Sharing a grief narrative – how much is too much?

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but I haven’t felt I had much to say. However, with a recording session in the pipeline, I have been thinking about how we share our stories, and where we draw the line.

One of the songs I intend to record at this future session is ‘The View From The Mountain’. Regular readers will need no introduction to the story behind the song, written two years after the death of my friend Kim from an eating disorder. The potential problem with this song lies in the fact that there is far more of a story attached to it than would ever be appropriate to share in the setting of a live performance.

As a musician and a writer, I see the story behind a song as paramount to the audience’s enjoyment. With this in mind, I have worked out a way of sharing the story behind ‘The View From The Mountain’ with the bare minimum of words, and the most minimal detail. I have to admit that this is primarily for my benefit, given that if I were to tell the story from start to finish, and then attempt to play the song, I would likely dissolve.

However, even with the very best of intentions, I feel that it will be impossible for me to go into that session without having given my friend an idea of the story behind the song. I need to lay the foundations at least, so that I can relax fully whilst performing, knowing that there is the possibility of emotions spilling forth.

In order for this to happen, I have written three versions of a letter which I will give him well in advance of the session. Yes, we could have a conversation about it, but on the other hand, I’m not sure I would want to subject him to over-information.

I play the song fairly regularly when playing live, as each performance is part of the act of forgiveness. I did not have the chance to say goodbye to Kim in the same way as I did with Chris. Coupled with the manner and timing of Kim’s death (I heard of her passing on the day I was due to go into the studio to record my tribute to Chris) this led to an irrational anger.It is my intention this time to lay all that to rest, and allow myself to form a new relationship with the song, and with Kim or the memory of her. Fondness feels a step too far, but the least I can do is think of the good.

Do you share stories of your online friends who have passed away with others? How do you decide what to share, and what to leave out? I’m curious, so if you’re inclined, feel free to leave a comment. 

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,


Posted in Grief Loss and Bereavement | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Today I remember…

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. I have been writing, but it has taken other forms. Between the fourth of July and the first of October, the 50 Songs in 90 Days (50/90) takes place.

I have attempted it for five years, and completed it once, in 2010. I have no illusions of being able to complete it this year, but I enjoy the community, so I stick around.

However, that is not the reason why I am posting, as you may have guessed. Today would be my dear friend Chris’ birthday. I’m not sure what I’ll play when I play live tonight, but ‘Wherever You Are (You’re Still An Angel)’ may be somewhere in there. I suppose as long as I play with heart, and put everything I can into each song, she’ll be with me all the way.

It is a privilege to have loved, and been loved, quite so much. Of course, that love continues. Now, it’s present in that creative spark that drives me to write and share my soul with the world. I could write another song, but most of what is left to say is between Chris and I.

Chris, at the age of 15, in England. She is standing next to John Lennon's piano.

Chris, at the age of 15, in England. She is standing next to John Lennon’s piano.

May the love she gave in life be reflected back abundantly in Paradise.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,


Posted in Grief Loss and Bereavement | Leave a comment


Casey B:

I’m resharing this, with a tip of the hat to Joan Hitchens of Navigating Grief, who shared it on Facebook. Personally, I disagree with the imperative, ‘you have to…’. I would argue that this is the simple fact of moving on.

If I am utterly honest, I am still in the process of moving on from the loss of Kim, but that is the level on which this post speaks to me.

Originally posted on Camp Erin Parents:


I had planned to write about something completely different this month, until I saw this posted on a friend’s Facebook page. I saw the picture and thought, Yes!! Oh how I wish that everyone could understand and appreciate this!

I know I’m not the only one who reacted the way I did when I saw that picture. I know that so many of you despise that “moving on” phrase. And I know that far too many of you have been the victim of some who feel that your “moving on” means you’re “forgetting” your past.

I cannot tell you how much I want the phrase “moving on” removed from our vocabulary. I’d like to make it illegal for anyone to ever say it again in a negative way. I’d much rather hear, “moving forward” – it has a much more positive sound to it, don’t you think?

Moving on has…

View original 499 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sometimes you slip…

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. I came back here today, and I’ve just realised it’s been nearly two months since my last post. During that time, I have finished my degree (pending results on Wednesday) and in so doing, found a new way to share the story of the friendship I had with Chris with a new audience.

My final dissertation ended up being two chapters, and an epilogue, of Following Her Lead: A Memoir of Online Friendship and Online Loss. As more time passes, it becomes easier to share the story of the friendship I had with Chris with others. Despite the pain of that loss, there was incredible joy in the fact that I knew her.

Though sharing that story has become easier, there is another story which jostles for position that I can’t share yet. Though knowing Kim provided support that I would not otherwise have had, the other side of that particular coin was that her health was so unpredictable. Our friendship was, to be honest, nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster.

