Tag Archives: loss

The changing perception of loss

15 Mar


I like to wander around old graveyards. Not in some macabre way (an unhealthy resurgence of my death-obsession),  I just find them fascinating, thought-provoking and strangely comforting.  To ponder how people lived, loved and died alongside their families, to witness how their remains have married with the earth, weeds growing round and into and under the headstones, destroying yet throwing forth life.

In the quiet and the stillness I always feel like an intruder, an interloper on past griefs.  Memories and emotions once so raw now mere whispers on the morning air,  dissipated and unnoticed but now momentarily disturbed by the inquisitive trespass of a stranger.

Thought-provoking and chastening that things once so important should have been brought to this.  And yet such a strangely reassuring display of the natural passing of time.

Do events and feelings and lives become irrelevant when there is noone left to remember them? Does it even matter?


The other day as I ambled through the graveyard of my local church, my two dogs aroused by the smells of morning dew,  I came across the headstone of a Victorian lady that had lost her husband in his forties, only to lose her 1 yr old child less than 4 months later, and a few years later her 10 yr old daughter.  Unconvinced that I could find another loss to beat this one (a sick graveyard game I often feel compelled to play), I  stumbled upon another grave erected to mark the passing of a young couple’s 3 girls who had died just 3 months apart.  10 months, 4 years, 6 years in age.  Cause unknown.

Sometimes my loss feels so enormous, and yet so small when I read of other families devastated like this. To lose a mum at 71 would have seemed mere fantasy 100 years ago. To get through life without feeling the loss of a child? Blessed good fortune.

And as I turn on the television tonight to hear of the plight of those in Africa, thousands dying from Malaria and Aids, I realise this luck isn’t only divided by time, but by continent too.

And  I feel acutely my luck, rather than my loss.


Don’t forget to donate to Comic Relief this Red Nose Day. 

A milestone I wish I could sidestep

2 Feb

Today is not a day I wanted to see again. 2nd February 2011 and I heard those words for the first time “Strongly suspected lung cancer”. A precise yet misleading jumble of words only superceded in its devastation by the final field on a form flashed up on screen at the doctor’s surgery a week later:

<header> Prognosis=

<body copy> 6-12 months.

Of course there was to be nothing as munificent as a whole year.

And so the rollercoaster began. The concrete cancer diagnosis, the tests that confirmed its spread to the liver. The terrifying fits and subsequent brain scans that showed further metastisis. Radiotherapy. Chemotherapy.

And then 10 weeks later, the end.

So it’s a year to the day my sister rang to tell me the routine scan bore shadows.

And with those words I remember she took my voice.  Leaning against the glass of my patio doors for support, silent, the breath sucked right out of me. Curious physiology.

2012: Why I don’t feel like celebrating.

31 Dec

Don’t much feel like welcoming in a New Year – 2012 – a year my mother never saw.

All change and every first is tinged with enormous sadness now. I turn around, bursting to share my news, to feel and share and experience together.

It’s just not the same.

But I WILL try and embrace that difference. There is going to be an awful lot of it this year.

Love to all for the year ahead.


The Lovely Bones: the film and me

21 Dec

image courtesy of grahamowengallery.com

Christmas is rushing at me at a hundred miles an hour I hardly have time to breathe, let alone think. Except people keep reminding me of the significance. Telling me how sorry they are, how difficult it must be, how much I must miss her. Somewhere below the surface I sense the gaping hole, but I am being carried along by the momentum of childhood.

And thank God for that ceaseless wave of agitation that rolls up and down but is never one way for long.

I watched The Lovely Bones for the second time the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it. How dark and menacing the world can be, but how beautiful things can come out of that tragedy. New relationships can form, old ones strengthen, your focus crystallised on life’s brief flashes of wonderment.

You can’t keep looking backwards with regret and loss, you must look to the future and allow yourself to be swept along in the tide of life.

I’m not sure if that IS what the film was about, but it’s what I took from it. A sense of magic, mystery, hope sparking free amongst the ashes.

Yes Christmas will be difficult this year, I miss my mum every day with an aching that never dissipates and I am still incredulous as to how I got here and just how much I’ve lost.

But living in the here and now, treasuring the precious moments with my family and especially my beautiful boys – well, I have my own lovely bones right here.


29 Jul

I want to be a child again, running around without a care in the world. My mum there next to me, cooking dinner with her pinstripe apron, smirking at our antics. What i wouldn’t do to be back there, 8 years old, snoopy jumper, ankle socks. The snowman is playing on the small, white plastic tv, and my family house like a cocoon around me. What I wouldn’t do to be back there, happy, content, safe.

bleeding words

4 Jan

Someone I knew over 15 years ago from school contacted me today out of the blue. She wanted to share with me a blog she had been writing about her husband’s battle with cancer. Sadly she had lost him in November, and felt instinctively that I would understand “what goes into a blog”.  I immediately read a few of her posts, and in truth was absolutely floored by the dignity, affection and pride that oozes from her writing. A rare moment when your heart begins to canter and  emotion rises in torrents from your stomach. You feel utterly compelled to do something, to mark that moment, to reach out.

I’ve talked before about writing,  how emotional and personal the process is. Somehow people get that visual art, or poetry comes from the soul, but when it comes to a blog – well surely that’s just something you write in your spare time to catalogue your days with the children? It frustrates me.  Through our writing we open ourselves up to judgement, criticism, derision in the hope that someone else will “get” what we are talking about.

I can only start to realise what significance words come to have when you are using them to chart something as important, life-altering, profound as the journey of a loved one through illness.

I came across the following quotation recently which said in a few words what I had been trying to say for a while.

“There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”  (Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith)

To my friend, I aim to start at the beginning of your story and read until I’m up to date. I’m sure I will laugh and cry with you along the way.

And yes, I understand.

Addendum: My friend has come back to me to say she is happy for me to carry her blog here.
The Wrighty Way
Please lend her some support. She is hoping to raise awareness of kidney cancer.