Heart is a drum

I find it hard to listen to music at the moment – something about the emotion it conveys is difficult to bear. But a friend recommended Beck’s Morning Phase album and when I went to download it, I found it already sitting there on our iPod. Matt had got there first. The whole album is beautiful but I find the song below, Heart is a Drum, particularly calming.

It’s hard to believe, but today is the 49th day since Matt’s death. There are 49 days of mourning in Buddhist thinking and on the 49th day everyone thinks and lives a happy day, saying prayers and doing all positive things to make a joyful path to the next reincarnation. I’m not entirely sure where my own beliefs lie, but when my agent and friend, Sarah, told me about this practice, I realised I did like the idea of living a happy, generous day in Matt’s honour. It’s been grey and rainy here, but today has been good. We have handed out friendship bracelets and thanked the kids’ teachers with flowers; we have picked-up litter in a favourite park, walked in the rain, painted seed pod boats and filled them with flowers and handwritten notes to float out into the harbour for Matt. We have eaten with friends and family and tried to be kind and patient with each other. Today my heart beats strong, like a drum.


38 thoughts on “Heart is a drum

  1. Susan says:

    I began following your blog after reading your moving tribute to your husband, and last week I downloaded “Secrets of the Tides.” As much as I am loving your book, my thoughts keep returning to you and your children. Each night as I pick up my Kindle, I hope and pray that the author of this beautiful book is coping. I was so glad to read here that you had a good day today. May the good days become more frequent, and may the sad days never overwhelm you.

  2. Steven says:

    I lost my wife of 30 years – Jan – to cancer on July 4. I came upon this blog by chance (or perhaps not). I don’t why I want to write something here. Perhaps I’m just looking for sympathy, although I have had enough to sustain me forever it would seem. At the moment, each day is worse. Each day without her adds another layer to my sense of loss and loneliness. I suppose things will get better, but Hannah, I am still feeling desperately sad and empty as you are I’m sure, and I wish you strength and comfort through your journey of grief.

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Hi Steven, I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. I understand exactly what you mean about each day adding another layer of loss. I’m trying to think happy thoughts for my children but the loneliness is overwhelming. I wish you strength and comfort too. Thank you for reaching out. You have reminded me that I am not alone – and neither are you.

  3. Rebecca McDonald says:

    Hannah I have only recently started reading your blog and want to commend you for your openness and courage to grieve publicly. Your strength and honesty will help many who are also dealing with great loss. I’m praying you enjoy many more good days.

  4. Maurine Talpin says:

    Hi Hannah, I love reading your beautiful words. I don’t know you but have found myself often thinking of you in the last couple of weeks since I’ve read the tribute about your husband. Sending you warmth and love.

  5. KB says:

    I’ve been trying to find a way of saying how amazing and touching your writing is, and I guess that’s it. Your writing touches me, makes me think of the people in my life who I miss. I hope you have a lot more days like this, filled with little happy things.

  6. Dani from Sand Has No Home says:

    My father and brother drowned when I was 18, in 1993. My other older brother was in Thailand at the time, on his honeymoon. I had bought the REM album Automatic for the People and given it to him before he left,for his birthday. After he returned, he listened to the album that I had gotten him for the first time, and then called me to tell me to listen. It was an eerily anthemic collection for that time of incomprehensible grief. You might like to listen to some of the songs.
    Bless you. May there be more days like the 49th day, amongst the others.

