empty by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Girl With a Satchel