the solemn bang of the drum

angelic statue and sunset scenery
Photo by Ellie Burgin on

The solemn bang of the drum

Reverberates through the drooping crowd,

Heads bowed and all in black,

Some crying, others raise their phones

To catch the spectacle for Instagram,

And still the drum beat continues on,

Warning mortals that our death

Is just around the corner too.

There was only really one thing that I could write about today: the funeral. It was a last minute Bank Holiday so that most people could have the time off work to watch the service and the procession.

If there was any doubt that our country can pull off the pomp and ceremony befitting a queen, then today those doubts were laid to rest. It was bloody magnificent.

I have never seen such a large procession and they actually walked a really long way so that lots of people got the chance to see it first hand. And I don’t think there has ever been an event where so many foreign dignitaries were present. It just goes to show what an amazing and well respected lady she was.

It was great to see Prince George and Princess Charlotte at the funeral, and I think everyone was in agreement that they are possibly the best behaved kids on the planet. I do wish that they had brought Prince Louis along as think he would have caused havoc – we always need a bit of comic relief in even the saddest of circumstances.

Watching the Princes William and Harry walking along behind the coffin was quite difficult because it brought back so many memories of that day, 25 years ago, when they walked behind the coffin of their mother.

Funerals always bring back memories of the people we miss and I’m sure there will be people out there who are feeling a bit low this evening so I hope you all keep safe and eat lots of chocolate.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i felt like she needed a hug

I do apologise for all of the royal commentary at the moment, but over here we are having wall to wall coverage so it feels as though it’s the only thing anyone is talking about.

And I’m even more sorry to harp on about the ‘Fab Four’ of William, Catherine, Harry and Meghan because I know that it’s a story people can get slightly fed up with. Even I am starting to feel tired of reading the bitching that goes on between the people who support either side.

I actually love them all equally. I think that at all four of them have met different struggles along their journeys – struggles us mortals can’t really comprehend. Perhaps some have made some mistakes along the way, but that is what is both beautiful and messy about being human.

The moment yesterday, that caught my attention the most, was the moment when a fourteen year old local girl asked Meghan if she could hug her. When she was later interviewed by the media she said that she did it because she wanted Meghan to know that she was welcome here, after everything that she has been through.

I can only imagine the fear that Meghan must have felt yesterday and I think she’s really brave for stepping out in front of a media that has been really nasty to her. And I’m sure that if she heard what that girl said, it would have helped her feel loved.

It was interesting to look at the photo of the hug and see just how tightly Meghan was holding onto the girl. She needed that hug, and I’m glad that a little angel was put in the crowd to give her what she needed.

Much Love

Rachel xx

we do funny things in grief

grayscale photo of an angel statue
Photo by Mario Wallner on

Some of the analysis of today’s events has been quite interesting to read. There are obviously so many people ready to jump to conclusions and read into just the smallest of words or mannerisms.

This can be problematic because the people that we are watching closely – the royals – are grieving for a mother and grandmother. And none of us ever act normally when we are gripped by grief.

Today, Kate and William invited Harry and Megan to come on the walkabout outside Windsor Castle and the whole world seemed to have an opinionon everything they saw.

I read anger into almost anything, probably because of a strict upbringing; if I did even the smallest thing wrong my mother would fly off the handle. I am aware that I am overly sensitive on this front, and very often, I am way off the mark and the person who scowled at me was just squinting in the sun.

But I couldn’t help but notice the distance between Kate and William as they walked down the driveway. I hope that my damaged little brain is just overreacting again, because I idolise Kate and William.

Grief does funny things to the way we behave, and perhaps Kate just powers through the sadness, and that’s how she copes. My dad is the most unemotional person in the world and when his dad passed away it hit him so hard that he couldn’t work for six moths. The reaction was totally unexpected, but what can be expected when you’ve lost somebody you’ve known forever?

I hope that they are all OK and my thoughts and prayers are with the whole family.

Much Love

Rachel xx

sunset by jessie cave

body of water during golden hour
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on

Grief is sharp and hot, the body turns away

Instinctively, like bodies jumping from

The burning building. We as why?

Why the hell would you jump from way up there?

But we can’t know intensity like that until

We’re in the fire ourselves. And then

We wish we’d asked, looked inside ourselves

And asked the questions of those tortured souls,

Tell me why you leapt that day.

I just finished listening to the audiobook ‘Sunset’ by Jessie Cave and it was bloody beautiful.

