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Aching Heart

My last son, the greatest gift I could not keep

Return to sender after just 16 weeks, in what is now my empty womb.

Your birth came with a deafening silence

Your heart was still, mine nearly stopped

I felt your spirit leave the room

I touched your death and felt my doom.


Now, I lie flat on my back, hands crossed on my chest

I practice death, eyes wide shut like two large coffins.

You’re waiting…a tiny glimmer, a blinding light

A drop of water, a new leaf, a butterfly

This is where we meet in the silence of the night.


I search for signs and portals in the sky

Invoke ancestral rites, a ceremony of past lives

I seek for your guidance, I call your name

You cup my face into your hands, smile and mend my aching heart

The harsh reality is: I can only see you in my dreams.


I have no portraits of you to stare to in my mind

One single image: your tiny hand in mine.

Tonight I collide head on with grief

And I wish I could turn back time

Wondering how long I have left on Earth

When is it my time, how long till we reunite?

Till you mend my aching heart.


This poem is dedicated to my last son, Andrew George Austen (June 11, 2021).

Photo by Andreea Austen.

HHA offers a six-week virtual progressive healing group called Our Babies, Our Grief for individuals who have lost a baby through miscarriage, termination, stillbirth, infant death, or adoption. You can learn more about the program here.


On October 26, you are invited to share space with us as we explore how to create a Flower Mandala Ceremony to support bereaved families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss.


Anyone interested in becoming an infant and pregnancy loss doula (IPLD) can register for HHA's IPLD certificate program here. The next available training weekend is November 17-19, 2023.


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Andreea Austen is an HHA Death Doula Candidate and a volunteer with Margaret Bahen Hospice and Doane House Hospice in Newmarket. Andreea explores the human capacity to find meaning within the process of dying, death, and grief by writing legacy poems that embrace spirituality and mindfulness.

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