Loss, lost, living

signpost saying 'confused', 'lost', 'disoriented', 'bewildered', 'unclear','perplexed'

Emoji thinking
Plunged into loss, means loss of identity.

In the same way as most of my blogs come into my mind this one was stimulated by thinking of a dear friend and praying for her as she makes her way through the pains of new widowhood. My thoughts turned to my own experiences.

Looking at the people I have ‘lost’ in my life it would be hard to say which was worst. Each was ‘the worst’ at the time.

The first was my grandmother… first I lost her to dementia, as it was called then. I visited her, she looked my same beautiful granny – but she was ‘missing.’ She no longer knew me as her granddaughter. She welcomed me when I came, but as the ‘special’ nurse who came to visit. At least I had that. Then I lost her to death… and for the first time in years – she looked peaceful.

Cartoon phone ringing

By the time I lost my mother I had been in Australia for a number of years. Phone calls were expensive but we saved up dollar coins and went to phone boxes. The last time I spoke with her she was in hospital in the final stages of her battle with cancer. Blessedly, she had thought she had a stubborn ‘flu. It would have terrified her to know all those months before that she had terminal lung cancer. The worst thing about that last phone call… she was so breathless I could not understand what she said.

Next, there was my stepson. That was a long time after my mother, and he had been living with us. The shock will live with us. (I mean me) for the rest of my life.

However, the death of my much-loved and very patient husband probably rocked me the most. Other than when my grandmother died, which was before we met, he was a support, an encouragement – and with his son, we were fellow sufferers as we leaned on each other muddling our way through the ‘valley of the shadow of death.’

a dark valley image
Found on Flickr

It is a journey I used to think meant our own journey. Now, I see it differently. We walk through that valley as we grieve the loss of the significant person we have lost.

Sometimes it is not even to death – as is the case for those who mourn the living. The mother, father, husband or wife who is lost to dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

From time to time as these thoughts arrive I consider them, and pray for those going through that ‘valley’ – but there is more.

Whatever the loss… and sometimes it can be a loss of function, ability or job…

  • Our identity is lost.
  • We lose a role.
  • Most at risk are the people who are carers.

Let me give you an example, please.

I have chosen my husband because I was most involved with his care… but for others, for you – it could be a sick child, a parent… or it could be the loss of a job meaning losing the ability to be the carer or provider for someone else.

Do you identify with any of these statements?

When the funeral is over, or the time-card stamped for the last time – I no longer knew who I was.

In the case of a death…

  • The time I spent caring, accompanying him/her to hospital or doctor appointments is time I have nothing to fill. (Perhaps similar if it is a job loss.)
  • I lost sleep when the ambulance took him/her to hospital and worried if he/she would be alive the next day when I visited.
  • Our lives revolved around each other.
  • My life revolved around caring for his/her needs.
poem, saying goodbye
Found on Pinterest

As another friend and I shared experiences recently… when you are a carer, even shopping trips need to be timed and worked out to fit with the needs of the person you are caring for. How much time is there before you need to be back home?

Standing in a queue at a supermarket, or even attending your own doctor appointment can be too long.

You/I forget to care for your/my self.

So when there is the time, what do we do with it?

Would we not rather have less time and have the person we cared for back… rhetorical ‘cos it just does not happen.

Some of us make new roles, but for the most part, they are secondary to the ones that are lost.

Then when something special happens – the one you most want to share it with is no longer there.

The role of the redundant carer can be lonely… but new roles CAN be developed. What is gone is not something that can be found, but some of those functions can be channeled in other areas.

Ever wondered why the best people who understand what you are going through are such an encouragement?

Probably because they have tread the road before you.

Take hope, that person survived. So can you.

No one has ever suffered your loss, walked in your shoes. They walked their own, and know how difficult it is.

Tread softly


Book covers, the Apostle John series


Susan M B Preston, author of the Apostle John series says…

Although I do not think of people I know or have known when writing my novels, the experiences make their way into the novels. There are many places where I cry when writing or proof-reading some of the books. Although they are fiction, when writing I peeled back the layers in the New Testament and found the people. Guess what. They were people with emotions, like us.

Death and Grieving

Death and grieving

…is not something that normally dominates my mind, although it is always there. From experience, I have known the death of loved ones, and I also know the grieving journey is personal. It is something that is individual, painful, and affects everyone in their own way.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to grieve. There is your way, and my way (which was stumbling through the process, wondering how I would survive.)

As for the ‘stages’ of grief, maybe some people have them, but in my experience they were not clear cut.

Why think of death now?

Two reasons this subject came to my attention again recently – one, in my book series, one character is about to explain about the death of another… to John. (Don’t want to give spoilers) was in this last couple of weeks hearing of so many people who had a parent who died.

The other reason was in this last couple of weeks hearing of so many people who had a parent who died.

One was the postmistress at my local shopping centre. While she is still feeling vulnerable, a customer came in and told her the sad tale of the loss of her own father. Jane (I will call the postmistress) sympathized and, I guess they shared their feelings. On the way out the customer stole something very expensive and was never seen again. Not yet anyway.

