In 1995, Winnipeg native Charlene Diehl suffered a loss no mother should have to bear. Twenty-eight weeks into her pregnancy, she was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia and told that her daughter would have to be delivered via Caesarean section immediately, or both mother and child could die. Out of Grief, Singing recounts the birth of that daughter, Chloe, her death a short six days later, and the years of physical, emotional, and psychological healing Diehl has undergone since.
It is a hard story to read. While Diehl’s situation will resonate most with parents, especially those who have lost an infant or spent any time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, parts of the book would make any human being weep, not only for the mother’s pain and sorrow, but for the child who fought a losing battle. We experience Diehl’s bewilderment and frustration, her fear, and – yes – her hope. Even in the midst of her darkest days, when simply having a conversation is so draining she’d rather just cocoon in her home, Diehl finds the strength to navigate her grief. Somehow, against all odds, she is able to move forward in spite of her anguish, rather than surrender to it.
Diehl is a poet as well as an academic, and her prose is polished but full. Her words follow a rhythm that can be felt, like a subtle bass note, or a barely audible heartbeat. Out of Grief, Singing is a mother’s love song for her “gone baby.” Tragic, yes, but beautiful, too.