I’ve followed Jessie Cave on Instagram for quite a while because she draws the funniest little doodles and she has the most amazing hair. So, I was pretty excited to read her book when I saw that she had written some fiction.

I found out just before I started listening that Jessie lost her brother in an accident quite recently and the book is a reflection on the grief that she felt.

It was also read by her sister which added a certain amount of poignancy to the audio version of the book. There is also a lovely discussion between the two sisters as a bonus section and it was really touching to get an insight into how they both felt about the novel.

It’s actually made me reflect on grief myself. They were saying how there is no real end to grief. You can’t sew it up like a happy ending in a romance novel. The pain may fade, but the loss will always be there.

I watched a documentary on the Twin Towers last night and I was reminded of the people jumping from the buildings. Nobody could believe what they were seeing and we were wondering why on earth they were choosing to jump.

Now we know that the heat was so extreme, they were almost pushed out of the windows. I think grief is a little bit like that, we can’t understand why people behave the way they do until we experience it ourselves. And unfortunately, as humans, we’re all going to have to feel the pain of a jump once or twice in our lifetime.

Much Love

Rachel xx

how do we talk about grief (a bit of a book review- a monster calls by patrick ness)

It twists us with it’s sharpened claws,

Wringing out the tiny drops

Of feeling left for loves of lives.

But grief is part of daily life

And talking is a cooling balm.

It’s just so hard to find the words

That make that wound feel healed at all.

I got a work email the other day to say that one of the students I work with has had some terrible news. It has long been known that his mum is ill and his behaviour has been problematic to say the least. However, the email said that he would be off school for a little while because she had been given days to live.

My hear sank as I read the words. Selfishly, I wondered how on earth I would ever be able to talk to the poor kid. I could only imagine how awkward it would be to utter the words ‘are you OK?’

Those words always feel so empty when you know that somebody is going through something so unimaginably painful. And so yes, my heart sank.

But interestingly, just one day later I was asked to write and deliver a lesson on bullying using the Patrick Ness book, A Monster Calls. I only had to read one chapter, but I got into it and found that I couldn’t stop.

The book is about a kid called Conor whose mum is dying of cancer. A monster comes to visit him to give him advice and lessons in life that will help him through what is going to come.

I’ve only read one Patrick Ness book before this and I hated it. But this, just blew me away. It was beautiful and sensitive and insightful and everything that I would look for in an adult read. It was perfection.

I don’t know if it will help me speak to this student that I know, but it felt serendipitous that the book fell into my hands at just the right moment. It just goes to show that we really are given all the tools we need, we just need to be open to receiving them.

I loved this book so much that I’m excited, rather than nervous about delivering this lesson. I hope that my enthusiasm for the book can inspire the kids to have a go at the whole book too. And perhaps I can encourage a couple of you to read it too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i was too scared to close my eyes

beautiful waving sea splashing on shore

I knew to slip away would be

The easiest thing I’d done for months.

After fighting tooth and nail to grasp at shreds

Of silken life that fluttered in a summer breeze,

Letting go seemed natural, the simplest thing to do.

But taking up that final step

Of closing eyes and letting Death take me by the hand;

That is where I stumble in the hope

That those around my bed may come

Along that final route with me,

Despite the fact I love them so.

I have a colleague who had to rush home last week because a family member was slipping away. Sadly, she passed and it’s got me thinking about death. I struggle with death, as I’m sure most people do, and when someone in my circle passes, I really find it difficult to comprehend.

The ‘funny’ thing is that it’s not always the people who are closest to me that affect me the most. I find that it’s things that are said and done in those final moments that stick with me, no matter who they come from.

One of the things that affected me the most was another colleague who lost her mother. They knew that the end was near and as the time passed the mother became scared to close her eyes to sleep because she was worried that it would be the last time that she saw her family.

This broke my heart and terrified me all at the same time.

I think I put myself in people’s shoes too easily and it made my skin crawl to think that I could close my eyes and never see my family again. It’s funny how death can make you say the most thought provoking things. Death comes to us all and yet none of us are ever ready.

Stay safe and love each other as much as you can,

Rachel xx

keep going even though it hurts

I kept my hat on as I slid into the musty library,

All dust and mahogany, not decorated in years.

I knew the place to go because he’d left me clues

So intricate in their design, a treasure hunt, of sorts.

All across the city, and this, the final clue.

He’d left the notes zipped in boxes once belonging

To biscuits that we had bought for anniversaries.

