By Nick Owen
Key Themes: Mental Health, Grief, Journal, Poetry, Photography
This book is the story of a grieving process in prose, poetry and pictures.
Nick Owen met Gillian Darwent in 2003. They fell passionately in love and started to live together in Charlbury, Oxfordshire, within a few months of their first meeting.
In 2004 they were hand-fasted in a Druid ceremony among the prehistoric megaliths of Avebury at the winter solstice. They were legally married a few days later in Oxford.
They rented a stone cottage in the hamlet of Over Norton, in the north Cotswolds, where they lived and worked until Gill’s sudden death, aged 47, in 2009.
Nick was very much aware of Gill’s physical and mental frailty. He also knew that her level of alcohol consumption was sufficient to threaten her life.
Nick worked part time, supervising counsellors of people with serious and life threatening illnesses. He also worked for Mind, helping people create poetry and pictures as part of their way of dealing with mental distress.
Gill worked as an English teacher in Oxford.
When Gill died very suddenly in June 2009, Nick decided to record his experiences in words and images, as a way of working through his own process of grieving. It was a survival strategy as well as a labour of love.
Two years later he has decided that many others might find his account helpful in making sense of their own life experiences and grieving processes. Many of the poems and pictures here have been shared on line on social networking sites such as flickr. Nick gained much support from people in this way, and also provided support and insight to others.
This book is the fruit of his decision to share all this with a wider public.
While some of the journal may appear disjointed and rambling, it has stayed true to the rawness of the feelings at such painful times. Much of the poetry is beautifully written and very moving. The pictures are powerfully expressive.
Nick hopes to be able to offer courses in grief work, using words and pictures, for others who are attempting to make their own journeys through grief. Nick may also be able to help professionals develop skills in creativity to sustain their clients through deep feelings of loss and bereavement.
For more information about the author and his work visit:
Nick Owen, October 2011
Journal entry/dream: November 2009
I begin as a passenger on what seems to be a large plane. I notice that we are much too close to the tops of mountainous cliffs, the sides of grand canyons. The plane becomes much smaller. I become co-pilot. The pilot just does not seem to be aware of the danger. The left wing of the plane keeps coming so close to the top of the cliffs that I think it must surely collide with them. But slowly and steadily I bring the plane down. It is almost frightening but more exhilarating. Then we have landed. All I notice in the dream is walking into a big shed which serves as a terminal and being greeted by friends there.
I wake to a tremendous caterwauling outside. My left arm has no sensation. It is 5 a.m.
This seems to be the follow up dream to the yacht on the rocks dream I had when my mother died. I am taking the helm again. Perhaps now Gill is at peace we can see a way ahead together.