Texts – solemn meditations and laments – on death, the deceased, bereavement and sorrow have been part of Western literature since Ancient times. This article investigates (by means of close reading of primary texts and the study of interpretative texts) elegiac poetry and prose by Afrikaans and Dutch authors who have suffered the loss of a child. Particular attention is paid to the work of Vondel, Totius, Anna Enquist and P.F. Thomése. The article also seeks to investigate the role of language in mourning, and whether writing about such a devastating loss offers solace and healing. For this reason, texts by
parents who have suffered a similar loss but are not literary writers, and texts by professional counsellors are read alongside the chosen elegiac poetry and prose.