Woman v G-Force


Six months after Mark died I attended a course entitled “Overcoming Grief.” From the outset it seemed to me to be fundamentally flawed. Could grief really be overcome, like a dose of the flu or a profound dislike of Steve from Accounts?

I mentioned this to the course leader. She was such a lovely woman, what with her cupcakes and her clip-art, that I felt bad afterwards. And actually, whilst the course didn’t solve the issue of, you know, the death, it did help to move me along.

Below are some of the many attempts I have made at ‘overcoming’ my grief since. Perhaps reading them will make you feel less alone, or, if nothing else, give you something to fold your arms ‘neath your bosom and have a ‘tsk’ at.

I have tried writing my way through it. Drinking my way through it. Fucking my way through it. Drugging my way through it (prescription of course). Talking my way through it. Laughing, crying, bluffing my way through it. Buying my way through it (net result – cupboard full of fabulous shoes!)

I have tried apportioning blame and getting angry; I’ve tried telling myself how fortunate I am to have His child, for the happiness He brought to my life, for the fact that He died in my arms, unwitting, not frightened or alone. I’ve tried remembering the atrocities that are happening every day all over the world, being thankful for my family, friends, my home and my health.

It’s almost three years since Mark died, and despite my tireless wrestling and negotiation with grief, it still sometimes hits me with a force to make my face go like Clarkson’s (above).

Tomorrow Mark would have turned 40, and Grief Force has got me.

51 thoughts on “Woman v G-Force

  1. Lucie,
    I have never been through what you’ve been through, I can’t even begin to imagine your pain.
    But I want to say two things. I will be thinking of you tomorrow the 4th, I know this offers no comfort but I truly am.
    And secondly, ever since I had the fortune to pick up your powerful book in Waterstones you have become my inspiration. You have helped me through my dark times, which don’t even come within a million miles of the pain you’ve endured.
    I think of your strength, your determination, and the fact that you fought and whilst grieving for your beautiful man you also managed to be a great mother and daughter.
    Tomorrow you will dominate my thoughts, I hope you are ok and I hope the future is the best it can be for you, you deserve the best life can offer.
    Take care and big hugs.

    • Actually David, you say you offer no comfort but you really do – more than you can imagine. I woke this morning knowing that people were rooting for me – and Mark and B – and it has helped enormously with my attitude to the day. Your words are so lovely, so strengthening, I am very grateful that you picked up my book that day in Waterstones! I wish you the very best too my friend. Big hugs x

  2. I think I’ve said before that 55 years and counting now, my Mum will sometimes cry about it. Its something you’ll always carry with you and I’m afraid a burden you will have to carry for the sake of your daughter. Nobody can ever put right what my mother, you and others had to endure. The only upside you have in common is the happy memories.

    My Mum came round for Christmas and so did my son and daughter. We got the news that I will be a grandparent by the middle of next year and therefore my mother a great grandma. So 55 years on the legacy of my father is still bringing us more happy memories to come!

    So possibly a day to have a drink, a chat and buy another pair of shoes (the other stuff not such a good idea!) and remember with fondness and try to look forward to things to come.

    • What a wonderfully upbeat and positive message. Thank you so much. And many, many congratulations on your father’s legacy – what a fantastic thing to look forward to in 2015! Thanks for sticking with me and for your comment. XX

  3. You don’t mention writing your way through it, chère Lucie, yet this blog has been a superb reflection of that process. Sorry to hear you’re locked in the grief force, and hope you are able to find joy somewhere in this day. Good to read you again. Bises xx

  4. Thinking of you Gweed and of course Mark on the occassion of his 40th. It was Tali’s yesterday….i never knew they were a day apart until i read your book. Its a fine sunny day in Melbs as we raise a glass to our fine friend and send you and Bea swathes of love across the seas. Love you xx

  5. Wow. You are all so strong. I can’t get over my suffering. It hurts so bad that I think I am losing my mind. My husband died a year ago in January 2014. I’ve hated every single day since that happened. I can’t stop my brain from spinning. I keep going over and over what happened to him and how it could have been prevented and I am come up blank. I am devastated that he can’t be here to enjoy his life and that I am left behind when all those 12 years we worked towards a goal together. It’s not fair to him. I’d rather not be alive at. Everyone keeps telling me it will get better with time. No it doesn’t. It gets worse. Worse and worse. I have not seen him in a year!!! How can that be better? And then all these new people (men mostly) sweep in and try to date me and I just want to vomit all over them. I am sorry for this rambling, but like I said, I think I am losing my mind.

