Many emotive and inspiring books have been written about bereavement. This book, The Return Journey by Steve Bull describes in a generous way his attachment to his late wife Kathryn in the past, present and his future life without her. The switching between time in the story is seamless and somehow enhances his feelings enabling the reader to gain insight into how he lives on since her early death. She was 39.
Loosing a partner in the early life of a relationship in peacetime leaves the one who is left few people in their peer group with whom they can share their loss and feel a sense of understanding and insight. Words are inadequate when people try to help and there are sound bites offered as sympathy which can jar, making the bereaved feel even more alone.
The inner dictionary we all carry interprets certain words which only the individual understands, often derived from their early experiences of words used in difficult times in childhood.
Loss sometimes exacerbates feelings of abandonment and rejection. This, in turn can ignite anger about the person who has died leaving the bereaved with no control . Also, however, an ongoing connection to the lost partner enables the bereaved to feel the relationship continues although with an absent partner.
Steve Bull is an explorer and Kathryn was a talented horsewoman. Each in their own way, so well explored by Steve, needed solitary places in time where they were at one with the environment. Yet, they also needed to connect in some way in order to be solitary.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes says on the cover of the book: It is the journey we all take at some point in our lives. Ben Johncock who wrote The Last Pilot says: Steve has written a love story that explores not the far ends of the Earth but the dark places of our grief, and demonstrates, as the apostle Paul wrote, that ‘love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; that love never ends’.
Their support of each other’s individual self wherever that takes them is at the root of their ability to separate out from each other both in life and death- yet still remain attached.