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Thank you, Dani. I’m so sorry for your own experience of losing your father and brother. Utterly tragic. I know the album you mention well. It’s lovely of you to comment here and I take strength from your words. H x

  7. Fiona says:

    Thank you for writing and sharing your grief. To read some thing that I have felt makes me feel not so alone. After my sister died I wrote to a friend whose child died some years ago,and said I felt like I had this huge blob of sadness inside me and I just didn’t know where to put it….she told me the sadness never goes away..you just learn to live with it…..hugs to you

  8. Christine says:

    I’m can’t quite remember where I found you but I often look for inspiration and you seem quite positive after your terrible loss. I lost my husband to cancer last year, he was 56. I’m way older than you but was not prepared for how quickly his end came and am still floundering aimlessly. I don’t want to be this way, I’d love to be like you, you are a very courageous lady. Thinking of you X

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Thanks, Christine. I’m not sure I’m courageous, but thank you for saying so. I feel like I’m floundering aimlessly too, trying to make sense of a senseless situation, often overwhelmed by the sheer longing for Matt. The one thing I am realising in all of this, however, is that what I am experiencing is universal and human and connects me to so many other people. It doesn’t make it easier to bear, but it does make me feel less alone. Thinking of you too. Thanks for reaching out to me. x

  9. Fadzilah says:

    Hi Hannah, I feel like I need to reach out to you and tell you I’ve shared your grief even though I dont know you. I read reviews of your books, read your blog, and was going to start reading the books when I heard the bad news on tv, and wondered about the surname, and hoping he wasn’t related to you. When I found out he was your husband, I felt so sad. I’ve now read both your books, and it’s amazing how well you seem to know grief even before it happened to you. I can only imagine how keenly you feel it now. I pray you stay strong in your spirit. You have such a beautiful way of expressing feelings. xx

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Thank you. So kind of you to get in touch. Yes, I have a truer, deeper understanding of grief now, through my experiences of the past few days. A bitter irony, really. I appreciate you reaching out.

  10. Liz Corder says:

    Well done Hannah. 49 days…I bet you didn’t think you’d make 49 hours. And here you are able to do so many simple, kind and happy things with the children. The sadness never goes away, but the terrible empty pain gets less and less. What’s left in your heart is real. The good times and the difficult times. But oh boy, does it take time? Love Liz, at Tabias

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Lovely to hear from you, Liz. Thank you for your comforting words. You’re so right about the 49 hours. I hope life is treating you and your family well. Mum keeps me up to date a little on your news. Take care, with love, Hannah x

  11. Carole Blake says:

    Oh Hannah, my heart goes out to you and the children. Such beautiful writing. I knew Matt only by association (I work in the book trade in the UK) but I was in one of the Hachette buildings on the day the news broke here. There were people in tears. That made me realise how special he was. Sending love and strength, from a stranger.

  12. andylmoore says:

    Interesting how science and religion can view grieving in very different ways. This is a ridiculous comment (apologies in advance) but according to the America psychiatry bible (DSM-5) the definition of grieving has shortened from 2 months to 2 weeks! It’s basically so they can legally medicate anyone and everyone. Makes my blood boil (blood boiling is probably another mental affliction found in the DSM handbook that needs medicating).

    Glad to hear the beating drum.

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Someone asked me the other day if I needed anti-depressants. Their question made me pause for a moment. Yes, I share similar symptoms to depression, I’m sure. And the thought of ‘lifting myself’ medically certainly had an appeal. But the truth is at this point (2 months in) I am not depressed, I am grieving, and I want to feel it, no matter how painful. It feels true and real and reminds me I’m alive.

      • andylmoore says:

        Speaking from experience, the time you stop feeling emotion is the time to think something isn’t right. Emotion is normal and human. Hope the little ones are coping ok. Makes me very sad to think about it.

  13. amanda says:

    My heart breaks for you Hannah…………..I have read your books and found your blog after reading your post in memory of your husband, on the Mamamia site. I wish that it hadn’t been ‘that’ post that brought me here, but I am hoping that I can, along with everyone else, help you through this time. x

  14. sarah says:

    Dear Hannah,

    This morning I just finished reading “The Secrets of the Tides” and on reading that you also live in Sydney, googled you out of interest. On opening your blog I discovered your 49th day post and learnt of your terrible loss. I am so very sorry for you and your little children.

