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Q&A with Richard Littledale – author of Postcards from the Land of Grief

Q&A with Richard Littledale – author of Postcards from the Land of Grief

Why did you decide to write Postcards from the Land of Grief? 

I wrote Postcards initially as an articulation of my own experience during the first 12 months of grief. It was the reaction to the postcards as published on my blog which led me to seek publication.

Do you view your writing as a therapeutic practice? Have you found any benefits of writing about your experience of grief?

Writing has always been therapeutic for me – but especially in this instance. Finding words to articulate my experiences has helped me to process them. Writing the autobiographical chapter concerning Fiona’s illness and subsequent death was the hardest thing I have ever written in my life. That said, I hope that it will be one of the most valuable.

Was there a book like Postcards from the Land of Grief available to you when your wife passed away? Do you think you would have found this book helpful? 

There was no such book available, unfortunately. Books on dying and bereavement tend to be written from an analytical or professional point of view. I would have been unable to read a book such as this before Fiona died, but would have found it helpful in subsequent months.

How do you feel that God and your faith has influenced your work on this title? 

Postcards is the story of the passage through the most difficult landscape of my life with God by my side. Without my faith, it would have been impossible either to endure or to describe it.

In Postcards from the Land of Grief, you talk about your experience of other people’s grief through your work as a pastor; following your own bereavement, do you think you will approach these encounters in a different manner? 

Undoubtedly so. I will listen more and speak less. I like to think that I will give people time to dwell on any small detail which seems important to them, no matter how insignificant it may seem to me. I hope that I shall be more tolerant of the inconsistency which sometimes shows itself when we are grieving. Grief is not a linear journey, and we can lurch from stability to desolation in a moment.

Why have you chosen to write these reflections as ‘postcards’?

The postcard is an observational form of writing. By their very nature, postcards record what the writer is feeling in this place at this time. They are not a travel guide, written and researched in advance, nor a journal polished on our return. They are raw, honest and fresh accounts of what the writer is experiencing.

What feedback have you received about this book? Have people mentioned anything in particular that they like about this title? 

Feedback has all been enormously positive. People appear to appreciate the honesty with which I have written. Furthermore – they find a book with an observational tone, rather than a didactic one, much more accessible. When some of the postcards were broadcast on national radio, the response was overwhelming – with over 100 emails and 3000 visits to my blog. A reading of a selection of them at the Houses of Parliament brought a similar response.

You talk about your faith as you recount your experience of grief; do you think that this title will also appeal to people from other faiths and none? 

I would like to hope that the honesty of the book gives it a wide appeal. Sadly, death is a universal experience – and it crosses every boundary of race and religion. Once again, the response to the broadcast of some of these postcards on national radio came from within and outside the Christian faith. 

How do you hope this book will be used?

I hope that the book will bring comfort to those who are grieving, or even to those who are grieving in advance as they anticipate the inevitable loss of someone they love. I hope, too, that it might be of help to those who feel uncertain how to reach someone they love in the ‘land of grief’. Placing this book in their hands could be a gesture of true love and friendship.

In one sentence, how would you describe the Postcards from the Land of Grief? 

Postcards is a raw and honest account of the experience of the land of grief. It articulates the landscape, describes the faith which bears me through it, and describes the hope which rises beyond it.

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Postcards from the Land of Grief (Paperback)
Richard Littledale
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