discussion questions for return unto me
It is my hope that these poems bring healing, especially to those parents who have experienced the death of a child, but healing cannot happen alone; it happens within the support of a loving community. These discussion questions aim to be a launching point for that community.
Before you begin, I recommend laying out some basic small group rules. Above all, remember to love.
1) What are your initial thoughts after finishing the collection?
2) If you are a parent, what poems resonated with your own experience? If you don’t consider yourself a parent, what poems surprised you in their relevance to your own life?
3) Many of the poems in Return Unto Me explore the idea of accompanying people through grief. In what concrete ways can we better support each other through these times, especially when it feels uncomfortable?
4) If you have ever experienced the loss of a child, through death, adoption, or physical proximity, what was the best way you were loved by your community? If you felt isolated, how can we better support you in the future?
5) In what concrete ways can we be more courageous in honoring the lives of our children who have died?
6) I wrote “Would You Listen if I Told You” about a specific mom, but in many ways I also wrote it for myself. Is there a woman in your life who needs to hear this from you today? Is it possible that woman is you?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR HELL, Bring the Kids too
The following questions are intended to help you discuss the works contained within Hell, Bring the Kids Too, whether in an informal setting with others or for your own reflections.
1) What were your initial thoughts of Hell, Bring the Kids Too? Did any poems stand out to you? Did any challenge the way you view motherhood?
2) Some of the poems deal with heavy themes, such as infant loss, death of a spouse, and medically frail children ("Third Planet," "Super Secret Batman Bookclub," and "Asher" respectively). Have you experienced any of these losses personally? Are these issues we can talk about freely in our communities? How can we be more present for those silently suffering around us? How can we be better witnesses to other’s pain?
3) Though some poems center on tragedy, many others focus on the often overlooked monotony and isolation of motherhood. What poems resonated with you? Even if you don’t have young children at home, is there an aspect of your life that doesn’t quite live up to other people’s expectations? Do you express your dissatisfaction in a productive manner or do you hide behind a mask of “I’m fine”?
4) What poems felt contrary to your experience of motherhood? Were there any poems that felt misleading in how they portrayed motherhood?
5) Are there any other aspects of motherhood not represented in Hell, Bring the Kids Too?