One year on, thoughts about loss, and a link to a piece I wrote for my mother.

This afternoon I was out in the yard. My overgrown mess of saskatoon berries and renegade daisies revealed random branches laden with nanking cherries. Last summer, July was a blur—wet, grey, and grim. My mother died on the 9th, she slipped away quite rapidly while my brothers and I were focused on the state of our father who had received critical injuries in a car accident.  A year ago today we were watching him slowly fade. By the 20th he was also gone.


It has taken a full year for the loss to begin to feel real. Their house is now clean, repaired and ready to be listed. None of us, not even their grandchildren are particularly attached to this rural dwelling where they spent the last six years of their lives. Now, more than ever it feels like a shell, hollow.

I grieved my father as I dissembled his library. I had to travel to central Australia to begin to grieve my mother—and that process has only just begun. It started with a dream. She came to me and lingers with me as an absence.  This weekend my first effort to verbalize this absence was published in RIC Journal along with altered images from my time in the red centre.

You can find it here. With thanks to Saudamini Deo.

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

16 thoughts on “One year on, thoughts about loss, and a link to a piece I wrote for my mother.”

  1. To lose both your parents within a fortnight must have been overwhelming. My father died within 18 months of my mother’s death, and I am slowly coming to terms with the idea that they are both gone. Now it seems so sudden to me, perhaps because caring for my father meant I insulated myself from feelings about the loss of my mother. I think we deal with these things as we must, in our own timescale, according to our individual capacities. Time to reflect is part of that, and maybe that is what the desert enabled for you.

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  2. This may sound strange, but the idea of ones parents dying close together is a comforting one, simply because they can face this new step in their life cycle together. Unfortunately my mother died when I was a teenager, and my father is still alive. A part of me aches to see him still in so much pain, and I know a small part of him wishes he died with her, because they really were each other’s true love. Sorry i didn’t mean to make this about me, but hopefully this offers another perspective 🙂

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    1. I’m so sorry about your father.

      We also believe that this was the best for them. They were in their 80s and I can’t imagine how my father would have coped without Mom. It has made it hard for me to grieve my mother though because we were so close and while we were busy with Dad, she went into the hospital and was gone in three days. Dad was in the Foothills and she was at Rockyview. He was unconscious while she was in ICU. The morning after she died he woke up and asked for her! I don’t know how much he understood when we told him she was gone, but he did not fight to survive and he was stubborn.

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  3. Beautiful writing Joseph, and a wonderful tribute to your mother. I’m very sorry for your loss, for the pain it has caused. Grief, I think, is not a straight path and no one can walk it for us or predict how it will twist and turn. My father died many years ago and there are days when I miss him more than ever, but I am comforted for the ways in which he supported and shaped and challenged me whilst he was alive. I carry that with me, like you carry your dream of your mother and the memories of your father’s love of reading. A house doesn’t encapsulate those things: you do.

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  4. What a wonderful tribute to your parents Joe. I felt quite emotional reading it, especially that image of the dress you recall your mother wearing. Im coming to the realisation that the time I have left with my parents is narrowing. I don;’t know how I will feel once it happens and I imagine you didn’t either – it was something that emerged with time?

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    1. From what others say, feelings emerge and change over a long time. I don’t think I could feel anything about my mother’s death until I went to Australia and started to dream about her and begin to put words to the loss in conversation with a couple of Indigenous women. I see this as just the start of a journey to come to terms with my loss.


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