So how do I, Emma, now carry on?

By Emma Pearson

October 24, 2020

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.

Very little.

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

Repeat.

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.

And Mike.

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. 

Perhaps. Maybe.

Or not.

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

Thank you

About Emma Pearson

11 thoughts on “So how do I, Emma, now carry on?

  1. I know something of grief and your words in the face of yet another profound loss in your life are brave and inspirational and fierce and wonderful and so very deeply truthful. Thank you for your words affirming life and all it’s impossible beauty. Arohanui❤️

  2. This is the most beautiful and real piece of writing. I’m reaching out to you now Emma. To know that you are in my thoughts and you inspire me. A life full of love and loss. A life full of love.

  3. Emma Megan and Ben. My heart sends luv and hugs to you all. You must have many happy memories make them count and live to make more. Val 💕

  4. My dear Emma, No words come to be to describe how I’m thinking about you and your children. Thoughts and prayers are coming, but it does not seem enough. No words of comfort are coming. But I had to let you know that you and your family are loved. Keep writing when you can because by sharing your heart you reach other hearts. Love and prayers, Anita

  5. Emma, So sorry that tragedy has touched your life again. I lost my father as a teenager to a dreadful disease & completely understand how your daughter struggled to cope with losing her dad. It’s so sad your daughter couldn’t see a future at peace in this world. I genuinely don’t think counsellors, medical staff etc truly understand the grieving mind. I do think when the time is right you should publish articles like this as you write so beautifully & poignantly & these articles will help others. My thoughts are with you & although I don’t know them Ben & Meghan who must be suffering as much as you.

  6. I cried when you started reading, but before I cried when you went up to the stage and also when I heard your name. You touched me deeply and to read again your words does feel me good, soothes me, gives me courage. Julia’s photo is on my desk at work and I say hello to her in the morning and when I leave good evening. At home, she is with Mike and my mom. I smile at them and they smile at me. And then we think of you, of Megan, of Ben, of Izzy and of Nina. I love you all.

  7. I just re-read this piece and read the comments. I too have Julia’s photo on the table here beside me and I talk to her. I miss our morning and evening snapchats so I continue them by talking to her via her photo. Each finds their own way to manage the grief of a world without Julia’s physical presence. Love you Emma. Bug hugs xx

  8. I am a voice from afar in both time and geography, but I want you to know I am with you. Your beautiful words ring so true in my own experiences of grief. When I think of you I remember this brilliant, energetic and funny colleague and friend. So impressive. So enjoyable to laugh and talk with about both the meaningful and the trivial. Such a talented professional devoted to her clients and her work. From this, and my own experience of motherhood, I feel like I can clearly see how you are as a wife and mother, though I was never able to witnessed you in those roles. I wish I could be there in person, but please know I am with you. If you ever want to talk or visit or sit silently with someone who is outside the center of your current life, I would be honored and delighted to spend that time with you. What ever you need, whenever you need it.

  9. Oh Emma – as I was reading your beautiful words, I kept saying no no no please don’t let this be her daughter or son after tragically losing you wonderful husband. Saying “I’m so sorry” does not come nearly close enough. I feeling heartbroken for you, your son and the rest of your family. If you need anything at all, you got it. Sending you and your family lots of love and prayers and strength.

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