    • Dana – firstly, so sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing and for sharing your pain. I want to let you know that you are not weak, nor others especially strong. Rehabilitation depends on many things (support networks, inner resource, approaches to grief), but also bear in mind that emotions expressed here are correct at the time of writing but are subject to vast and sudden change! I, for example, am approaching three years without Mark and have been feeling extremely low the past couple of days – unable to concentrate, weeping, or if not, on the verge of tears. The devastation, disbelief and the sense of injustice that you feel is shared by me and many others. These thoughts run through my mind daily. I totally understand what you say about time too – it doesn’t heal, the distance between the present and the last time you saw your spouse just gets wider. I cannot believe it has been three years since I heard his voice, held his hand, snuggled into his chest. And my heart yearns for it, to the point I think it genuinely might break in two. But, there is hope, and a life to be lived. You aren’t in the place to see this yet, but one day you will be. All I can offer is to say take one day at a time – cliché, yes, but really, the only way to cope. Be kind to yourself, and don’t allow anyone to impose timescales or ideas of how you ‘should’ be feeling. Your grief is your own. If you would like to stay in touch via personal message, use the contact page at http://www.luciebrownlee.com. Sending you strength and understanding Dana, and also much love. Lucie x p.s. See below for a quote which I have pinned on my office wall – again, you might not be ready to read it yet, but it helps me. X

    • “Grief can destroy you –or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.” (Dean Koontz)

  6. I lost my soul mate on just over one month ago on January 13th. He left me and our two children, aged 3 and 5, to try to find our way very suddenly without him. Thank you for all you’ve shared.

    • Gosh Michelle – I am so sorry for your loss. You will still be in bomb blast phase, I hope you have loving friends and family around who can support you and your children. The only thing I can offer is to say that you WILL find a way through this – you have to – but for now, be good to yourself, don’t worry about what you think you should be doing or feeling and take each hour as it comes. Sending you strength and understanding. Lucie x

  7. My husband died in June of 2006, and I still have bad days. My real problem is I’m missing his income and am barely scraping by, my a/c unit is on it’s last leg and everytime it goes on I panic and it’s driving me mad. It’s like I lost faith in myself and trusting other people.Oh and I am on happy pills. I don’t think you ever get over it, you just get good at pushing it aside. Thank you for your words.

    • Hi Roxanne. Thanks for the comment. I have come to realise that the bad days will always be there – the time between them just gets longer. And yes, totally relate to losing faith in self and others, confidence is knocked sideways affecting every area of life. The issue of finding oneself financially as well as emotionally bereft is a double-whammy isn’t it? I am ‘fortunate’ in that I receive a small pension for myself and my daughter, but I realise many widows are totally in the shit in this respect. Nothing about this situation is good. I hope you find your way through the panic to some peace. Love x

  8. I’m so glad you’ve been published (apologies for the slow realisation) i’ve not blogged for a while and i’m currently just looking through my ‘on the up stuff’. The whole experience of writing about loss has been so liberating for me. i’ve had a break from my bereavement monologue to try to come to terms with the death of my mother 18 months ago, she died in the same sudden way my husband did. Rejoicing in the small triumphs and dark comedy of my loss journey just wasn’t possible for a while. I’m ready to get going again……..it’s been 3 and a half years since my journey began. Here’s to the survivors xx

    • Well firstly, hi again, it’s really good to hear from you, but I am just so sorry to hear the news about your mum. Totally understand how small triumphs and gallows humour may not have been possible the last 18months. How in the hell are you doing now? I hope you start writing again, I really ‘enjoyed’ your blog, you seemed to be coming from a similar place to me. I hope , with distance, you are still able to look at bereavement with the same cock-eyed comedy as before, for me it has been essential in getting me this far. We have been on the road a similar amount of time, I too have had further losses – beloved but well-aged grandparents – I can’t imagine what you have been through but the fact that you are looking for ‘on the up’ reading is a good sign. Huge hugs to you X

