Sunday, October 23, 2011

On Grief and Loss

Funny thing grief. It never gets easier. You'd think after a few brushes, you'd get used to it. Toughen up somehow. But no.

Having lost my dad at 20 (he was 50), my grandfather 3 weeks later and my grandmother 8 months after that, I like to think of myself as a seasoned griever. All that means is I know that time really does dull the initial blow, but it doesn't avoid the process nor does it lighten that blow. The worst lesson perhaps, is that you can't really help other people who are grieving; you can only hold their hand till their heart mends.

So now I am grieving a truly dear friend, although I can't quite believe she's gone so I'm not sure I'm in the "grief" stage yet. Some know her as blogger Lakeland Jo; she got the bloggy bug after she read a few of my posts and never a finer writer was there. Somehow she made her blog a window to her spirit and her soul in a way that few of us can. And my, what a spirit! As you'll see if you read the above link, she fought to make it to a few landmark dates; that was Jo.

Jo and I first met when I became her boss, way back in 1988. Although she called me the "Ayatollah". we became firm friends, and remained in constant touch after my move to the States in 1990. With her family, (darling husband and light-of-her-life son) she visited me in the States twice, and we vacationed in England together several times too.

I don't know; although she knew her cancer had become incurable, she fought and fought, and it seemed her light would never go out. But it did this morning, and the world is a much dimmer place without her.

Joanne Dyson McGowran

Jo, I can't imagine the future without you but I'm honoured to have had you in my life. 
You showed us all how to live, and laugh, and love - every day.
 I will truly miss you.


  1. So sorry to hear that sad news :-(

  2. I am so gutted about that.
    She was very brave. I guessed she was too ill to answer my email.
    This damned illness is a curse, it really is.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  3. I know Maggie. I really wish they could get closer to some answers.

  4. When I saw you mention this on Facebook earlier today I felt so so sad. I didn't know Jo but had read her blog and felt a link with her; we were the same age and with a similar-aged only son. I can't comprehend how she must have felt, knowing her prognosis and knowing she would have to leave her son and husband. Thank God they have each other.
    Sending you love too, Toni. Grief is so very tough xx

  5. That is not the news anyone wants to hear, but you speak about loss so sensitively - There are no boundaries for grief, no timescales, no benchmarks. It is what it is. It takes as long as it takes, in my experience. It never truly leaves us unmarked. For better or for worse.

    So sorry to hear the news about Jo. She touched many lives, and so obviously yours. My feeling is that, as long as our memories of others remain, they are never truly gone from our lives...

    My love to you, and warm thoughts to Jo's family and dear friends. Such a sad loss.

  6. So, so, sorry to hear this sad news. How lucky you are to have had such a vibrant person in your life. That, at least, cannot be taken away...

  7. It never gets easier. I lost my dad at 30, my mum at 45, and I was numb. Then we lost our eldest son when he was only 23. I spent years trying to cope. And then the unthinkable, we lost his twin when he was 39. I've written suspense thrillers to cope. I don't know how non-writers do it.

    Sorry for the loss of your dear friend.

  8. I'm so sorry for your loss. She sounded a great friend and a wonderful woman.

    I know what you mean about grief - I sang in a concert last week at a church which I hadn't been in since a friend's funeral years ago and I was overwhelmed as it all came back to me the minute I walked through the door. Grief is a strange emotion.

  9. What beautiful words and a wonderful tribute to her. I love the photo of her. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  10. Gosh Joylene - that kind of loss is unthinkable. I'm so sorry. Not sure where I would find the strength to go on.

  11. So sorry to read about Lakeland Jo, I didn't realize that she was so ill. One can only hope that her beloved Husband and Son will find some strength in their love for each other, and in her wonderful memory. M xx

  12. M - We all are thinking ourselves blessed that we knew her. Although Pete (son) was truly the light of her life and doted on by her, he also had a fabulous relationship with his dad and they have been getting closer throughout this dreadful journey. One of my last conversations with her was about her leaving them (which devastated her, of course) but she said she knew they would be alright because they had each other.

  13. I know I'm just one more commenter, but I do offer my condolences at your loss. While I never read Jo's work, it seems as if she left a beautiful impression on the world. I'll be praying for you and all who knew her.

    Abigail (

  14. I didn't know her but had heard about her through your blog. This was a lovely tribute to a friend. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you x

  15. There's a song--at least I think it's a song. Part of its lyrics is "this world is not our home, we are just passing by." That's the case here. She's gone to something better.

    I really like the fact that you are celebrating her. That's great.

  16. Really sorry for all of your losses. :-(

  17. Just heard this very sad news and am gutted.. having been wrapped up in my own world I havent visited any of my bloggy friends very often.. and l feel bad I missed that Jo continued to decline..

    Thinking of Jo's family and friends..
    Jo always was supportive and friendly to fellow bloggers and locals..

    Rip Jo

    'alice'(fff sara)



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