I used to work for a writer development agency called Writing Yorkshire. A while ago a woman came to see me about a potential project she had in mind - to publish some kind of book of poetry in memory of her late husband. I listened, I hope sympathetically, and gave her a bit of advice about mentoring and writing groups and she went on her way. In the end she set up her own grief writing group which I'm now a member of. I never expected to join her club.
My beloved partner, who I always knew as Blacksmith Paul, died on the 10th March 2016. We'd only been together for 8 months (although we'd known each other for longer) but were deeply in love. After a chequered love life and complex past, he felt like my reward for all I'd been through and I have been devastated by his loss. He was a colourful character and true eccentric who wasn't the most reliable when it came to always having his phone with him so it was 3 days before I broke into his unconventional dwelling in the Peak District with two of his friends to find his body. We now know that he died of heart disease although the precise mechanism by which he actually died still remains a mystery.
When Paul died, I was at a loss to know what to do and I thought again of the writer and her partner so I got back in touch. She suggested I sign up to Megan Devine's Writing Your Grief http://www.refugeingrief.com programme so I did because writing (and my children) felt like all I had left to hold on to. My mum died at Christmas and Paul was my anchor, keeping me from going under or from floating off into the clouds. I felt completely untethered. Writing gave me a focus. I posted my writing in response to Megan's daily writing prompts for thirty days and then found writing so therapeutic when my grief was overwhelming, that I carried on. The writing is rough, first draft stuff, more an outlet for grief than an attempt to make polished art but over time, maybe I will work on some of it.
The last conversation Paul and I had was by Messenger on the night before he died. I sent him a poem about clouds and he sent me this photo in return. I asked him if he liked the poem and he replied by saying, 'I love the poem, I love clouds and I love you'. They were almost his last words to me. But just before we said goodnight, I said again that we should do something with his photographs and my writing. He was a blacksmith and a maverick with an artist's soul and he took beautiful photographs. 'We will,' he said. For now, this is it, a collaboration between the two of us. Most of the photos on the blog were taken by him and I use them to illustrate my posts which are a mix of my reflections on grief and my memories of a much loved man who was taken too soon. I write for myself but perhaps there is something here for others who have been bereaved or who have loved, and, let's face it, who hasn't? Love and loss are part of being human. Grief is the price you pay for loving and I really loved that man.
If you're local and would like to join the grief writing group, please get in touch with me at email@example.com