Death Mask

English: open padlock icon

English: open padlock icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Exposure Therapy starts next week. You know, where my counsellor and I take the ‘traumatic event’ out of its padlocked cell whence it is stored, deep within my cranium, and inspect it closely.

There are so many elements which contribute to the ‘traumatic event’, I wasn’t sure where we would start with this inspection. But I read something in a friend’s blog this morning which served to clarify my thoughts.

The salient memory is of M’s face, immediately after death.

It lurches out at me if I let it, trampling all the other joyful images associated with that face. I’ve said before that I didn’t allow myself to believe, initially, that He had died, but in retrospect, I knew. How did I know? The face told me.

The skin changed almost instantly from pink to grey. The eyelids were unbalanced – one open, one half shut. There was an expression on the face, one which I hadn’t particularly considered or tried to decode before reading my friend’s post.

She used to work in the funeral business and writes an excellent blog about her experiences within the profession. In her latest post, she discusses the worst things she saw as part of her job. Here is an extract, where she describes tending to the bodies of air crash fatalities:

“Sometimes(…) it is impossible to avoid thoughts of that person’s final, agonizing moments on this earth. The faces are frozen in time, showing extremely disturbing expressions in which incredible pain and terror are easily read. Usually, though, there aren’t faces…” (

I found it both heart-breaking and comforting to read her words. Because it made me realise that M’s expression revealed He died in neither terror nor in pain.

Though His life was cut unfairly, excruciatingly short, I honestly believe He died a happy man.

8 thoughts on “Death Mask

  1. heartbreaking,sweetheart. I’m sure you’re right. M knew how dearly he was loved by the person,quite literally, closest to him. He wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere or with anyone else.x


  2. its strange but I couldn’t actually look at ian after he died. I held him as he sat up and took his last breath. He seemed to stare at me as if he was saying goodbye. But when I knew he’d left me I coudnt look at him I just wanted to remember his nice face not the starey face I blindly moved around the bed before sitting on the floor weeping. I hope he forgives me for that xx

    • I think we are forgiven for all the decisions we made at ‘that’ moment. I didn’t want to see M once the paramedics had finished with him, but I kind of regret that now – last chance for a cuddle before he went to a drawer in the morgue – but honestly, I couldn’t have coped Lynne. Same as you. We do what we can. Love XXX

  3. I am glad that there was that small bit of peace for you, my friend. And, from what I have been able to gather, reading your blog, you would be correct in that assured knowledge that your M died a happy man.

  4. Because Steve was a black man, no change to the skin colour, he simply looked like he was asleep, in the funeral home that was the most upsetting thing, he looked like he was going to sit up and say “Ha got Ya”… only thing is the way they had angled his head gave him a double chin and he would have hated that big time !!!! And Randomly that was my first thought when i went to see him…..

    • Yeah, I felt that – that M was going to sit up. He looked so alive, it seemed preposterous that he was dead. That’s funny about the double chin – M’s nose was pinched, it didn’t look quite right, I also picked up on this straight away! Nice to hear from you Karen, hope you are doing OK love. XXXXX

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