Grief lives on, and so do the memories

Sudden loss – shock and grief

On this day, back in July 2014 our family was catapulted into grief when Cliff, my brother-in-law, suddenly died after feeling vaguely unwell for a few days.

He was only 55 at the time, married with two young teenage children at home, parents, an older brother and a younger sister, nieces and nephews, in laws, friends, colleagues…..

Just a few weeks before, Cliff had participated in a team Rogaining event and won, despite being older than many of the entrants. He was fit, happy, competitive and yet just weeks later he had passed away. Right at the very end he was diagnosed with Leukaemia.

My husband, his older brother, saw him on the weekend before, as we were in the area for me to attend a Rotary meeting. As we don’t live nearby, it has always seemed a fortuitous meeting and I’m grateful to Rotary for the chance for my husband, and one of our daughters, to see him one last time.

Grief and memories
Grief and memories

Just days later I sat down and wrote down my thoughts in this post, which I shared at the time. It is still one of the rawest, most honest posts I have ever written.

For obvious reasons.

It helped to get the thoughts out of my head.


We are all in shock.

It was so quick, so unexpected, so sudden, just too awful to think about.

It was all over so fast.

He was too young.

His body was sick but we didn’t know it until too late, and neither perhaps did he.

Seeing ‘signs’ all over the place that I wouldn’t normally notice. Ads for Funeral directors, health checks, cancer council car, bye bye miss American pie on the radio – this will be the day that I die – way too soon to hear that.

Family rallying, travelling from all over
Talking over things, over thinking things
Memories flitting through my head
Crying, consoling, grieving, laughing, thinking, talking, remembering.

Trying to be strong. His wife, his children, his parents, his sister, my husband (his brother), my children, family, friends, colleagues, team mates and everyone else who knew him – all sad, all shocked feeling the loss already.

He lived an active life and he was liked by everyone,
not one for the limelight, a quiet ‘get on with it’ sort of guy.
He was fun, he was competitive, he was sporty, he was involved in many community groups.

He was a caring, gentle, happy, thoughtful man and he was one of the nicest people I have ever known. More like a brother to me than a brother in law.

Writing helps, words and thoughts tumble and fight to be written.
Running helps, although my heart is in so much pain I don’t know how it manages to keep on beating at times.

Wishing it wasn’t so, remembering that it is.
Live each day as if it’s your last, because you just never know.


Five years on

It still doesn’t feel real, although it’s now five years ago.

We all miss Cliff and there are times I forget that he’s not here anymore.  In some ways he’s still with us, we share stories, laugh at old jokes and remember his spirit!

I’d love to be able to bring him up to date on our weddings, our baby news, our travels, our losses and what I wouldn’t give to see his slow, easy smile light up his face one more time.

Something I have learnt over the years, is that we all grieve in different ways and no way is any better than another.

Some want to express their grief and others want to keep it private.

We are all entitled to grieve in our own way.

Christie, a blogging friend, recently wrote about coping with grief after the sudden death of her brother, and I could relate to all she said.

This quote has helped me, as I’ve navigated the death of my father and my father-in-law, in the years since Cliff left us:

If you know someone who has lost a very important person in their life and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you may make them sad by reminding them that they died – you’re not reminding them, they didn’t forget that they died. What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived. And that is a great, great gift.

Cliff was a major part of us all and lives on in our memories. And in his family.

My only advice to you is to take a moment to cherish those who are dear to you, and don’t be afraid to live your life fully – it can be over far too quickly.

And be kind – always!

With much love.

Debbie 💔

Cliff, Carol and Grant
Love this picture of Cliff, Carol and Grant

Linking up with Denyse’s #Lifethisweek

It just so happens that Day 22 prompt for #JournalinginJuly challenge is Thankful

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50 Replies to “Grief lives on, and so do the memories”

  1. Oh Deb, you have memories rolling down my face. It is difficult to lose any loved one but more so I believe when they are in their prime. Your brother-in-law sounds like he lived every moment of his life and when you lose them suddenly the shock can be so hard to bear. I’m thinking of Grant, you and your family at this time and even though it has been 5 years that doesn’t erase the hurt and loss we feel – we just learn to live with it. Beautifully written, my friend. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much Sue. I just wanted to remember Cliff in my own way and my thoughts from back then are still so poignant and true even today. He was in his prime and it still seem so unfair! I’m thankful for the memories 🙂 Day22 #JournalinginJuly xx

