Monday 10 July 2017


Four years ago today my partner became ill with Meningitis. We were lucky and fairly swift to act and he survived pretty much intact, but he will never fully recover. His memory is a bit broken, he has pain and tiredness. Life is harder for him now, but he's alive. He's a survivor.

Almost 3 years ago our family's oldest girl was a victim of suicide. For those left behind suicide brings devastating gifts that can crush the strongest of souls. The last 3 years have been the hardest of our lives in so many ways, the pressure immense, but we are all still here. We are survivors.

The Manchester bomb was very close to home. A girl from nearby was killed. She went to the same school as some of our lot, and the thought that the teachers have already had to deal with bereaved children because of us made me sob. The thought of her Mum, walking past me in the local shop made me sob.

I thought not of those lost, but those left behind. Families in that fog where the whole world makes no sense, and time comes and goes like light and sound. I thought of how they'll cope, how much each person would be missed. Friends from school and work, living in a world where terrorism is very real. I thought of everyone who saw things no-one should see, those with life-changing injuries, those who will never manage to go to any concert again. Survivors.

They told us today that 255 people survived the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. Fleeing in terror for their lives while those around them burned, each left with nothing and nowhere to go.  Every single individual's story as heartbreaking as the last. Survivors.

When the tragedy is over we count the lost and rightly count our blessings for those who survived, but we rarely think what that really means.
"Survivor: a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died."
Without any warning or any choice, a moment occurred when a survivor's life was changed forever. When everything they had expected to happen next got deleted.

Surviving is having to remember why you are here and trying not to think about why you nearly weren't. It's about picking up the pieces of your life you can collect and making it into some sort of working order, counting days not weeks. Hugging your kids and wishing it was different.

Surviving is about winning a holiday in September and taking until July to book it because you are terrified to look ahead and you can't imagine a life where something happens as planned.

Gary the cat - also very much a survivor.
Surviving for me right now is about having my partner beside me and our children in their beds asleep and content. It's the stranger I made giggle earlier and the laugh I got from the lady in the shop. It's about allowing myself to be excited for my holiday, to look forward to this Summer and not just be scared of it. It's about finding ways to work around the hole in our family. It is all about collecting smiles wherever I can find them.

To be a survivor is to take whatever you have left and squeeze every last drop out of it, because you learned the hard way what is truly important and you know exactly what value it has.

Meningitis affects more adults than children and first year university students are most at risk, so make sure they have their MenACWY vaccination before they go.
To read more about our experience of Meningitis, including How To Spot Meningitis In An Adult, see the Meningitis tab (at the top of the page on desk view)

You can find my first post about losing my partner's daughter Elspeth with the following link. It's not one for when you are at work, and carries a trigger warning -  Dear Elspeth.


  1. Another great post Jenny. Life can at times feel relentless, and lately it's felt especially relentless. I think when you've experienced the things you have it makes you more attuned to the feelings of others. So you are more mindful of their feelings and empathise with them. You are all survivors, you are all brilliant beacons and I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful holiday (bring me back a stick of rock) xxx

  2. I'm glad you included a photo of Gary the cat. Yet another survivor. He's not able to tell you how he was abandoned but maybe he needed you and you needed him too. You cared for him and wouldn't see him hungry or left in the cold. You knew he needed someone looking out for him. You knew he was not well and provided for him. Many others wouldn't have. You've all had a tough time and have just kept surviving. You deserve your holiday and to make new memories to add to all of those that you have from before the sad times xx

  3. You have come so far chick, you really have. Your smiles this morning... you got out there and just did it and it was lovely to have you over at mine. You are all survivors but bloody troopers too. You enjoy that holiday, you need it and it will be fab... budgie smugglers *sniggers* xxx Sim


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