Bereavement: Another Life Challenge

It’s not always by any means, but there are times lately that I feel like the loneliest person in the world. True, I’m sure in reality I’m not. But how disturbing and ugly the feeling is.

I know it’s got to be rooted in my mother’s and my uncle’s deaths. The feeling can hit me at the most unexpected and routine of times. Last night, it caught me as I was briefly alone, washing up some dishes.

I can only describe it as feeling like walls closing in, trapped with nowhere to run. I felt like I wanted to smash the dish I was holding…. and then smash the next I could grab, and the next…. My outlook and feelings are made worse, I’m sure, by certain years-long “living” family frustrations (on both sides of the Atlantic) that I have been unable much to influence (forget about resolving them), or even to get away from, idiocies which show no signs of abating, and, indeed, seem worsening.

Free Stock Photo: A blank tombstone with flowers.
Free Stock Photo: A blank tombstone with flowers.

I accept that the deaths of close loved ones will bring you down for a while. However, I’d heard from a bereavement counselor that it’s not uncommon to feel the loss even harder some 3-6 months after the loved one has died and the rest of the world has “moved on” – but you haven’t yet. Obviously I’m about there now chronologically.

Perfectly normal references to upcoming UK Mother’s Day (March 6) are getting on my nerves. My uncle’s birthday is coming up rapidly too, which is bothering me as well.

Having fun usually makes me feel bad afterwards, as if I feel I shouldn’t be having fun, as if I shouldn’t ever have fun again. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I get teary at the drop of a hat. I’m often short-tempered.

A sense of futility can feel almost overwhelming. It will lessen, I’m sure, with the passage of time. However, for now there are moments – that can stretch for minutes to hours – of feeling an emptiness in which I can’t help but think that living is pointless.

Bereavement: another life challenge, and an especially tough one. A decent author who writes what I do should at least make full use of his to try to help others get through theirs. However, before you can you do have to manage your own successfully.

That’s perhaps my best hope: writing helps me fight back. I find I can lock myself away, let loose on the pages, go somewhere else in time and place, and worry about others and their lives and troubles. This blog helps, too.

I suppose I should look at it this way overall, and I’m trying to: I do have “somewhere” to run to after all. I can “escape” in at least that figurative way. If the pain and sadness make the new book that much the better, I guess at least something “good” will have come out of all of this since October.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Beautifully put. There’s no time limit, you must grieve for however long and in whichever way you want. I’m no stranger to bereavement- it’s nearly five years after my sister’s death and I haven’t yet moved on. Perhaps I never will. The grief becomes a part of you, I feel. But I do hope you’ll find peace soon. x

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    • Oh, yes, I know you’ve been through your own awful experience with your sister. One of the other things I feel “guilty” about is not wanting to “burden” those around me with my feelings. So I try to suppress them most of the time.

      I suppose I don’t want to look “weak” either, which is silly I know to feel that way. If I feel increasingly down, or something has switched it on (something intensely personal that pops to mind that brings the losses home extra-hard then and there), I may have to leave the room and pull myself together.

      In a way, that’s why writing on here is such a wonderful release. It’s a way to just let off some of the steam. Then I sit up and shake myself and carry on. Until the next time.

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  2. As you know, it takes time, Robert. People I know lost their mothers recently. John Kercher writes about a white feather that appeared out of no where at his feet as a sign from his murdered daughter Meredith. Some of us also get signs from ‘the other side’ and then, we smile, and move on. For me when I lost my brother, everyone thought I was strange because I was the only one who didn’t cry. But one day, four years later, I did cry, and moved on.

    Wishing you all the comfort you can get, and friendship in your grief.

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    • You know, it was the strangest thing. My mother died partly sitting up in the hospital bed that was set up in their dining room in their rural Pennsylvania house. After my dad and I gently laid her down into a sleeping position, after standing over her for a few moments he walked away and I recall not knowing what to do with myself.

      So I walked outside onto their screened-in rear porch, which is one flight up off the ground. I looked out at the woods and was startled when a black bear appeared from nowhere and ambled slowly along the deck, just below me, less than 20 feet away. He saw me, looked up and I heard him give a little growl, but otherwise he seemed indifferent to my presence and just strolled on. Eventually he disappeared into the woods out of sight.

      Seeing a bear within moments of her death. My mother would have shook her head. She was not a big fan of black bears.

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