Author(s): Lois Tonkin
Still Life: Hidden Stories of Stillbirth and Forbidden Grief is a collection of poignant stories told by older women whose babies were stillborn some thirty or more years ago, when people believed that grieving mothers would cope best if they did not see or touch their babies who had died. Often the baby was whisked away and buried in an unmarked grave, and parents were advised to forget their child and have another one.
In the years since their baby’s birth and death these mothers loved them and remembered them, often in secret. The stories highlight their sadness, confusion, love, anger and spirited rebellion as they recall their baby’s birth and death, and the ways their lives have been changed as a result. Reading these women’s stories has been a comfort for many older women whose babies died in this way, as well as for younger women whose experience of stillbirth is very different, although still painful.
Lois Tonkin has trained as a teacher, counsellor and researcher. She has a PhD in sociology from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. She has worked as a lecturer, researcher, counsellor, and is a writer about loss and grief. In her word with grief issues she focuses on a psychosocial approach that considers both an individual's personal responses to their life circumstances, and the social conditions that underlie them. Lois Tonkin lives in beautiful Diamond Harbour in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. She is married with four adult children.