Your Experiences

One of the hardest and most universal aspects of grief is that sense of isolation, it feels cold and lonely grieving, even amongst friends and family. Many of the people I have worked with, as well as myself, have found both connection and consolation through the words, images or stories of others.

Agony Aunties: Grief in Relationships episode.
I found this episode very validating. My mother passed away late August 2023, after losing her husband/my Dad, during Covid in Jan 2021. I live 13 hours away and my older sister was the primary caregiver for both of them.
She was incredibly controlling and blocked every initiative to support them that wasn't hers. I found this extremely frustrating as I work in healthcare with an expertise in geriatric care, while my sister has no experience in this area.
The beauty of her controlling behaviours is that I maxed out every opportunity to support our parents that was available to me. Had I been the primary caregiver, I may have been left with regrets for not doing this or not doing that. As it stands, I have no regrets. I did as much as I was able to given the circumstances I found myself in. There was nothing left unsaid and nothing left undone between my parents and I.
I am grateful that our parents were in a long term care facility where others observed and cared for them.
I hold wonderful memories of our parents. Memories that my sister cannot touch.
As for my sister, the ties that bound us are no longer there and I experience a sense of freedom and lightness at not being tethered to her via our parents.
I truly wish her well, desiring her health and happiness. And, she is a person I know longer desire in my life. Grieving the loss of this relationship was relatively easy given her behaviour toward me.
Thank you for this episode.

'Julian' by Fleur Pierets

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“my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping
I shall go on living.”
― Pablo Neruda

Having read 'Grief Works' to cope with the death of my dad from MND, it is now helping me face the loss of a former love, also from MND. In the case of my dad, I had 3 years to prepare, and the brutal reality of the illness in some way helped me find comfort when his suffering ended. Instead, my former love hid his illness from everyone, including me, and I find myself, 18 months after his death, still feeling the pain of his suffering and his loss so acutely. There are so many unanswered questions, and what ifs. It's very hard. 🖤

“No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,
we will go together, over the waters of time.
No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon.”

― Pablo Neruda, Sonnet LXXXI

A lovely Poem...

Your books, interviews, social media have really helped me. In a way, at times, listening to your lovely voice & humour, you take the place of my dear mum whom we lost to cancer almost 5 years ago. I still find the regrets/guilt very hard to deal with. I am still stuck at times but working hard to get on. I am a single parent so she was almost like my partner too. I miss her so much, she was taken too soon. Our dad died when we were young so she too was a single parent and as I get older & wiser I admire her more & more but with that too can come guilt & regrets....I was a good daughter but I could/should have been better. This can be hard to live with but I know she would not want me stuck so I live for her & my son...until we meet again x

I'm reading "Grief Works" at the moment after losing my dad to MND almost 6 years ago. Last night I read this passage over & over: "..clients who sometimes feel guilty because they recover quickly following a death usually did most of their grieving while their parent was dying." Thank you for expressing it and allowing me to understand - and forgive myself.

My brother died in a motorbike accident more than sixteen years ago. He was twenty years old, and I was twelve. It changed my family and my life forever. And then, eleven years after my brother's death, my father shot himself, which changed everything again. Ever since, I felt that nothing is definitive anymore. I can feel one way about something this moment, and the very opposite the next. Before my father's suicide, I was somewhat positive about life. I was a good student, and I was on a good path. Before my father's suicide, I never allowed myself to believe that my brother's death is in many ways something that defines me. And now, after my father's suicide, I feel like these losses are my entire life - I spent my teens and twenties dealing with grief (or often avoiding to deal with). After his death, I started running away from everything. I finished my degree, but I took ages to find a job, and now I am stuck in a job I hate, and I keep sabotaging myself (I think), whenever I am provided with an opportunity to get out of there. And often I'm just so tired and feel like there is no way forward, that I'm so stuck, and that things just get worse and will never be good for me - that I'll never have a relationship, will never get anything in life I want, because I don't allow myself to have any of that. I feel like I never healthily dealt with my grief, and I hold on to a lot of anger and guilt. And there is all that sadness, that sometimes feels like it's all that I am now. I barely talk about these losses with my friends or with anyone, because it feels unproductive and frustrating, and I end up feeling misunderstood. I also alienated so many people, and most of the time, I feel utterly alone.
I know I am being negative and dark, but sometimes it feels like that's all that's left of my grief - feeling cheated by life and not even having good memories to dwell on, without bad memories and the longing for all that will never be creeping in.

I lost my mother to suicide 6 years ago, at first it didn't seem to affect me as much as it actually did. I started running away from problems, responsibilities and doing only what made me forget my problems, games, videos, youtube, facebook. as a student, I lost so much valuable study time. I hope one day I can be myself again

Bereavement is the process from loving in presence to loving in absence, I once read. I agree and, from my experience, a profoundly heart rending one at that.

