Why I wrote 'Postcards from the Land of Grief': a book about bereavement

After Richard Littledale lost his beloved wife Fiona back in 2017, he decided to do two things: chronicle his experience of bereavement in the hope of comforting others, and do anything he could to support the charity that cared for Fiona at the end of her life. These goals converged in the publication of his book Postcards from the Land of Grief, published today; 100% of the royalties go directly towards Sue Ryder's expert and compassionate care.

Cover of Postcards from the Land of Grief by Richard Littledale

I wonder where the last postcard you received landed up? At a guess, it probably stood on a shelf or mantelpiece for a bit, and then graduated to the fridge… or the recycling.

A friend of mine collects and sells them for a living, and often the backs are as interesting as the fronts. They are like little overheard conversations from another place entirely.

How I came to live in the Land of Grief

Over these past 12 months, I have been writing postcards from another place – the land of grief.

My wife Fiona died in the autumn of 2017, whilst under the wonderful and compassionate care of our local Sue Ryder team. About a week after that, I was out walking in the early morning when it struck me that it felt as if I were in a foreign place where all around seemed strange and unfamiliar.

Being bereaved felt like “living in a strange place that was no longer home”

Of course, the world all still looked the same as it had the previous week, but it felt different. Familiar things became unfamiliar or disturbing, and even the simplest task seemed harder than it had before. In short, I felt as if I were living abroad even when living at home.

As I began to articulate that experience, I wrote a series of ‘Postcards from the land of grief’. They charted the experience of living in this strange place that was no longer home.

Reaching others in the same situation

Published initially on my personal blog, and later here on Sue Ryder’s, they developed quite a following amongst those who had gone through similar experiences.

They then found their way onto a BBC Radio 4 broadcast in the autumn of last year – and attracted a global audience. In the spring of this year, they featured in the annual Sue Ryder lecture at the Houses of Parliament – and now they have published in a book: Postcards from the Land of Grief, published by Authentic Media.

The book, out today, is available from bookshops, both online and physical.

This was Sue Ryder Chief Executive Heidi Travis’s description of the book:

Richard's writing is poignant, evocative and comforting all at once. I am confident this book will serve as a guiding light with which others can begin to navigate their own grief as they recognise their experiences and emotions within his honest narrative.

Why I’m donating the royalties to Sue Ryder

A couple of weeks after Fiona’s death, I explained to our Sue Ryder Nurse that I really wanted to do something to help the organisation.

If possible, I wanted to use my writing skills in order to help. It has been a great pleasure to do that through this blog. It is also a real honour for me that all the royalties from Postcards from the Land of Grief will go directly to Sue Ryder.

People need good companions in the land of grief, and it has been my experience that Sue Ryder can provide them.

Purchase your copy of Postcards from the Land of Grief

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Author

Richard Littledale

Husband of patient

Richard Littledale

Richard's wife Fiona was cared for by Sue Ryder Hospice at Home Nurses during the last few weeks of her life. Since then, he has been chronicling his journey through grief via his personal blog http://richardlittledale.me.uk.