Absolute Beginner

Fran Hall

A personal story of grief

There is a beautiful little book by Baptist minister Richard Littledale, called Postcards from the Land of Grief which my friend Clare mentioned to me a few weeks after Steve died.

I recognise that description, with a jolt of familiarity – ‘the land of grief’. This is where I find myself, a new arrival in an unfamiliar place, where the language, the sounds and the sights and the scenery are all unknown. (Probably the scents and the flavours and tastes are all new too, but thanks to Covid, I can’t yet detect them.)

And in this new landscape, this new land, I am on my own. Despite the constant envelopment and surrounding of my family and friends, despite all the love and support and kindness I am having poured over me and into me, somehow, on a very elemental level, I am elsewhere. Alone.

The person I love – my partner, my soulmate, my lover, my best friend, my husband – the man who walked through life alongside me, isn’t here. He’s gone somewhere else completely, without me, and he’s not coming back.

His going is what catapulted me here into this new land. And this is where I now have to make my home forever. This thought is too huge to allow myself to think for more than a second or two. I feel unanchored and unsafe, and unsure of who I am or how I am, or how I will be. I’m adrift in a strange sea, without any idea where I am, or where I’m going.

And yet, instinctively, I know that to settle here and to find myself, to find the person I will become, I need to articulate my experience. I need to write. I need to share this with other people, because there may be something, just one small thing that I describe, that resonates with someone else, someone who is also wandering, lost and alone, through an unknown landscape of bereavement.

With the blessing of my fellow directors of the GFG, I am going to start a series of personal blog posts, which will appear here on the GFG Blog. I’m going to write about my journey in this alien new world, chronicling my thoughts and experiences as I work out who I now am.

I’m going to write, not just for my own benefit, but in the hope that I might maybe help others catch something to hold onto.

I’m going to write because that’s all I can do, describe and articulate being in this strange new world. Perhaps, in doing so, I can help others who will find themselves here one day. Perhaps something in my writing might be a way-marker that hints that another has passed this way ahead.

The series will be called ‘Absolute Beginner’, because that is exactly what I am. Despite all my knowledge of the theory of grief and bereavement, this is the start of my own personal journey, my learning of grieving though living it. I am an absolute beginner at this.

And the subtitle will be ‘A personal story of grief’, because that is exactly what it will be. This is my story, my personal experience, and I am hugely grateful to be able to share it on this platform.

I hope that when the words come, they will be good ones.

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Bob Coates
Bob Coates
10 days ago

‘Absolute Beginners’ by David Bowie was an inspired choice for your husband’s finale. Minus the ‘s’ it is also the perfect title for your current predicament. Although I am already resident in the ‘new land’ that you are beginning to so eloquently describe I look forward to reading more.

Melanie Williams
Melanie Williams
10 days ago

Beautiful words Fran and could not have been written more clearly and consise. I truly feel your void and emptiness from your words of expression. Off course anyone in a place of grief is a beginner but as your journey takes you on a slightly different path now you will start to become a teacher to yourself on how to carry on and find the strength within. Steve would want you to be you and to ‘go get life’. Thinking of you a lot, always in my prayers and thoughts Melanie xxxx

Jane Duncan Rogers
11 days ago

I hesitate to say welcome to this land, Fran, and yet I do welcome you. I have been there, having lost my husband, business partner, soul mate and best friend 9 years ago. Been catapulted into someone whom I could not recognise, and where my professional knowledge of bereavement meant nothing. I too had to write. And so I welcome your words and know they will bring meaning and a lifebelt to others at times. Thank you for your presence here, even though it wasn’t ‘supposed’ to happen, and even though you may have only arrived in this land reluctantly.… Read more »

Stevie Glover
Stevie Glover
11 days ago

I look forward to reading your dispatches from the front. Bon voyage. X

Jan
Jan
11 days ago

Thank you. My husband died suddenly and unexpectedly in March. I had no warning. He was at home and he was not alone. Everyone says I’m doing well. They don’t see what it’s like at home. I’ll write again.

Hayley Bell
11 days ago

Beautiful, thank you for sharing, I look forward to joining you on your journey through your blogs

Jayne lea
11 days ago

So brave Fran. It will be an incredible journey. A hearing, transformative, self-exploring roller-coaster of a ride. Nothing but love. Hold on tight xx

Elisabeth and Newton
Elisabeth and Newton
11 days ago

Hi Fran, Words seem inadequate in offering you my condolences. Your words have already echoed my own journey into the unknown. When parents, grandparents pass, it’s sad but expected. But when it’s someone close, that’s a different story. The feeling of helplessness, for me, was one of my greatest hurdles, which you helped me overcome with my daughter’s passing. Hopefully you can overcome your hurdles too. Looking forward to reading your future posts.