The geography of grief

Some more thoughts on continuing bonds


TopOfHouseThis picture doesn’t look very exciting, just the top level of a 2-storey new-build house, but for me this is a very important view. I’ve never been in this house, but it sits opposite where I live.

One morning, almost six years ago, my daughter Catherine called for her regular morning chat. I stood in the kitchen with my cup of tea in hand, looking across the road at the builders at work. At the time, the house was just being built. The ground floor was just about finished. I’d been told by the developers earlier that it would be a bungalow, but now this seemed in doubt. I remember chatting with Catherine about the house, and wondering whether it would turn out to be a bungalow or if it was going to end up with two storeys. It didn’t really matter to me; it was just an inconsequential subject.

Catherine was in her own kitchen at the time. She liked to have her morning coffee on the back step, half in and half out of the back door, with a cigarette in hand, avoiding the smoke getting into her home.

I didn’t know it then, but that was to be the last conversation I ever had with Catherine. She lost her life later that day.

Now you can see why that view is so important to me. It’s like a memorial to that conversation, a memorial to that moment in time, that better moment when Catherine was still alive.

We all have places of personal significance, happy memories, important moments. Places and moments of time where we found out good news, or the spot we met someone  who went on to be so important in our life. There is no blue plaque at the spot or any outward signification of how important it is to us personally. But it’s a spot we treasure.

When we’re living with loss, we have memories of special places that may bring us tears or joy. – Not just cemeteries and memorial gardens, but ordinary places that may still be part of our daily life. The people walking past those places have no idea just how significant they are.

The house across the road was finished some months after Catherine passed away in 2011. It didn’t end up a bungalow; it has two floors. I can see it at this moment from my office. I can go back down to the kitchen, stand by the sink with a tea in hand, and be in the exact position I was in during my last conversation with Catherine. That hurts incredibly, but it is also a link. It’s a memory treasure. Sometimes if I want to feel a bit closer to her, I stand there in the kitchen. I look, I remember.

We each have our own geography of grief – places of special significance. There is no wrong or right way to grieve, and there may be places we avoid because they are too painful. That’s our choice and it’s fine. On the other hand, we may enjoy visiting or looking at pictures of certain places. This can we another way of continuing bonds. Going on a walk somewhere we walked with our loved one can be an emotional journey, but one that we will treasure.

Whatever your own geography of grief, may you find comfort on the journey.

2 thoughts on “The geography of grief

  1. Pingback: Sorting out our ‘virtual shelf’ of memories | A Valley Journal

  2. Pingback: The joys & perils of sorting out old books | A Valley Journal

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