Emma Pearson

My life is a whirling mix of swishy strands, dark and glowing brightly, rough and silky smooth – all attempting to be seen, felt and integrated at once. Here are some of my themes. 

I am British and now recently also French (because of Brexit), and I have lived in France for the past 21 years. I am 52 and sometimes feel to be an “older widow”, and yet I feel so young. I lost my best male friend Don to bowel cancer in September 2015, my brother Edward to glioblastoma in January 2016, my husband Mike to pancreatic cancer in April 2017, and my sweet youngest child, Julia, to grief-related suicide, in July 2019. And I met a new love (let’s call him Medjool, after my favourite kind of date), off one single meeting on a dating website. Our relationship has exploded into blossom as of June 2019. 

I am widowed and I am in a new relationship. I have lost a best friend, a sweet brother, a beloved husband and a precious child, and I still have both parents who are alive and well. I live my days with my grief wrapped in love and my love wrapped in grief. I no longer even try to make sense of anything. I just hope to keep on loving and living for as long as I can, while grieving the losses of loves that are no longer breathing by my side.

I suspect my writing here will be a complex mish-mash of love and sorrow. I also write on http://www.widowingemptynests.com/.

For The Love of Dog

After Mike died – indeed before he died, when he was ill – I know I set a clear intention to carry on living fully afterwards. In truth I never questioned whether or not I’d want to carry on living. For the last many decades, for as long as I can consciously remember being aware of such things as “choice”, “intention”, “the miracle of life” (by which I mean the chances of that particular sperm meeting that particular egg at that particular time and becoming me), etc…, I have had a passion for life, for living life fully, and maximising the miraculous chance I have been given.

Of course I wobbled when Mike got ill. I definitely questioned my will when he died. More than once I remember looking into a fast-running icy stream and just wondering if it would be an easy way to make it all go away. Choosing to live doesn’t mean there isn’t also excruciating pain, deep sadness, questioning, regrets, wonderings. And losing Julia has fanned flames of anxiety within me that I never knew existed. I get so scared now of something happening to me before Ben and Megan are “properly on their feet”. I am petrified of anything awful happening to Ben or Megan. I know I cannot take another loss. I am in anticipatory grief of my parents dying – which they will, of course, because they are 80 and 81.

And I feel that when Black the dog dies, which he will, that my fragile world will unravel again. The dog. Who represents the hearth and the heart of the house in ways that only people with a dog might understand. The dog Mike chose. The dog who Julia, of all the kids, had an uncanny way with, despite her weighing only half his weight when we first got him.

The dog who outlived Mike and Julia.

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One of the patterns I have noticed in friends’ responses to whatever I happen to post on social media is that, when I post some good news, “happy photos”, or an achievement, I get 3 or 4 times as many “likes”, comments, and whoopy doos, than if I post something hard, messy, painful and tough. There the sorrow just hangs out its forlorn head alone, unnoticed.

I know there are a gazillion algorithms deep at work in the bowels of (for example) Facebook’s functioning, and when one person “likes” or comments on something, a whole host of their own friends will see it too. Especially if there is a connection to me. A snowballing of likes and comments ensues.

Some “likes” are more powerful than other “likes”. I am sure I could rank order my friends in terms of the impact of their likes. But I won’t. I am not particularly interested in Facebook’s bowel-y algorithms. I am sure they are functioning healthily.

What I find somewhat more fascinating is the underlying tendency for there to be more responses and comments when things are “good” than when things are “bad”. When I am “happy” than when I am “sad”.

Good news is rewarded. Cheered. Celebrated. Raved. Hearted and clapped and liked.

Sad, tough, lonely news is barely acknowledged.

Is it even seen? I don’t know. I think it is. I suspect that some friends see every single thing I write. That I am “tagged” in some way. Tracked, like an inmate with dodgy behaviour patterns.

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  • commented on Getting More than You Give 2019-11-11 04:50:40 -0800
    “I can’t think of a single other group of people I would more rather pour my heart into”.

    I also totally believe that we are beacons in the dark, lighthouses on stormy nights, for so many people – not just the widowed but anyone going through a dark night

    I am so sorry not to have been in Toronto, and I am so glad that you & Mike were able to give and give and receive and receive. A kind of beautiful love fest of broken hearts.

