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Normal service will be resumed eventually

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that my activity has been increasingly scarce since roughly January 2017. This is not an accident. You may also have noticed a downturn in my writing output in general, culminating in this year being the first year since roughly 1997 in which I have no new novels or short stories appearing in print. That's not an accident, either.

I used to have parents, and I was fond of them: they did a pretty good job of raising a well-adjusted family.

In early 2017, my father began going downhill. He faded out over about 3-6 months, and died just after his 93rd birthday. My mother continued to live alone in their wheelchair-adapted flat for another year, but last summer she suffered a number of strokes, leaving her severely disabled.

The past 15 months have been hard. My mother spent three and a half months in a hospital, before being discharged to a nursing home that was equipped to provide the level of care she needed. I've been making round trips pretty much every weekend—by train, because my parents lived roughly 350km from Edinburgh (where I moved in 1995). My sister and brother, who live a lot closer to my parents, took on a correspondingly heavier burden of care and engagement.

Anyway: it's all over as of last Sunday.

Losing a close relative is depressing, and the depression lasts a considerable time. It's no accident that traditional mourning periods were on the order of 1-3 years. And depression plays merry hell with the artistic impulse. So I've been only intermittently functional as a writer since early 2017—dealing with the aftermath of my father's death, and then my mother's final illness has drained me.

Now I've got a funeral to face. Afterwards, I have pre-existing work commitments to deliver on—notably "Invisible Sun" (which got sandbagged by my burnout when my father died). Then ... I tend to over-commit to future work; this time I will plan on taking enough time to recover, rather than throwing myself at another series of tight deadlines.

Burnout is a thing. Depression is a thing. Deadlines are toxic. But writing can also be therapeutic, and I hope to see you on the other side.

120 Comments

1:

Deepest sympathies, and I note that for reasons I am actually in a similarish position except that it takes even longer to get from my house to my parents.

2:

I am sorry to read about your losses. It is never easy.Both my parents died within a relatively short time of each other too. And grief over that was hard to bear.

I'd assume that everyone that comments here would say:

"Take whatever time you need."

3:

My sympathies and condolences have been sent already.

What makes it harder in these cases is that death is so drawn out — with my mother we went through the hospital/care home/hospital/nursing home sequence, and we knew that she was never going to be able to return home, that she was never going to recover her mobility to the point of being able to live independently (a bit of dementia on top didn't help). When she went into the nursing home, we knew she was only going to come out in a pine box. The actual death was a release, it allowed us to start the grieving properly.

With my father-in-law, who was fine when he went to bed but then died in his sleep, it was different. It was a shock, but he'd had a good life and he'd had a good death. We grieved, of course we did, but it was simple. I hope that when I go, it'll be like that.

Yeah, cancer sucks, dementia sucks, decrepitude sucks. Good health to all here.

4:

My mother lived a bit over an hour away from us. When she went into a care home, it was one we could see from our front door.

(I have sisters, but one lives on the South Coast, the other in Florida, so considerably further away.)

5:

Sorry for your loss, Charlie. Glad to hear you're planning to take things a bit easy on yourself.

6:

Best wishes. In such times, self-care and care of self by others is often helpful.

7:

Sorry to hear about your losses.

You don't care about my sad stories right now, but I'm going through some things that parallel parts of yours. Some things are inevitably different. So I really can empathise and I hope it gets better for you. In part because that means it will get better for me too, but mostly because whatever ephemeral relationship we have through here means I don't like you hurting.

It will take time, I'm sure, but here's hoping to see you on the other side.

8:

What's tp say?
Keep on buggering on, I think is the way to go .... hope to see you soon, so to speak.

9:

My Condolences.

I think what hit me hardest in your situation, was that I suddenly, by default, became the grown-up in the room.

And yes, the depression and its impact on creative productivity is a real thing.

10:

I'm sorry for your loss, my parents died 10 and 26 years ago, for me life went on, though under a shadow, which eventually one doesn't notice so much. Take the time you need to learn to live with your own.

