It took me some time to decide to publish my last book, Dead Men. In fact I wrote it more than ten years ago, and in essence it was a cathartic exercise during a very difficult time for me. What came from the process was the realisation that men and women suffer from tremendous grief during and after separation, and our society offers very little recognition or help in working though this complex physiological state.
After a death, grief is a natural and well understood state that takes time to manage and heal with compassion and caring. But this same reaction, mixed with the guilt, bitterness, anxiety and anger of separation creates a volatile state of mind and makes for unpredictability in people’s reactions. Very little is done to help people in this state, and often is totally ignored by physicians and counsellors. And certainly by lawyers!
After writing the book, I realised that I had been grieving. But did not know I was because I was a man. Strong, determined, pig headed, rational and not affected by emotion in decision taking. Wrong, wrong wrong. I was an emotional wreck and hiding behind a facade of male strength and stubbornness.
I was asked which character was me in the book. The answer is there is a little of me in all of them. Women included. Except one character that became a problem in writing as she intentionally has no name and is never described, but is central to the story.
The story is brutal, angry and disgustingly irrational in parts. It had to be though as reactions to grief are irrational and extremely unpredictable. Not knowing or trying to hide grief makes for a state of mind that is extremely fragile.