With Sun’s new single ‘Thirteen Weeks’ is an important song. Not only because it is a beautiful and delicate modern folk song, but due to its inspiration; something that has affected singer Alice Hale directly. She explains:

Thirteen Weeks is a song about loss. I wrote it after the devastation of my first miscarriage. It’s about my journey with grief and finding peace within that grief. There are lots of joyful stories celebrating the creation of life. But there are also other stories. The less triumphant and glamorous. The quiet, angry, and sometimes shameful. This song holds a space for those.

‘Thirteen Weeks’ holds that space with immense dignity, and the plaintive nature of Alice’s voice is pitched perfectly to walk the line between being too sentimental and too despairing. The repeated passages of soft syncopated staccato guitar and voice rising and falling together felt like it was the ‘narrative reality’ whereas the verses are given over to hopes and dreams. This is echoed by the faultless sensitivity of the string arrangement and the chords, which move between major and minor, but always settle on a major seventh which reinforces the optimism rather than the grief.

Grief and loss are powerful emotions that can threaten to break us if we don’t lean on support from friends and loved ones or look from professional organisations. Alice was kind enough to talk to Joyzine about the song:

Joyzine: Given the deeply personal nature of miscarriage I think it’s hard for people to talk about and hear about. I have heard you talk about this on stage when you first started playing this song and it was very moving, did you find this cathartic and how much did you deliberate over whether to say anything to an audience?

Alice: I found the whole process cathartic; the writing, performing and sharing with people what the song was about. The first time I performed the song was at an open mic in Edinburgh. That was pretty hard because it was only 8 weeks after it had happened and it felt very raw. I don’t remember much about the performance, other than it was a bit shaky and when I looked up at the end there was a young guy in the front row wiping the tears away from his eyes.

What’s been particularly cathartic about sharing this story is the encouragement and support I’ve received, I’ve been surprised with how many people have connected with my story and the song, often because it’s happened to them and often because they’ve not had the opportunity to speak about it. I’ve had a lot of people thank me for my openness because they’ve been through something similar, and obviously being able to help others is very healing. Once you get over the fear of sharing something so personal-it’s a very nourishing experience. You let people in; when you do that and they only show you love, you can start to heal-and whatever shame there is gradually starts to fade. I liken it to swimming in the sea-the first 30 seconds when you throw yourself in and flail your arms in panic trying to distract yourself from the freezing cold is awful-but after that initial shock it’s not so bad, and the more you swim you realise it’s actually pretty wonderful.

Joyzine: Outside the support from your partner, close friends and family, have you found help and advice from any specific group, publications or a website?

Alice: Yes. Tommy’s a charity that specialises in supporting women and partners through pregnancy loss has been a great platform to visit. They have very comprehensive information and also do a lot to fund research into miscarriage and pregnancy loss. The Miscarriage Association are also good. Me and my partner have also been receiving counselling through an organisation called Petals. There are more and more articles and podcasts appearing around miscarriage. There is also a recent BBC documentary called ‘Miscarriage: The Search for Answers’  which talks about the impact on partners as well as different ethnicities who are at higher risk. 

Joyzine: Is there anything you can share from your experience that you wished someone had told you when this happened?

Alice: I would have liked more information on what to expect and how to manage it. We were completely in the dark and terrified when it happened. The leaflets I’d been given were about breastfeeding and where to give birth.

Considering miscarriages affect 1 in 4 pregnancies I feel there is a duty of care to look after those people who will otherwise face trauma completely terrified and alone. I appreciate that some people may not want to know that information but we should at least be given a choice rather than presented with leaflets that only suit one narrative.

As with the Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken ceramics are repaired with gold, this song is attempting to make stronger something which feels broken, and Kintsugi’s philosophy is to treat the break and subsequent repair as ‘part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise’. Aside from the beauty of the song, ‘Thirteen Weeks’ will, I hope, encourage more discussion on the subject and help other people begin to come to terms with their loss.

‘Thirteen Weeks’ is available on With Sun’s Bandcamp page and streaming services.

With Sun socials: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website | YouTube

Other useful sites on the subject of miscarriage, mental and bereavement:

NHS site about miscarriage | NHS Mental Health advise | Cruse Bereavement Support

Thirteen Weeks – lyrics

Thirteen Weeks and two more days

The time I spent with you

Life changed overnight and turned

The old into the new

Happiness is fleeting

But I thought that you would stay

Why is it the things we love

Get taken far away?

Summer days, we laughed by the fireside

I lost track of time, I was thinking about your eyes

I know my arms look empty

But my heart is full

Did you know that things were hard

And skies were looking grey

You came in with your sunny soul

Gave hope another name

Smiling is contagious

Like a prophet with good news

Forget the sins of yesterday

Who cares when I’ve got you

And me, we made it look easy

I have no regrets, I carried you every step

I know my arms look empty

But my heart is full

It wasn’t just the two of us

Whose lives you changed and touched

Who’d have thought so many people

Could love you so much

Now we say goodnight

I know the story has to end

Thank you for the joy you brought

I hope we meet again

My friend, we wait for the Autumn days

In the colours, I see you

And the evenings are not so blue

I know my arms look empty

I know my arms look empty

I know my arms look empty

But my heart is full.

© Alice Hale 2022

Vocals and guitar: Alice Hale

String arrangement: Josie Lloyd-Wilson

Strings performed by:

Josie Lloyd-Wilson

Rachel Nelken

Luke Moore

Review by Paul F Cook

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