It is possible that the customer had indeed ‘lost’ her father, and in her grief had stolen the goods. It is hard to say, grief does strange things to us.

First death I experienced

Although I trained as a nurse, my grandmother, who was a patient, was the first person I ever knew who died. I was living in the nurses’ home, not far from the hospital and I had asked the ward staff to let me know if she deteriorated. (She had dementia, and was very ill with pneumonia.)

I always went to the hospital before my shift was due so I could go to my grandmother’s ward and see her. One morning I did, and her bed was empty, stripped. She had died and no one had told me.

My duties that day were in a psycho-geriatric ward in another part of the hospital. It was quite far into the shift before I realized that the reason the shift was going so badly for me, was that I was nursing other old people… they were alive and my beloved granny was not.

That was the only time I felt anger when grieving.


Australia, map with flag


When my mother died, I had been living in Australia for many years. She died of lung cancer and I remember how helpless I felt because I could not afford the fare to Scotland. (In those days the fares were a horrendous price, and I had a family here in Australia.)


Grieving a childImage tears in a bottle, from Paslms

My stepson, who lived with my husband and I, died. The police knocked on the door at 4.00 am. My husband heard the knocking. At that time I was a heavy sleeper, but he managed to wake me. I thought he was dreaming. He was not.
It took a long time for it to sink in. ‘Gone’ didn’t mean ‘run away’, it meant dead. He was sixteen and a half.

Everything passed in a blur, but although first my husband, then I were hospitalized with the shock, we made it through the valley of the shadow of death. Sleep was something that only came as the result of sleeping pills, and then not for long. Two, maybe three hours, then a blessed moment of unawareness before I felt the ton of bricks fall on me. “’Bill’ is dead.” That was the end of sleep. Yet, my husband and I were part of the ‘lucky’ few, the blessed ones whose marriage did not fall apart because of it. In fact, we grew closer as we stumbled through the pain, the agony, and all those guilt feelings.

The wondering ‘if I had done this’ or ‘if I had not done that…’

My husband wrote a poem in the note pages of his Bible. His words can still bring tears to my eyes. As he once said to me, “I have lost my future, not just the past and present. I will never see him married, never have grandchildren from him…”


Death of my husband

My husband was never a completely well man. Very few people knew the struggle he had with the pain of a crumbling spine and herniated disks. He did not parade his health problems. It wasn’t the pain that killed him. For years he had been in and out of hospital, sometimes near death, but the doctors could not decide the cause of his lung problems.

I remember now, the pleasure he felt when finally, a diagnosis was reached. So many people had said that it waas all in his mind. But it was not. It was Pulmonary Fibrosing. Or, as they called it then, Fibrosing Alveolitis. Little did we know it was a death sentence. And I am glad of that. There were so many things we did in the last years of his life we would never have attempted had we known how serious, how fatal that lung disease was.

Lung with fibrosing alveolitis
There were times when what was happening to him frightened us, but still, no one told us what was going on inside his lungs.

Not until the last 6 weeks of his life.


But that is another story. Suffice it to say, it was something of a shock to be told that his lungs were smothering him.

After a couple of years, when reliving his death became less painful, some of those feelings went into the Prologue of one of the books in the series I am writing. A character asked how he could live with the person who was dying, knowing she was dying, and not knowing how to help.

And still, it continues…

In fact, in the fourth book, published last year, when I came back to it to read it over before sending it to the lovely lady who edits it, I noticed there was a huge bit missing. After the death of a much-loved character, it stopped. The next chapter started months later when all the intense grief was easing.

sign falling off cliff



It felt as if I had fallen off a cliff.


As I puzzled over the manuscript and why it was like that, I realized. I could not have written it before. ‘Killing’ the character off was difficult enough, but exploring the grieving of the various characters her life affected, had obviously been too much for me to look at before then.

With several revisions and many tears, the ‘missing’ part of the book was written.

As for my own grieving

As for my own grieving. Only the one time, after my granny’s death, was I ever angry.

Neither my husband nor I were ever angry with our son, or with God… although people assured us it was okay to be angry with God. One well-meaning church member briefly cut the feet from under us by saying, “God could have prevented it.” Well, I guess He could, but we have all been given free will.

Death and grieving

Death is the end of our human lives. Grieving is part of coping with death. I guess I will go to my grave grieving. But on the other hand, grateful to have had such love in my life.

If you are grieving, accept what is happening. There is no specified order like it says in the books about death and loss. Sometimes you might flip from one to another in a matter of hours. It’s a roller coaster, it will eventually slow down and become acceptance.

There is no ‘getting over’ losing a child, a grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, or a spouse, and generally, we only have one set of parents. We become used to being without them in our lives, but in losing that person, we have lost part of us. The person who created us, the person we created, or the love of your life and best friend.

There is no right or wrong… unless you steal – as mentioned the customer did at the start of this post.

Tread softly, vulnerable people are easily crushed.

Before you speak… think