Learning lessons


Recently, someone died; someone who was everything to me.

‘How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold.’

~ JRR Tolkein

Throughout my social media and blogging ‘career’, without being particularly secretive, I’ve tried to maintain relative anonymity – not for shame or any lack of confidence in what I do – but rather because I have seen far too many advocates go down the road where their ‘brand’ – their ego – eclipses the Animal Rights cause. One needs look no further than events of the recent past to discover examples. At the very start I made up my mind that it would never happen to me and I’ve been genuinely pleased every time that someone I’m speaking to refers to There’s an Elephant in the Room without knowing my connection to it. So having always kept myself to myself, few who know me will know what I’m going to say. Now, although no less passionate about my chosen cause, I’m struggling to find the focus to write, despite receiving so many kind and encouraging messages of support that have meant a great deal to me.

I turned 64 last month and death is no stranger to me. Born without grandparents, I lost both parents before I reached 30 and have wept over the graves of many loved ones of various species in the years since then. From those who were closest to me, I learned that although it never really stops, I could – eventually – live with the pain of their loss. Looking at death from a different perspective, I spent decades with the reduced life expectancy of advanced lung disease and subsequently faced the risk of my own death by undergoing transplant surgery seven years ago, a chance I gladly took in the hope of staying a while longer with the two people I have always loved most in all the world; my sons.

For most of their lives, my world has revolved around my sons, and our bond has always been the most treasured thing I shall ever have. I remember writing so joyfully of the day three years ago when I watched my younger son marry his soul-mate – a day that I would not have survived to see had it not been for the priceless gift given to me by my transplant donor.

So against that backdrop, I’m sure most will instinctively know why this death has devastated me; why this was the horror that I have written about so often as an animal rights advocate; the one thing I always knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I could not bear to face.

My younger son died in hospital on 02 June 2020. We had not been permitted to be with him through the 15 long days that we swung between hope and despair, living for the phone calls with doctors and nurses; some optimistic, some not so much; struggling through endless days and nights of crushing dread. Meanwhile, infection, driven by his autoimmune conditions, raged through his pain-racked body and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

My precious son died on a bright day in early summer, while the world was shuttered and locked down because of a virus caused by the brutality of humanity towards our fellow earthlings. His death was not caused directly by that virus, although I can’t bear to think of the loneliness he endured at his separation from those of us who loved him so very much. In the end his wife and I broke the lockdown restrictions. He was alert and spoke to us when we arrived in the hospital, both of us hoping beyond all hope that he did not realise the crisis signified by our arrival.

With breaking hearts we sat with him as the light of his presence faded, both willing him to be reassured, to know that at last he wasn’t alone. We sat holding his hands for 15 hours, counting his every breath, until the final one came gently and then there were no more. A part of my soul died with him. He was 33.

Although I truly have no idea how, I will go on living because I cannot do otherwise. I owe it to him. The life force that continues to move blood through my veins and oxygen through my borrowed lungs is that same life force that he was fighting so hard to hold on to, despite facing a battle he couldn’t win.

On a sunny day in early summer, my beloved son, my dearest friend, the most extraordinary person I ever knew, left me. I’m writing by way of explanation for my absence, not seeking sympathy. My writing has often been called a gift, a weapon for use in the fight for the rights of our victims, so I’m really going to try not to stop. My son would want me to keep writing. He wouldn’t want to see me dissolving in despair when the lives of so many billions are at stake.

It may take some time, but the next time I write of the mothers who are the victims of our species, of their grief and the anguish of loss and separation that underpins every aspect of the monstrous regime of brutality that provides breast milk and eggs, dead flesh and body parts to supply the demands of nonvegan shoppers and consumers, it will be with the raw edge of a new understanding.

What is inflicted on them is indeed the nightmare that every mother dreads, but the agony is infinitely worse than I ever realised.

Be vegan.

