Laura Seftel is an artist, art psychotherapist, and the author of the book Grief Unseen: Healing Pregnancy Loss Through the Arts (London: 2006). She founded the “Secret Club Project” an award-winning international arts project with one mission: to break the silence and isolation that can accompany infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth and other pregnancy-related losses. Seftel has presented lectures and workshops on coping with pregnancy loss at universities, professional conferences, and medical centres throughout the United States. You can find the “Secret Club Project” – and images by some of the artists who have participated – at Facebook.com/SecretClubProject
Northampton, MA, USA
Secret Club Project
Book: Grief Unseen
Title: “Prayer for a Healthy Child: After a Miscarriage”
Media: Oil paint and mixed media on paper
Dimensions: 24” x 30”
This painting was created following a miscarriage. It is a companion piece to a poem I wrote about losing that pregnancy, capturing the initial fear and disorientation. The images of cherries in the painting were inspired by a cherry tree in my yard that represents both my grief and my hopes for the future.
It is an indelible loss – like ink on a white blouse,
something ruined, irreversible.
Bright red swirls in the morning waters.
You stare silently, you think it might be a dream,
a dream just before waking.
You’re losing something but you cannot stop it.
Your husband is running up the stairs.
What they didn’t tell you
is that it’s not over in a minute, or even a half hour.
You will eat lunch in an Indian restaurant
and at an odd instant recall
you are having a miscarriage.
“It was never viable” the doctor explains.
You can’t seem to hear her — you notice her kind eyebrows.
The nurses locate places for you to weep,
Tears springing, as if to wash away this wrong story.
Waiting for her to say there is still a baby somewhere.
I cannot find myself. Perhaps I have slipped out as well.
Perhaps something has broken open.
And now what to do with the prenatal vitamins?
The cherries on our tree, tiny hard miracles,
Have quickly turned over-ripe.
Sitting in metal bowls they exude their sticky juices.
There seem to be always more of them.
How will it end? How many pies can I bake?
My hands are already stained
with the work of slitting each one and
pulling out the stone.