However, I have found a way of dealing with that, it seems. I find myself playing ‘The View From The Mountain’ on a weekly basis at jam sessions, and it seems to help. From the early performances where I thought I might end up giving in to the emotion which threatened to overwhelm me, I now view the song as a celebration of the person that Kim was, in spite of what happened to her. Though I would not say it was easy to write, or that it is now easy to play, it is a pleasure to have a way of remembering which does not involve my first thought being in anger.

I have written before that I believe strongly in the power of sharing to heal. It is a gift to find somebody who understands what you find yourself going through to share in the journey with you.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,


Posted in Grief Loss and Bereavement | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Surprised by peace at Easter

Hi, friends.

I hope this finds you well. I am pleased to be able to say that I am feeling better than I have done at Easter for some time. I recognise that part of this is the fact that so much time has passed since the early painful days, but on the other hand, I have worked for this in a way that I would not wish on anybody.

Much of the work of this grief experience has been in understanding that ‘Death ends a life, not a relationship’ (a quote from my favourite memoir Tuesdays with Morrie) and that there can be joy in a world without, just as there is joy in a world with those we love. It is a different kind of joy, and the pain of ‘s/he would have loved that’ persists, but all it means is that we enjoy for both parties now.

In February, I wrote a new song entitled Flowers from the Cross’, which I hope to be able to share soon. With that song, I finally honour the experience I had last Easter.

Whether you celebrate Christ’s resurrection today, or you are simply celebrating another day on the planet, I wish you all the joy and peace that you need.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,


Posted in Grief Loss and Bereavement | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering the good times

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. I’m sorry I didn’t post a round-up of the Remembering Our Online Friends event – not that there was much to round up – but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind this year.

This is the time of year I find myself listening to more and more Glen Campbell, trying hard to remember what Kim meant to me before the tide turned. I’m sorry to say that afterwards it was a different story.

It’s been quite a journey to get to this point, and nine times out of ten, I can honestly say that I no longer hate Kim for anything she may have ‘done’, or inflicted upon those who cared about her. There are moments when that façade slips, but it’s easier now than it was.

Today would have been Kim’s 33rd birthday. Regardless of the ups and downs of the journey, there was a time when I loved her, and thought a lot of her for helping me out at what I then perceived as the most difficult time of my life. I didn’t know that there were challenges to come which would test my faith still further, and provide me with opportunities to curse Him and reaffirm my faith almost in the same moment.

Indeed, it is only now that I can appreciate the extent of the miracle it was that Kim was able to be revived on those two (three?) occasions. Can’t remember where I came across this, but it’s an interesting and thought-provoking programme, though maybe best avoided if you are reading this in the early stages of your grief journey. 

It certainly redefined the way in which I thought about each of the occasions where I was exposed to information which I might have benefited from being withheld. More importantly, it frees me from the inherently accusatory nature of my thoughts surrounding such matters.

So, wherever Kim may be, I wish her a happy birthday, and thank her for the role she played in my life, however briefly. Just like a good book, some lives can never be long enough.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Evolution of Easter

Hi, friends.

I hope you are well. I have realised today that it is the little things that show me how far I’ve come in this journey. Past experiences with garden centre card displays were admittedly less than positive, but today, I turned a corner. It may seem like a small thing, but for me it was quite significant. It wasn’t so long ago that I would make a concerted effort to avoid anything to do with Easter displays in shops, inwardly rebelling against the Happy Easter banners that may as well have been ten feet high for the insult they were to my feelings at the time.

However, today I calmly walked over to a display of Easter cards, and spent ten minutes looking through them to find one to send to a friend. This proves to me that life goes on, in spite of Easter, and in spite of grief. Finally, nearly seven years later, I feel a peace with this time of year, and the significance of it. Just because it was a bitter time then does not mean it has to be a bitter time forever. Hope is always a precious thing, sometimes it is elusive, but that doesn’t mean we stop looking for it.

Although I know nearly seven years have passed since that day, I am still amazed that I have found this place of peace within myself, which allows me to accept the renewal aspect of Easter without dwelling on the sadness of Chris’ death. Whether I will carry this attitude forward remains to be seen, but I would hope to be able to.

In other news, I am approaching the point in writing my story where I discuss the beginnings of Navigating Cyberloss. It is an interesting process to look back and see how far I have come since the earliest days of pain and grief.

I would like to think that Chris would be proud of what I’ve accomplished, although it took unspeakable tragedy to bring it about. I suppose that’s the way things sometimes happen. If everything worthwhile was easy, nothing would really be worthwhile.

I’d also like to remind you about the Facebook event on the 5th of April, which will be a rerun of last year’s ‘Day of Remembrance for Online Friends Gone Before’. I hope you’ll come and share in the day, so that we can reach out to those who feel the grief of cyberloss without having anywhere to express it.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,


Posted in Grief Loss and Bereavement | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment