My beloved husband, Kent, died in January 2012, 3 years after diagnosis of a brain tumour. Our son was 2 1/2 and our daughter 3 months old. He and I were far too young. I am now hurtling through the black space of life without him.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Rolling Stones

"Angie, Angie, when will those clouds all disappear?
Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?
With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats
You can't say were satisfied
But Angie, Angie, you can't say we never tried
Angie, you're beautiful, but ain't it time we said goodbye?
Angie, I still love you, remember all those nights we cried?
All the dreams we held so close seemed to all go up in smoke
Let me whisper in your ear:
Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?
Oh, Angie, don't you weep, all your kisses still taste sweet
I hate that sadness in your eyes
But Angie, Angie, ain't it time we said goodbye?
With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats
You can't say were satisfied
But Angie, I still love you, baby
Everywhere I look I see your eyes
There ain't a woman that comes close to you
Come on baby, dry your eyes
But Angie, Angie, ain't it good to be alive?
Angie, Angie, they can't say we never tried"

Jagger and Richards

Monday, 24 December 2012

Matthew 7 and Psalm 91

I asked for bread
and I received a stone

Were these words not for me?

I asked for a fish
and I received a snake

It seems these words are not for me.

The terror of night
and the arrow that flies by day
have pierced my heart

Why are these words not mine?

Disaster has entered my tent
My foot has struck against a stone

How do I live without these words?

Saturday, 8 December 2012


I started a different journey a while back. I had been travelling with the comrade of my choice* on a wide and even path, grassy and tree lined. Sunshine and blue skies were above, singing birds and refreshing rainshowers crossed our path. Hope travelled in a carriage beside us, and dreams sparkled ahead. But a storm came and swept my beloved away, and I was thrown on to a different path. Now I walk on stony, muddy ground. The path twists and rises and falls, and there is darkness on either side. I can't see ahead. Friends appear on the banks, reach their hands out and pass me strength. Our children walk with me, under the canopy of my tears. Together we encounter fires along the way, and they leap away from the sparks, afraid. But the sunshine seems to find them too. Its rays drop through the darkness and they alone glow with light. I hold their bodies tight, to soak up the warmth. I think we are looking for shelter, or a change in the path, but I don't know what it looks like or how it can come in this new world. It won't be the road I used to travel.

*"Comrade of my choice" - Tennyson in "In Memoriam"

Monday, 3 December 2012


There's nothing quieter than the sound of your husband not sleeping next you.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Aching Bones

It's been a bone-crushingly hard day. I get anxious, sometimes, that people are looking for signs of improvement. There are none, it is as hard as ever, and it goes without saying that I miss him not one drop less than I ever did. Perhaps even more.

I hung photos of Kent on the little girl's wall today, above her cot. So that she knows what her father looked like. 

Monday, 19 November 2012


I realised recently that I am a foreigner in my own country. I entered the land of marriage a long time ago, and I intended to be there for, you know, life. Until I was really old, that's supposed to mean. And now here I am, booted out to the border. There's not really anywhere else to go. My own country is all I know, and I don't want to be anywhere else. I'm worried I'm going to forget the language and those around me will soon stop recognising me as one of their own.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


We are built with such an intense instinct for survival aren't we? Obviously. It's not at all surprising. It's such a deep-set part of our make up, from the foods-that-are-dangerous-to-eat-smell-disgusting instinct, to the fight or flight instinct. And fight or flight we do. We are also fortunate that a good portion of the human race are willing to fight on behalf of others. Think Live Aid and Band Aid, think Tearfund and World Vision, think the City Mission. Think of strangers in the street who will (I hope) help you out if your life is at risk.

When lives are at risk, we act. So often it is urgent. It is phone calls. Speeding ambulances. Helicopters. Search and Rescue teams. Ropes and ladders. Defibrillators. Donated blood. There might be lots of shouting. Running.

We had a couple of those things along the way. And we had some seriously hard workers and some seriously hard-core medicine. But when you are dying from an illness, there is none of it. There is great care and great skill and great love. But none of the other. There is nothing to do. Those standing alongside have to somehow stuff all that survival instinct down in to the pits of their stomachs. And the fight? What do you do with the fight? Stuff it away somewhere too.

Listening to radio reports on the coming 'Frankenstorm" on the East Coast of America moved me to tears yesterday, as often happens when I hear news of lives at risk and survival attempts. Not because I have some new found empathy for those in danger. But because I wanted so badly to fight. Or flight. How I wish we could have bundled us all in to a car, bought up packs of candles and baby food and run from the storm. Run for our lives. I'd live on foreign shores and by candlelight for the rest of my life to have saved his.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Grey Street

I have only now been brave enough to listen to this.

I've thought of this woman many, many times over many, many years, and never in a million of those could I have imagined I would become her.

Here's the link:  Grey Street - Dave Matthews Band

I realise you will be somewhat distracted from the lyrics by the utter brilliance of the musicians. If you haven't seen these guys before, just a warning, you are about to step on to holy ground (and you will spend the rest of the night watching them on You Tube).

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Rock and Sand

The little guy asked me to read from his "Child's Book of Parables" today, and this is the story he asked me to read. Twice.

