Life interrupted

Please take care – this post contains news you may find distressing.

Tears of rage, tears of grief
Why must I always be the thief?
Come to me now, you know
We’re so alone
And life is brief

Bob Dylan, 1967

For ten years, this site has enabled me to publish research, books and occasional reflections as blog posts. Like its companion sites, Regular Marvels and A Restless Art, it concerns my professional work, and I have largely avoided talking about personal life. By age and temperament, I avoid social media, hoping to live in a different world. Sometimes, as when my life was upturned by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the line blurs between professional and personal concerns, and some posts reflect that erosion. 

On 27 December 2021, Carol Crowe, my wife and companion of almost 35 years, died in a Nottingham hospital. Although she had been receiving cancer treatment for several months, her death was sudden and devastating. By now, our friends should have learned this news privately, but there are those I cannot easily inform. I am sorry if that includes you, and sorry to share such news in a season of rest and hope. Carol was a community artist and my most profoundly influential mentor. More importantly, she was the kindest, wisest, bravest and most principled person I have ever met and I owe her everything. One day, I might tell some of her story.

Today, I just need to say what has happened—what is happening—because these personal events will affect my work. I will fail to meet commitments in the coming days, weeks and months. Deadlines will be missed, emails will go unanswered. Mistakes will be made. Much as I dislike that prospect (because it tests my self-image), I accept its reality. I know what I’m now living. If my failings or omissions affect you, I ask for your understanding and patience. To be honest, I’ve no idea what is coming, or how I will manage, though I don’t doubt I will. Carol and I are rich in family and friends, and I have all the support I could wish for: nothing further is needed.

My other reason for writing this post is honesty, though I write with apprehension, in case this is one of the mistakes I foresee. But any value in writing depends on the writer’s commitment to truthfulness. Grief is a universal experience. About 600,000 people die in Britain each year, breaking the hearts of millions who loved and depended on them. Covid-19 has added the anguish of separation before death for many thousands (though thankfully not me). We see bereaved people every day; we sit beside them on the bus. We work with them. But we know little of most people’s lives.

Grief is not to be hidden. It is not a subject of failure, shame or embarrassment. In my experience, it’s a time for being real, for facing life, and death, as they find us, as they are. Right now, I hope simply to be open with professional colleagues and friends about where I am, and ask for the space that I need to grieve. It will be a while. 

I do not want to talk about it. I might write about this again. I might not. What’s said is said. 


  1. Thank you for your words, they shine with love and wonder for Carol. My thoughts and bests are with you at this terribly devastating time. Biggest love Griselda x

  2. Dear Francois, I am so sorry for your loss.  Michaela let me know earlier, but as you have now commented then I hope you won’t mind that I am in contact simply to send you my (and Michael’s)  condolences, and to wish you some hope in the coming days. Grief is inevitable and must be allowed to come and in time hopefully pass & be replaced with memories. We will be thinking of you in the coming weeks and months. No need to respond. Our thoughts with you, Ann & Michael x 

  3. Dearest Francois Thank you for letting us know that Carol died yesterday. Although I never met her, we can feel your pain and we are holding your family in our hearts in the light of the sun, moon, stars and planets. Much love Fiona and Mark

  4. Dear Francois,

    I am so sorry to learn of this devastating news for you and yours. I send my deepest condolences and the words of The Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, which you may find comforting with life so interrupted at this time. Very Best wishes, Richard

    In Memoriam

    With every person who dies, part of us is already in eternity. We must, if we love this person, live up to the great encounter of a living soul with a living God. We must let go of everything that was small, that was separation, alienation and estrangement, and reach out to that serenity and greatness, newness and abundance of life into which the departed person has entered. We should not speak of our love in the past tense. Love is a thing that does not fade in a faithful heart. It does not go into the past unless we betray our love. We must keep our love alive in a new situation, but as actively and creatively and more so, more often, than when the person was with us. Our love cannot be dead because a person has died. If that is true, our life must be a continuation of theirs, with all its significance. We must reflect on all that was beauty and nobility, in that person, and make sure those around us, and our surroundings do not lose anything through the death. This applies to all families and friends as well as the immediate bereaved, so that the seed that has fallen into corruption may give a hundredfold harvest in the hearts and lives of others.

    Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh


  5. Dear Francois,
    I am so sorry for your loss , my thoughts and love are with you.

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