This entry was posted in Advocacy, dairy, Eulogies, Health and plant based eating, Speciesism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Learning lessons

  1. Barb Noon says:

    I feel so saddened that you have had to go through what we as parents fear might happen. When you said you were taking a break, I felt bad for myself, because I have seen great animal justice activists leave and never return. I did not know the reason for your departure, and I am so glad to see that you know the importance of keeping fighting for the animals and to make this world a better place. Thank you for returning under difficult circumstances.
    Two vegan bloggers, in particular, helped educate me, and I admired their blogs and their dedication. One experienced a loss and never blogged again. I kept hoping she would, but it’s been at least four years and she has not said a word. The other writes something short now and then, or sends an email to a couple of people. They probably don’t realize how some of us learned to be better vegans because of them, and how we looked forward to anything they wrote or put on their blog. That is how I feel about you. Your words teach me to be a better vegan, because I understand more because of your insight. I look forward to what you have to say. Your blog is so important. Thank you for sharing what happened; I know nothing is easy these days and although I do not know you, I’ve learned about you and your feelings and I appreciate “the person behind the blog” as well as your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eva Maria says:

    My heart felt condolences to you. I have only one child, a beautiful compassionate loving
    35 year old son and I wouldn’t want to go on without him. In this last year my father died , my beautiful cat and my ex husband and best friend of forty years. But two weeks ago my dog who I loved and adored died and the pain of losing him is so intense. The love is strong and death cannot touch it. I love them all. I hope there is another side where we can find each other again, but the finality in this life can feel unbearable. Your work is amazing. No words can take away the pain for you. Much love to you♥️💔

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nancy Fortmann says:

    I wish I could leave a more eloquent message of sympathy; I can only say that since reading the account of your crushing loss, coupled with the photo of that poor doomed cow or steer, I have determined to return to veganism and to stay. I know it is inadequate in the face of your terrible sorrow.
    I hope you find the strength to continue spreading your deep-hearted and vital message.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m in uncharted territory here and I’ve been so grateful for the many messages I’ve received. As you will no doubt know, nothing makes the pain any less, but it has been a strangely comforting experience to feel such a tide of concern from so many. I am being reminded repeatedly that my work is of benefit to the innocent victims of our species and that I need to try harder to get back to it. Life is a fragile thing and none of us knows how long we may have in this world. Each of us needs to spend our time wisely. I’m resolving to try to do that. Love and thanks to you all.


  5. Laura says:

    I’m so sorry for your tragic loss of your beloved son.

    My younger brother died of cardiac arrest as a result of diabetes 3 years ago, as I heard it all, including the paramedics’ efforts to save him, by speakerphone while talking to my other brother, after he dropped the receiver. It was all absolutely horrifying. For 55 years he was my cantankerous “little” brother, and suddenly he was just…gone. I was in shock for a long time. We knew he was going to die early because of his severe diabetes, but you still never actually expect them to outright die. You always think that maybe some miracle will happen and he’ll get healthier. But no.

    The idea that the “covid” mess prevented you being able to visit your son is very maddening to me. At least they let you be with him at the end. I’m about your age (63) and have no children, so can only imagine the pain you’ve endured in seeing your son pass away and then going on living without him. From 2006 to 2017 I lost my mother, father and little brother, along with several beloved animals. The life-changing pain over loved ones dying cannot be adequately explained. You have my sincere condolences.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Carol Williams says:

    The most unbearable loss ever, must be that of a loved child. My heart goes out to you. I am so, so sorry. May you find the strength you need. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rhonda-T Warren says:

    I cannot find the words to communicate how saddened I am to hear about the loss of your son. I suffered the loss of my infant child many years ago, and I know there is no end to the abysmal sorrow you carry. I wish I could say it will get lighter, but I cannot. You will grow stronger in time though, making it easier to carry. Your son will live forever in your heart, and his memory will guide you always.
    What you do is incredibly impactful on so many levels, your keyboard is the mechanism by which so many truths are conveyed, and I am infinitely grateful for your work. Thank you for your candor and your courage, wishing you glimmers of love and peace amidst your heartache.
    Much love.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Scaughdt Iam says:

    Sending you my deepest condolences from afar. While I cannot begin to comprehend the pain you feel as a mother who has lost her son, having lost my younger brother a few years back I can comprehend at least a portion of its terribleness. Know that you are loved, know that your Work is ever profoundly appreciated, and know that there are anonymous ears ready to listen and unknown shoulders ready for you to lean upon — should the need arise.

