I listened to a story on the radio yesterday about a woman who was searching for her baby who had died at birth and had been buried without trace. An American woman, who’s baby had been born dead, was told by the Hospital authorities that the body would be cared for and buried has spent the last thirty something years searching for a record of that burial.
A chance story on the radio alerted her to a small island off the coast of New York where the prisoners dig mass graves for the bodies of the dead who are unclaimed and unknown, 150 adult bodies to each mass grave, 1,000 babies to their own mass graves, unmarked and unremarked. After persisting and demanding, she finally was allowed to visit the island, but was allowed no camera, no phone, no way of recording the visit. The Department of Corrections and Justice people were on hand to monitor each step of her unwished-for visit, and she was allowed to go only as far as a small shelter that had no indications of where the graves were and no further sightings. Thus far and no further was she allowed on this island, this forbidden place to which she had travelled with such difficulty.
My heart wept for her in her grief; thirty years on and still no peace. What is it about our unwillingness to confront our shame and guilt that our societies don’t allow the uncomfortable truth, or allow for transparency to be given to all the awkwardness that we bump into in life and in death?
Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris, CEO