The blog of photographer Kim Ayres


When someone we love dies, we are broken beyond healing.

It is not a wound that will eventually knit back together; instead we are smashed and shattered beyond repair.

The only way to move forward is to take the pieces and build something new with them. It might superficially resemble the original, but if you look closer you will see parts are missing, and other things have been created to fill the space.

We do not recover and come to terms with their loss; we build ourselves into someone who might be able to survive their absence.

Nobody ever tells you this.


HeatherLynn said...

you're right, nobody ever really says it like that, they tell you "time heals all wounds"...but the loss of life, yeah, time may ease the unbearability of the pain, but it does not erase the loss, or the longing associated with wishing for them back.


AA said...

Though it saddens me to read this I can't help but think, this is exactly how it should be. It is somehow appropriate. No?

A Daft Scots Lass said...

I haven't lost anyone very very dear to me yet and I dread the day I have to stare grief in the face.

ADRIAN said...

Time doesn't heal. you just have to shut them out in your waking hours. You have all the time in the world whilst asleep to dream of their contribution to your life.

Katie Roberts said...

This is such a personal thing.
I know how it feels to be broken and rebuild, but I have found after a very, very long time, you can begin to feel 'whole' again.
Its been twelve years since my great loss and I feel light beginning to fill the void...
I wish you the best energy for your healing or rebuilding.

Pat said...

I haven't had this feeling before yet. My dad passed away when I was 7-still too young to understand much, especially since he was away for about 5 years in US before that.

Well, I wish you all the best in your healing and rebuilding..=)

Suz said...

You are so right. My Mother died 7 years ago this October and that piece will never be filled with anyone or anything else. I have discovered a "new normal" and have come to terms with it.

Thank you for your heartfelt post.

mapstew said...

Thank YOU for telling me.

It's still early days for me since my Sis's passing. I am still not ready to visit her house, or the cemetery. I even find it hard to see my nieces and nephews, almost to the extent that I'm avoiding them. (I know, DENIAL!)

And you're right, when something gets broken or smashed, we never truly find all the pieces.

Let's hope we all find the glue.

Thank you.

Brindy said...

So true. There comes a point where the fondness of the memories starts to come through the sadness, that all you now have are those memories.

Everyone has a different journey, some take longer than others - but the pain does start to ease and the days get a little brighter.

That life goes on always seems wrong, but it does. I lost my dad last summer at the age of 82, after a short illness.I used to phone him 2 or 3 times a week for a chat about what we had been upto and I now write my blog in place of my phone call chats to him. It works for me.

The Brokendown Barman said...

i dont think it even has to be just when some one dies. many of lifes troubles can damage beyond repair.
just look at me, im like a ming vase been dropped from the empire state building and sellotaped back together

Daphne said...

I agree, thank you for sharing this with all of your readers. It takes courage to stand up and tell the truth, especially when many people listening want to believe that time does heal all wounds. May peace find you and help you in your recreated new way of being, missing pieces and all.

Tlacotzontli said...

You described perfectly, few words just the apropiated to explain our feelings that we felt when we lose a loved one.

Thank you.

Falak said...

Life after losing someone is like a prosthetic arm or leg..... It is good enough and serves the purpose.....But there is always the feeling of something being amiss.

Mimi and Tilly said...

Thank you for this post. When a person I loved very much died eight years ago I changed. You are the first person I have come across who has expressed exactly how it felt so eloquently. Sending support for you on your healing journey.

Joan Crawford said...
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Joan Crawford said...

I hate always knowing that it will never be as good as it would be if she was here :(

Something wonderful happens and then a tiny twinge of remorse hits "I wish she was here to see this."

You divide your life into two parts for a long time : Before they died. After they died.

Jennifer said...

I am so sorry for the pain of this loss for you and those you love.

Sandra said...

I am sorry that you lost someone in your life. Unfortunately sorry doesn't really help anything. I have never lost someone who I was very close to. I've lost grandparents, an aunt, an uncle, but I never felt truly connected to any of these people. I have fond childhood memories but I suppose that's not enough to really generate that much of a broken feeling.

I hope that you have a lot of supportive people around you to help you through this time.

Charlie said...

I think a tiny part of our soul goes with them.

