Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas Without Nick

I wasn't going to post anything today, but I have just read an article by Nick Clarke's wife Barbara Want in the Sunday Times News Review about Christmas without him, and how her two children are coping. You can read the whole thing HERE. Prepare to have a tissue to hand. Here's how it ends.

Christmas Day, though, has to be the exception. Perfection will be the order of the day. I will smile on Christmas Day — for the boys. I will not let them see my tears. I will sing and dance, pull crackers and tear wrapping paper. And I will do it well. They will never know how hard it will have been, and why should they? Christmas is for children and these two fatherless four-year-olds deserve to have a good one. At the end of the day, though, there will be nobody to congratulate me on what I’ll have done. Nick won’t be there with a hug and an indulgent smile of congratulation. So I shall go to bed, our bed, on my own, and bury my face in the jumper he wore when he died and sob. And sob. But I’ll try to remember that there are tens of thousands of others who will also be facing their first Christmas without their loved one, and who will be feeling the same. I share with them the words of comfort I heard from my bereavement counsellor: you really will feel stronger by the time you get to Christmas next year.

Those of us who have reached our forties without ever experiencing the pain of losing a partner, parent or sibling cannot begin to understand what Barbara is going through today. Her kids are so very lucky to have such a mother.

21 comments:

verity said...

"Bereavement counsellor"?

Anonymous said...

Happy Christmas Iain. In today's world it is always good to remember how fortunate we are to have those we love around us. I do hope you enjoy your Chirstmas, and I naturally hope West Ham win tomorrow!

Yours
James Tumbridge

Ken from Gloucester said...

Iain, you are a very lucky man to reach 40 plus without suffering a loss. It has happened to most of us by then.


My wonderful grand daughter visited us today and it was real fun. It helped, as always,to make my Christmas. All the best


I cant stand football!!

billy said...

Bereavement counsellors help you take short cuts to get over the grief. I used a counsellor when I had PTS come upon me a month after nearly drowning. One piece of information solved my problem immediately. I could have been in misery for several more weeks before finding it myself.
What bothers me about this is that a minor celebrity dies and next thing we have the wife and kids paraded publicly. Presumably there is money in it.

Anonymous said...

Although both my parents are still around, I lost my sister in 1988.

You never get over it.

Anonymous said...

...by Nick Clarke's wife Barbara Want...

Doesn't that make her name 'Barbara Clarke' surely?

On the other hand, my girlfriend lost her father on 23rd of Dec 6 years ago. She was out in Australia watching the Ashes at the time; had to fly back (Quantas were really considerate) and Christmas will never be the same for her ever again. Or for me.

On a more cheery note: Merry Christmas Iain and to all contributors to this great site.

Voyager said...

Yes Verity.........it does sound so very Guradian/BBC doesn't it ? But if you have no religion death becomes incomprehensible

david kendrick said...

Thanks for sharing that with us, Iain.

Quoting a nugget we may have missed is a great stregnth of the site.

verity said...

Yes, Voyager. There is something so poverty-stricken about having to turn to a "bereavement counsellor" - even the term is spine-chillingly false and socialist. Why not go the whole hog and term this bereavement counsellor "Big Sister"?

I feel very sorry for the lady who lost her husband, who she obviously loved - and loves - very much. But she is doubly bereft. She tragically lost her beloved husband, and she has no spiritual advisor to help her to understand. No priest, no clergyman, no rabbi. Just a socialist "bereavement counsellor", doubtless provided free by the state.

And this "bereavement counsellor", while doubtless having a sympathetic turn of mind, would not have the intellectual wherewithal or spiritual training to offer guidance in the greater scheme of things. Instead, this individual talks in platitudes. "You'll feel stronger this time next year." Whoaah! There's an original insight!

I feel very sorry for the widow, though. She is clearly in terrible pain.

Lerxst said...

I hope for her sake that she is stronger next year, but from my experience I'd say that Jeremy Jacobs is closer to the truth when he says that you never get over losing someone close.

What's more, this time of year tends to bring loss to the fore, particularly if the person who's gone was someone who loved Christmas and had the ability to enthuse others, at what can be a easy time to be miserable and cynical.

billy said...

verity said...
Yes, Voyager. There is something so poverty-stricken about having to turn to a "bereavement counsellor" - even the term is spine-chillingly false and socialist. Why not go the whole hog and term this bereavement counsellor "Big Sister"?

She tragically lost her beloved husband, and she has no spiritual advisor to help her to understand. No priest, no clergyman, no rabbi. Just a socialist "bereavement counsellor", doubtless provided free by the state.

2:11 PM

Verity,
When I used my counsellor I also 'used' my wife's vicar. He was a great help to me and I became a regular church goer (I hesitate to say Christian because I am still working on it), but the counsellor had the one piece of advice that made my life right again immediately. The vicar's information may well serve me for longer though.
Counsellors don't claim special insights but they do have a lot of experience gained over time that can help. I promise you that when you are in the depths of despair you are not expecting there to be a next year let alone feeling stronger.

verity said...

Billy, you write in an accusatory voice: "When I used my counsellor I also 'used' my wife's vicar."