The Wise Man and the Foolish Man (Matthew 7: 24 - 27)

Two men - one wise and one foolish - set out one day to build houses for themselves. After searching for some time, the wise man found a clear spot on solid, rocky ground. Building on the stone was difficult. It took a long time to complete the house. But when he was finished, the man knew that his home was strong and would keep his family safe from the most powerful winds and heaviest rains.

The foolish man found a nice spot for his house, too - on a sandy beach. Building on the soft sand was easy and took hardly any time at all. He was finished long before the wise man and was happy that he had such a nice view of the sea from his house.

One day, a big storm came and battered the two houses. The rains fell, the winds blew and the water rose and flooded the land. The wise man's house on the rock didn't move an inch. But the house of the foolish man cracked, crumbled and fell down.

Jesus said that if we hear his teachings and obey them, we are like the wise man who built his house on the rock. If we if we hear his teachings and don't obey them, we are like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. Jesus is our rock - if we listen to his teachings and try our best to follow them, he will keep us safe.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


I read an article recently (I'm sorry I can't find it again) about the family who lost their two year old triplets in a fire in Doha. The article said that their father, Martin Weekes, "is reminded of his children every day." What an unbelievable statement. I assume it came from the writer, and not Mr Weekes himself. His children died 4 months ago and something happens each day that reminds him of them?!

I expect this is how it is. He wakes in the morning having had dreams about death, or about pain, or about desperation. The knowledge that his children have died doesn't hit him all over again, as it has sat with him even in his sleep. A heaviness hangs in his room but he has to get up to go to work. The sun is shining which is such a mismatch with his reality. He has breakfast in the kitchen and knows only how quiet it is without three toddlers to join him. He gets things done at work, holds conversations, writes, chats, goes to meetings, whatever, but there is a weight on his shoulders that never lifts and all the time he knows there is something very wrong. He wonders about his ability to function, but appreciates having something different to think about for a while. At home again he greets his wife in the still quiet house. They have dinner, but it hardly seems to matter what they eat as there are no children to feed and nurture. The kids plates are still in the cupboard, they reach past them to get their own. With noone to bathe or put to bed, the evening feels long. Nothing seems worth doing. TV is either too cheery or too sad. So are novels. Newspapers are full of news that doesn't really matter anymore. He gets a few things done then heads for bed, wary of the thoughts that come with the darkness. And aware that tomorrow is the weekend. Everyone will be out with their kids. So they'll probably just stay at home.

And there's the crying of course. That's not for writing about.

So yes, he does indeed think of his children every day. But he doesn't need to be reminded.

I know nothing about the Weekes family or how they manage this journey and their grief. Neither is it any of my business. This is entirely how I imagine it to be based on my own experience.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

With my body I thee... grieve...

They say that grieving is a very physical thing. I don't know if I've said this before. I've discovered quite  a long list of the effects it has on the body. I struggle with my breathing when I am under stress, and I have had difficulty with this over recent months. I had heartburn a while ago too, and am told that grief can do this to you, and it can also mess with your digestive system. Your gut. So there you go you see. It rips your guts out, breaks your heart and you can hardly breathe.

I found in earlier months I often felt as though my legs were going to collapse underneath me. I have spoken with two women over the last couple of weeks who have lost their greatest love/closest companion. It has been good to talk. Huge, actually. But hugely hard. Saying aloud some of the stuff that has only ever been inside my head is very significant. And both times it has left me afterwards with those collapsing legs. Weak for the rest of the day.

Then there is the brain fog. Sleep deprived mothers of small children are used to this, but one of the women I met with recently is struggling with it, and I believe my grief is contributing to it. Sometimes I wonder what has happened to my intelligence. The little guy has often been known to finish my sentences for me. Oh well, as long as I can get food on the table three times a day, who cares if I can make intelligent conversation. Though sometimes a clear thought process is kinda useful. And then there was the day I came home after a visit to the cemetery and shut the car door on my face. Even the most basic level of functioning can disappear in times like these. The ultimate end of the line being the on-your-knees-on-the-floor-stuff.

Actually, the ultimate is more than that. I read it somewhere but haven't been able to find it again, so I'm very vague on the details. It's not uncommon for an elderly person to die very soon after their loved one has died. "Died of a broken heart" we say. But in fact they have died because (I think, something like,) their immune system has caved in, stopped producing what it needs in order to fight properly, as grief has taken over. In younger people, their bodies are working flat out to produce what is needed, fortunately still strong enough to continue producing, despite the grief. So my system has been fighting hard lately. Very hard. It's winning of course. And that's a good thing of course. Despite everything.


I am a Christmas bauble. Round and clear. Actually, just plain glass, not very Christmassy at all. The finest, most delicate glass you have ever seen, and possibly dangling by a thread. Every step I take it feels like I'm about to shatter.

We went in to town the other day and met friends for lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day and we live in a beautiful city. Two out of three of us didn't want to come home, so we stayed in town all day, while one out of three of us slept in her buggy. We played by the sea and drove round the waterfront and walked some streets and stopped for cake and juice. It was lovely. A good day. But the whole time it just felt like my chest was caving in. There were memories everywhere of course. Though it wasn't the memories that were the problem, it was the now, wanting him to be here now. And where my chest and heart and lungs were supposed to be there was a collapsing fence, rail after rail continuously falling inwards. Good days are a different kind of hard.

