Saturday 10 November 2012

Good Grief

It’s two weeks since my mum died.

As you can probably imagine, life’s gone in to a tailspin of sorts.  With things moving up and down and round and round at such a rate of change, it’s been very difficult to get any sense of perspective at all.

The first week was all about my immediate family.  Looking after Dad and trying to keep the arrangements on track.  It all led up to the funeral and the sense of relief that it brought in ways I was surprised by.

Week two has been very different. 

I’m in the house alone during the day, feeling a little insecure about the world outside of my doors and the people who live there.  I’m experiencing an odd kind of exhaustion that means I need to go to bed when the need arises.  Not that I’m sleeping all day – I just can’t.

One of the things that’s helped has been writing-related activities.  I’ve managed to fill the emptiness that I feel, at least until the children come home from school, with creativity.

THE SHADOWS OF DEATH (US) was my first reflexive move. 

Hard to say why I needed to put it out there as a collection.

First of all, I had a story (the opener) which I felt needed to be read.  I’m very proud of it and the way it should impact upon a reader.  It’s a tale from the concentration camps of Poland that caused quite some movement within me when I penned it.

Next, I took a photograph on a visit to the church where Mum’s funeral took place.  There are some examples of stained glass that had been smashed and refitted at the time of the reformation.  Using it as a cover for something was a strong push.

The final thing, I think, was a need to make a marker for myself to remember this time.  For many years I wrote poems to capture moments; they acted like photos do for others.  I felt a collection would give me a constant reminder of the pain, which suits me well.

Other than the opening stories, there are a couple of other strong pieces ; I say that with reasonable confidence as they’ve appeared in some mighty collections. 

There are also a couple of oddities.  One about guilt, one about a couple of American police in 1970, one inspired by Godot and another about a shopping receipt.  I have no idea of their value to anyone else, but at this time they’ve offered me a great service.

I hope it works, though I don’t really mind if it doesn’t. 

There may be purists out there who feel only the best should ever go out.  For now I’ll turn a deaf ear to them as I’m not listening to anything by my heart. 

I’ve also completed a first draft of a novella I began before the summer.  I had 6000 words already and have finished it by adding another 5000 or so.  I’ve been lucky to have feedback on it from my steady pals at Crimeficwriters and I’m ready to redraft.

I’d like to thank all those friends in the writing world who’ve offered support and condolences and I hope I can repay in kind some day.

I’d also like to thank writing for being such an ever-present entity in my life.

Till soon.


  1. Nigel-I am so sorry I am just reading about your mother now. I went through this is 2009 with my Mom and 2010 with my Dad. Losing my Dad was hard, but losing my Mom was the worst. Not a day goes by when I don't think of her and wish I had had more time with her. I know from the type of person you are that she must have thought the world of you, been so proud. Please accept my profound regrets.

  2. Patti, thanks for saying that. It seems like the process of adapting takes a long time - 3 years for you now - but maybe it's good not to adapt too far. I guess it's about getting to a place where the memories stop causing pain and bring happiness.

  3. I'm so sorry to read this Nigel - thoughts from all of us over here in Tokyo to you and the family.

  4. Nigel--I'm glad that writing works to ease the grief. It is a process and as you can tell, one that morphs in unexpected ways. Take care of yourself as you take care of others. The hardest time is after the funeral and all the arrangements when you realize that the mathematics of your family have been altered by an unforeseen variable. And write and publish what you will. Because emotion is true and always comes through in your stories and that is always worth reading. Know that you and your family are in my thoughts.

  5. It is good in some ways that it's a slow process. How sad it would be if they were forgotten in the blink of an eye. But in about six months, you will mostly remember the good times. And it took my mother a long time to die. The last words she said were, "I almost feel joyful." That is great solace. That something about death brings peace.

  6. Nigel. My deep condolences for your loss. She'll always be with you. The pain won't.

  7. Sorry to hear about your Mum, Nigel. My prayers are with her, your Dad, and your family My Dad died on Mothers Day this year, and it sucks, especially for the survivors. Try and stay strong for your Dad.

  8. Thanks to you all. I realise here just how valuable kind messages are and I'm going to try and make sure I remember that when it comes to friends like yourselves facing difficult times.


  9. Sorry to hear about your mother.
    One comment, the term 'concentration camps of Poland' is incorrect. The Nazi Germans established the concentration camps on occupied Polish soil. The camps were not Polish. Please correct the error.