  • commented on Another Year Without You 2019-11-04 11:53:02 -0800
    All of it, Stacey
    Each and every word
    and especially
    “I feel like you are farther from me and I am no further ahead”.

  • commented on Caretaker 2019-11-03 23:41:54 -0800
    I am so sorry to be missing Toronto this year
    It’s a hell of a schlep from Europe, and I have my first paid work gig this week since my daughter died in the summer
    It was tough to balance up “earning money” and “spending a couple of thousand” vs the nurturing that I would get, but I made the choice to stay
    I feel less a widow now too – only two years after my Mike died… but it’s because Julia died too in the meantime and i am barely beginning to digest that horror. I need a Soaring Spirits for people who have had a child die, or both a spouse and a child…
    I am sure I will be back in time though. I will get there
    Meanwhile, Mike, just you showing up and being is more than enough

  • commented on Traveler's Remorse 2019-10-26 12:30:32 -0700
    so hard to come home
    and realise that your widowed life was patiently waiting for you on your return
    so very very hard

  • commented on What's hard for Two Widowed People in Love: Card Canceling 2019-10-20 05:53:45 -0700
    beautifully put – it’s all about honesty, transparency, communication, love, fear, and a desire to be our best self
    I learned a lot reading this

  • commented on I Didn't Die 2019-10-14 00:25:10 -0700
    wow – beautiful love, care & attention

  • commented on Phases of Widow 2019-10-14 00:23:38 -0700
    I got goosebumps, reading this

  • commented on Sudden Death Shadows 2019-10-14 00:20:01 -0700
    There goes my mind… off on it’s own horrific adventure.

    You had such scary experiences, lovely Sarah.
    And one of two of my widbuds did have their spouses die under a car as they were repairing it. Shit definitely happens.
    I like that you just sat where you could watch Mike. Still traumatic but possibly a tad less than if you’d been inside worrying and not seeing
    And I am glad Mike texted you at every corner
    Big breath… <3

  • commented on My Aliveness 2019-10-14 00:16:54 -0700
    Year four is going to be about me, not Mike. My fourth year of widowhood is going to be about my life, not his death.

    That’s powerful language, Staci.

  • commented on Engagement from Two Sides 2019-09-17 11:03:56 -0700
    Sarah and Mike – thank you for your openness and your courage writing about this – two sides, of many
    “But sometimes there just isn’t any way around that with grief. Sometimes you just have to let the pain be there”.

  • commented on A Shared Grieving 2019-09-16 23:39:03 -0700
    beautiful and terrible all at once

    stunning, Sarah

  • commented on Your Touch 2019-09-09 22:42:11 -0700
    The “never again” is so very hard. When I had been widowed about 16 months, a widow of 5+ years said that to me, and it was a shock and a blow to hear the words, but now, at almost 2.5 years, I realise just how right she was. The “never again is so very hard”

  • commented on Sandcastles of Safety 2019-09-05 23:33:06 -0700
    Stunning piece of writing.
    This is particularly powerful (and true): I try to shift myself into building something more lasting – me

  • commented on Something New 2019-09-02 22:51:43 -0700
    I am really looking forward to reading your joint posts
    And indeed, no two experiences of grieving are alike.
    Thank you both

  • commented on Hello Goodbye 2019-08-28 02:31:59 -0700
    Mike – I love how you are honouring closings and openings and old doors and new doors, and welcoming me too with such warm words. I love another aspect of our “common link” with Sarah, which is that I love to use her art in my blogposts.

    I am glad that you will be continuing to write.

  • commented on What if I Forget? 2019-03-15 00:00:24 -0700
    The way we harmonized in song and in life. The way that our marriage was like a duet. What if I forget ….
    Beautiful writing, Kelley

  • commented on Follow the Yellow Brick Road 2018-11-18 05:46:25 -0800
    Lovely, Sarah. And Lovely Sarah.
    Yes – receiving receiving receiving and giving giving giving. I think that both can happen at the same time too. And I think too that both giving and receiving lead to a fuller heart, always fresh, always being renewed, always growing.
    Thank you for all of you, your gifts, your generosity, your wisdom.

  • commented on H O P E 2018-11-18 05:43:46 -0800
    Mike – you may be the technical grunter in the team but your writing is exquisite, your introduction to Michele (and yourself, and Megan) breath-taking (literally taking breath away). Thank you for all you did to touch 200 hearts – and therefore all the hearts that those 200 hearts touch.