Monday 28 September 2015

A Letter To My Younger Self by Dinah Jefferies

Something a little different today. I got talking to a wonderful author on Twitter and I liked her so much, I invited her onto the blog. Normally my blog is filled with YA, but Dinah Jefferies, is writes adult books and she's a damn fine writer. Her latest novel, The Tea Planter's Wife has recently been chosen for the Richard and Judy Autumn Book Club. The book is presently at No 2 in The Sunday Times Bestseller List.
Dinah has chosen to write an extremely moving letter to her younger self. I feel honoured that Dinah is sharing this with us.
It’s September 21st 1985. The worst day of your life. You’re thirty-seven and an hour ago your beautiful fourteen-year-old son climbed on to a friend’s motorbike. It went out of control, and he is dead. Tomorrow you’ll see his body in the mortuary and you will know pain so deep there are no words. You will feel that your world has ended, and in a way it has, because you can NEVER be the same again. I don’t want to depress you, but you will live under a shadow for many years. Not everyone will see it. Pay no attention to other people’s judgements on your grieving process. It’s yours not theirs. It’s in your genes to adopt the face of courage and you will cope for the sake of your daughter. But you won’t feel alive: you will mourn your son and your heart will be broken. Truly. Broken.
Believe me when I say you will work your way through the intolerable grief. Forget day by day, it’s minute by minute that you must learn to survive. You will hold on to the furniture because at times you will feel so unstable that you fear you’ll be blown away. You will be tempted to take part in an Elizabeth Kubler Ross Life, Death & Transition workshop. Do it. You will try to find meaning in what has happened and will come to know there is none. You will flirt with religion, with spirituality, and you will grasp at straws. None of that can speed the process, for the loss of a child is cellular. You will want to rush it, but honestly it can’t be rushed. My best advice is to allow the feelings to come, cry, do whatever you need, and the darkness will pass. Every time say to yourself: this too shall pass. Because it does. I know it won’t feel like it, but if you resist the emotions and try to bottle up the pain you only prolong it. The only way is through.
Gradually you will begin to work again. There will be moments when you feel the weight of the loss has lessened. And I promise that slowly you’ll feel more human. Above all keep your heart open. Try never to feel bitter, for bitterness kills. There is a beautiful world out there with beautiful people in it and, though at times you will wish you were dead too, stay alive. Please stay alive. There are people who love you and your daughter needs you. It will be worth it.
Now here comes the good bit. If you can just keep going, keep living, keep caring, you will find your heart does ease. You will marry again and you will have the two most precious people you can ever imagine in your life. Your grandchildren. Your love for your son will never die because he is in your heart, your bones and your soul.
You want to know the icing on the cake? You will bring your deeply felt experience of losing your child to your new life as a writer. Penguin will publish your books and at age 67 you will have a bestseller on your hands. When you think of your son you will picture him smiling his beautiful, blond, laser beam smile and though it will be bitter-sweet, you will feel joy. In your mind’s eye he will proudly hug you and call you his “beautiful little mother” as he used to do, and though you’ll need to swallow the lump in your throat, the tears will not be painful ones. Your life will be marked by heartache but the love will be stronger. At the darkest of times remember that.

Thank you Dinah, for sharing this with my readers.
Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past - a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds - that her husband refuses to discuss. Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can't stay buried forever.

To find out more about Dinah Jefferies: 


  1. Dinah and Viv, thank you so much for sharing this. I wish my gran had the chance to read this - you will reach out to people who have suffered unimaginable loss, what a gift x

  2. So moving and yet uplifting too. Thanks for writing this and sharing it.

  3. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking post. Thank you both so much for sharing it.

  4. I'm typing this with tears in my eyes having very recently lost my darling son - so very moving ! And the book sounds like a great read too.


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