Friday, 21 September 2012


"If you told me this time last year
That I would feel like I do now
Well, I wouldn't have believed you...
All I want to do is to be with you
And everything else seems unimportant compared

For today, I remember your smile
For today, I remember your smile...

There's a hole in my well being

So big you could drive a truck right through...

For today, I remember your smile
For today, I remember your smile..."

Netherworld Dancing Toys
For more about our day today, click here.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Some Heart Did Break

Never Morning Wore to Evening but Some Heart Did Break - Walter Langley

Here it is. My grief.

I saw this picture recently (thanks to a friend who used it on her blog) and it paralysed me. All the heartache and pain that I have is there, and I know the taste of her tears. I couldn't drag my eyes away from it, or stop the tears from flowing, and in fact I now have a copy of it to hang on my wall, because this is where I am right now.

I could say that I don't need to keep writing, as everything is in that picture. But you know I like words too. I followed my friend's link and learned that this picture is titled after a line in the poem In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred Tennyson, and that the woman has lost her fisherman at sea.

The poem is famous, unbelievably long (133 "cantos" with 3-6 stanzas in each), is written for Tennyson's  friend (AHH) who died aged 23, and includes the lines that you will all know "'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all."

I spent some time looking through this poem, and have pulled out some of the stanzas that meant something to me. It feels a bit naughty, like quoting bible passages and missing some bits out, but as I say, these are just the bits that rang true in my heart. These first three stanzas, most appropriately, comment on the concept of trying to put grief in to words.

I sometimes hold it half a sin
    To put in words the grief I feel;
    For words, like Nature, half reveal
    And half conceal the Soul within.

    But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
    A use in measured language lies;
    The sad mechanic exercise,
    Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
    In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
    Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
    But that large grief which these enfold
    Is given in outline and no more.


That loss is common would not make
    My own less bitter, rather more:
    Too common! Never morning wore
    To evening, but some heart did break


Dark house, by which once more I stand
    Here in the long unlovely street,
    Doors, where my heart was used to beat
    So quickly, waiting for a hand,
    A hand that can be clasp'd no more—
    Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
    And like a guilty thing I creep
    At earliest morning to the door.
    He is not here; but far away
    The noise of life begins again,
    And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
    On the bald street breaks the blank day.


Tears of the widower, when he sees
    A late-lost form that sleep reveals,
    And moves his doubtful arms, and feels
    Her place is empty, fall like these;
    Which weep a loss for ever new,
    A void where heart on heart reposed;
    And, where warm hands have prest and closed,
    Silence, till I be silent too.
    Which weep the comrade of my choice,
    An awful thought, a life removed,
    The human-hearted man I loved,
    A Spirit, not a breathing voice.

Never Morning Wore to Evening but Some Heart Did Break - Walter Langley

 Thank you, all of you, for being that old woman to me.


Sunday, 16 September 2012


A spring without hope is a strange thing indeed. But it's here, I found it in my garden today, covered in tears.

Saturday, 15 September 2012


"You sheltered me from harm.
Kept me warm, kept me warm.
You gave my life to me.
Set me free, set me free.
The finest years I ever knew,
Were all the years I had with you.

And I would give anything I own.
I'd give up my life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
Just to have you back again.

You taught me how to laugh.
What a time, what a time.
You never said too much,
But still you showed the way
And I knew from watching you.
Nobody else could ever know,
The part of me that can't let go.

And I would give anything I own,
I'd give up my life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
Just to have you back again.

I would give anything I own,
I'd give up my life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
Just to have you back again;
Just to touch you once again."

Everything I Own - Bread

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A Vinegar Month

I'm sorry, none of us expected you to be signing up to read bad poetry, and when it's also personal and painful that's doubly hard. I did warn that this could morph in to anything, though I am keen to get back to the topic of what grief is like, as I still seem to have plenty to say. I would like to chat more often actually, but rarely have the time or energy. The sleep deprivation that comes with motherhood is a nasty enough beast on its own and I have been battling that too.

There has been a lot of stinging in my wounds this last month. I've been trying to put my finger on why that is. We've had a lot of illness since the beginning of August when the little guy started kindy, and that has led to many sleepless nights. I had very little sleep in the bank prior to August anyway. These last few months have seen some very dark nights and I have been dragged to places way, way beyond what I can cope with. No doubt all this tiredness has contributed to the sting.

But also, the little girl is growing up. This is not a bad thing. She's 10 months old and *utterly* delightful. She is chatty, chilled out, smiley, low maintenance, and loves to launch in regularly for a good snuggle. I know what she needs, I know how to make her happy, she rarely cries and I don't have to feed her and change her every 5 minutes. We are beyond the tough early stage and we've reached the good life. This is a time of life I have looked forward to for a long time. I have my children, pregnancy is behind me (thank goodness!), I have a little boy and a little girl... just what I always wanted, only I did assume that them having a father here would go with the territory. We have a cosy home, friends and family nearby, and nice things to do with our days. Life is so close to perfect, but so absolutely, desperately, horribly far. There's a great big black gaping hole in our home, and a great big red wound where my heart used to be.

