Editor’s note: over the next few weeks we will be publishing the works of Chanel Brenner. This is by way of introduction.
Welcome to Dead Child World
by Chanel Brenner
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.
Welcome to the Dead Child World first appeared in The Switchback Journal.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org