In the space of sixty-two hours In late August 2012, Craig Stobo lost half his family to sepsis and almost lost his own life, too, to the illness.
While recovering in hospital and in the midst of profound shock and grief, he began writing poems to his late wife, Fiona, and their stillborn daughter, Isla. These poems became Coronach, a cycle of poems about love, loss and learning to live again in a very different world and they’ve just been published.
A meditation on grief and mourning, Coronach is a tribute to Fiona and Isla, about finding a way forward in the life that continues after their sudden and untimely loss and about the hope and renewal his young son brought him in the bleakest of times.
Now Craig, whose home is in Perthshire, has published the book because he hopes his experience will help others who are suffering because of the deadly illness and also raise money for Sepsis Research, the charity he founded to improve detection, treatment and recovery care for victims.
Craig said: “Writing the book was my way of my way of trying to cope and come to terms with losing Fiona and Isla while facing up to the responsibility of bringing up my son, Robert, who was just two when his mum died.
“I was bewildered. Fiona was perfectly fit and healthy, as was I, and it happened so quickly that it was profoundly shocking and devastating.
I’ve always written and a couple of days after Fiona died, I felt the need to write. I was still in hospital recovering from sepsis myself, in the midst of deep shock and wasn’t really eating or drinking much, but I had to write.
“I wrote the poems over the space of the next three plus years and they appear in the book in broadly chronological order. The final one was written in December 2015.
“I gave the long list, which numbered fifty-one, to some trusted friends and editors for comment and feedback and then let them rest for a while before chiselling away at them over the last couple of years until I had those which made the book.
“The cycle of poems is my personal tribute to Fi and Isla. If there is any message in the book, it is that love transcends death and that there is a simultaneous uniformity and specificity to grief, mourning and loss. It’s also about finding a way into and through a very different world. Ultimately, I hope what I have written could be useful to others and if it can raise awareness about sepsis along the way, that is all to the good.”
Sepsis kills 52,000 people a year in the UK, 4000 of them in Scotland. It’s a bigger killer than lung cancer and more people die from sepsis than the combined figure for breast cancer and bowel cancer but unlike those diseases, there is no clear picture of the risk factors associated with it.
All the profits from sales of the book, available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coronach-Number-1-Poetry-Book-ebook/dp/B07LCJF89J
at £4.99 in paperback, Kindle edition £1.99, will go to Sepsis Research (FEAT – the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust).
Craig added: “We urgently need to increase research funding and awareness of sepsis. I hope my book will help other people and generate some additional financial help for this vital research.”