The Sabbatical That Never Was

So, back in early July I made the bold announcement that I would be going away for a few months.  Dealing with burn-out and the lack of progress in my writing, I would give myself time and space to do some “real writing,” or so I hoped.

Banner: The Sabbatical That Never Was. Image of a woman sat at a window looking out.

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The unthinkable

I didn’t get the sabbatical I planned for.  The reason for that was I took the first two weeks just to decompress and remove the “burn it all to the ground” feeling I’d been cultivating.

Unfortunately, just after that two weeks of calm, I was hit with the unthinkable.

My sister died suddenly.

As well as the shock of our sudden loss, we were in the middle of a lockdown.  I was stuck in N.I isolated from my family and unable to help them when they needed it most.

I finally got back over about 2 weeks later.  While my parents dealt with the funeral arrangements, I took charge of my sister’s estate.  I spent two and a half weeks on the phone to every bank, business and service she was connected with.

Things had to be closed, cancelled, returned, organised.  Everything from basic finances to completing her business taxes fell to me.

We are now in the middle of November and I have not yet finished dealing with the estate. My sister had not kept the best records when it came any official documents, so it is a long drawn-out process.

My sister died without a Will which also made things more complicated and the messy bureacracy of institutions is felt no more intensely than when you are dealing with a death.

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Trying to Cope

While organising with all the paperwork, I also assisted my mother in going through my sister’s personal belongings.  She rented an apartment and so we needed to move things out.

It is never easy having to go through someone’s personal things, rumaging through their whole life.

My parents were not taking the death well (understandably) so I had to make sure I was there for them and stayed strong.  As I was away from my partner, I felt I had no one I could easily talk to at that time.

When I finally returned home, I made the hard decision to sign up for counselling as a way to help me process my grief.

It’s not easy talking to a stranger over zoom about how you feel, especially for someone like me who’s anxiety was already in overdrive.  But in the end, it has helped.

Divider imageRevelations

One thing I didn’t expect, was just how fast you realise who your real friends are. I reached out to a small handful of people when it happened, some where incredible, offering support and solace and saying I could ring them any time.

Others, I heard nothing from.  After the initial call, and some quick words of sympathy they just vanished.  No calls or texts just to check in with me.  It hurt deeply but it gave me a sense of clarity about who I want in my life.

What was surprising, was the few who found out from either the papers or from someone else and reached out to me – checking in frequently, especially on the day of the funeral.

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More upheaval

With all the emotional upheaval I was already going through, my partner and I decided we would go ahead with some big jobs in our house.

They were becoming urgent and also, I was already feeling stressed and I prefer to get all the stress out at once.  It was also a great distraction from my grief at times.

We are currently in the middle of having our house fully re-wired, I have very little internet access and am at my in-laws, working on my laptop in their kitchen.  But in a few weeks, all these big jobs will be over!

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Writer less

Unsurprisingly, I have got almost nothing done with my novels.  I did manage to complete my short story for From Myths to Monsters, the second volume of the Supernatural Beings Anthology.

I am back from my sabbatical, using the normalacy as a way to help me cope and keep my spirits up when they crash down hard.

It’s been a tough few months, but I do have some good days and I am thankful for that.

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Happy writing

Signature & logo of Ari Meghlen

10 thoughts on “The Sabbatical That Never Was

  1. I’m sorry for the loss of your sister Ari. The year has been tough enough with COVID and this new norm without such a big loss for you and your parents. Even tougher when it is a sudden death. I admire your tenacity because in such a difficult year, having contractors in/remodeling would be the cherry on the top of the sundae of stressful situations to go through in a pandemic. Your holiday season will be tough on you and your parents … I hope you all cope well. Stay safe and my best to you, your partner and parents to get through this year and beyond.

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my Nan a couple of months ago, followed about a month later by my great aunt. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, especially with my Nan who was in her early 90s and whose health hadn’t been all that great for several years, not to mention the couple of weeks she was in the hospital leading up to it, but it’s never easy losing someone. It must have been even harder for your family with the unexpectedness of the loss of your sister. Like you said, it’s times like that you learn who your real friends are.

    I’m glad the work on the house is coming along nicely… It’s good to have some positive news at least.

  3. Condolences to you and your family, Ari. A loss is always hard, but during a pandemic, it is especially hard. I’m glad to hear you’ve had support from friends and professionals ❤️.

  4. Oh Ari, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Those goodbyes are so very hard, especially when they’re unexpected- and in the middle of lockdown and everything else- I can’t imagine what a year it’s been for you. It’s ok not to be ok, and I’m glad to hear you’ve found support and some return to normalcy. I’m praying for peace for you and yours.

  5. Well, it seems like your experience was even worse, and I’m sorry to hear it. I admit I’m not sure what to say, as the last time I lost anyone close was when I was too young to truly understand.

    I hope brighter days are coming for you.

  6. I am deeply sorry to hear of your loss, but I imagine that writing this did help you through some of your feelings and hopefully left you feeling a little more grounded!

    Sending love and positivity. 🙂

  7. So sorry for your loss, even though my sister is on the other side of the world and couldn’t come over when my husband died, I can’t imagine not having her to talk to. With my husband’s death being expected we were well organised and of course I am still in our home. But I know how many things there are to deal with. Marie Curie charity helped with his care and continue to ring me up and chat; it helps to talk about some of the medical things friends and family might not understand.

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