A Year On

 JpegSarah Lundberg

It has been a year today (July 25th 2014) since Sarah Lundberg ended her own life. Distressingly there has still not been an inquest, and so the full details of what happened on that day have not emerged. On a more positive note several memorial services are occurring today, some of whom I have been invited to. I decided not to attend, basically because I prefer to remember her in my own way, as I have by habit done with other friends and loved ones I have lost through the years. Friends have warned me repeatedly about the necessity of taking it easy, especially today. To be frank, I am not worried. These last weeks have been particularly difficult, and I know I have not been myself (apologies to loved ones and friends for being so difficult and thanks for your patience). I expected it, accept it and know that like all things, it will pass. Patience and taking a broad perspective on things is one of the few things learned from living past one half of a century, at least for me.

When someone close to you completes suicide, there is a sense of feeling haunted, a sense that the tremendous potential of that person’s life has not been achieved, and as such their presence lingers. I know I have felt it. It’s as though one will be forever left at that moment of loss, and to move past it seems impossible. You do move past it. You really do learn how to move on and you learn how to forgive the past. But you also get flashbacks, images, at the most unexpected moments, a sense of overwhelming sadness suffusing the happiest of times, and a level of anger and resentment at what happened that surprised me.

And then there are questions. The inevitable unanswerable questions as to why, what motivated such a terrible act of self-destruction is also something that haunts one. And despite all the talking and speculation and reading aside, it’s simply the wrong question. Suicide of someone close to you is a situation where no actual answers will ever take away either the shock and pain of what happened that day 365 days ago. The truth, and I knew Sarah better than anyone, is that she was one of the most malice free people I ever knew. You knew where you stood with her, than though she had many faults as we all do, she knew how to never hold a grudge. If she were here now she would want me to move on. And this is what I do every day, and though its immensely difficult, I can feel my old self returning.

I am not a religious person. I was once upon a time. But that was a long, long time ago now. If I were religious, I would probably agree with a friend who commented that he now knows Sarah is in a better place. She struggled against nearly impossible odds. She achieved so much and yet I often think had she lived there was so much more for her to do. I often imagine what she would have done had she lived, the new writers she would have published, the new books she would have written, the dozen or so Bob Dylan concerts she would have gone to, the animals she would have rescued, the countless kindnesses she would have given to so any people. She had a huge heart.Photo0058

The second picture I have chosen for this blog post is probably an odd one for such a sad occasion. I saw it as I was packing stuff away and immediately remembered the exact location, one of those moments of sensory immersion, almost Proustian in its intensity. For some reason I don’t really care about right now, I thought a picture of us doing something as pedestrian as shopping seemed right, as so much of our life together wasn’t taken up with big books and literary readings, but was taken up with doing little things. I remember this day back in the nineties. This photo was snapped by a friend as we came out of Tesco’s. I remember I was worried about our dogs being left alone at home and if I had left my office door open and if my pages and stuff were okay. I needn’t have worried. For once our pets were well-behaved. Everything was fine.

Contains adult themes and may be offensive



I went off Facebook for a several months – mainly because of the extraordinary invective I was receiving from certain quarters after the death of Sarah Lundberg. The majority, indeed most of the communications were heartfelt condolences, and will remain with me as a comfort for my life. But there were others who made being on Facebook dreadful. Even the experience of being online was somewhat fraught for me. One was afraid of some nasty remark being lobbed at one from some quarter or other. To be honest, Facebook is an entity I have very mixed feelings about. I find it hard to decide whether it is the best or worst of things. However I have friends there, and I miss them when I am not on Facebook. However my point is the experience of  cyberbullying  was shocking. The term seems to be mainly used for teens, but it really extends to everyone. Anyone can be bullied online. For myself, when it happened, sometimes I could not believe what I was reading. Most of it is unrepeatable here. Moreover, at the time, it was something I could not really deal with. I was simply too raw, too confused and too sad about the death of someone I had spent much of my adult life with. Added to that there was the sadness associated with the fact we had been separated for about eight months when she took her own life. I have no agenda here to add to the catalogue of already well recorded statistics around the painful effects of what is called cyberbullying but I do note that the Law Reform Commission, according to the Irish Times today, has published an issues paper asking for a wide ranging  series of contributions from as wide a demographic as possible on cyberbullying –  “…the posting of private, false, humiliating, shameful or otherwise harmful content, notably through social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, without the consent of the subject…”

It (the commission) goes on to say that the effects of cyberbullying is particularly insidious. this is because word spreads online at the speed of light. So, whatever a particular keyboard hero is out there posting unpleasantries, venting their own ill considered insecurities and distorted view of reality online, it can be worldwide in minutes. In the hands of the wrong person, this can be a bad thing indeed. The times article quotes once more from the LRC position paper that the idea behind the submission is to widen the scope of Section 10 of the 1997 non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act to include cyber bullying. I encourage everyone who reads through this blog post to contribute their views on this one. There’s a billion people on Facebook alone. And everyone pretty much has email.

Oh, and if it happens to you:

*Block The Person  *Keep the Message/s *Report the bully /ies

The paper is available at lawreform.ie

And here is the link to the Irish Times Article