    Strangely, the reason for my intrigue, was that “Secrets of the Tides” had affected me deeply, providing me with some kind of solace as I struggled with my own grief for my Mother who sadly and very suddenly took her own life on January 1st this year. No matter how painful my own feelings of grief and guilt felt, engulfing myself in the story of the Tides helped as their grief and guilt seemed tenfold worse. Not that one person’s grief can be measured against another’s. Grief is immeasurable. But the enormity of what they were suffering somehow helped me to feel less alone. And of course the comforting thing was that I was able to close the book on their troubles each night which somehow seemed to help.

    Since my Mother’s death, I have felt a niggling feeling that if she could she would contact me as (as is usually the case with suicide) there were many things left unresolved. On Tuesday this week, as you honoured your husband’s life by living the day in happiness and beautiful memories, coincidentally I also made an important step towards happiness by calling a medium. I have never had any particular beliefs in life beyond death and although I like to have an open mind, the evidence needs to pretty convincing. It was. Prior to our meeting the medium knew nothing about me, nor had any idea of who I was trying to contact and I didn’t provide any information once I arrived. We sat down in her little sitting room and she closed her eyes and soon there was another presence in the room. There was no doubt at all that it was my mother. The medium relayed things that my mother had told me before she died, explained the details of how she died (matching the details I already knew), comforting me that she had not suffered. She spoke of her concerns for my sister, gave me advice on the troubles I had been worrying about and told me how she had been at my boys’ school with us for a recent event. It is really too hard to explain everything without boring you with details but I guess what I wanted to explain is that I had arrived a nervous wreck, laden with guilt that I could have done something to prevent my mother’s death, grief for her loss and fear that death seemed so much more possible now and I was constantly afraid of losing someone else close to me. When I left, I floated out the door. All the weight had been lifted. Admittedly I must have been lighter too for all the buckets of tears I had shed, but knowing that my mother was happy in a beautiful place and she has made friends up there and that she is often with us, watching over us and still enjoying seeing her grandchildren grow gave me so much comfort. The medium explained that there are different vibration levels where those who have passed convene with others who are at a similar level of spirituality. Perhaps you already know all about this, but I was completely clueless.

    In a funny parallel, my own healing was in sync with “The Secrets of the Tides” as that same evening as I read, Dora arranged to reunite with Cassie to begin towards their healing. This morning when I finished the novel, for some reason I felt compelled to google you, which is how I came to discover your blog. Reading your posts, I can relate to some of the pain you are feeling. Many days I would drive along listening to music with tears streaming down my face because the songs would take me back to a safe place in time when my mother still lived. I too would scan the faces of people in the street searching for signs of pain and grief in others, suddenly aware of how surrounded by grief and sadness I was. You will have received so much advice on how to come to terms with the loss you are feeling but because you unknowingly helped me, I wanted to share this with you. Although I don’t know you, I send you my love and I hope you find a way to happiness.


    • Maree says:

      Hi Hannah,

      The Secret of the Tides has sat on my bookshelf for the last year and finally two weeks ago, it whispered ‘read me next’. It has been a great read, a beautifully written story and it has touched me deeply as I too loved ‘Love my way’.

      Last night I was googling about you to find out whether there are any other books I can read to follow on from this and was shocked to find that you only lost your husband recently. I remember reading about him weeks ago but not making any connection. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.

      The Secret of the Tides means so much more to me now, as I nearly lost my husband two years ago but thankfully he is well. My children and I are the fortunate ones and I felt like it was fate that I was meant to read your book, I will pass it on so that others can enjoy your great book.

      Thinking of you Maree

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Hi Sarah, this is incredibly powerful. Thank you for reading my novel. I’m so pleased it helped, even if just a little bit. And I’m so sorry about your mother. I hope you are finding peace amidst your sadness. It sounds as though you had a very meaningful experience with the medium you met. I’m a bit of a sceptic about such things, but have no doubt you experienced something real and true and I’m pleased you came out feeling lighter. Thank you for your good wishes for our own healing. I’m sure we both have long roads ahead but I wish you well on your journey. Thank you for getting in touch.

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