“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou
This year, the ninth since losing my 19 year old son James to a drowning accident on 28 July, has been a year best described as one of great change and growth. This is mainly due to the time I spent completing the writing of my book, “Into the Mourning Light” which was a very strong focus for me from the early part of 2013. I was determined that the book would finally be completed. My ability to concentrate on it and achieve my objective was helped, I believe, by my feeling so much more settled in our new home. It is bizarre but true to say that I find it much easier to live in a home that James has not known. Perhaps it is because I am no longer bombarded by memories of him on a daily basis. I can gather my recollections just as easily here and that has been a great surprise to me. I unpacked my cherished, chosen memories of him as we emptied our boxes after moving in. There is a difference between choosing to remember and being forced to remember. By this I mean that I no longer experience the jolt of memory through passing James’ school, places of part time work and so on, nor do I retrace the regular routes I took taxi-ing him here and there. This brings a curious sense of relief.
My book was published in February 2014. I am fond of saying that writing is cathartic but letting my story and James’ story out publicly carried quite an emotional load. There was a sense of release but also a sense of deep personal satisfaction in completing the project. I may be the author of the book, but I certainly could not have written it alone. A quick tally tells me that my book has contributions from, or mention of, twenty seven individuals, many of whom James never met. The feedback that I received has been amazing. In particular, I have so enjoyed the memories of James that friends have shared after reading the book. It is as though my having told the story has allowed people more freedom to express their thoughts about James. As bereaved parents, we all recognise how people can be afraid to mention our child ‘in case of upsetting us’ – but how can we possibly be upset any more after the worst has happened? Sharing emotion with those you care about is one of the best ways to move forward in grief, so please don’t be afraid to do it.