      Sent from my iPad


      • the loss of my mum has hit me in a sort of back to front way in comparison to losing Rich, i’m getting bitten hard on the arse by it right now, when she died, i was all “i know how to handle this” and making jokes about becoming a eulogy writer. I’ve been happily distracted by a new relationship, but slowly and surely the familiar feelings have crept up on me, and i’m off work for a couple of weeks at prsent having a bit of a breather and general cry. it also means that i’ve hd some time to post a couple of times and edit some notes from before mum died, so more to follow…..i feel the need to get the rest of the ‘husband grief’ out there so i can make way for ‘mum grief’. i know it doesn’t work in that linear way, but i’m sure trying to make it so will pave the way for further bereavement hilarity… i’d love to pursue publishing at some point but have no idea how to go about it. ill continue to ‘enjoy’ your work to! Big love to you xx

  9. Wow. 3 years. I lost my husband 6 months ago. He also died in my arms and I have the same mind wars as you mention above. The grief force too… hits me like a tidal wave. Life is unfair. Im sad for everything both of these men have missed out on.

    • Hi – thanks for reading And commenting. Six months must feel like both a lifetime and no time at all. I remember feeling totally at sea at that point. Fearful of the future because time was taking me further from Mark, but then not wanting to even think about how much time had past since I last saw him alive. Three years on, I am back on something resembling an equal footing, but I am entirely changed and life will never been the same again. Sending you strength for the days and weeks to come. Xxx

  10. I’ve lost my husband just a couple months ago..He was only 37..left me here with my daughter. .she is only 5 years old..since then my life turn into the living nightmare. .still waiting to wake up and find him snoring next to me..Unfortunately it won’t happened anymore. There is so much what will not happend anymore. .thank you for sharing your life..It makes me feel bit better that I’m not the only one. .

    • Hi lgc – so so sorry to hear about your loss; I’m pleased that the words here offer some tiny comfort, you need to get it where you can. At two months in, my advice would be to take each hour as it comes, don’t expect too much from yourself and take up offers of childcare and other support. The burden of loss never leaves you – but over time, you become more adept at managing the weight. I wish you love and luck for the long road ahead. Do stop by again xx

  11. My husband of 25 years died in my arms August 2014 from leukemia. He was 46 years old. We started dating at 15, married at 21. We have a son and a daughter. He was the bright light in our lives, always happy. He was my best friend,my world. He was a wonderful father. I am so broken, the pain feels unbearable at times. Our children are 19 and 23. I make it through each day by God’s grace alone. I feel so lost, so alone without him. A void only he could fill and he is gone. Each day feels pointless but I push ahead, trying to find a blessing in each day, trying to be strong for our children. Somehow I found your blog tonight and I hope it will help me. I think of others hurting like me everyday and I pray for them too. Thank you for all that you have shared with people like me. I appreciate the frankness, no sugar coating.

    • Hi Ashley, so glad you found me, although I’m sorry you had to – I am so sorry for your loss and of course can relate to much of what you describe. The pain is palpable, isn’t it, actual physical pain like nothing else. I understand too what you are saying about each day feeling pointless, but as a dear friend and fellow widow said to me the other day, you have to keep living otherwise you might as well both have died. Know that the resilience of the human spirit will get you through and take a little bit of comfort knowing that you are not alone. And no sugar coating! Sending strength. Lucie x

  12. Looks like it’s my turn to climb aboard the grief train. My wife, 43, died April 8th this year after a fierce 2 year battle with breast cancer that would not stop spreading. I’m glad the pain has finally stopped for her but it has left me with nothing but sadness in knowing that none of our future plans will be realized. We just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in November 2014 and were planning on a clinical trial with a lot of potential …. if we could of only stopped the cancer progression so the clinical could begin. I have ready through your entire blog and cannot imagine that worse times are yet to come. Not a day goes by that I don’t cry at home or even in my office at work. I don’t see how I can get through her death knowing we will not be able to share those great times together again. But if you and others have survived, then there is hope for me.

