Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Andrew Marshall’s My Mourning Year: A Memoir of Bereavement, Discovery and Hope and am able to share with you an excerpt from this very special book. But first here is what the book is about –
In 1997 Andrew Marshall’s partner, and the only person to whom he had ever truly opened his heart, died after a gruelling and debilitating illness. Unmoored from his old life, and feeling let down by his family, Marshall struggled not only to make sense of his loss but to even imagine what a future without Thom might look like. In his diary, he wrote about what set him back – like a rebound relationship – some weird and wonderful encounters with psychics and gurus and how his job as a journalist gave him the chance to talk about death with a range of famous people, a forensic anthologist and a holocaust survivor. Slowly but surely with the help of friends, a badly behaved dog and a renewed relationship with his parents, he began to piece his life back together. Although his diary was never meant for publication, Marshall did share it with friends and colleagues dealing with bereavement, who found it immensely helpful, so to mark the twentieth anniversary of Thom’s death, he has decided to open it for everybody to read. My Mourning Year is a frank and unflinching account of one man’s life for a year after the death of his lover. In turn heartbreaking, frustrating and even sweetly funny, this is no step-by-step guide to dealing with bereavement but a shoulder to lean on when facing the unknowns of death and a resource for those left behind.
And now for the excerpt…
Thursday 16 October – Germany
Strange unidentifiable feelings ran through my stomach as I checked in at Gatwick airport. I was shattered, both physically and emotionally. I might need a holiday but for some reason that I cannot explain, I’ve chosen to return to Germany and confront the past. The couple ahead of me in the queue were speaking German. There was something very reassuring about the familiarity of Thom’s mother tongue. I’d forgotten what a central part of my life Germany has been. For five and a half years, I flew there at least once a month to visit Thom. Even after he moved to England, we would return together several times a year. It was only in the last few months that it became tied up with sickness, disease and death. So I’m returning for the right reasons, aren’t I?
The bustling terminal was not the place for self-examination. It was only after I sat on the plane and looked out of the window, that I came face to face with my true feelings. As usual, I’d bought a copy of Vanity Fair to read during the journey. It was just another flight to Germany. Except my other purchase was a packet of tissues. It has been months since I had always carried an emergency supply.
Waiting for my baggage at Dortmund airport, I found myself looking for Thom the other side of the barrier. How many times had he collected me from that airport? How many times had I left customs and thrown myself into his arms?
I dug deep for some consolation. At least this time I would not be hiring a car and driving to that hospital – the heart of my hell. Instead, I took a taxi to my friend Martin’s flat (where I had stayed during Thom’s final weeks).
Dortmund was full of nostalgia but it was a gentle pain and the tears I’d expected were sweet rather than bitter. I was amazed at how easily I fell back into sync with Thom’s friends. It was wonderful to talk about him and hear them recount their favourite stories. Back in England, it always seemed to be me who brought up his name. Even if I couldn’t have Thom, I could spend time with his friends and walk the streets that he walked.
You don’t stop loving someone just because they’re dead. In fact, the love grows greater, as it’s easier to forget their faults.
My Mourning Year is published by RedDoor Publishing and is available on eBook now and paperback on 20 April 2017. You can purchase a copy HERE.
About the Author
Andrew has been a marital therapist for almost thirty years. He trained with RELATE the UK’s leading couple counselling charity. He now has a private practice in London and Sussex (England), gives workshops on relationship and inspirational talks. His books have been translated into twenty languages (including French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Italian). He also writes for UK newspapers Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. These articles are collected on his Facebook page. As well as being a writer, Andrew is a keen reader and is always looking for suggestions of great books to read (either about relationships or novels).
A huge thank you to Anna at RedDoor Publishing for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and share with you this extract. Be sure to catch the other bloggers on the rest of the blog tour.