I just finished a novel with an in-depth and moving commentary about loss. Stay With Me, written by Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo, tells the story of a couple who face infertility, and then, later, the death of two children.
The book does a great job in describing a mother’s hesitancy to bond with her third child after the losses which she has experienced. All of her children (including the third) have a genetic disorder. The reader can deeply empathize with this mom while also seeing, upfront, the impacts that these earlier losses have upon the subsequent child and the family.
The child is named “Rotimi” which means “Stay with me.” The parents are so frightened that she will die that they have given her this name in the hope of protecting her.
The child later changes her name to Timi because “she is her own person, not a monument to siblings she never knew.” In this way the author deftly describes a subsequent child’s experience: they need to be more than a replacement or a child who came after a loss, and want their own identity which is independent of the death of a sibling.
There is much more to the plot which I won’t divulge here. The book is beautifully written and was a finalist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction. It is also a thoughtful exploration about loss in a family.