Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself reflecting upon my journey as an author. A journey that has had many twists, turns and been a really valuable process of development; it still is. I don’t think, for one moment, that this process will ever stop in terms of development.
There are, of course, the gardening books. I’ve diversified into fiction, and experimented with both fiction and non-fiction. A lot has happened over the course of six, soon to be seven books.
There has been a big career change that has straddled across those texts, across the last five years. I’ve been a teacher for ten years, and throughout that journey, I undertook another in parallel. I trained to become a person-centred counsellor. A process, that isn’t for the faint-hearted. I can safely say, that I am not the same person who started out on a level two listening skills course all those years ago. I think it was 2012, my memory escapes me!
In 2017, in I published the book that you see above. I spent 2015-2016 writing it whilst studying and teaching. I’ve written before, as to my reasons why. I experienced two significant bereavements through the course of writing that book; these impacted upon so many different aspects of my life and being. To write about a book about that process was somewhat interesting, and I guess-in hindsight-an aspect of grieving. I know that after the second bereavement, I found it physically impossible to pick up a pen to write. I had to give myself permission to finish what I had started, to complete a cycle, move on and through what I had experienced.
Fragments is a work of fiction, yes. It does however, have some basis in theory. Mourning and bereavement, to be more specific. To this day, I remember learning about Worden and his four tasks of mourning, to be acutely aware of how Fragments was written with those four ideas in mind. I kept them in mind, as things that ebb and flow. I don’t, for one moment, profess to be an expert. There are some, that say all counselling is about loss. This is certainly something that has echoed and permeated through my practice, and I can see how that would be the case.
- To accept the reality off loss
- To work through, process the pain of grief
- To adjust to the world without the deceased
- To emotionally relocate the deceased whilst embarking on a new life.
Each of these four things is a part of the fabric of Fragments. Each of the six stories touches on these four principles. Each of the stories is also linked by Marcy the counsellor. A character, who herself, has a story about grief. There had to be a counsellor, I was training to be one, I saw one too. I tried to distill into the pages, what I was learning, experiencing and feeling.
The characters are deliberately diverse, they reflect real life. There is Nandini, an elderly woman of Indian-ascent. A character who has a very private grief, a process that she struggle with on many levels. She is someone who might not, in real life, go to counselling. It pains me, makes me angry too, that there are communities out there, for whom counselling is unavailable, or not part of their frame of reference; it’s not the done thing. Nandini echoes to me. She is the type of client that I would want to support in my private practice-another story, another day-to help improve access to talking therapies and also the stigma around mental health.
I deliberately wrote about Chris, who loses his dog, Adelphi. Man’s best friend, a relationship just as important as all others; this had to be written too. There are children; teenagers, actually who feel pain and need someone to talk to.
That’s the key here. To talk.
People tend to pull faces at me, when I say that I’ve written about grief. My response is always the same. We don’t talk about grief, we hide it; so why not read about it? I could, very easily, attach a health warning. I choose not to. I see value in what I’ve written. I see, know, that it’s not an easy book; it’s long too. I also think that talking, about grief, is important. It is part of those four stages, least of all part of my practice as a counsellor. It’s not a textbook, not by any length of chalk. I’ve never intended it to be one either, but it does have a purpose. It certainly had one for me.
I hope that by reading it, someone else will find that too.
You’ll need tissue.
And a big mug of tea.
Look after yourself, though.