11:

I'm sorry for your loss Charlie

12:

Deepest sympathy Charlie. Hope that the way you find through it all works for you.

13:

My father passed away in December 2018, after being diagnosed with a terminal illness in early 2017. I helped out with his care for most of that time, and was primary caregiver for the last six month after my mother required a mastectomy to remove a tumour from her breast (thankfully, it was caught early), and wasn't able to physically support my father. I'm almost fully recovered from the physical effects of that time, but the mental effects are another matter. Take your time, and show yourself plenty of love.

14:

My deepest sympathies. Grief does take a long time to process. Take care of yourself. All the best.

15:

I think you have plotted a wise course. When I was in that position, I at least had the advantage of having had more time between my parents' deaths.

Eventually the dreams about their still being alive will stop, or at least become infrequent and less disturbing. In my experience.

You have my sympathy.

16:

I am so sorry for your loss. I lost both my parents over the last ten years.

17:

Deepest sympathies Charlie. it does change a person, losing both parents. It won’t get easier over time but you will have more perspective about their and your lives. Best wishes.

18:

Deepest sympathies Charlie. Please, take as long as you need to look after yourself, plus a bit for luck. Your personal soundness, not your output, is what really matters.

19:

When my mother died, during my first year at University, it wrecked me for over 2 years, if only because I had not seen her rapid & horrible deterioration ... not easy.
Last week our beautiful Birman tom-kitten ( 11 years old ) took sick & died ( Probably kidney failure ) & that will take some getting used to ... so Charlie's second loss is not going to be good.
I don't know if any of "us" can do anything to help, but ... suggestions - or is that presumptious?
One never knows.

21:

Without analysing too much, just know that they miss you, but they wish you to live on without them.

22:

No suggestions needed, Greg: I'm over 50 and I've been through this before.

(Self-care is indicated. I've got an appointment for it in my calendar …)

23:

You are suggesting this to an atheist/materialist who really doesn't believe in souls, an afterlife, etc.

24:

More condolences here Charlie. While grief, and mourning are tough, it's good that you know it's tough and are taking proactive steps to work through it.

25:

My condolences. We lost my father-in-law a month ago after a long decline. Everyone faces these losses in life, but all of our paths through the pain are unique despite the universality of the experience. May your path be as smooth as it can be.

26:

I'm sorry for your loss. Take time to grieve and to heal. When you are ready to write again we'll be here to read what you've written, no matter how long it takes.

27:

Oh, shit, Charlie. I'm so sorry.

Been there, done that three times, to include my late wife's mother, the last parental-type unit I had. At least she lasted to her mid-eighties. My folks - her mom lasted to mid-80's, as did his father and aunt. Nope - lost each of them at 72... and I'm sure she went after losing him after about 41 years together.

Take care of yourself. I hope I'm not being pushy, considering you as a friend - just wish I was somewhere that I could have you over for dinner.

28:

Charlie so sorry for your loss... It is an awful thing losing a parent. Wishing you good thoughts and deepest sympathies.

29:

Deepest sympathy, take as much time as you need to recover your health.

30:

My condolences. I'm sorry for your loss.

31:

Sorry to hear this Charlie. You have my condolences and sympathies, and we will indeed see you on the other side.

32:

I'm sorry to hear of your bereavement. Take care of yourself.

33:

My deep sympathies, Charlie. It's hard, and even 1-3 years is arbitrary.

Hoping that memories of them will bring you joy.

34:

Be nice to yourself, take the time you need, and you know where we are.

35:

Find cat, stroke cat.

36:

Kia kaha Charlie - be strong.

37:

My deepest condolences too. I know a bit of what you're going through (my girlfriend died nearly 10 years ago) and I wouldn't wish any kind of loss like that on anybody.

38:

I'm very sorry for your loss. May her memory...may both their memories, be blessings to you and yours.

