Sunday, 7 August 2011

Gone but not forgotten

Brother-who-blogs did a blog posting recently about not sweating the small stuff. It reminded me that forty years ago I used to pass a church in Leeds that had a notice outside which it changed on a regular basis (not something that was as common then as it is now). It wasn’t the ‘Jesus loves you’ type of notice it was a small comment relevant to daily life. One of the best and longest lasting in my mind was “What did you worry about this time last week, last month, last year?

I wonder if the vicar – probably now passed on – ever realised how effective his notices were. It would have been nice to have told him. Presumably if what he believed in generally was correct then he’s up there somewhere and perhaps reading this as I think of him!

As for his notice, I think it could also be adapted for those who are grieving. It could have read – “How different was your grief this time last week, last month, last year?” Depending upon whose death or what loss causes our grief it can last for years but it can be important to recognise that it changes as time goes on. Apart from generally being less harsh and crippling as the days and weeks and months go by, it also can change from a sadness at the loss to a recognition that the time one had the proximity of the person is something to be celebrated and thankful for.

When my son died I was, naturally, shattered, but at no stage did Jo or I ever want to take his picture down and pretend he hadn’t been in our lives. It seems to me that way lies the route to the psychoanalyst and years and years of hiding from grief only to have it hit you at some stage in your life when you least expect it. As it was we celebrated his life, put even more photos up, talked about him endlessly and even though we both rarely mention him to each other nowadays I doubt there’s a day goes by without something brings him to mind.

When Daughter-who-takes-photos got married to Son-in-law-and-friend-who-loves-otters recently the ceremony was tremendously moving. There was so much emotion in the air – so much happiness, so much love, so much friendliness and so much genuineness (I can’t think of a better word for the spirit in which the marriage was entered into). It’s not often I get moved to tears but that event did so. I had tears in my eyes and on occasion had to look down (which looks in some of the photos as though I wasn’t interested in the ceremony!) and then I saw this on the back of the programme.

How wonderful of them to think of Martin, Yolande and David as sharing in their ceremony.

A friend has recently lost her father and while one can do nothing to help with the rawness of the grief one can hope that it is not too long before it gives way to a remembrance of all the good times they shared.


  1. Lovely words...
    Certainly reminds me of that feeling they have just slipped into the next room.

    I had not realised you and GB had both lost a son. I am glad you are able to enjoy each others company :)

  2. Indeed, grief changes over time. And there is simply no way to predict how it will feel from one day to the next. In November, it will be two years since my husband died. Sometimes it feels as if I have lived here without him for decades, and sometimes I think it was just days ago since we last spoke and hugged, and I can't believe we are not making plans for our summer holiday together or other such things.

  3. There are some events in life that tend to stir up a mix of all kinds of emotions and memories. I guess we all have to work through a loss our own way, depending on the circumstances. With both my parents (mum two years ago and dad this summer) I found the funeral 'surprisingly' helpful.

  4. Thank you John - Your words are very special - one day soon I hope that I too will be able to think about my lovely, funny dad with less sadness.

  5. So well written, my friend! So well! I wish I could concentrate for more than five seconds to write my heart out here, because this post has certainly touched it deeply. I'm in agreement. Loved how you shared your emotion at the wedding, I pictured it without any photographs ;)

  6. I'm glad that you and Jo were happy with what we wrote.

    I had noticed that you were looking down in some of the photos - that explains it!

  7. Beautifully written and comforting. Yes grief changes over time and it changes us too. At least the pain gets smaller.

  8. What lovely sentiments. And what a beautiful wedding Ian and Helen's appears to have been. They truly are a most wonderful couple, and I hope they will have many many years of happiness together.
    Take care, dear friend,
    Canadian Chickadee

  9. I agree with what Fi says about slipping into the next room...a beautiful thought. I visited my daughter's church in Texas and the minister explained that the sacrament table used to be placed against the far back wall of most churches. This was to enable the people to envision that it was a continuous table of communion with the ones that had passed on before and were waiting on the other side of the table. I thought that was beautiful.
    Also, I had not made the connection that you and GB have both lost a son. That also brings much clarity to the special bond you that seems to soar above the usual bounds of brotherhood. I feel privileged to have been able to experience what you have shared with us in blog world.

  10. Thank you all for the comments and for sharing. Donna, I could never have believed how David's death would have changed me and, I believe, very much for the better in the long run. Empathy, sympathy and appreciation of what still remains to one are all so much enhanced in my case.

  11. Given the statement on my other Blog a day or two ago I would just like to make it absolutely clear that when I took our late son, Andrew's picture down it was because neither he nor I had ever liked it and that was not how I wanted to remember him. It had absolutely nothing to do with pretending that he'd never been in my life. I have over 30 years of memories. I don't need pictures.

  12. Such a moving post CJ...brought me to tears.

    And what a statement of honor to include those who have passed in their program.
    It was beautiful.


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