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Cultural Analysis and Social Theory


Taking its starting point from the death and complicated mourning of the author’s own child, this article provides a meditation on the loss of a toddler. It was inspired by the lack of materials specific to the loss of a toddler, and on the complicated work of making meaning around the death of a child. The article is itself a work of mourning, drawing indirectly from theoretical work on trauma and mourning in order to begin to carve out a space for thinking about the specificities of the loss of a toddler. It asks questions about what it means to grieve for a child and what social and cultural demands serve to further complicate this process. As a meditation, it asks what helps and hinders the process of producing a narrative around the loss of a toddler as a means of consolation. It also suggests that the isolations of the work of mourning requires a narrative—a performative “telling”—to turn the thought that thought cannot tolerate, the death of a child, into something that may be communicated to both the self and others.


This article was originally published in Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 50(1): 1-21. (c) 2005 Baywood Publishing Company, Inc. Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.