39:

Charlie @ 22
THANK YOU & keep well. As you say ... "self-care"
"Live long & Prosper" or something.....

40:

Also here to say “May their memories be a blessing” (however you choose to take that). I don’t know if expecting a loss makes recovery quicker, but may you and your siblings be well.

41:

Condolences; keep well, and take care. May you have some joy again soon.

42:

Charlie, my sincere sympathies.
You've already lived through interacting with the mental decline of a loved one so already know this; with dementia, memories and artefacts from when they were at their best are very important.
Good health to you! And to your living kin. And may your personal/local world not get too unpleasantly interesting. (Mine got good interesting soon after both my parents were dead 5(7) years ago.)

43:

My deepest condolences and sympathy. I am somewhere in the middle of a similar journey and ask myself daily, “What am I learning?” So far the answer has been Don’t Get Old. Something seems to be terribly wrong with life that the last part is so very hard and comes at the time when you have the least amount of energy, mentally and physically, for the multitude of challenges. The patience and support of loved ones makes the trip less terrifying. If your mom wasn’t able to tell you that, I’m sure she meant to, because my mom mentions it often. You were a good son to help your mom get to the end as best she could. And we are all waiting patiently for the day Charles Stross feels focused and inspired enough to come play with us again.

44:

Really sorry to hear this Charlie

45:

I'm sorry for your loss. I too lost a close relative in the last week. Grandmother, at 96. Parents are worse though, have lost one as well but a lot younger. Please do what you need to do and accept my sincerest empathy.

46:

I'm sorry to hear about your mother's death.

Not long after my father, my last parent, died, I re-read "The Man Who Loved Numbers," a biography of mathematician Paul Erdos. The biographer quotes a friend of Erdos, who was surprised that Erdos was still quite sad about his mother's death 5 years on; both the biographer and the friend seemed to think Erdos should have been over any sadness by then, but what struck me as I re-read this passage is that there are too many variables to allow for accurate predictions of how grief should happen for a particular individual. One grieves the way one grieves.

Having said that, my own writing output (I write curriculum, not fiction) has declined significantly in the two and a half years since my father's death; I wouldn't be surprised if this were a fairly common experience.

Wishing you all the best.

47:

Please accept my condolences.

48:

I'm sorry for your loss Charlie. Glad to hear that you're planning to take enough time to recover and I hope you get plenty of help and other support. Hope to see you on the other side, you've had an incredibly rough time the last few years.

49:

My condolences. My father died over 20 years ago (we weren't close - my parents were separated) and my mother went 4 years ago following the dementia with care at home, stroke then nursing home path, so I understand what you're going through. I still look around for my mother whenever someone calls my by my full name pronounced correctly - she was the only person not to shorten my name. All I can say is the pain gets less intense over time but never entirely goes away.

50:

Oh Charlie, I am so sorry. Take all the time you need for self care and we will be here when you get back.

51:

I am sorry for your loss, Charlie. My deepest condolences. Take as much time as you need to recover.

52:

All I can say is the pain gets less intense over time but never entirely goes away.

No, it doesn't. I was thinking earlier today of my uncle, who passed in January. As people have said, it doesn't stop but you get used to it.

53:

My condolences.

Doesn't seem to be enough to say, somehow. Losing parents is hard. Be glad that your career allows you time to rest and recover.

54:

Take care of yourself and let other people take care of you, if you are fortunate enough to have that kind of support.

55:

My condolences.
I lost my father to cancer 1983 and pretty much burned out in the process -it took me more than two decades to bounce back.
Then my mother got frail over a twelve -year-period and finally died 2016. As the child lving in the same town, daily visits and planning for care mostly fell to me.
.
Suggestion; A pet, wether a dog or a cat or a goddamn Vietnamese pot-bellied pig is a very useful companion when dealing with depression.

56:

Very sorry to hear about your loss. I love your writing and this blog but I'm very pleased you are putting your recovery first.

