So how do I, Emma, now carry on?By Emma Pearson
December 6, 2023
written for Julia’s funeral on 15th July 2019, posted on 18th July
I have had four too-close deaths in the past few years.
My dear friend Don, a best male friend of 30 years who died in September 2015
My youngest brother Edward, who died in January 2016. His daughters Isabelle & Nina are here today
Mike, my soul mate, and partner of almost 30 years, who died in April 2017
And now Julia, my youngest child, who died two weeks ago.
Harder and harder
Bigger and bigger losses
Grief upon grief.
Wasn’t it more than enough before Julia’s death?
Am I jinxed?
The thought has crossed my mind.
Today, in this moment, as I write these words, I truly don’t feel jinxed.
In fact, I feel blessed.
I feel enormously sad and
I know I am in total shock –
NOTHING much of Julia’s death has hit me yet.
I know I am protected by a massive shock bubble for now.
The protection will wear thin, I know it will.
It took a full year for the impact of Mike’s death to even begin to hit me.
I still do not “get” that he has died, that he is not coming back, even though I realise most days that he won’t walk through the door tonight.
He is not here to help me with this unfathomable loss.
This loss that wouldn’t even have happened if he had lived.
So how do I carry on now?
How have I got through these first two weeks?
How will I get through the next few weeks?
Breath by breath
Moment by moment
Minute by minute
Hour by hour
Day by day
I know a lot about self-care. And gratitude.
I still love this life of mine. Still.
I want to live for a long time more if I am healthy, able to love and be loved.
I know how to provide support for myself.
I know and trust myself well enough to know that I can do this. Even when I believe I cannot.
And I trust that Ben, Megan, and all of us here will find a way to live our lives without Julia. There is no right way. Just the way that each of us chooses.
If you see me crying while out on a walk with my dog, that’s just fine. It’s what I need.
If you see me out running, smiling and laughing into the wind, that’s fine. It’s what I need.
If you see me swimming and sunbathing, delighting in my body’s aliveness, that’s fine too.
If you hear me playing the piano, whether it’s happy or sad music, that’s what I need.
I have amazing friends and family. All of you here matter, and many others support from afar.
My widowed community will continue to support me.
Ben and Megan support me and make everything more than worthwhile.
And my new love, Neil, who I met just in the last weeks, is already a vital pillar in this challenging time in my life.
So, no – I don’t feel jinxed.
And I don’t want you to believe I am.
I don’t want you averting your eyes, crossing to the other side of the road when you see me. I don’t want you not to invite me to your house for fear that I might contaminate you with death, loss, grief and sadness.
I need you in my life.
Ben and Megan need you in their lives.
Please talk openly of Julia.
Send me stories and photos. Don’t expect a response.
Invite me out. Call me.
I will probably not answer.
Write again. And again.
And when you have given up on me, contact me again.
And I still most likely won’t answer.
And then again. And again.
And one day I will.
It’s hard to support someone who is grieving.
But support and presence are the only things that make the unbearable bearable.
There is no fixing, just witnessing me – and all of us – bear this new load of grief.
Just walk alongside me and us.
You will not catch death from me
On the contrary, you might catch life from me