I have run out of vases

Trigger warning: death.


My mum died last week. Her name was Suzanne (never Susan).

I realised as I studied her face after it happened that I have never seen a dead body before. Her top lip was taut over her teeth. She looked weirdly waxen. Her forehead was cool on my lips as I kissed her goodbye.

Right now I am learning a lot about the stuff that needs to be sorted when someone dies. There is a lot of it.

And I am learning a lot too about the enormity of losing a parent. I can’t quite make sense of the fact that it is both something that almost everyone goes through at my stage of life if not before (i.e. quite normal really), but is also uniquely, overwhelmingly painful (does not feel at all normal) all at the same time. I think they call this cognitive dissonance. Whatever it is, it’s raging right now. I’m three days in.

The doorbell keeps ringing and flowers keep appearing. The house is full of flowers. But is notably minus one mum. We are waiting for the van to collect ‘the equipment’: the commode and other accoutrements of frailty.

I’m holding on to the fact that I was lucky to have a mum. Even more lucky to have a mum who loved me and who was willing and able to be there for me – for us – for almost 50 years. Not everyone is so blessed. Many of my clients are not. I keep telling myself that the loss we are feeling is the corollary of the privilege of having her in our lives.

When I’m ready I will tell you about my mum. For now, I just wanted to say that I have run out of vases.

And to the man who just commented on my post from a couple of weeks ago which said that I was taking a step back to prioritise family, just so he could mansplain that it was this sort of attitude that explained why men get all the best work – Bri, you should take a long hard look at yourself and ask if your mother would have been proud.

I wasn’t sure if it was wise to post anything when things are still so – I think the traditional word here is ‘raw’, but I’m going to go with the non-trad ‘fucking awful’ – but Bri’s stupid comment has made me think it’s important that I do. I’m not ashamed for doing what I need to do to look after myself and my family. Nobody should be.

The Lord Chancellor might still think its big and clever to promote the bravado of the never-sleeping bar, but I don’t. I’m also not a member of the stupid Garrick club either, Bri.

Some free advice from me: hug your mums. And your dads. And your family generally. Hugs all round.

I’ll be back on here when I’m ready.

13 thoughts on “I have run out of vases

  1. Much sympathy and love. Still in grief for my wife who died 3 March.

    And embarrassed for my gender as “represented” by Bri.

  2. So sorry that your time away was for these reasons, and not for happier things. I’m glad you knew that it was the right thing to take the time you needed, and that you did. “Cognitive dissonance” and “fucking awful” really are the size of it.

    Sending hugs and warm wishes from this reader, who appreciates how you write about law for a non-legal audience. Take good care of yourself.

  3. I lost my mother two years ago, this Tuesday. You don’t realise how much it affects you even now. At this point in time, I’m not going to give you too much advice. I would have politely told people what to do with their advice at your stage in the grieving process. All I will do is empathise at your loss, tell that the pain does ease but not necessarily the sense of “what do I do now?”.
    My condolences to you and I hope people stop bringing flowers round to you cos at some point you might throw one of those vases at them!!
    The funeral service is another one where all you want to say to most people is to go away(I have toned that bit down).

  4. Dear Lucy, this is an enormous moment. You’ve taken me back to seeing my own mum. Full of love and sadness that swirl around these immense figures in our lives. The thing I found most comforting were the Jewish lawyers of Twitter saying to me, I wish you long life. I have no idea why. But I do. Take could care of yourself as the waves break…

  5. ???? to you xx

  6. Lucy, I am so sorry about the loss of your lovely mum. Take all the time you can to grieve and honour her. Our love for our families matters more than work ever could. I am always grateful for posts like yours that remind me how precious my time is with my (increasingly frail) mum. I’ll be thinking of you all the way from Australia. Alison Burt.

  7. Stephen Cummins

    Hugs to you.

  8. so sorry for your loss.

  9. Rachel Cooper

    I’m so sorry for your loss Lucy. You’re right that your pain comes from the privilege of having been well loved, but that type of rational thinking doesn’t make the heart hurt any less. Taking the time is so honouring – both of your heart and hers. I consider it just the type of example that I appreciate our family silks setting. So, thank you. Time is the only thing we can’t buy more of, so spend it as your heart determines best to help you mourn, and eventually find solid ground again. See you on the other side.

  10. I’m so so sorry – my dad died on Maundy Thursday in 2022. Still not really processed it, but similar circumstances; it was a “blessed relief” but our longstanding intertwined lives gave me considerable comfort. I hope it does for you too.

  11. So sorry to hear of your loss
    Allow yourself to take such time as you are able to feel your sorrow, find the right way for your family to process the loss and begin to heal and as you slowly do, indeed keep hold of the fact that your mum loved you, was willing and able to be there for you and your family for almost 50 years and of the privilege of having her in your lives

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Lucy,

    I am very sorry for your loss. I wish I could offer words of comfort, but it’s a horrible experience and (in my experience anyway, 4 years on) the gap it leaves will not really be filled. We have to be the adults now – it’s hard, unwelcome and frankly rather lonely. But there’s no way round it.

    I suppose our parents live on to some extent through us and what we pass on to our children. Best wishes in this difficult time.


  13. Love and hugs to you

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