All My Children is the debut poetry collection of local Sunshine Coast author Michelle Marks. Raw and honest, All My Children follows the author’s journey through pregnancy loss, subsequent pregnancies and the process of healing. Michelle’s words validate the feelings of guilt, loss and grief experienced when a parent loses a child.In writing All My Children, Michelle hopes to encourage communities to talk more about child loss – to start a conversation and to stand together. Michelle shares her story with us -“I live in Cooroy, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland with my husband Ross and our children Nathan, Luke and Meg.
“In 2003 Ross and I were expecting our first children. We were pregnant with twins – a boy called Matthew and a girl called Jessie. At twenty-two and a half weeks, Jessie’s membranes ruptured and I went into premature labour. After a 24 hour labour, Jessie was born and sadly died a short time after. As Matthew’s membranes remained intact, it was hoped that he would remain in utero for as long as possible. Unfortunately, due to their placentas becoming fused during pregnancy, Matthew was delivered at twenty three weeks and also died. I was just 23 years old when our children died. Although we had an amazing support network of friends and family, I only had a few friends with children and didn’t know anybody who had ever lost a baby so I found it to be a very lonely experience.
“In 2013 my youngest two children and I were involved in a high impact head on collision on our way home from soccer training. We were hit by a tourist who was driving on the wrong side of the road and were very fortunate to escape the accident with our lives.
But it got me thinking. What if my own children were to experience the loss of a child in the future and I wasn’t here to support them? What if other people out there are feeling the isolation of grief that I had felt for many years? So, I decided to write my book.
At times, it was a difficult process. Setting my mind back to those moments was quite confronting at times but also very healing. It was very important to me that my book be an honest account of my thoughts and emotions although there were definitely moments when I read my own words and wondered ‘can I actually let other people read this?’ The truth is, the more bereaved parents you speak to, the more you realise that these thoughts and emotions are actually felt by everyone – that we are not alone in this experience.
Writing ALL MY CHILDREN was a deeply cathartic experience and helped me to revisit my journey through a different lens. I think self forgiveness is the greatest gift that we can give ourselves and something we should all work towards.
“There are two key messages in my book. Firstly, that pregnancy loss is not only emotionally and psychologically traumatic but also physically traumatic. When you are healing, it is important to address all these areas in whatever way suits you best.
Secondly, you are not alone. Share your experience with others. Let your story be your strength.
“Grief and loss is something that all of us will experience throughout our lives. I guess you have two choices – either you become narrow minded, judgemental and bitter or you keep moving forward and allow your experience to help you to become more empathetic and accepting in life. This is made easier if you surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.
The loss of a child can be a huge strain on any relationship. Some days you may feel terrible but your partner may feel fine and vice versa. My husband and I have always had a good respect for one another’s grief and this mutual understanding has been an integral part of moving forward together as a family.
“The loss of a child is devastating. In our endeavour to comfort others, we may try and give a reason for the event or we may not know what to say at all and avoid that person altogether which is unintentionally very hurtful. I would say to everyone reading this is that the truth is – there is nothing you can say to make this loss hurt less. The best thing to say to someone who has lost a child? ‘I am sorry for your loss.’
“If someone else can hold this book in their hands and find the strength to tell their own story, then it has achieved its purpose.” – Michelle Marks.