I was in a local bakery recently and the woman who served me commented on my children and the fact that I had a son and a daughter. "You are so lucky" she said.  Yes, yes I am so blessed to have a son and daughter, and I am the unluckiest girl in town.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


It's just sort of lying there on the floor, ripped out of its body and cut in to pieces. It's pulsing; amazingly, it seems to still be beating. This is impossible, but fortunate, but cruel. As it lies there in the quiet it seems to be waiting, but there is nothing to wait for.

Mine too

Actually, he was protector and defender of MY heart too.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Marriage and a City

A city, a glorious city we made
Of stone and glass, of strength and beauty
Towers and halls, rivers and gardens
Busy streets and quiet pathways
Familiar routes and new discoveries.
Built together, with our hands and our hearts.

Starting with a roar we heard it coming
The shaking brought down our beloved city
Buildings crumpled, glass shattered
Gardens were buried
And streets cracked wide open
Everything is ruined, I said,
Everything is ruined.

Friday, 10 August 2012

It really just never goes away

When you lurch your way between the bottom of the pit and somewhere around the edge, you are always aware of what it feels like at the bottom. Have I said this already? The problem is that I am always aware that things are always as bad as at the very depths. The worst grief I experience becomes a permanent reality. I may be managing to paddle right now, to keep afloat, but that doesn't make the situation any better, it's just that I'm choosing to paddle. The reality and the pain never go away, just because I am paying them less attention at the moment. Which leads me to the question, is that how you survive this and carry on? By just not thinking about it so much? That seems like a pretty crap solution that has many flaws. I guess I will get back to you on that one.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Fun. I miss having fun. The little guy is fun of course. But I miss the humour that Kent and I shared and the humour that he brought. We used to have a lot of laughs. A husband and wife are a lot of things to each other, but one of these is just having fun together - that never faded for us. I miss being carefree and lighthearted. No doubt having small children and paying a mortgage and being seriously sleep deprived wouldn't be quite the same as our early married life, but compared to this of course it would be a breeze. There are fun things now, we have good days and do enjoyable things, but these come with a such large stone hung around my heart. Sometimes I want to just chuck in all the pain and sadness and say I'm done with you, but I can't, because as long as he's not here that stone will remain.

Thursday, 19 July 2012


I visited a guy who works in "alternative" medicine earlier in the year, as I have done a number of times over recent years. We chat a bit (as an aside to why I'm there) and I enjoy hearing his views on things. He gave me an info sheet about grief and the kinds of things you are likely to experience while grieving. He encouraged me that this was a reminder that there is light of the end of the tunnel. I will get to the other end. But I didn't like this idea, because what I was grieving over would never be OK. I know that's not what he was saying, but it's very hard to differentiate. If what happened to Kent is never acceptable and I always want him back, how can my grief ever end? (I'm sure we all agree that it won't entirely). There is no end. For the rest of my life Kent will not be here. As I headed out to pay, the receptionist held both my hands and said "I know what you are going through. It happened to me 12 years ago and it's still really hard." 12 years? Really hard? Shit it's still going to be really hard in 12 years time??!

And there you have the problem. I don't want to think it will ever be easier, and I don't want to think it will always be this hard. I don't know where this leaves me except here, where it's really, really hard and where I am grieving. I'm not in a hurry to be anywhere else. What it feels like is hell, and I don't like it, but I can't be anywhere else nor visualise anywhere else. I don't want to stop any encouragement. Encouragement shows care and concern and the knowledge that there is a positivity around me even if it isn't mine. This is good. But I also find helpful the friend who said "I'm sorry I haven't had anything to say. All I can think is that it must just be so excruciating." Exactly. Yes, exactly. And she was with me, giving words to the pain, right here, where it's really, really hard and where I'm grieving. Right now I'm not going anywhere else.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


I can feel what it feels like
to have you near,
But I can't remember what it feels like
to live without fear.
I can feel what it feels like
to have you near,
But I can't remember what it feels like
to not be drowning in tears.
I can feel what it feels like
to have you near,
And I'll always remember what it feels like
to have you here.
I can feel what it feels like
to have you near,
thank goodness.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Seeing Red

So then. Anger. If I'm going to write a blog about grief, I should mention the A word. It's a phase on the curvy graph on an A4 sheet of paper that I have about grief. In reality, it's a hideous beast and of course, like much of this, feels like it will be with me forever. Don't get all positive on me and tell me how good it is that I'm working this through, it's better-out-than-in, good to process my feelings, blah, blah. I'm not sure I want to tell you how anger looks for me, but it is a very ugly and unpleasant companion. The little guys don't see the worst of it, but they do see some of it and how I hate that. It's my understanding that lots of parents with small children get angry with them at times - toddlers certainly know how to press the wrong buttons. But it's here that I realise I can't quite relate to that. I have never been a parent not living under the shadow, or crushed beneath the blackness, of cancer. It's not uncommon for the little guy (combined with my sleep deprivation) to trigger my anger, but it comes from a place, and goes to a place, far beyond him and like all of this grief, it is unbearable.

Friday, 29 June 2012


He was to be the love of her life
Protector and defender of her heart
She would find safety in his arms
But he's gone from almost the start
Oh may she not wander and give away her gold
But keep hold of what can be torn apart

He shed tears for her when she arrived
And she'll shed tears when she knows he's gone
Together they shared just a thread of life
But that thread was golden and strong
He'll know her face in a hundred years
And together they will carry on.

