Caring for a terminally ill mother inspires new poetry collection
Limerick native launches 'A dying language'
Award winning poet Monica Corish wrote her new collection, 'A Dying Language' during the six months she cared for her terminally ill mother.
Teresa Corish, 79 from Doon, Co Limerick was diagnosed with terminal cancer in May 2011 and died the following November.
Monica and her sister are trained nurses so along with their two other siblings and extended family they were able to care for Teresa in her own home until her death. Monica said they got invaluable support from home care nurses from Milford Hospice during this time. Monica said: “For six months I travelled every week by train from Leitrim to Limerick, writing my way through those journeys, coming to terms with what was happening, making sense of the changes in my mother, the strains in our family, and my own reactions – the writing of the poems helped to contain my grief.”
In the month’s following her mother’s death she began to realise that the poems had a “universal quality” despite being particular to one death, one family and one set of relationships. Monica said: “It has been suggested to me that the collection describes a particularly Irish way of death, and I can see how that might be true.” Monica’s father Michael Corish, 89 died in July 2013. Monica was there to care for her father too. She said: “His death was very different to my mother’s: less of a tragedy, more expected, even welcomed by him, after a chronic and debilitating illness of many years’ duration.” Monica added: “It wasn’t all easy by any means caring for either mam or dad while they were dying, but the residual tangles and snarls of our child-parent relationships burned away, and we came into an easy place together.”
The new book is published by The Irish Hospice Foundation. Fifty per cent of profits from the sale of this book will got the Irish Hospice Foundation and to local hospices.
Irish Hospice Foundation chief executive Sharon Foley described Monica’s work as a “joy to read” in a foreword to the collection. Ms Foley said: “Hospice is about living well to the end and Monica’s poems embody this spirit but with cutting honesty – she does not hide from the struggle this living can involve.”
Poet Jane Clarke who launched the book said the collection, while contemplating suffering and loss, is ultimately a celebration of commitment and love.
“The poems courageously convey the depth and breadth of emotions evoked through the months of giving over one’s life to caring for someone through the days of illness and approaching death,” Jane Clarke said.
Poet, playwright and novelist Dermot Bolger said: “This is an elegy for a lost mother and a courageous insight into a journey of loss, but also a celebration of the memories that bind tight as part of the ongoing story that links those have gone before us with those who remain behind.”