‘Grieving mother’ art show at Mendlesham church will examine the pain of miscarriage
- Credit: Archant
When Marie Grueberova suffered two miscarriages after fertility treatment she was lost in her grief. But art has helped her to heal. She told Sheena Grant more.
Suffering from overwhelming grief after losing a second baby to miscarriage Marie Grueberova got into her car and drove, hoping that physically escaping familiar surroundings would bring relief from mental anguish too.
It didn’t, of course.
But during that drive Marie realised something. She actually had nowhere to go.
“The only place for me was with my loving family, in the centre of all pain,” she says. “There was no escape.”
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So instead of driving on, she stopped at a little church in Mendlesham, surrounded by lime trees, and lit a candle for the unborn child that fate had robbed of the chance of life. She also found a poem, called Walking with grief, on a table in the church that seemed to crystallise so many things about her own situation.
And when she got home she began to paint, something that, as an artist and illustrator, she’s done throughout her life. But that painting and much of the other art Marie has done in the last eight years is different to anything that went before.
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This art - sculpture and knitting as well as drawing, painting and writing - was her therapy, a way of coping and healing the loss and grief. For two weeks in October it was on display at Kesgrave Arts Studio and in November the exhibition moves to St Mary’s in Mendlesham, the church that gave Marie solace that day.
The Grieving Mother exhibition is designed to be like a story; the story of Marie’s journey of coming to terms with losing a child through miscarriage.
“Through the art I was able to share what I was feeling with my husband and friends,” she says. “It became a shared grief and a healing process. It broke my isolation. Paintings brought the suffering to life for the first time. The images were saying what I had not been able to express in words. They became undeniable evidence that a child once lived in my womb and the child died.
“When I first found courage to speak of my miscarriage, I was astonished how many women admitted that it had happened to them too. Even my own mother kept it quiet for 30 years. I experienced my own miscarriage as a shameful, lonely event despite my husband’s support. When my art started revealing the long-hidden despair, it came as a relief. The secret was finally out. I didn’t have to carry this heavy burden within myself anymore.
“I thought the exhibition would only be of interest to women like me, who had miscarried, but every person who came was touched because they themselves had lost someone too. It’s very much about the grieving process and bringing it out into the open and sharing it. On that level it is something everyone can relate to.”
For Marie, the therapeutic value of art - and all creative pursuits - lies in both viewing others’ work and in making something yourself. To that end she plans to run some therapeutic workshops in the New Year.
While her art may be inspirational, so is her story and the courage she has shown in telling it. Marie moved to the UK from the Czech Republic to be with Peter, “the love my life”. She had studied art, worked as a primary school teacher and graduated in graphic design. Then she had IVF and her first miscarriage, followed by a second after another failed IVF treatment. Along the way her husband suffered a heart attack and while he was recovering she went through a deep depression. Her recovery began with alternative therapies, studying therapeutic arts and all that painting, sculpting, drawing, sewing, knitting, along with some dancing and singing.
She hopes her art may help others as a book, Miscarriage: Women Sharing From The Heart, written by Marie Allen and Shelley Marks, helped her.
“Until I came across this book I believed I had to deal with my fate, controlling unpleasant feelings,” she says. “But this account of other women’s experiences and losses explained that my feelings were natural and that I was not alone. I was a mother mourning her baby.
“When I was drawing, painting, sculpting and encountering hurtful emotions, there was something holding me through this difficult process. I would go through this pain to share my journey with other women in the hope it may help, the same way Marie and Shelley’s book helped me.”
? The Grieving Mother exhibition takes place at St Mary’s Church, Mendlesham, IP14 5SF, from November 21 to December 1, Monday to Saturday 10am-3pm and Sunday 11am-3pm. There will also be a special Service of Light at St Mary’s for parents and relatives who have lost a child in any circumstances, however long ago, on Saturday November 25 at 2.30pm. www.stmarysmendlesham.org.uk, www.grievingmother.co.uk.