I’m Sorry For Your Loss

Grief & loss

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I want to scream. Those words are beginning to deeply irritate me. They seem so completely bizarre at the time of someone’s death.

My beloved Nan died very recently and I have had so many messages, all of them wonderfully caring of course, but so many begin with “I’m sorry for your loss.”

And I want to yell, loud enough to make my lungs burst.

I haven’t “lost” her. I didn’t put her down somewhere like a worn necklace and forget where she is.

I can’t go hunting for her and eventually find her where I left her. She’s not someone I’ve mislaid, forgotten about. I’ve not lost her, she is gone.

She is gone.

Loss is such an inadequate word. And at a time where I am grieving for someone so utterly precious, it seems so trite and incomplete to use that expression. Like I’ve somehow been terribly careless.

But how else do you express the grief that gnaws at you silently? The grief which creeps up on you like an invisible powerful wave and hits you with a force that actually momentarily stops you breathing? A grief which descends like a dark and heavy sky without warning and makes you sob uncontrollably?

What AM I feeling? What is the sensation? The emotion?

I am weeping for the memories; the blissful days spent with her at the seaside, eating rock, jumping the waves, building sandcastles.

I am in pain that I will never again get to chat to her, laugh with her, and listen to her opinions.


I am yearning for one last chance to hold her hand and tell her how much I love her, laughing at her jokes and watching her sing “I’ll be seeing you in Apple blossom time.”

I miss her silliness, her absolute pride in her family, her voice, her laughter.

I am mourning the fact her adored great grandchildren will no longer get to sit on her knee and giggle with her, they can no longer be wrapped in her arms as she holds them close and tells them they are loved.

And the pain is immense, overwhelming, and cuts extraordinarily deep.

It’s a physical pain. It resides in my chest. It won’t lift. I can’t escape it.

And something dawns on me.

I realise what I am feeling is indeed, loss.

A sense of profound loss. Of what has gone before and what might have been.

Loss of her presence, loss of her energy, her humour, her giggles, her singing. I’ve lost her, in every way she is gone and the feeling is deep, unrelenting and profound loss.

Those words “I’m sorry for your loss” still irritate me, they still seem so utterly incomplete.

But I have indeed lost her, and all she was.

The emptiness which feels like the darkest and deepest well is filled only with loss.

It is the right word after all.



Lead image by Annabel Beeforth

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  • Oh Cat, what a beautifully written article! I couldn’t have described what it’s like lose someone more accurately. Your nan sounds like a wonderful woman xx

  • Cat, this perfectly describes the very same debate I had with myself when I was grieving for my best friend. It was the sentiment that comes from a translation of the French phrase ‘tu me manques,’ ‘you are missing from me’ (though I believe it might not be an entirely accurate translation), that made me realise perhaps loss was the right word after all – because ‘you are missing from me’ perfectly encapsulated how I was feeling. And of course the sentiment is very similar to that intended when people sympathise with your loss.

    Your Nan sounds like an incredible lady. Sending love your way xx

  • You have my empathy as well as sympathy Cat… The sniper’s bullet of grief has relented somewhat 18 months on. Now it is a little kinder and laps softly over my heart rather than hitting me with tidal force. But when you think you are ‘healing’ and feeling ‘normal’ about ‘loss’ of a precious person as you so rightly say, it takes only a memory, word or photo to bring you right back to the instant you couldn’t believe or accept that they are ‘gone.’

    Every time I think of my mom she is there. She is not gone or lost but with me… unlimited and flying free.. not battling against the cruelty of dementia or a failing body. She is finally at liberty from pain and suffering and will live in my heart forever.. But it has taken me all these month to accept this.

    The wonderful memories of time shared with your Nan will give you strength and courage to navigate the roller coaster journey that is grief. She sounds absolutely remarkable and the extent of your emotions are an indication of how deeply you loved her and still do. Sending you a warm hug..

    • Thank you Diane. You write so movingly about grief and you are so right about the waves. I still hear my Nan call my name so clearly and it literally stops me in my tracks. Grief is something you live alongside I feel, you never are released from it, you just walk the same path together eventually. I send my love to you x x

  • Cat I couldn’t read all of this – I lost my nan three years ago and, god, I adored her. I can talk about her fondly to people now and share anecdotes but sometimes it just hits home that she’s not here. My wedding was the hardest. Sending all the love I have to you, fabulous woman. X

    • Hi Cesca

      Thank you for your sweet words. I know exactly what you mean about those moments when you suddenly remember they are no longer there. I send my love to you x x

  • Though my Grandma died several years ago, I drive past her old house every day on my way to work and feel that ‘pang’ daily. Mostly I stay positive- I was so very lucky to have such a wonderful woman in my life. Sometimes though, randomly, I miss her so much it’s as if the feelings are all new again. Grandparents are so very special- I remember, as a child, wondering guiltily if it was ok to love them a tiny bit more than my actual parents! Your story resounded with me. Sending my condolences.x

    • So sorry Sally. I don’t really believe we move on I think we learn to coexist with our grief and sometimes it will become
      bigger than our other emotions. Loss is incalculable no matter how much time passes xxx

  • Cat, this is beautifully written and I completely relate to everything you have said. My Gramps died last month it’s like you took every sentence out of my mouth. Big hugs xxxx

    • Oh goodness I am so sorry to read this Sophie. There is no pain like it and there is no other way through than to experience it. I send my love to you. Xxx

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