Last weekend, I was honoured to be invited to speak at the AGM of WAY Widowed and Young – a wonderful charity that supports anyone under the age of 50 who has lost a spouse or partner.*
(Here I am below, attempting to look intellectual.)
*more fun than it sounds. No, really.
It’s not the first time I’ve done a public reading from the book, but arguably, if I was going to be slain by a crowd, it was this one: 100 widdas and widdawers, all of whom had been through their own personal versions of spouse-loss hell, all of whom were in the unique (and entirely unenviable position) of having a real insight into the issues raised in my book. The passage I read was about disposal of ashes, coffin choices and thrifty funeral directors named Dennis. I worried that they might not see the funny side.
(Fortunately, they did. In fact, for a bunch of bereaveds, we spent an indecent amount of time belly-laughing.)
Coffins, ashes and Dennis’ economic advice aside, the central message of my talk at the AGM was about the act of writing itself. I had been asked to consider how writing helped me after losing Mark.
Thoughts turned from my beloved husband to my beloved computer keyboard – the keyboard into which I had pounded grief, rage, loneliness -the keyboard who, like every good friend, had responded by listening and offering me space and a conduit for reflection.
I concluded how I felt about writing and grief with the following:
Writing helped me to examine my grief, to express it in a way that I couldn’t manage with the spoken word.
Writing allowed friends and family to see how I was doing, without them having to bring out the platitudes.
Writing the blog turned into writing the book, which turned into a sort of therapy all of its own.
Writing saved me in ways that guides to grieving never could. I highly recommend it.
Fellow WAY member and BACP-registered counsellor Nicki Walker and I are now running Writing Grief, an expressive writing course for those dealing with loss. It is fully-funded through the generous support of Tyneside Mind and the Linden Family Trust. Visit us here for further information.