    peace to you today, my Friend …


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mary Finelli says:

    I am heartbroken for you but I’m so glad you and your daughter-in-law were at least able to be with your son then. I doubt I can imagine how devastating the loss of him is to you but I’m very glad you have the wherewithal to go on. Surely he would want you to, and to also be happy. I’m glad you had the years together that you did, and may your grief give way to your precious memories of him. Thank you for caring so deeply for all sentient beings, and for all of your wonderful advocacy for them. Much deserved peace to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rscollaboration says:

    Dear Friend,

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss and the pain that you are going through and on I like you bear the pain everyday of the many million of other sentient beings that die ruthlessly at our hands.

    However your wisdom in the words is profound and I am blessed knowing that there are others in this life like you who are doing such meaningful work.

    I wish I could find words of solace and wisdom for you but know that your work is so gratefully received.

    Heartfelt thank you and thinking of you in this most difficult of time.


    Sent from my iPhone > Ruby Sandhu | RS Collaboration > LL.B, LL.M, MSc., MSoM, FRSA > Sustainability, Business & Human Rights > Lawyer, Accredited Facilitator & Mediator > E: ruby@rscollaboration.com > M: +44(0)7500 900 970 > Skype: RSCollaboration > LinkedIN | Twitter | Website | Blog > >  Think before you print

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Karyn Swaney says:

    I am struggling for words. I feel like I cannot exchange air properly and I am truly shattered for you. You have been such a light in this world, you are such a special human and you really mean a lot to me. I can’t compare, but I lost a brother when he was 24…many years ago…but though I was certainly devastated, what I witnessed my mother go through was somehow even more unbearable for me. I have thought of you so many times and hoped everything was OK. I am so deeply sorry. I have no adequate words, only so much love and the utmost respect for you. Much much love and my most sincere and totally inadequate condolences.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Vegan Trove says:

    Dear Linda, I’m so very sorry. My thoughts have been with you since I learned of your loss. This kind of loss is really something that one doesn’t really ever get over, but just learns to live with it. You were so very fortunate to have such a wonderful friend/son and he will equally fortunate to have you. His memory and his love will always be alive in your heart. His presence and the love he spread to others will always be alive in the universe.

    Linda, you are such a kind and wonderful person as you are an amazing vegan advocate/writer. Your writing is arguably in my eyes, the BEST, I’ve ever come across. That’s because (IMO) you are not only talented but most importantly you write from the heart with a good motivation. I know you are very humble so I know you never look for praise, so I often sing your praises to others 🙂 I value your writing so much as I’m sure do many. I could only hope to have your amazing ability to convey the same important message in so many ways. Your writing is so rich, so interesting and always goes to the heart of the matter every time. You write from a presence of love and justice. That is why it is so powerful. Thank you so much for all you do and for your courage through this tragedy. I always hope that through tragedy we find something good from it.

    I’m so glad I know you.
    Much love to you,
    Trish Y. R

    Liked by 2 people

  13. If life is a leaf says:

    Love to you, Linda, at this time. Though you don’t ask for sympathy, I read your post with tears. The universe is unjust. Good things happen to those who have done nothing, and bad things happen to those who are positive forces in the world. This isn’t a judgement, or a cruelty, it just is that things happen, and don’t have anything to do with us. On the other hand, when we do good or bad things, someone, somewhere will gain or pay, as we benefit or suffer from things others have chosen.

    As far as I can see, you’ve always used your time and energy to help others, human and non-human, and strive to make the world a better place. Many, many beings will benefit from you, though that may not be immediately apparent. You are a positive force in the universe. Love to you, and those around you. May peace and joy come to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Coleen Tew says:

    I am so sorry for the terrible loss of your beloved son. As Veda says- thank you for your courage in sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Vegan Trove says:

    Much love Linda ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Susanne says:

    Crying the good tears now. The tears for someone else. You always were and are an inspiration. Life is so unfair. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Veda Stram says:

    Thank you for the heart and courage it took for you to share this with us. You inspire.

    Liked by 2 people

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