Tin: “Alright Vou? Cheers!”

Vou: “Same to you our kid.”

Hey Tin!

How’s it all going? I imagine you’re having a great time, being petted and spoiled by Mum, June and Nana, your three biggest fans. And both our Papoos, I expect they’re appreciating the extra support for the male contingent.

Is it as great as Nana always said it would be, over on the other side? The parallel universe only with street parties, bunting and sherry trifle? Thanks for all the signs anyway, that was helpful, though the hawk thing was a bit obvious. That was probably June winding you up. She promised me she’d send a sign to…

“What happens to the mind after bereavement makes no sense until later…..The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten.”

Helen Macdonald in H is for Hawk

Precious memories…

When memories are all we have left, which ones do we treasure? Resilient bereavement guides us to focus on the best times of joy and love and laughter, memories that will lift our mood. We may also need to acknowledge the difficult times, when we wish things had been different: remorse and regret are painful emotions that may intensify and extend our grief. Resilient thinking can help us to put those occasions in perspective, so that we can focus attention on the happy memories. …

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you won’t be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist, and expert in bereavement, was best known for her model of the predictable phases of grief:

“Being heartsick, sick with grief, heartbroken: medical knowledge suggests that our bodies already know what our words have long implied: that grief can, quite literally, sicken.”

Cari Romm

The newly bereaved are more than usually vulnerable to illness and accidents. In the week following a close bereavement, the grief stricken are twenty-one times more likely to have a heart attack, and this risk remains elevated for at least a month afterwards. Cognitive impairments in grief: memory loss, vagueness, and flawed decision making, render us more than usually accident prone.

The death of a loved one feels like the worst that…

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
Helen Keller

Here I am, safe in the land of my comfort zone: analytical thinking. Enough of all that new age-y spiritual type stuff, the meditating, the journalling, the self disclosing; those methods that work so powerfully though God knows why. Magic, in other words. What a relief to be back in the concrete, scientific world of logic and reasoning; back to the safety and detachment of analysing my beliefs and learning how to change them to make myself feel better.

I’ve been working…

“My friends, it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart.”

Carl Jung, The Red Book

Writing words on paper, expressing my thoughts and feelings in a journal: this is a practice I welcome. I have tried it several times during my the unhappiest times of my life, primarily two painful divorces and the death of my mother. In my experience, journal writing is a very useful supplement to any variety of psychotherapy/counselling/coaching that you might engage in. I speak as someone who has had a period of psychotherapy during every decade of my adult life. …

In the end, these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?


I knew that meditation would be the most challenging activity of my brain reset programme, but I had high hopes. I’ve done plenty of difficult things in my life so I’m not scared. My most recent challenge? At Xmas I cooked Otto Lenghi’s alternative Xmas dinner. For twelve people, virtually single handed. Beat that for difficulty.

I’ve tried meditation before. Way back when, before it was mainstream, I did a course on primal sound meditation. I…

“Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.”

Anne Roiphe

My brother was fifty-nine when he died suddenly: too young to have retired, to enjoy the leisurely years he hoped for. That could happen to any of us. It could happen to me, depriving me of the chance of a less pressured way of life, with more time to pursue my passion for writing stories. I’d experimented a little, worked less, taken time out. I was old enough and secure enough to retire and follow that dream: so why hadn’t I? Tino’s death focussed me, made it easy: do it now.

Catastrophe is the major agent for change…

The first of a series of articles describing a do-it-yourself well being recovery programme


This series of articles is the story of my brother’s death, and how I coped with the first year of grief. Thirty-seven years ago, my mother died of breast cancer at the age of fifty-one, so I had experienced tragic loss; and it had taken me years and years to get past the early phase of bereavement back then. I wondered if I could maybe be more resilient this time round, especially as new wounds re-open old ones: the first cut is the deepest, as a friend reminded me, and this shocking tragedy re-awakened painful memories of Mum’s death.


Voula Tsoflias

Psychologist and Writer, writing about the application of psychology for a fulfilling life; and about creative writing.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store