Date of Award:
Master of Arts (MA)
At seventeen, I lost my fourteen-year old brother in a shooting accident. After hearing the news of my brother’s death, my Great Aunt Mary wrote a letter to my family. The one line I remember was “I’ve heard that it takes three years to heal from the passing of a loved one.” Five years after Jacob’s death, I was once again confronted with losing a brother. Jaxon was born and died within twenty-four hours. I hadn’t yet “healed” from Jacob’s death, and I didn’t know how to do so.
The elusive nature of memory when confronted with personal trauma calls into question issues of identity. Does the previous self still exist after loss? In this memoir I document the impact of tragic grief and how death not only informs how we perceive the future, but how we interpret our past selves. Through the tri-part structure, I experiment with viewpoint, beginning with a first person “I,” struggling to fit my brothers’ deaths into a single narrative line. From here, the narrative shatters as I reflect upon my childhood self with a different lens and the distance of third person--the self being so fractured, there is no “I” left. Finally, the memoir moves to direct address, speaking to Jacob. Jacob is now a “you,” an alive and vibrant presence that becomes a part of the narrator as she explores her grief and begins to piece herself back together. Through this exploration, she discovers that “healing” is complex and that art can both aid in the process and chart the path.
Widerburg, MaryAnn, "This Grief I Cannot Hold" (2014). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 3312.
Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 3000