- The Barren Rocks of Aden is utterly haunting and quite short enough to play on repeat for as long as you want to.


Who wants to live forever, Queen


Rain was always where we were best
In our own time and place
Our worlds caught in one moment

From the very start
my heart knew yours.
And trouble.
Heaviest but at it’s happiest
My fingers burnt
The hardest way to learn

Cat like curled in this feather nest
I dream of you
Pungent with what is passed
my pillow telling tales on me

My head swims lost at sea

It cuts where we left it unfinished and raw

So who uses who?
When our skin cannot feel another’s touch
our hearts so easily broken
We patch them up and carry on,
Cautious as a scorned, wretched animal
Bruised and bloodied
The scars of our past remain
Branded by our daring to love
I have to ask myself what for, this pain?
To what end are we running to blindly?
Will we be free when we get there?

I can’t steel myself forever
A martyr for lost love
Bathed in tragic light

And yet you come
When I’m naked and so small
Penetrate my fragile thoughts
Distort the clouds behind my eyes

Breathe. Hold it. Carefully hide it. The painful, dark secret.
Too ugly to air. Too heavy a burden to share.

Do you judge me ?
Question my love?
Or just watch, knowing the passing of time makes fools of us all
as we revel in our own meaningless vanities

When I let you go
This anchor around my heart,
I won’t drown, clinging to the wreckage
I must let go of you and swim

Who wants to cry forever to the sea?
My ear to a shell does not hear waves
But only echoes of what used to be

The ticking in our carbon shells
Sands running through until….

And then that familiar fear rises in my chest, of losing you again
Or him
And I question myself and my fear
How I got here
And should I just run…..

My dearest mum died on August 27, 2019, and I feel forever grateful that she was a constant, kind, loving, and supportive mother to me and five siblings. While life will never be the same without her, I carry warm memories and love for her in my heart every moment of every day. I honor her memory by loving those she loved and supporting the causes that were important to her. She was a nurse in England in WW II. She raised 6 children, two of them are medical doctors, and gave us so much love. I've made a list of over 100 foods she cooked and baked over the years, with later adjustments when my dad became a diabetic. Words cannot come close to expressing the sorrow I feel without my best friend. Thank you mum for everything.

Caged Bird
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
When Things Fall Apart by Puma Chodron
The Choice by Edith Eger
The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kubler Ross
Consequences of Love by Gavanndra Hodge
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
The Sad Book by Michael Rosen

In my grief I read your book, good book, but you never explored terminal anxiety. No one warned me of it. It was a terrible thing my wife’s last hour on earth. It haunts me!

My wife, Joanne, was diagnosed with breast cancer early in 2006. Once the shock of that news was over, we quickly learned to live 'one day at a time' and we made no plans for any life-changing events for the next two and a half years. Following a treatment plan which included surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, in the summer of 2008 we started to dream again, as my wife was given the 'all clear'. Some two months later, we learned that the cancer had metastasized and less than three weeks after that, she died, in october 2008.

My friends were amazing, some members of our family, too, including my children, then age 14, 10 and 8. In October 2009 I met someone else and we married in 2012. My new wife loves the children I brought with me into our relationship as much as the ones she has from her first marriage and we have all lived together since 2010. However, in 2015, our middle child, Rowan, took his own life. By then, he was 17 years old.

I don't know how much of this was due to the loss of his Mum. There was no note and we don't know for how long he was suffering. We saw some signs of his distress (with the benefit of hindsight) about 6 weeks before he died. All we know is that he decided that, for him, the end to his pain was better than life itself.

Why am I writing this? Because I want to emphasize the importance of communication.

Julia is, of course, absolutely right, when she says that we need to make death as normal a topic of conversation as birth. Who knows, if we had spoken more about his mother, and helped him to understand that we all felt the pain of her loss, Rowan might still be with us.

I'm 62, my mother died 14 months ago. She was 92 and was the heart of our family, a healing force. She was widowed at 45 and brought five of us by herself. I don't know how to go on without her.I'm glad she is now at peace but the pain I feel is getting stronger. Rational self talk is becoming tiresome. And yes I know I'm being selfish ...

