Death & Birds: Chloe Hope
Personal notes on my reposting of Chloe Hope's Substack of Death & Birds.
If you aren't already familiar with Chloe Hope and her writing at Death & Birds, it's my pleasure to introduce an exceptional writer. Chloe works as an end-of-life doula and volunteers for a wildlife rescue organization. The one, quiet attendance of souls uncoiling, the other, the delicate feeding of hatchling robins from the fine tip of a paintbrush. Death and birds. Yet, her writing is about both and neither. Let me say you won’t be “skimming.”
I discovered her through a quote that read "How we relate to our Dead directly effects how we relate to our Death." It was an essay about the thoughtless destruction of flowers on her mother's grave and her follow up with an indifferent and preoccupied vicar. The second piece I read was about caring for an elderly woman that had fallen in the street and the hours she spent holding her waiting for an ambulance to come. The second time I hit the Subscribe button before I ran the risk of not finding my way back.
Her work isn't precious. It isn't religious. It isn't aimed at specific community or indulged reader. I'm hesitant to call it "spiritual" (she might disagree), but it is profoundly attentive to Life. She is standing alone in the breach and, for reasons that I haven't yet and may never unlock, is committed to staying there.
Her writing, it seems to me, is a way of stepping near to Death while it sleeps, exquisitely careful not to startle it, closely enough that she — we — can hear its breathing. And the corollary: to set a baby aphid on the back of a reader's hand that they might feel the tiny scratch of claws and become aware of the moment of holding it (again, careful not to startle). It's a delicate mission demanding attention and grace, both of which I have very little.
Her work is unusual. She is unusual: Dickensonian, precise, calm, with a finger to the lips for silence, slowly palpitating for the life-giving vein, or, in her understated way, guiding a filament of hot solder. Please read her at least once.