Thursday, July 14, 2011


I kept a journal about my life and when Dylan died I used it to record what had happened. Here is the first entry after his death:

My brother committed suicide on Friday. It hasn't sunk in yet, and all family and friends are being really good about it. I've never lost anyone close before and I don't know how bad things will get or how long it will take to get through it, but the next couple of months are going to be difficult. It seems very odd that a week ago there were four or us and now there are only three of us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Music to grieve to

One of the most powerful ways to express grief is through music. I haven't found a lot of music that helped me to grieve, but here is one song that made me feel a little better, a little less alone.

The image is from Christ Church Meadow in Oxford, where I'd often take long walks when I needed to think.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I'm the third of four children.  For the first fifteen years of my life I shared a bedroom with my older brother, Dylan, while my two sisters shared a bedroom together.  When I was fifteen Dylan joined the army.  He travelled the world, he made great friends and he loved to be outdoors, keeping fit and exploring wherever he was.  After leaving the army he moved to Australia and took holidays in Oceania.  He had fond memories and described it as "paradise".

He moved back to the UK in early 2005.  Six months later he killed himself.  I'd been busy with exams and setting up my life after university, so I didn't see Dylan in person between his return and his death.  I still remember my last conversation with him, on the phone.  I was trying to reach my dad and Dylan answered the phone.  I invited them both to see me in Oxford a month later when I'd no longer be busy.  Within two weeks of the call he was dead.

Dylan loved being active, he loved Australia, he loved his friends and family and he loved life.  His death came as a surprise to everyone.  At his funeral the church was at full capacity, and afterwards his voicemail was full of messages from grievers.  There are dozens of photographs of Dylan in Australia, and that's how I choose to picture him, so full of energy and joy.  Whatever his reasons for his death, at least he had some glorious years in the sun, enjoying the beaches.

Beautiful grief

Grieving can certainly be an ugly process, full of confusion, bitterness and pain.  We shouldn't ignore this.  At the same time we should recognise that grief can be dignified, elegant, poignant and beautiful.  There comes a stage of grief when it very quickly moves from an seemingly unending ordeal to an uncertain, but workable and optimistic process, something which allows you to rebuild your life again.

After this stage it becomes easier to see the beauty in the breakdown and to accept it.  The closest friends I have I met while I was grieving and some of them moved away, some of them stayed in touch.  Every one of them saw me as person in need, gave some of their time and helped me along the way.  That's the kind of beauty I want to show here.  It's wistful, poignant and requires some reflection to appreciate fully.

Another blog

This blog is going to be about my grief and how it has changed my life, both for the worse, and for the better.  The concept and name were inspired by Cathy, one of the most warm and wonderful people I've ever come across.

We met one evening in Oxford, just over a year since my brother, Dylan died, and we sat up all night talking about our grief.  She had lost her father a few years before and by accident, we found ourselves together, with the privacy and freedom to talk about what was on our minds.  I still get an overpowering sense of warmth and optimism whenever I think of Cathy.

Talking to someone else who had been bereaved changed my life and filled a void that nothing else could.  For the first time I realised that I was not alone and that the feelings that I was going through were natural.  There are all kinds of thoughts and emotions that race through your head, including fear, selfishness, helplessness, pride, nostalgia and anything else you care to consider.  These feelings can come all at the same time and they need to be addressed somehow.  Years of experience (before and after Dylan's death) have shown me that the only way to deal with intense feelings is to talk about them and think about them.  Anything which makes this easier will be a great help.

I think I'm now at the stage where I can talk about Dylan and his death and its effect on me safely.  This blog isn't so much about my needs, but about other people's.  If one person reads this blog and finds their own grief just a little bit easier to handle then this blog will have served its purpose.