September 29, 2019

What should grief look like?

Michelle Watt, 37

I wrote Ektopos when coming to terms with the aftermath of a near-fatal, ruptured ectopic pregnancy last year (September 30th 2018). Within the poem I tried to explore my experience and how I felt societal expectations of grief, particularly female grief, affected me during that time. I spent many months too stunned by how close I had come to losing my own life to properly grieve the much longed for baby my partner and I lost. I wondered if I was selfish to feel relief that I had survived instead of weeping in my hospital bed for my lost baby. I feel I was expected to cry more, that my quiet, polite demeanour might have been seen as shock or denial, or worse still, cold indifference. I hope my poem challenges preconceptions of how grief should look. I feel that it is still often expected that women break down in tears while men bottle theirs up and that when a person deviates from this expectation, it can lead to them experiencing feelings of guilt, anxiety and shame in addition to their grief, hindering the recovery process.

Ektopos, 2019Poetry