Before he died: Clear-Cut by Chanel Brenner: AfterTalk Inspirational 8.8.19

by Chanel Brenner 

It falls from my binder,

cherry crayon streaks

ripen in sun, LOVE RILEY


a valentine from my son,

three weeks before he died,clear cut AfterTalk Grief support


cutout paper once a tree,

before its felling

and reduction to pulp.


I pick up the heart,

hold it like a seed I’ll save


to grow an oak.

I couldn’t answer

his question,

Mommy, does paper

remember being a tree?


 Clear-Cut first appeared in Cider Press Review

A re-post of Chanel Brenner’s Welcome to Dead Child World 

Please try to make yourself comfortable. If it feels like you are outside your body, it’s because you are. Don’t worry, this is normal. It helps to think of yourself as a cocoon. Part of you crossed over with your child, and what remains is a shell. We recommend you refrain from catching your fleeting reflection in mirrors or windows. A new you will emerge, but not today. We apologize in advance for the woman who will knock on your door with ashes in a plastic box, tucked inside a baby blue gift bag. We’re sorry it will remind you of a shower gift. If your dead child had a brother or sister younger than three, you will need to tell them repeatedly their sibling has died. We recommend you say, No he’s not in the hospital. No, he’s not coming home. No, he’s not going to be born again. Say the words firmly, in the same tone every time, without tears. We are sorry for the additional pain this will cause. Good news: you can’t OD on grief! If you chose to donate your child’s organs, remember that his heart, liver, and kidneys will eventually die. If you are wondering whether the label, Parent of a Dead Child, is necessary, it is. Wear it conspicuously, so other parents will know to avoid your sorrow’s contagion, so they won’t think about their own children dying. We don’t want a situation on our hands.

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Every Thursday we publish “AfterTalk Inspirational.” We invite readers to submit their own poem, essay, or suggestions for inspirational quotes for publication. If you are a therapist you are welcome to extend this invitation to your clients as well. Please send your submission to

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