Sunday, 24 June 2012


My husband died in a terrible accident.
Yes, it was awful.
Were you in it too?
Yes, I saw the whole thing happen. It was like it happened in slow motion before my very eyes. I saw what was coming and couldn't do anything about it.
Were you hurt?
Yes. Crippled for life.
For life?
They say I will be scarred for life, not crippled. But I'm not so sure. Anyway, if I can't walk beside him, where on earth would I want to go?
Perhaps walk with your children?
Yes, yes. But it will hurt.
Yes, yes. It will.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Cold (not really a poem)

It's raining outside
And it's raining in my heart
(And down my face).

It's cold outside
And it's cold in our bed
(I have to wear more layers).

You're not here to tell me to put on another jersey when I'm cold, or to warm my feet-cicles when they're icy. I can't seem to calculate how much meat I should be buying now, or how much pasta to cook. We have those 2 lovely white bowls we were given and now I just get one out. It doesn't even seem worth turning the warmer drawer on and you know how I like a hot plate.

It's dark outside
And it's dark in our home
(Even with the lights on).

Sunday, 17 June 2012


I have changed the setting so anyone can comment easily - I hadn't realised that wasn't possible before. I know how hard it is to know what to say, but I thought I would mention it. Thanks for all your feedback and conversations elsewhere. It does help to know you are reading and thinking of me. Do keep in touch. Xx


Sometimes the grieving is soggy and messy  - you probably know the kind. Sometimes it's like a cold, hard, heavy stone. It just sits quietly and heavily inside, leaving no room for anything else.

In the early days the image came often to me of a big red gash, running right through me. The whole of my insides felt - well, if you want to know - ripped and bloodied. (Yes I guess I am quite bloody on the inside). Someone commented to me the other day that things are raw for me - yes that's exactly it, this pain is red and raw.

I read on the website of a young widow that grieving of this kind is like carrying a king size mattress around on your back everywhere you go. She's right - I couldn't have put it better myself. The weight is so heavy sometimes it's hard to keep on walking. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes it crushes you to the floor.  

And while we're here, another image that often comes in to my mind seems to involve a cliff face and my fingernails. It's not an image I choose, it just seems to be there. I guess it is about survival. I'm holding on to something (life? sanity?) with my fingernails. I am clawing my way back (perhaps one day there will be movement) to something with my fingernails. To happiness? To normality? To healing perhaps. It seems to me there is no other way to find healing but by clawing my way to it. To be able to have a conversation with Kent would help fast track it (I keep saying God should have arranged once a week phone calls), as would some other, harder to define impossibilities. But there is nothing available, so my fingernails will have to hold on, and sometime start inching their way up the cliff. I hope there is a plateau up there somewhere.

Friday, 1 June 2012

A Bowl for my Tears

There's nothing like a cemetery visit to really rip you to pieces. I don't go very often. I prefer to go on my own, and it is hard to find the opportunity. It's also extremely emotionally draining, so I'm not desperate to go all the time. But we were returning from a visit up the coast today and would be driving right past, and the back row was fast asleep so I went while I could. I tend to start crying way before I get there. I don't know how I feel about the grave site and what it means. It's not like I need to go there to remember him - don't be ridiculous. I think of him almost every moment of the day. And everywhere I go there are places and things that remind me of him. But still, it is obviously different and significant. Given all that I have experienced, it surprises me just how much it rips me apart to see his name there, it's not as though I don't know it's there, or haven't already been ripped apart. I think also there is a difference between intentional grieving, and the grieving that just comes over you at any moment. Visiting the cemetery, intentionally putting on a song that bring up the sadness - these are different to just being hit with it.

The little guy was sick just before bed time (if you want to know, I deftly caught it in the nappy that I was about to put on him, but I didn't catch it all, if you want to know...). He had a good cry and then cheered up beautifully. I sat him down with a bowl and a blanket while I got the little girl to bed first, and then changed the sheets etc on his bed. He told me he was fine and didn't need the bowl but then picked it up and said "a bowl for my tears." Yes indeed, that's what I need. A bowl for my tears. I wonder how many bowls I am in the process of filling.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ordinary Conversation

The little guy is in to talking about birthdays at the moment and the other day in the car he got talking about family birthdays, including Daddy's. "I miss Daddy," I said. "Yes. He came in a box home. There were screws on the lid. Why? ... Why Mummy?" I don't know. I don't what to say. It's all blank. There's nothing. I'm 35 years old and I'm talking to my 2 1/2 yr old son about why his Daddy, my best friend, the man I married forever, came home to our lounge in a coffin. Why are there screws on the lid? Well I don't know. Not in this blank moment. I can't even come up with a lame "I don't know." The topic shifts to birthday cakes. Oh good I can do that. We've arrived home in the driveway. "Do you think Daddy would like a chocolate cake or a banana cake?" "Both!" he answers. Now we're talking. He continues. "Daddy could have cake in heaven, and there will be grass and he can have a picnic rug." Oh dear God how did it all come to this? Dear God I hope there is cake in Heaven.

Feeling the Waves

They say that grief come in waves and I would have to agree. The falling-to-the-bottom-of-the-pit grief I mean, not the constant ache. But it's not just that it hits like a wave, you can feel the ebb and flow as well. You can feel it coming, moving in towards you and you know it will soon hit, and afterwards it leaves you soaking wet for a while.