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  2. It takes courage to write about these things…I can relate in my own way, that yes memories do live on, but for me I guess one can get lost in those memories and simply don’t want to make new ones or move on from the past…take time and courage what you clearly have:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your grief, memories, and advice. When someone important and close to us dies suddenly at a young age and s/he had shown so much vitality before their death, it’s really hard to comprehend and accept. Wishing you peace and comfort. #lifethisweek

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So many reminders lately to cherish the ones we love while we have them. Thanks for sharing about Cliff and your memories of him Deb – he sounds like he was a lovely person and you were blessed to have him in your life. Take the time to remember and grieve and also be grateful for who he was and how lucky you all were to have him as part of your family xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. All so true Deb. Grief isn’t a bad thing at all, sometimes it helps so much to let it just happen. I still grieve over my Dad and he left us nearly 30 years ago. It’s always surprising how silly little things bring him back into my thoughts and although it often breaks my heart I relish those moments as it shows that he’s still alive in me. Lovely post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your understanding Jonno, it’s very true about the surprising things that bring them back to us isn’t it? Thanks too for sharing your insight into your grief for your dad, I really appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Firstly, sending lots of love and hugs! I love the quote in the beginning. This is such a beautiful post Deb; grief is something we have to process and make friends with in the end. I read another post today on ABC Life about the sudden loss of a sibling. I will confess I have so far mainly lost grandparents and was close to only one of them; it still doesn’t feel real even though it’s been 12 years. I often wonder what it would be like losing my parents, sibling or close friends – the ones you think about telling stuff to straightaway only to realise they are no longer there. I think that would always leave a dull ache.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes Sanch, a dull ache describes it quite well. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness and kind words, it means a lot to me. As we get older it starts to hit home more and I’m all for living a full life and telling people how I’m feeling. x

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  7. What an intensely personal post, Deb. I thought immediately of Christie when I started reading, and then you mentioned her further along in the post. Grief is personal and everyone does it in different ways. But as much as I miss my mother I WANT to talk about her and share stories…it helps my journey and keeps them with us every day. Never be afraid to mention someone who has died to their loved ones. Odds are they are GLAD to talk about them.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The quote is so apt for the feelings you must have, Debbie. When a “younger” person dies unexpectedly, it is the hardest thing to reconcile. My husband’s oldest brother died suddenly at 59 of cardiac arrest a few years ago. I had never met him as he was living in Chile. Your brother-in-law was full of life and knew how to live it. Thank you for sharing your feelings and memories so eloquently and may those memories eventually bring you more peace and comfort.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh Deb, what a heartfelt and sad post but one which speaks of love and connection and that too is so important to remember. Loss of someone younger or close in age to us is very confronting as well as shocking. The disbelief factor is high.

    I think how we can speak and write of grief now is so much healthier than hiding it or even thinking “we should be over this by now”

    I have the book called It’s OK Not to Be Ok by Megan Devine and it is an amazing resource. I also know that Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ stages of grief were never meant to be used the way some still do now in terms of advice about grief …sometimes we just need to listen to our hearts.

    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week’s optional prompt is 30/51 Share Your Snaps #6. 29/7/19. Hope to see you there too. Denyse.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Denyse. Yes it’s sad but also full of love, so I’m glad you got that from reading my words. I agree, once upon a time, we couldn’t talk of grief much at all but now we can share our thoughts and gain support from a myriad of others. I’ve read a few books on grief and they have helped me understand my feelings. I’m so happy to have shared my post within your #lifethisweek community. Thanks again. xx

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  10. As I read your original post from five years ago, I could feel the emotion spilling out: the pain, the confusion, the disbelief that follows a sudden death. Cliff must have been a special person to have so many people celebrating his memory and mourning his loss. I love the quote you shared. I can say from my own personal experience that no one has ever made me sad by mentioning my brother Bryan. I love hearing about the memories others have of him and find comfort in the fact that there are other people in the world who love and miss him like I do. I hope you are finding comfort with your family and friends, Deb. Hugs to all of you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Christie for your lovely comment and best wishes. We had a lovely lunch with Cliff’s work colleagues yesterday and it was a joy to talk about him with those who knew him well and miss him too. Hugs to you and your family too. xx

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  11. So sorry. It is so very hard to lose a loved one, sudden deaths have taken two in my family, both at young ages. Although heartbreaking, we must cherish the memories and don’t ever stop talking about them. We have to let them go on living with us in our thoughts and memories ♥

    Liked by 2 people

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