Melesina Trench's "Mourning Journal," (1806-8) uses original prose, quotations from published works, lists, and broken exclamations to record her son's death, create a memoir of his life, and cope with her grief and guilt. The first part of the journal shows the "social" face of maternal mourning through excerpts from Trench's letters, but the rest of the text is highly personal and clearly private. A comparison of Trench's work with Hester Thrale's 1776 account of her son's death and Catherine Tait's description of the loss of her daughter in1856 places it within the larger tradition of maternal mourning narratives from the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries. Like Thrale, Trench presents a public face of emotional control, celebrates the extraordinary aspects of her lost son, and expresses a strong sense of maternal guilt. In contrast, Trench and Tait depict their child's "Beautiful Death," portray their husbands as co-parents, and dwell on the everyday, "childlike" aspects of their lost children. What ultimately distinguishes Trench's "Mourning Journal" are her personal innovations which make it not only a reflection of its time, but also a unique representation of one mother's grief.
"A Long Forgotten Sorrow: The Mourning Journal of Melesina Trench,"
1, Article 9.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/ecf/vol21/iss1/9