Marshall, Andrew. “My Mourning Year: A Memoir of Bereavement, Discovery and Hope”, Red Door Publishing, 2017.
Dealing with Death
In 1997 Andrew Marshall’s partner died as the result of a debilitating illness. Marshall struggled not only to make sense of his loss but to even imagine what a future without Thom might look like. He collected his thoughts in his diary and he wrote about what set him back including becoming involved in a new relationship while rebounding, encounters with psychics and gurus and how his job as a journalist provided him with the chance to talk about death with others among whom there was a forensic anthologist and a holocaust survivor. Slowly, he was able to deal with what he felt and to get his life back into order.
He never planned on publishing his diary but he did share some of it with others who were dealing with the death of a loved one and since they found that it helped them, so as a way to mark the twentieth anniversary of Thom’s death, he decided to let everybody read it. The diary became this very frank and honest look at grief and mourning that followed Thom’s death. The line that really got to me was when Marshall said that he lost the love of his life and he felt nothing. I prefer to think of that not as “nothing” but as a void. Marshall says that at times he felt that Thom was having an affair with his illness since it took so much of his time and thoughts.
We learn here that we are not taught about how to accept death and how to move on after dealing with it. Marshall wonders if it is better to know that a loved one is going to die to prepare for their death or to have them swept away from life in an instant. We see that mental health is indeed a struggle. Marshall endures failed counseling sessions, spontaneous vacations, and romantic dates as he tried to get past Thom’s death. Perhaps what was the most difficult for him was his own family, who, even after Thom died, did not yet fully accept Marshall’s sexuality and validate his relationship with Thom. It’s not until after Marshall’s emotions reach their worst point that he finds the courage to confront his family’s absence of support.
Thom was very lucky to have been loved by Andrew. Before we begin to read, we know what to expect from this book just by reading the title so there are no surprises here.