Carrie said...

That was beautifully stated! I'm so deeply sorry for your loss. :( But you're right, you have to rebuild. Though it will never be the same, what you create with your life has the potential to be even better. :)

Best wishes,

Entrepreneur Chick said...

Last year, my nephew died of a drug overdose. I'd like to dedicate this poem to both Bryan and you in hope of comfort healing.

The First Snowfall

by James Russell Lowell

The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?"
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud-like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
"The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall!"

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow

stinkypaw said...

True, and yet we manage to rebuild and continue on...

Jayne Martin said...

No one tells you that it feels like someone reached inside your chest and ripped your heart out. It always surprises me how physical such pain is.

Just Curious... said...

You are right. You are never quite the same. But then I wouldn't want to be. Losing someone really close to me ripped my world apart and you can never go back to how you were before.

The world is not the same without them so how could we be?

Library girl said...

So eloquently put. I think the time part is to get the plans right and only then can you rebuild. These things can't be rushed. Others forget about that and wonder why it takes you so long to 'come back', not realising the 'old' you never will.

Jan said...

" we build ourselves into someone who might be able to survive their absence".

That is exactly it Kim.
I love this sentence.

Joan said...

It is selfish of me but I am so relieved to hear other people express how the loss of a loved one has affected them and the hurt it leaves behind. I am in the process of watching my husband die of terminal cancer and it is ripping me apart. We all know that death is eventually a foregone conclusion for all of us but there is nothing in this world to prepare us for the grief.

savannah said...

i had to walk away after my first reading. ever since i read about your loss, i've been thinking of my mother and how even after all these years, it can feel as if it were just yesterday. you have my heart, dear friend. oxoxo

Jennifer Brindley said...

This is very true. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss.

~Jenn (Ex Hot Girl)

Surfer Earning Free said...

Wow. Great blog. Love this article.. A very good and true way of looking at it. Just joined and supporting your blog.. Keep writing. :)

Miss Ellaneous said...

Through my life, though I am young, I have learned that physical pain is better than emotional pain. Once physical pain is over you can never recall it back and re-feel it, once it's over, it's over. You remember and say, "Yeah that hurt." but you don't experience it over again. Emotional pain, like the loss of one loved, is much worse. You relive it, when ever you think of that person the pain is there, and it is fresh all over again. It does tear you to pieces, and since they were part of you, they were torn to pieces as well. You can take the pieces and build someone new with them but you also pick up the pieces of your loved one. You take the best of them and the best of you, and rebuild yourself. I don't know that you build yourself into someone who is able to merely "survive" their absence, but someone who has grown in widsom and love because of them. Perhaps, you build yourself into someone better?

~Miss E.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I know exactly how you feel. One of my closest friends - my adopted older brother, really - died of a rare cancer just after my thirtieth birthday.

I thought up this poem, in the shower, the day after he died. I thought you's enjoy it.


By Charles Bivona

Grasping at smoke in a dream
The breeze of the once existing

Aware of something
By the nothing it left

hope said...

I'm sorry. I often feel like my copy of "Manual for Adulthood" got lost along the way. You look forward to so much, but no one tells you there are things to deal with as well.

Here's hoping you're allowed the time you need to heal.

debra said...

You know, Kim, I think there is truth to your words. My brother-in-law died suddenly about 5 weeks ago, his ex-wife, last week, So my niece and nephew have lost both parents in 33 days. Sigh. I am also an adult orphan.
Somehow, it all works out.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your loss and although you may never feel whole again I pray you can move on.

Skittles said...

So true. Time can't heal pain. The only thing that helps is when one accepts that the person is dead and moves on. But the pain never goes away. We just push it to the side, to go on with our lives. But, when the subject turns to the one who is gone, then the wounds are re-opened.

Maggie May said...

This reminds me of CS Lewis book ' A Grief Observed '. He talks about the things no one tells you, too.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said, thank you.

It takes time to get to the place of wanting to make something new. It will come I'm sure.

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

Thank you for your beautiful words.

I have found that the "five stages of grief" do not present in a linear way, but go from stage to stage and back two and ahead one and back again and back and forth in no particular order, in no particular time frame. This was a surprise.

Cindy said...

