The Wreckage of Grief

It was 7.30am on Saturday, April 29, 2000. My mobile phone rang. For some reason I had left it on overnight, which I never normally do. I picked up the phone and it was my Dad. I said hello, and he simply replied:

Your Mother’s passed away.”

I was in shock. My Mum had suffered with asthma for many years so it wasn’t a total surprise. But when someone you love encounters death that often and survives, you begin to think they’re invincible. I had begun to joke my Mum, aged 52 at the time, would live till she was 90.

But she was dead. Gone.

I immediately went to the hospital to see the body and identify it. People often talk about knowing a body is dead, that a person is no longer present – but until this moment I had not experienced it myself.

I only needed one look to know. She was gone. There was a body which looked like her, had her markings and face.

But it wasn’t her. She was gone.

Looking back at her diary for the weeks beforehand, I found there had been constant reminders to tell me to make her funeral a happy one. Almost as if she knew her time was coming. My Dad says to this day that she knew.

For 10 days I didn’t cry.

I decided I was going to be the strong one who was there for everyone else. In hindsight, I tried to avoid my pain.

But when we were preparing the funeral music, it hit me. Music is always an emotive outlet for me – and it triggered something in me I couldn’t contain. I broke down and cried like I had never cried before. I apologised to my sister and Dad, and they told me to forget about it.

It was okay. I could cry. It was allowed.

Losing my Mum was a turning point in my life, as you would expect. It took many years of healing and counseling for me to fully move on with my life.

But the greatest irony of this is that it was liberating. Yes, liberating.

Growing up I had been very much a Mum’s boy. Mum and me were on this intellectual and creative plane that my Dad and sister weren’t on. We were often like two peas in a pod, and we had a unique relationship. Problem was that I ended up becoming way too emotionally dependent on my Mum.

I was afraid to break free and live my own life, on my terms.

But when Mum died, and as I dealt with the pain and grief of losing her, I began to find my own identity. I found my own life, on my terms.

I began to take more responsibility for my life, in a way I had not done before. I made decisions, I took risks; I made more friends and started to have experiences.

I discovered my own life. My own identity.

The worst suffering I had ever been through in my life had, perversely, been liberating. It had set me free to become the man I was always made to be. To become my own person, not identified or mollycoddled by my Mum – as good as her intentions were – but actually taking responsibility for my life.

I treasure all the memories I have of my Mum. That is what I carry around with me now – all the positives about who she was, how she lived and the impact she had on my life.

But I wouldn’t change what happened. It was her time. She was ready. In her own way, she knew she needed to go for me to be free.

Her death, in many ways, gave me life.

I will always be thankful for that.

Because sometimes from the worst wreckage of our lives, we can find the greatest freedom.

About the author: James Prescott is a writer passionate about exploring digital media and our divine journey. He blogs regularly at and is a regular guest blogger at and other sites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and for bonus material subscribe to his blog/newsletter here.


About the Author


This is a post by a guest author. To submit your own story of how you got wrecked, click here.


  1. Wow, that was good James. Very insightful. I found your thoughts helpful both in relationship to how my identity was tied up with my mom and to continue to find freedom to be myself. Also to reinforce my decisions to let go of my children and let them be who they are and not what I want them to be.
    I love the way you honored her while at the same time recognizing the parts of the relationship which were unhealthy. I’m sure in her transformed state, she would be pleased with your choices. By the way, very good writing!

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  1. […] He’s recently published his first book, ‘Wrecked – When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life’ – about how our pain and brokeness can be the catalyst for huge change both in our lives and in the world at large. I wrote an post on my experiences of being Wrecked which was published on the site and you can read here. […]

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