When you can't not cry anymore you have to lie down and cry, and when you can't cry anymore you have to get up and not cry. And so it continues.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


I look at old photos sometimes. You know, of Kent. It sounds very obvious, and very movie-like. Hugging clothes in the wardrobe, gazing at photos and listening to answer phone messages over and over - that kind of thing. But I do look at photos. They bring him back a bit. It's awful that this is what we now have. I hate hate hate that he is to become a memory. It's unbearable. It's horrific, inhumane that people can, as the bible says, become one, and then for it to come to this.

We have a lot of photos from our travels. I wanted to soak up every place we went to and not forget it. And now if I look at photos it's not the mountains and streets and lakes and churches that I want to remember. To think that we took all those photos and all I want to see is him. To think that I spent so much emotional energy being homesick while we were away, and trying to hold on to all these places we went to in an attempt to carry them with me always.

I bought a postcard in France just before we returned home and gave it to Kent on the aeroplane. It has a picture of a couple of kids riding a merry-go-round aeroplane and talking about flying around the world. I commented on the back about all the wonderful things we had seen in the world and said "and still my favourite place in all of it is beside you."

Oh and in case you're wondering...

... the battery pack held by the staff at the port was flat! They charged it up over night and got us jump started in the the morning. And squeezed us on the next sailing. It was a very long trip home, but we made it!

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Kent and I bought a campervan when living in London, and took it round various corners of the UK to have some practice runs and iron out any problems before spending 6 weeks in Europe. And boy did we do a lot of ironing! Everywhere we went numerous problems occurred (there was an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman... and every one of them had to come to our rescue!). When we left for Europe Kent's workmates were starting a sweepstake on how far we would get, and noone betted beyond Dover. The amazing thing was that we got round our whole 6 week Western Europe trip and not a single thing went wrong except a little overheating on the Swiss Alps - which I always thought was pretty reasonable, it would happen to the best of us.

But our earlier trip to Ireland was particularly bad. We got a puncture and needed help replacing the tyre. And we broke an axle. Various helpful men who looked underneath to try and figure out what was going on would swear and then say "someone up above was looking after you." Fortunately by this time we were at the end of our journey, in Dublin, and we were not far from the port where we were to get on a ferry back to Wales. After many phone calls and much discussion with local mechanics, our only option due to time constraints (we had to get back to work) was to get the van taken back to London for us and have it fixed there.

So we were towed to the ferry and left at the very front of the queue nice and early, where we planned to limp our poor van very carefully on to the ferry, limp delicately off on the other side and then get ourselves on to a truck for the long haul home.

After quite a wait for the ferry to arrive, and vehicles queuing up behind us and beside us, it was eventually time to get on. Kent turned the key. Nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. We got the attention of the staff, cars were waved past us, and we kept trying. The engine wouldn't start. The wonderful staff, who we were soon to develop a long-term relationship with, went and got their battery pack to give us a jump start. It didn't work.

And that was that. Seriously. How could the engine not start even with a jump start? We were completely broken. Not only was the axle stuffed, we couldn't even limp on to the ferry. Helpful staff floated away to get more important things done, and we just sat, completely out of solutions. The ferry that was to take us home roared off in front of us, and we watched as it sailed in to the distance leaving us behind. Stranded, broken, confused and far from home. I'm not sure if I can remember another time in our lives together when neither one of us could come up with any kind of possible solution to a problem. We were all out.

And now here I am. Stranded, broken, confused and so very far from the one who was my home. My hope and my dreams have disappeared somewhere beyond the waves and there is no solution.

The great thing about last time - which we didn't realise then because it was just normal - was that we were in it together. We were towed out to the street to get out of the way, we went out to buy dinner and we tucked in to bed for the night, desolate, unsure what to do, but together.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A vinegar week

Perhaps it's a revelation, perhaps it's obvious, but time doesn't heal from day one. Yes there are ups and downs on the graph, we all know that, but actually, you don't start at the bottom on day one and go roughly up from there. There is a numbness at the beginning, they say. And I think I had that numbness. I read that if you felt all the grief in one hit it would kill you. So it is drip fed. Actually, no, sometimes it comes in floods, but it's not all there at the beginning. It does feel as though you are completely packed full of it, but compared to what is to come, it has barely touched the sides.

So the line on the graph of grief goes down for a while. I don't know when it starts to go up. I fear how far it has to go down first. This week it has felt as though the numbness is wearing off. Memories of the thousands of things Kent and I have done together have been flashing through my head all this time, and sometimes the intensity of memory and sweetness of feeling his nearness are extreme. The more I can feel the exactness of what life was like with him before cancer the better, and the worse.

A dear friend recently wrote a kind and beautiful and insightful letter to me in his blog which you can read here, and suggested that instead of healing, time pours vinegar on the wounds of our grief. Indeed, as I drop down the graph, I am feeling the vinegar this week.

I'm sorry, but...

The last post was probably enough, but there is something similar on my mind that for some reason I have to say out loud, though I am struggling to find the right words tonight.

I think we think we will be protected from such tragic things happening to us. Perhaps your God will protect you, He loves you too much to have you experience such grief. Or the love that you have within your family is so strong it can't be ripped apart. The history you share with your loved one is too deep, the dreams you have for your future so wonderful, that nothing could stand in the way. But I can't, I can't let you think that. Because if you do, what does that say about us? We had it all. We had the love, we had the depth, we had the dreams, we had the history, we had the future. We had the family. We had it as good as it can be.