I certainly don't think you ever "get over it". You just find ways to move on and in a sense throw some walls up around oneself or "numb" oneself to it for a while until little by little the mind can deal with it and sort it all out. That's why I believe that there are those days we seem to be weepy about the whole thing all over again. We find the rug got pulled out from us again. Then, we pull ourselves together and go at life again.

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

I agree. When you love someone you give them part of yourself and when they die you are left without that part of yourself because it dies with them. What is left is still you but a different composition. The you that existed while they lived can not be recovered and trying to recover that you only leads to pain. But the you that is left will have joy and happiness in different ways in the future.

Helen said...

Hey Bearded One - nobody ever tells you the really important stuff! Probably just as well, as none of us ever experience things in the same way. I think we are meant to work through things in our own way, make every experience (good, bad and ugly) our very own. These experiences and how we deal with them, is what makes us, - individuals, growing and changing through an uncertain life. I am truly sorry for your loss and your pain. For every thing there is a season.........

Apex Zombie said...

I can't think about this, man. I can't comment about it. Just, peace mate.

michael greenwell said...

As harsh as it sounds "we build ourselves into someone who might survive their absence" because we have no choice but to do just that.

Pat said...

So far - in my grief - I have been strengthened and comforted by my loved ones. However I am well aware that the day may come when nothing and no-one can help and it really frightens me.

The Confessionist said...
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The Confessionist said...

Very true... but no-one in this world is ever lost because they are always in our hearts.

Angie's Lil' Nothings said...

Two years ago I lost several loved ones. My pappy in May, gran in Nov. then my mother-in-law a week after gran died. I still occasionally will try to call one of them or think, I can't wait to show them/tell them, etc. I miss them everyday.

Unknown said...

My love to you all.

Kim Ayres said...


I hope you'll understand if I don't reply to each individual comment on this rather painful topic.


Coralee said...

Kim. ..this so moved me. My blog today mentions your post. I wrote of grief reconciled.


Shelley Murphy said...

I too have experienced loss in my life and have arrived at the following place. I dont think it is possible to 'lose' anyone. The word loss seems to erase their existance, and that is just no so. It is impossible to lose someone who has effected your life so profoundly, and will continue to do so even when they are not physically here. After a time I made a conscious decision not to mourn what has gone but celebrate how my life has been enriched. A brief time is better than no time at all , and the telling question for me , is 'if I had my time over again, and I knew how the story would end, would I choose not to get to know this person? The answer is always a resounding NO. I know that you will find your own way to come to terms with this tragedy, so I will not insult you by telling you how to go about it. Once someone has entered your heart , it is impossible to lose them. Take care of you

Anonymous said...

I need say no more than, "Amen."

Anonymous said...

So so sorry for your loss...

woyzeck said...

noone ever did tell me this, but it's exactly what happened.

Anonymous said...

Time may make things easier but you're right, thnigs never quite go back to the way they were.

Helen Mac said...

So sorry to hear of your loss Kim. It's clearly something that affects you deeply. You won't be the same as before but the new you can be ok too. Maybe not today, probably not tomorrow but some day, and for the rest of your life.
Try this blog post:

Sir Jackson Peaks said...

You are spot on with what you have said. Time does not heal a loss, it simply allows you to adapt to their absence. I will never recover from losing my grandfather. However, time has allowed me to learn to live without his presence. I still get caught in the void of sorrow whenever I call his house or perform tasks we once performed as a team.

Mimi and Tilly said...

I remember commenting on this when you first wrote it. I remember too deleting a second comment I made. Yes, you have written it so well. I feel broken heartened. And it is a kind of broken that I don't feel will ever be fixed. I will build a new way of being in the world but the loss of my mum so suddenly will not ever be a part of me that heals. I will adapt and the waves of pain will become further apart but the grief is intense. Thank you for your comment. It makes a massive difference to know you really understand. Grief is lonely. X

Kim Ayres said...

Mimi & Tilly - in a few weeks it will be 12 years since I lost my mother to cancer. There are still times when I am hit with overwhelming grief. The difference now is I recognise it, accept it and it passes. I no longer fear it or rage at it.

You will rebuild yourself, a bit at a time, over time.

You will always carry your mother's love for you.


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