    • Welcome aboard the grief train Darryl – I’m so sorry you had to join us. I’m just so sorry too to hear about your wife. Her suffering may be over, but I know you must be feeling like yours has just begun. I hope reading the blog has helped somewhat. Life will get ‘easier’, but I can’t say there aren’t still days now when I don’t feel utterly back to square one with my grief. It feels like a life sentence. But you will find a way through, as all of us have had to, and know that there are people out there who understand what you are going through. Wishing you strength for the coming days, weeks and months. Xx

  13. Hi Lucie, I found your blog last week and so glad I did, finally someone saying exactly what I’ve been struggling to explain to anyone who asks. Especially in an earlier post when you said you knew he was gone but still couldn’t believe it. That’s how I feel most days…the love of my life was killed in an accident just over 7 weeks ago, he’d just turned 40. Every day I miss him more, it is getting harder the more time passes since I last spoke to him, saw him, hugged him. We have 2 children, 8 and 7, they miss him so much, and I just feel helpless when it comes to consoling them. I don’t want to go on without him, but I don’t not want to live either because I have 2 children relying on me, it’s like a god awful limbo. Thank you for your honesty, and for sharing so much, you’ve really helped me feel like I’m not alone, and I’m not thinking crazy stuff (the gathering of hairs, yep, did that too, picked them off the shower doors, there were 3 chest hairs stuck with dried suds, carefully picked them off and lost 2, more tears, I must be cracked, imagine my relief to read you’d done something similar)…and maybe I will survive, just with a completely different life to the one we had hoped for and talked about. Thank you again, am reading your book too, it’s so refreshing to read it telling it like it is without the religious and spiritual stuff that has put me off so many other blogs, not knocking any of it but it doesn’t do anything for me right now, I do not want a guardian angel, or a robin or a rainbow, I want my husband back. I hope you and B are doing ok now too, take care.

    • Argh, Flo! I’m sooo sorry to read your comment, but so glad you found me and that somehow reading the blog has made you see you’re not mad, or alone…TBH, the disbelief continues to this day, I think you just learnt to turn it off – I stumbled upon a picture of Mark the other day, one I hadn’t looked at since he died, and I was back to that feeling of panic and hyperventilation which was such a feature of the very early days. At over three years, I have found a kind of happy, but it will always be tainted by sadness. Grief in itself is a kind of madness, don’t pause to question any feelings or actions, just try and go with each hour and be kind to yourself. I hope the book helps too – although bear in mind it was written 2 yrs down the line, so some of it may not resonate with you…yet. Sending you strength in the days, weeks and months ahead (and big hugs to your kids.) X

      • Thank you so much Lucie. I still catch myself, for a split second, saying things like “I must tell him that” or “I must take a photo of the girls and send it to him” (he worked – and died -abroad so we were on the phone and emailed a lot), and then the kick in the gut when I realise I can’t anymore…the disbelief that he’s gone, that this is how it is now, it just crushes me over and over. Sorry to hear that the photo of Mark brought you right back, but it’s reassuring to hear that you’ve found a new form of happy now, I truly do want that someday, just can’t imagine it right now. Anyway, one hour at a time, and I try not to look too far ahead. Thanks again Lucie for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it x

      • No thanks needed – I know exactly what you’re going through and how desperate you feel. I only wish I could take away the pain you are feeling, but sadly you have to go through it yourself. But you will emerge, stronger. Keep in touch if you need to. Xx

  14. Hey Lucie

    wish I had discovered your blog sooner!! I actually bookmarked your page a few days ago but I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it…so glad I did .

    I lost my wife Bev about a month after you lost Mark, 2 days before her 47th birthday and 1 week before our 23rd anniversary.Whilst not as sudden as your loss it all happened within 4 weeks! fuck 4 weeks goes so fast when you don’t want it to. you just never get the time to deal with it!( not sure if you can anyway) I remember her sat on the hospital bed telling me she didn’t want to die, and I just felt so helpless knowing there was nothing I could do and just not wanting to believe it anyway.

    We were definitely in denial!!!

    Probably still am!!

    We had our moments, i’ve kicked fuck out of the cooker and walked out but we always sorted things out and the last few years were the best we ever had, we really loved each other, in every way. Soul Mate, Lover, Best Friend.