I'm sorry, I know it's mean of me. You don't really need to be made to feel vulnerable. This won't happen to you. It only happens to one in whatever, and we're the one and you're the whatever. I just need to say aloud that what we had was as good as you can get and still it has been taken.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


I have learnt a lot about fear too. Well, I have experienced a lot. You know the phrase about sweating with fear. Back in early January I used to wake in the night with damp soles of my feet. Fear coming out through my feet.

Afterwards, I couldn't really be bothered with fear anymore. I had no energy left for it. I was living my worst fear and there was no room for imagined fear. But it does seem to be creeping back in. The problem is, I've learnt that nothing stands between me and tragedy. I suppose we tend to think we are going to be OK, things will work out alright. God, The Universe, Fate, Inner Strength... whatever it is for you, will take care of you. But I know bad things happen. To me. To us. And without wishing to be too over the top about it, I have no reason to believe there is any protection in place now any more than there has been. I know a woman who lost 2 husbands and a child to cancer. That's her story, not mine, but I know that bad things can happen once, and they can happen again. I wasn't immune, and I'm still not immune. It's a hard to lesson to have learnt.

This is not about optimism or pessimism, faith or belief. It's about experience - which is my focus at the moment. I wonder what your thoughts are on this. Whether you will clamour to tell me that it's all going to be ok, that I will be ok. What you will base that on. I'd like to hear.


I'm hanging from a rope over the side of a cliff. Then a net comes, ropes, promises, hope, threaded underneath me, keeping me safe.
Then the rope is cut. The net has gone. Kent is falling too. He has landed in the water, and I'm left splattered on the rocks.

Monday, 7 May 2012


Oh it's a rough read isn't it? I really should provide tissues. Other blogs I have read by young widows have been more about daily life, so though their every day is permeated by grief, the reading has a little more in it to give a little more balance. But my reason for being here is mainly to put my grief in to words, and so you are getting the worst of it. There's plenty more I'm afraid, I have many things in my head yet to write, just so little time to do it.

A while back I looked up old online chats between Kent and me, recorded forever - God bless Gmail! It's wonderful to have them, and brings Kent right in to the room when I read them, though as always the good memories bring the pain in to sharp focus. Here's one that you might enjoy... just for something different...

me: hi there love
Kent: ullo
me: how are you doing?
Kent: yeah, pretty
(the first applied to me, the second, to you...) :>

Saturday, 5 May 2012

In Public

Thank you, so many of you, for reading and getting in touch. In my first post I talked about why I find writing helpful, but I have been wondering why it is that I am doing it in a public space. I'm not entirely sure. I think it makes my writing better. I think that each time your hearts break a little it helps to give mine a little boost. You're sharing the load. I think it is easier to have people know how it is for me.

I'm curious about the tradition of widows wearing black. It seems right to do something dramatically different as life is so dramatically different (I read on someone else's blog about widows in another culture shaving their hair off for that very reason). Also it tells people what you are living with. Or without, I should say. It could save many an awkward moment. And it might mean people playing music in public spaces will think twice about what music they play when they see you coming. I don't know what Pak n Save are thinking, playing "Memory" followed by " I Will Always Love You" when I'm just trying to get my groceries done. The tears in my eyes nearly squeezed out when I whacked my foot on a sticking-out-bread-rack. But Reuben saved the day by saying "can I kiss it better?" I declined, as he was sitting in the trolley, but he stroked my hand as we moved to the next aisle, and we got out of there unscathed. Well, no more scathed...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Half asleep

I think
I might bump in to you
If I stretch out a limb too far
But there's all the room in the world

I think
I hear you breathing
Right there next to me
But it's our little one beside me

I think
I'm falling through space
It's black and it's empty
And it has no bottom and it has no end

Beauty and ugliness. Beauty and pain.

I drove home recently after a sunny day and there was a beauty in the world. Dusk was falling, the trees were inky black against the bright sky. Beauty brings pain these days. I have always felt the two are somehow not far from each other, but even more so now.

Immediately after Kent died the world felt so ugly. I know that where he is there is only beauty and what we live with here falls so short. I resented the ugliness. Now I see that there is beauty here too, but oh how even that hurts. It would seem right, perhaps, to take comfort and receive some kind of joy from these things. Beautiful music, the smell of a garden at dusk, a good meal, a starlit night sky. But music seems to breath my pain, I look for Kent in the shadows of the dusk, and he is further away than the stars. Beauty has been ruined for me. I wonder if one day I might get it back?

Perhaps Kent is closer than the stars. I will never visit the stars, but I will see him again.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


In my wildest dreams
I'll leave the light on for you
We can sit on the sofa
You'll cuddle me and I'll cry
And we'll be happy forever

In my wildest dreams
I'll make you a pizza
We can have one of those fruit bowls with yoghurt
Give me some warning
And I'll get you some oranges

In my wildest dreams
You'll have a word with Him
Tell Him we need you, just for 40 years
Give me some warning
And we can come and pick you up

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Hard Days

As many of you know, I got through a big weekend recently. Our 10th Wedding Anniversary. Easter. Celebrations of a miracle and victory over death. A long weekend where "everyone else" had their husband at home. A trip to the cemetery. My 19th anniversary as a Christian. Our first trip to my mother-in-law's without Kent. A trip to the zoo without him.

