Writing a memoir on a difficult subject: on loss, grief and death
Welcome to my blog, I am delighted you have joined me today.
‘Do you know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken.’ Terry Prachett. When we write memoir the dead still live within our writing and thoughts.
I started writing my memoir Calel a few years ago after my much loved mother died as a means of healing the deep pain and confusion within me. Experts tell us that the relationship between mother and daughter is the most complex. I agree. And add mental illness and migration unhappiness into the mix and the relationship between my mother and me was challenging.
I started carrying a notebook and jotted things I remembered about my mother and her life- trying to heal myself. Eventually a context emerged and developed into something that I could hang a story on. As I kept writing the surprising thing was I was writing about my mother but I grew to understood myself more.
I dug up old photos, letters, diaries, even played old Beatles music. Like a jigsaw puzzle it started to create a picture.
One day I smelt the aroma of an old furniture polish called Marveer and the memories came flooding in. My mother used that to polish the furniture until it gleamed. The smell of Rinso washing powder boiling in a copper brought back blocked memories.
The Buddha said ‘The trouble is you think you have time.’ Start your memoir now. Start a memoir someone who has died that was meaningful to you.
‘Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.’ Soren Kierkegaard. Going backwards into my life has helped me move forward. Writing about difficult topics helped me cope. Many studies have shown that writing about stressful and traumatic events can improve our mental health.
This is a photo of my mother smelling a rose. It is a simple photo, but within that photo lay hidden complex and painful issues that were going on at the time. The longer I stared at the photo the more I remembered bits that were hidden from my consciousness.
The flowers in the photo are growing in cracks of cement. Writing a memoir opens up a life that has laid dormant.