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Writing The Grief Handbook

A year ago today, I flew to Durban, to my childhood home for 5 days. Six weeks later, I returned home to Cape Town.

The plan was simple: check my dad into hospital for knee replacement surgery, spend the next 5 days visiting him and otherwise writing down this idea I had for a book about grief… No kids, no work, no company, just 5 days to write. What could go wrong?

That evening, our president announced that South Africa was going into hard lockdown 2 days later, which meant that if I wanted to see my husband and kids, they’d have to get on one of the last flights out of Cape Town and join me. I couldn’t leave my dad without anyone to help him out of hospital.

So my 5 day writing retreat turned into one morning of solo writing, and 6 weeks of stolen time, amongst kids and work and nursing and cleaning and and and…

I wrote the first draft quickly, the second draft (nurtured by the brilliant Jessica Fox) more slowly, and then sent it off into the unknown. Where the lovely Anya Hayes from Watkins Publishing picked it up and has helped me turn it into the beauty of a book I’ll soon be sharing… It is so beautiful largely because of Lauren Fowler’s amazing illustrations.

Writing The Grief Handbook in my childhood home, surrounded by my mom’s presence (and, I later realized, her ashes) was so meaningful. Hard and painful and healing and meaningful.

But how strange to think that a year ago I was just flying to Durban for 5 days! What a weird year it has been…

Published inGrief

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