My dad passed away a few weeks ago due to cancer. I was going to write, after losing his battle with cancer. If there was a genuine fight for his life, he'd still be here. The list of infections and complications he had since first going into hospital last November makes me amazed, how he got through them with a smile on his face and a readiness for whatever would come next. My dad was Such a positive man, never giving up hope, until there was no other option. The one positive thing that cancer has given my dad and our family was the chance to say goodbye and other things that might have never been said otherwise.
I've been busy since he passed away with making arrangements and getting back to work. It still feels surreal, I still think I'm going to wake up at any moment. I've been spending my nights on YouTube and online finding resources on grief and listening to how people cope and their stories. It feels comforting when you realise your not alone and that everbodys got their own story.
I came across Grief Works on audio book format. I think I might not have read the book version to completion, but the audio version was read with such wisdom and compassion that it felt like a private therarpy session.
Things feel good today, but I keep waiting for something to happen and reality to hit. I suppose you just have to take it one day at a time. Such a mixture of competing feelings and emotions. I hope sometime down the line, myself and my family will feel happy again without the guilt and sadness. Tomorrow hopefully will be a step nearer.


It was a cold winter's day. I decided to drop in on a Wendy's Fast Food Restaurant to warm-up with a nice hot cup of coffee. The lunch crowd had come and gone. There was hardly any one else in the place besides myself and a young worker who happened to capture my attention. I didn't speak to him but I'll call him Felix for the the sake of this story, He was wearing the Traditional Wendy's Uniform apparently the Cleaning Person/Busboy. Felix was about 6 ft. tall, thin, 16 or 17 years old, and had a nicely trimmed mustache. I began to observe the manner in which this young man approached his job. Felix had the most profound work ethic I have ever witnessed in my life! Most people would regard his job as menial and thankless; but not so with Felix! He was organized and
had his own routine which he followed to a T. With broom and dust pan in hand, the entire floor was scooped-up into his pan. I watched him in a amazement as he gathered-up the pieces of onion rings, fries, bread crumbs, napkins, and even chicken nuggets which were carelessly dropped to the floor and swept into his dust pan. By now, I was going on my third cup of coffee. I hadn't intended to stay as long as I did, but remained, mesmerized by how conscientiously this young man
performed his duties. When he was finished, he glanced over the entire flood area to make sure he got everything before proceeding to his next task.

There were around 40 tables in the eating area, each table was surrounded by two to six wooden chairs. Felix sprayed an all purpose cleaner on to a blue cloth, crouched down, and meticulously began to wipe down every inch of the chairs. I noticed as he worked he would do some self-talk. I couldn't comprehend what he was saying. On occasion, he posed a slight grin and peered out the large window then quickly returned to wiping. I think he just was enjoying his doing his job. I thought to myself: “How many people smile to themselves on the job?” It was plain to that Felix took much pride his in the work he was doing. To complete the mission, he proceed to wipe down the table tops, then pushed the chairs against the table as far as they could go and made checked they were all properly aligned. From time to time he would re-spray his cleaning cloth and Enthusiastically move onto the next chair repeating the process. From start to finish, I watched this young man do his job in total amazement! I had never seen a work ethic like this before. Felix demonstrated a cheery positive attitude throughout. He carried out his responsibility with pride, precision and true diligence and never missing a beat! Bravo Felix! Bravo! The next time I stopped by Wendy's, Felix was no where to be found. I asked the manager if he was still working there and was told that he had moved out of state. I'll never forget Felix and so the reason I wrote this story.

Here are a few questions for to ponder:

Are you a Felix at your job?
How seriously do you take your job?
Do you carry-out your job duties as vigorously as Felix?
Do you cut as many corners as you can at your job with the hope that none of your superiors are
Are you thankful to be employed no matter where you work?
Do you take pride in the work you do?
Are you as conscientious at your job as Felix was?




June 2, 2018

Just watched you on the Steve Paikin show. I have yet to learn from books or interviews how to deal with the death of a husband who tells you six weeks before he died that he was having an affair and there were others before current one. I don’t want to tell our only child so he can retain only good memories of his dad, but at the same time my son and I are very close and has said not to lie him. This request is because his father wouldn’t tell our son he was sick - because son was away at university.

Julia just over three years ago I lost my partner whom I loved very dearly. I knew her death was come after a three year battle with cancer.
My first Christmas without her I knew that I wanted to be on my own. Whilst receiving many well meaning invitations to spend Christmas Day with close friends, I wanted the solitude to be able to cry, shout or laugh (at happy memories) with out having to suppress these feelings or thoughts in the company of others.
Some thought this was strange, but all respected my decision. For me it was the best thing that I could have ever done.
I did lots of things that we would have done as a couple, I went to the beach for a swim, cooked an amazing Christmas lunch talking to her all the time and as strange as it might seem I lay a place for her at lunch and raised a glass of wine to her. After I watch a movie and knew that she was around me and feeling happy for me that I was not in deep despair.
We are all different, but this helped me start to move on. Now three years later I have done as she told me what to do before she died. I have traveled the world and now meet a beautiful lady to share the next chapter with in my life.
I was inspired to share this after reading your super article on netdoctor re bereavement.
Thank you.

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