At no point in my post did I refer to the verb "to use". That is your construction and you therefore should not have put it in quotes.

I am glad, though, that you were helped and that your vicar is helping.

When I lived in England, I worked with a woman who did volunteer work as a "pet grief" counsellor and helped people come to terms with the death of a beloved animal companion. This struck me as worthwhile because Christianity for some reason does not acknowledge that pets have souls, whereas, we know that they do.

billy said...

Sorry Verity,
I put it in single quotes to indicate that I couldn't think of a more suitable word. I wasn't trying to infer that I was quoting you. I'd have used double quotes for that.
No harm done I hope.

verity said...

Billy - No,no!

Alfred of Wessex said...

verity 2:23 PM said...

"Bereavement counsellor"?


Even Christians see "bereavement counsellors", especially when the loved one was not a Christian (it isn't particularly pleasant contemplating the Lost eternity to which the loved one has gone) and/or the person who has died has caused the survivor considerable emotional damage, especially in early childhood.

Admitting that you cannot make it on your own without help is not a sign of inadequacy, but rather one of maturity. In any case, to whom should a person with no religious faith turn?

Your tone indicates to me that you have not lost anyone close to you. If you had, you would not be so judgmental.

Voyager said...

Your tone indicates to me that you have not lost anyone close to you. If you had, you would not be so judgmental.

Unreasonable conclusion - but the notion of a "bereavement counsellor" is suggestive of a secular mindset when it is religion that makes death comprehensible.

Mr Clarke's widow Barbara Want is a BBC producer and his second wife.

especially when the loved one was not a Christian

That was precisely the point being made - and it is especially hard for non-Christians to comprehend death especially in an era where life has become a soap-opera with death treated as a departure from the script rather than the goal of all lives

Lerxst said...

Voyager

"it is religion that makes death comprehensible"

It may not be intended, but I trust you realise quite how self-righteous you sound - even more so in your previous posting 'pitying' the poor woman for her lack of a 'spiritual advisor'.

Personally, I do not believe in gods or an afterlife but I find death perfectly comprehensible. It is the sad, and very final, reality of the ending of a life.

Inevitably, trying to come to terms with the fact that you will never again see someone whom you cared about deeply, provokes strong emotion. It's not that death is incomprehensible, but rather that loss is painful and difficult to accept.

As for death being the 'goal of all our lives', while I accept it's our ultimate destination, I prefer to see making the most of the journey as the goal.

verity said...

Alfred of Wessex writes in the lofty sweep of the universally pretentious: "Your tone indicates to me that you have not lost anyone close to you. If you had, you would not be so judgmental."

You are an impertinent, ignorant, insensitive, delusional, judgemental, self-righteous, complacent, pathetic knuckle-dragger with the intellectual acuity of an iguana. I would add that you have the "emotional intelligence" of an iguana as well, but I think the iguanas have the edge on you there.

Don't give up the prehensile tail, but do try to develop an opposable thumb, there's a good chap. Then we won't have to keep holding the bananas while you eat.

Voyager, good post and I agree with your thinking.

Lerxst, your post was also interesting and thought-provoking.

Voyager said...

It may not be intended, but I trust you realise quite how self-righteous you sound -

Your inferences are egocentrical but that may well be your nature.

Your failure to conceive of any form of existence beyond the one you have today is I agree, limiting for you in so many ways, but when you exist outside the Grace of God you have little choice but to make the best of it.

I admire your Stoicism but fortunately am not reduced to sharing it.

Alfred of Wessex said...

verity 12:49 AM said...
Alfred of Wessex writes in the lofty sweep of the universally pretentious: "Your tone indicates to me that you have not lost anyone close to you. If you had, you would not be so judgmental."

You are an impertinent, ignorant, insensitive, delusional, judgemental, self-righteous, complacent, pathetic knuckle-dragger with the intellectual acuity of an iguana. I would add that you have the "emotional intelligence" of an iguana as well, but I think the iguanas have the edge on you there.

Don't give up the prehensile tail, but do try to develop an opposable thumb, there's a good chap. Then we won't have to keep holding the bananas while you eat.


Verity

Touché.

I appear to have offended you. For that I apologise. I do tend to speak first and think of the consequences afterwards.

If you would be prepared to e-mail me at jfmgb777 at hushmail dot com, perhaps we can discuss our difference of opinion in private, with the hope of coming to a rapprochement.

Lerxst said...

Voyager

Stoic? That depends on your reference. If by that you mean someone who prefers to follow where reason leads, then I'm happy to take the label. However, I would be less inclined to accept the more modern emphasis on the idea of someone who suppresses feelings or who is indifferent to them.

Granted I have a traditional English dislike for public displays of grief - bawling in the streets is so latin. But beyond that I am perfectly open to my emotions, including pain and sadness. I just don't see religion as a solution to them. I accept others do, and if it helps them sleep easier at night, then fine.

However, what I was objecting to was not your religious belief - where we simply disagree - but rather your condescending tone of 'pity the poor unbeliever' and your assertions about the ability of the non-believer to comprehend death. Comments which suggest that if I am egocentric in my regard for my opinions, I am certainly no more so than your good self.