Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon.
But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband.
Looking after their daughter and grandson in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst.
Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life.
Unresolved grief is like a permanent, painful presence in your gut. It affects the way you feel about everything. As a nation, in general, we are getting better at expressing our feelings. But we’ve come from a very repressed place and there is still a long way to go.
“Being a child of the 50s and 60s, I was not expected to attend my father’s funeral… My life went on in exactly the same way after Daddy died – sleep, food, school, homework, exercise. And no one mentioned him again. Like he’d never existed…”
Appropriate death is one thing. When an aged parent or grandparent dies, it can be deeply upsetting, but it’s part of life. But when a younger person dies – who had their whole life ahead of them – it can be almost too painful to express how you’re feeling.
And it’s hard for friends and family to know the best way to treat a bereaved person.
- Do you say something? If so, what?
- Do they want to talk about it? Or will that just upset them?
- Do they want to be alone? Or want you around.
If you don’t know, you might be embarrassed and try to avoid the person, which is even more hurtful.
Neither Stella nor Jack could cope with their loss. But they reacted in different ways. Jack wanted to talk about it. Stella wanted to bury it so deep that she could pretend it never happened.
But there is always a day of reckoning, if you don’t deal with grief, when the loss refuses to be ignored any longer. For Stella, the only person who really understood was Jack. And it was he, in the end, who helped her to face her demons.
‘Being a child of the 50s and 60s, I was not expected to attend my father’s funeral,’ says Hilary. ‘In fact, I didn’t even know when it took place. My life went on in exactly the same way after Daddy died – sleep, food, school, homework, exercise. And no one mentioned him again. Like he’d never existed. I was young, I didn’t have the words, I suppose. My sister said she didn’t talk to Mum about it because she didn’t want to upset her. So, there I was, without a father, and without even a conversation about one.
I didn’t discover how Daddy had been buried and where until I was in my thirties. Very strange. It wouldn’t happen now.’
‘This was a very emotional book for me. I cried a lot while I was writing it. It wasn’t the same situation as the one Stella and Jack experienced, of course. I would never equate one person’s grief with another – everyone feels things differently. But loss is loss and it has to be confronted sooner or later.’