    I can’t believe how insensitive some people can be..in fact I think I’ll knock the next guy out, that tell’s me he wishes he was single and would have the time of his life if he was in my shoes..fuck off !!

    I went to the hospital a few months ago, the first time I had been without Bev, so I was already anxious and a bit tearful, and when checking in the receptionist asked my marital stays, so I told her I was widowed, she replies” oh you look far to young to be widowed” WTF I just broke down in tears and couldn’t speak I had to pass her my phone with my daughter’s number on!

    Hey will definitely buy the book and maybe a few copies for some people who need educating!

    I’m not a violent person by the way, it’s just how people make you feel sometimes. I use my boxing sessions to let the anger out.

    Thank you

    Mike x

    • Hey Mike! Good to hear from you, so pleased you found the blog and that it has made sense to you. So sorry to hear about Bev – I can’t imagine how you must have managed with that diagnosis and in the aftermath. There is no ‘good’ way to lose a spouse is there? I understand the rage – I took mine out on the keyboard rather than in the boxing ring, but whatever you need to do, right? And yes, the insensitivity of some people is staggering. Fortunately, I guess, we find each other, us ‘young widows and widowers’, and are able to understand each other which I find very strengthening. I hope you’re doing OK. And I hope the book is helpful too! You might want to wait to buy it, it is coming out in a different format shortly. Love and solidarity, x

  15. Hey Lucie thanks for the reply, I have started writing but just for myself, it’s taken me a long time to do it, but I just dip in now and again and say how I feel, it doesn’t heal the pain but it helps x

  16. 27th December 2015
    I sit looking at a beautiful pink and blue sky at Elbow Beach Bermuda I’m here rather than face the mushroom soup coloured skies of Northamptonshire England where I live. Tomorrow will be one year since my tall kind man Keith chose to put two fingers up at cancer and stepped off this mortal coil.
    We had been married 4 months when he was diagnosed and he died 8 weeks after that.
    Shock horror disbelief anger all the words that do so little to describe however reading your blog and the comments of others, with a large glass of chilled wine in my hand, makes me want to hug you all and try and repay a little of the comfort you have given me today.

    • Ah Elizabeth. I’m so sorry to read about Keith, and to think of you under those pink bermudan skies. I raise a glass to you too, gratified that the blog and the thoughts of others have helped in some small way. Sending the hugest hugs to you. X

      • A whole year on and I’m still standing upright and again avoiding the mushroom soup coloured skies. I’m in Kathmandu now having spent a couple of weeks trekking in the Kingdom of Bhutan. I took a flight to the peak of Everest this morning. Keith had been to all of these places and I wanted to put my shoes where he had been. I feel I’ve achieved a big challenge but I’m now in floods of tears of loneliness and frustration. Met some lovely people along the way but none of them are him. Still plodding on ……. Namaste to all x

  17. I’ve only just discovered your blog after seeing one of my friends talking about it. I’m now off to look for your book. This blog post was over a year ago, I hope time has made things easier.

    • Hi there – thanks so much. I’m hoping that you have not found yourself in the same position as me, but if you have, I’m so sorry for your loss. Time has healed to a degree, but there is always a void. I have accepted that that will always be the case. Wishing you peace. X

  18. Yesterday was my Mums 84th. She is with me this week in my little house in northern Italy that I bought last year. (Moving forward, piano, piano) I took her for lunch at my local and we had a lovely afternoon with friends chatting, eating and having a birthday glass of wine (or two). It was a great success. Lots of laughter and stories told.
    But here’s the rub….. the nicer the situation, environment, company, food, wine, scenery etc the more awful the missing him. He would have so loved our afternoon celebrating and being a connected couple. This morning I’m in broken hearted pain and guilty tears. Please could I ask everyone here (who I know understands and I can tell to without burdening you with my grief and loneliness) to think hello to Keith William Chignell and tell him he’s my hero.
    Thank you Elizabeth 🌸

    • Lovely to hear from you Elizabeth again, and to read about your continuing journey through this. I note that is it 2.5 years since your first post about Keith – I hope that despite this latest setback you are managing to move in a forward direction. A big HELLO to Keith, wherever he is. Sending much love to you. X

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