Saturday, 13 January 2018

Close in Affection*

We were burgled a year or two ago, and still there are things that we are struck with the loss of; not  the big much-loved objects - the paintings especially - that shocked us immediately with their disappearance, but tiny silly things that had only sentimental value and that it's taken us this long to think of and start to miss.

Since the burglary, my older brother has died, and since his death I've noticed that something similar is happening in connection with my loss of him. It turns out that bereavement is another kind of robbery, except that you have something more precious than objects taken - and, sadly, as time progresses the sense of loss does not get smaller. Instead, you are struck more and more by the many different tiny ways in which your daily life has been diminished and what exactly has been removed.

Grief I now understand as a longing, a perpetual, truly felt "wish-you-were-here". Life continues, of course, you talk and read and eat and generally keep going. But sadness is there, at your shoulder, taking the place of the person who has gone away.

*"We had always been very close in affection" - my brother, writing about his relationship with me in his memoir, Light & Shadow, by Mark Colvin, published by Melbourne University Press


  1. Yes Zoe. Your reflections on loss are so similar to mine. I lost my husband in March last year and have found that the first four months were actually the easiest. Since then, the "negative space" you referred to in a previous post has been felt more keenly. I recently visited NZ where we had been twice and, although I intentionally visited different areas, his absence was more obvious to me than even at home, where we spent 30 odd years together. Because somehow it seemed so unfair that I should be experiencing such beauty without him. It can take you by surprise and I think that is what you were implying (or at least, what I inferred). Thanks Zoe for your blog. I love it.

  2. Thank you, Anne, and once again please accept my sympathy. I recognise so well that sense of such sadness that the one who is gone is missing out on things you know they would love and also the growing sense of absence one has. If it isn't ridiculous to say so, I feel it physically, a kind of ache of sorrow. I suppose it is part of understanding more and more that there is no return to the old companionship. I've also been surprised to realise that the taboo most people probably feel about asking about the whole thing is not always what one wants - I would quite like to bore people sideways with the story of the final couple of months my brother spent in hospital, which stay with me very vividly, partly because there were disagreements with some people to whom he had once been close but had later become estranged from - but due to long, chronic, illness never had the strength to deal with properly - and some of the things that were said and done in the aftermath of his death were very shocking and very hard to cope with and made me feel extraordinarily alone.