Andrea Corrie, author of Into The Mourning Light, and also Living In The Mourning Light, spoke to a full house at a gathering of bereaved parents online on the evening of the 11th of November 2020.
It is a profound thing for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings to be able to hear the thoughts and experiences of others who have passed through this kind of bereavement themselves, and have been able to use that experience to help others.
In Andrea's case, she has written the books and also continues to help others by her talks. She spoke honestly about the pain that she still feels when recounting the circumstances of the death of her son James by drowning in 2005.
She does not blur the edges of passing through that experience, but speaks frankly about the intensity of the journey, but also of the hope of finding the "mourning light".
Andrea spoke about the toolbox which can be helpful on that journey, especially in the early days and about the need to hear of other's journeys, and the self help of endorphin releasing exercise and the healing practices of creativity in its many forms, and in her particular case, in writing.
She spoke about her gradual return to "colour" in both dress and outlook, and the slow progress through that long journey.
I felt it was particularly helpful how she spoke about the secondary loss, or the loss that we can continue to feel at the milestones.... in the family traditions and events which keep on coming around.
Andrea spoke too about the eventual desire to live for the loved one who is no longer with us, and to embrace life for them too.
The one thing that will always remain the greatest help to other bereaved parents and siblings, especially the newly bereaved, is the honesty, even sometimes the rawness or vulnerability of the speaker, especially when tempered with hope. This is exactly what Andrea did, showing us that the sunshine can shine again, even though it may be tempered by the mist.
Review by Cynthia Sigsworth
It was a privilege to be able to join with dozens of other people, similarly bereaved, to listen to Andrea talk on Remembrance Day, 11 November. The poignancy of the date was not lost on any of us.
I am extremely lucky to call Andrea my dear friend and she opened her talk with her usual honesty and warmth. Losing her dear son James set her on a path she never envisaged.
She talked about the early days of loss, that were buried in the deep all-consuming darkness of grief, and the importance of finding the light. She described the hole in her life that was the exact same shape as James. She spoke of her “toolbox” full of tools and tips gathered over time, and carefully stored, to help not just herself, but others also in need.
Andrea explained how she found purpose in ensuring that other families did not suffer as hers had, and I can testify that the river front at Kingston is indeed a much brighter, safer place these days. If you walk there you may find James’s memorial plaque, lovingly placed and ensuring his story is told.
She reassured others struggling in the early stages of grief, that yes, things can get better, and yes, living a meaningful life is still possible, just different.
With her usual humour she shared a story about her clothes, and a conversation she wasn’t supposed to hear, which she turned around to help herself. Colour is really important and can affect our mood.
Andrea has been a role model for me since my loss, and a deep friendship has flourished through our shared experience and TCF. Andrea talked about new friendships and offered hope to everyone that there can be new beginnings from endings. She also offered reassurance to those who may be considering a house move, but are anxious of somehow “losing” even more of their child. Despite two house moves James is very much still with Andrea, and always will be.
Her work with the RNLI and Fire and Rescue has been rewarding, and she regularly talks to and for them. The story of how this evolved is included in her wonderful books.
The love that Andrea has for her son James shone throughout her talk. That same love underpins her writing, her poetry and photography; it feeds her creativity and with typical generosity she shares her intelligent and intuitive thoughts freely in her blogs and talks, for all to benefit.
I have no doubt that James is exceptionally proud of his Mum!
Review by Linda Sewell