Like the first time I looked after the kids without any help, it was either going to be a complete train wreck, or a great success. It wasn't a train wreck. I made it work. (And I had help). I bought myself flowers - I was reluctant, but I knew Kent would want me to. I looked through wedding photos with the little guy, who helped to make it fun. I had visitors. I did it, I gave it my best, and I got out the other side.

And then it was Tuesday, and the train wreck began. It seems for me at the moment, it's the ordinary days that are the hardest. Anniversaries and big days are hard, we all know that. And maybe in the future they will be the times I grieve the most. But right now I'm grieving all the the time, and I miss Kent in the ordinary, not just the special. I really steeled myself for the weekend, but when it was back to a normal old day, the steel turned to cotton wool.

I miss him every day, in everything.

Friday, 20 April 2012


"And this is for your lonesome tears I never dried
And this is for you hanging in in the hope that it never dies."

Dave Dobbyn, Beside You

Thursday, 19 April 2012

In an Accident

I was gobsmacked to be asked, sometime in February, what I had been up to and what my plans were now. What have I been up to? I've just been hit by a truck and actually I'm still under the wheels and bleeding and you want to know what I've been up to???

You see even though we were told the truck was coming and we were going to be hit, that doesn't make it hurt any less. And let it be said loud and clear: Just because it was expected doesn't make it acceptable. In fact I'll say it again: Just because Kent's death was expected, that does not make it acceptable. This was not meant to be. This was not supposed to happen. This illness was an accident.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


I'm sitting on the kitchen floor playing with the little guy and I look at his arms where freckles are beginning to appear and I think they are going to look just like his Daddy's arms, and I am absolutely suffocated by the fact that Kent will never see the little guy's arms looking like his and their arms will never again lay side by side. Suffocated.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Mind vs Body

Here are a few things I wrote about grief in the early days. The intensity of the first couple of things is less now. It's still there, but on a different scale.

  • It's not possible to do normal things or talk about normal things for long. The pressure inside, the need to  return to grieving, starts to build, almost to the point of panic.
  • Even if your mind is doing other things, your body doesn't forget. Your body starts to drag, your legs are wading through mud. 
  • It is possible to think about normal things and do normal things while you are grieving. It is possible to laugh and enjoy things while at the same time still feel huge pain.
  • Grief affects your lungs. So during those times when you're in so deep and you think "all I have to do is keep breathing," even that becomes difficult.
  • It's an effective weight loss programme.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

How it is

"There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in times gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving

Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we'll live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed."

Fantine, Les Miserables.

Friday, 13 April 2012

In Deep

Lots of people like to give an analogy of grief or some kind of image of what it looks like. Many years ago I was told that it is like a big black circle that takes up the whole circle of your life. There is no room for life, because it is full of the circle of grief. Eventually it changes. No, the circle of grief doesn't get any smaller, but the circle of life gets bigger. It grows around the grief, it learns how to live with the big black circle.

I think I like this. It seems impossible that the grief could get smaller, because that would be like suggesting that what has happened will one day be more acceptable. But life, well, life just can't go on living when it is filled to the edges with grief. I remember standing outside the hospice and thinking somehow, somehow I would have to make room in my life for this massive, awful pain, because it felt like it was going to swallow me whole.

To me, grief is like a narrow, deep, black hole, or a pool of water. You can skirt around the edges, aware of its presence and in danger of falling in. You can paddle around the top. But you also have to plumb the depths and spend time at the bottom of the very dark pit. Just try to keep breathing and make sure you get out again. You will get out again. You will be back there before long.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

In Print

It's been 99 days since Kent died and I was sent hurtling through the black space of life without him. I hold a deep, dark and dreadful grief that lives on while I change a baby's nappies, negotiate with a toddler, go the supermarket, arrange meals and hold ordinary conversations. They say that grief is a process, and it is clear that I am in the midst of that. They say that is gets easier, and I believe them. The expectation is that my full scale grieving will come to an end and settle in to something more manageable. But living without Kent will never come to an end, and that hurts way more than this grief process.

They also say that grief is like a thumb print. Unique to you. It seems to me there are many similarities amongst grievers, but also many differences. For me, writing about my experiences is helpful, necessary. If I can get in to words the thoughts, feelings and images that I carry, it helps me to pin them down. To be able to capture them accurately, beautifully and satisfyingly is the holy grail of writing. I don't know if I will, but that's why I'm here. To put my grief in to print.

There are many other things I could write about, and I sometimes do. What I miss about Kent, the thousands of memories of life together, my rants to a God who let this happen, the pain (for me) of Kent's last month, the challenges of parenting without him. I intend this blog to be a place to write about what I am learning about grief, though some of these others might slip in. There may come a time when I have written all I can on this, and it might morph in to something else or it might end. Initially I will write up some things that some of you will already have seen on facebook, and thoughts that I have had in my journal for a while.

It would be nice if you would like to join me on the journey. Actually, many of you already are. But have a read and learn a little about what I'm learning. Don't tell me too often how well I'm doing, because chances are I'm not. Just let me know you're with me.