The Good Funeral Guide Blog

All that we miss

Saturday, 23 March 2013



In his new book, Levels of Life, Julian Barnes writes of the grief he felt, and still feels, following the death of his wife, Pat Kavanagh. It centres on:

“the loss of shared vocabulary, of tropes, teases, short cuts, in-jokes, sillinesses, faux rebukes, amatory footnotes — all those obscure references rich in memory but valueless if explained to an outsider.”

It takes a great writer to articulate it so well. 

Barnes also describes the moment when it became “less likely” that he would kill himself because he realised that she was still alive in his memory. “I was her principal rememberer … I could not kill myself because then I would also be killing her. She would die a second time.”


11 comments on “All that we miss

  1. Wednesday 27th March 2013 at 12:00 pm

    James, that’s an outrageous statement. Charles is as jober as a sudge.

  2. Monday 25th March 2013 at 2:47 pm

    PS It’s the shadow on the honk that gives Julian the undeniable advantage of resembling our brilliant ed.
    And, er, is he a drinker too?

  3. Monday 25th March 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Yikes, Julian Barnes’ words smite me with a jagged recognition of what I would give for just one more full hour with Pamela. Who is still very much alive.
    I’m off home.

  4. Richard

    Sunday 24th March 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Charles, look in the mirror!

  5. Sunday 24th March 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Am I being very thick? I don’t know what you mean.

  6. Richard

    Sunday 24th March 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Lovely quote. From whom was Julian Barnes separated at birth? Anyone else spot a similarity? 🙂

    • andrew plume

      Sunday 24th March 2013 at 6:02 pm

      ………….sure did Richard

      I didn’t want to flag it first



      • Kitty

        Sunday 24th March 2013 at 8:24 pm

        Justwhat I was thinking. Had to do a double-take.

  7. Sunday 24th March 2013 at 2:38 pm

    GM that’s brilliant.

  8. Sunday 24th March 2013 at 9:45 am

    To each his world is private
    and in that world one excellent minute.

    And in that world one tragic minute
    These are private.

    In any man who dies there dies with him
    his first snow and kiss and fight
    it goes with him.

    (Yevgeny Yevtushenko)

    So Mr Barnes carries forward the private minutes of their life together, and those who knew both of them still find her in him, every time they meet.

Leave a Comment