When he died, I thought that life would never regain colour,

Always drenched in black and white.

And then his handsome smile emerged again.

I followed words he’d written me, before that illness stole

His perfect soul away from me.

The library on the Old Kent Road was where we met

And so it’s fitting that he led me there,

Through the dusty shelves, running fingers over spines,

Remembering my hand in his the day before he died.

Wiping tears away, I pulled the book and flipped to ninety two,

The year we married, a special day that never fades.

The letter floated to the ground, landing at my feet

And when I picked it up and read, the tears fell faster

Than they ever had. Why?

Why would God have taken him from me?

I crumpled to the ground and took the poison from my bag.

Between my painful sobs, I sipped.

With my back back pressed firm against the shelves

I took the poison, slipping from this world in time.

I saw him reaching out to me, his hand was urging,

“Come, come with me.”

I gladly went with him and now I know

That life alone was worse than death,

The crushing grief too much to bear.

I’m sure that others know these ghostly fingers

That claw at hearts and minds.

And I respect the savage strength

That you display, day after day.

Keep going, even though it hurts.

my fear of death

When I’m crossing the finish line of a running race,

That feeling is quite marvellous,

It’s one of utter relief.

It’s over, I can rest,

I can go back to pizza and the sofa

And an endless episodes of Friends and ER.


And when I finish the book that I’ve been reading

I have a feeling of enlightenment

That I wear proudly like a prom dress,

I can show it off in public,

The colourful things that I now know,

And the authors that I’ve read.

The closing of the book is the beginning of my fun.


But what can I say of what is certainly coming,

That fearful black entity that will swallow us all.

Yes, death is inevitable,

We can’t run away and we can’t close the book.

But is it an end like the end of a race or a classical work?

Or is it the beginning of something mistook?

The line is in sight and we’re heading that way,

But why all this talk about how to keep it at bay?

I’m thinking that maybe we should run at full speed,

Collecting our medal and the praise of our friends.

And we deserve it so much,

For surviving this world we live in today.

No, I don’t think that death is the end,

I do not think it is evil and dark.

But rather a blanket that’s placed round the shoulders

Of the tired distance runner who has battled it out.

It’s a hug from the coach and a medal in hand.

I agree that this world sees the pages slammed shut,

But only to wake in the bookshop of dreams

Where there is so much to read

That the fear and the pain are no longer things

On which your imagination can feed.

So, death terrifies me. I am a control freak and not knowing how or when or what even happens is something that makes me sweat. I mean, we all think that we are going to die as old people and our hearts just give up while we are sleeping. But the truth is that it’s probably not going to be a pleasant as that.

And then there’s the big question that is ‘where do we go?’ I’m a Christian, but even the Bible doesn’t tell me exactly what is going to happen. Do I go to a waiting room where they decide if I’ve made the grade to get into Heaven? Or do we go into some kind of hyper sleep until the second coming? There are so many questions still left open that I need the answer to. And I worry that if I think about it too much then my head will go pop.

That’s why I like to think that it’s not the end. Whenever I finish a race, I know that there are nice things to look forward to at the end. And I know that there are other races that I can enter to have another go at bettering my time. It is a similar experience when reading a book. There are times when I fall so in love with the characters that I can’t bear for it to end. But when the book is finished I can sit and think about it in my own head or discuss it with friends. I can read other work by the same author or see if the book has been made into a movie. Life won’t end as soon as that book is finished because the characters live on, and more importantly, I live on.

So, if death also terrifies you, try to think of it as a little break in the proceedings. It’ll be a time for you to have a look back at your ‘best bits’ and then prepare for whatever lies ahead in the great unknown. And if you have recently lost someone, it might be comforting to think that they have just finished this race, but they’re still out there running another one and waiting for you when it’s your turn to join them.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

A Poem For Those Who Are Grieving

I sometimes feel that poetry needs to be performed rather than just put down on paper to be read. And for that reason I’ve put this one up on Youtube. I know of a few people who have lost family recently and it’s crushing to now that they are going to go through Christmas feeling sad and lonely. I wanted to write this poem to give their pain a voice. Nothing will make it easier but it’s sometimes nice to know that we all go through these painful experiences and we are all there to lean on one another in times of need.

If you are struggling with the grief of losing a loved one this Christmas please do speak to a friend or a doctor or call the Samaritans. There are so many people out there who can help you through the worst of it. You don’t need to suffer in silence.