We at Reconceiving Loss are honored to partner with the 2014 movie Return To Zero, starring Minnie Driver, in creating a digital archive to commemorate baby loss. Share your own story, essay or poem by emailing your submission (word limit 3K) to email@example.com with the subject line “RTZ” and indicating which you would prefer as a byline: your name or “Anonymous.” (PLEASE NOTE: by submitting to the Return to Zero Story archive, you avow that your submission is an original work by you, you agree to our Terms of Service, and you give ReconceivingLoss.com the permission to publish your story on this website.) We will contact you via email if your submission has been selected for inclusion in the Return to Zero Story Archive at the bottom of this page. Need some inspiration? Read New Yorker contributor Daniel Raeburn’s essay below on writing as therapy and get award-winning novelist Edie Meidav’s writing encouragements here.
WHY WE NEED TO WRITE OUR STORIES OF LOSS
An Intro to Reconceiving Loss by New Yorker contributor Daniel Raeburn
A few years after our daughter was born dead, my wife and I took a writing class from the cartoonist Lynda Barry. The class was called “Writing the Unthinkable.” Of course that’s what I was doing: writing the unthinkable. It had been several years since I’d held my daughter’s body, but I still didn’t know how to think about that moment, and about her–even though I thought about her all day, every day. She’d stopped living, but I couldn’t stop being her father.
At the class, something Lynda said struck me. People sometimes think of writing as an imitation of therapy, she said, but these people have it backwards. It’s actually the reverse: therapy is an imitation of writing.
Deep down I’d always known this, and yet I’d never really realized it, not until Lynda articulated it. Like therapy, writing is narrative. It’s taking the raw, senseless material of this world and shaping it into something that’s not so senseless, into something that we can live with. A story. And after the death of a child, that’s what we need: a story that we can live with.
Nobody knows better than I that the death of a child is ultimately random and in that sense meaningless. But by writing about that death, we’re actually writing about life. We’re making something out of the void, something that is more meaningful, and more true, for being invented.
—Daniel Raeburn writer & New Yorker magazine contributor
For Raeburn’s remembrance of his stillborn daughter Irene, read Vessels. For his account of the subsequent birth of his daughter Willa, read Department of Amplification, Willa Raeburn: Born May 22, 2006.
“RETURN TO ZERO” STORY ARCHIVE