57:

Charlie: My deepest sympathies. No matter whether it's sudden or long expected, the loss of a parent is a real gut punch. When the spouse and I went to Germany in 2009, all four were alive; now only her dad is still with us. It was particularly hard when my mom, in hospice care, took a turn for the worse and we had to sprint across the Atlantic and most of the way across the U.S. to get back. She died a day after we returned.

Everyone's grief is different, and I have no facile advice to give. Just know that we care, and we'll be here when you're ready to face the world again.

58:

Losing a parent for the first time was, for me, like emigrating to another country without moving. The second was easier to take, marginally, because their old age was more difficult for me and I'm selfish, but hard as well, and now I felt fully like I was on the edge of the wedge moving forward, and might well slip off….

With deep sympathy, I can only say 'Bear up.' but that doesn't apply to when you can't. Take what comfort you can from having honourably met your obligations to at least some extent─I know enough not to try to suggest that you have done so fully, because I think it likely that for you, as for me, that would only induce an internal re-investigation of when that hasn't been so.

If you need to set up a Patreon or some such to help tide you over, I'd be happy to contribute.

Be well. When you can write, I'll read it.

59:

I'm so sorry for your loss, Charlie. I lost both parents in the past few years, and my heart goes out to you - I know how you feel.

60:

My condolences: and yes, it does take time.

61:

My condolences as well. I've lost most of my relatives, so I do grieve that you've got to deal with it now as well.

As for burnout, I'm not going to be chipper and suggest meditation, but I'll be downbeat and suggest meditation as a palliative for burnout. It's not about ignoring the ashes, it's more about leaching the toxins out of the ashes until they are just soil, and new stuff can grow in them. If you want a more Lovecraftian and functionalist version, it's about relaxing and/or depersonalizing things enough to listen to the screams of your nervous system, understand these negative feelings as impersonal signals (or "bound energy") rather than personalized screams signifying your failure to be a perfectly productive human being, and begin to relax them, let them go until the signaling eases and you've got an oddly different operating system that isn't screaming for your attention at the moment. Depersonalizing it, in the Vipassana sense (which I find useful) is something like "contemplate the [body, breath, ideas, feelings, whatever] just as the [whatever], with no sense of "mine," "my", "I", or "myself." So instead of "I'm freaking stressed out," it's more like "there are major areas of numbness in the neck, and the nerves are screaming in the shoulders, perhaps I can figure out how to relax this or adjust my posture until it hurts less." Personalizing it can feel like a more personal failure, while making it less personal makes it just something to do.

My tuppence, but since I've been burning out at least once per year for the last few years due to all the conservation stuff ("victories are temporary, defeat is permanent"), I figured I'd pass it along for anyone who can find it useful. Otherwise, ignore it.

Take care.

62:

With deepest sympathies to you and your family. Having experienced the loss of both my mother and then my father over the past 8 years, it very understandable how difficult things must be for you, especially living such a distance from them. All I can say is take the time you need to let yourself feel, cry, grieve and not be rush or pushed in to working when you are not ready.

You, your family come first in all things.

63:

My condolences. Take what time you need, we'll miss you in our own ways.

64:

So sorry. What a shit 15 months. Your work has been a source of comfort in awful times, and I hope you've got all the support and love you need to make the next stretch better.

65:

Condolences, and take care of yourself.

J Homes

66:

My full sympathy. Take a long as you want, which may be more than you need.

It's much tougher than our culture makes out. Don't feel like you're taking it hard or that you should be braver. I would randomly burst into tears for about 2 years after my mother died. That's OK. It does get better. It really does. It doesn't go away completely, but remember you're allowed to feel better. You're not doing something wrong if you smile or enjoy something. You're allowed to feel better as time goes on. I felt like it was a betrayal. It isn't.

I got some professional help, and it actually helped with the flashbacks, which surprised me a lot. Maybe consider that.

Yours, Jason

67:

Deep sympathies. When my mother died unexpectedly a decade ago I fell into a weird state for months. Even missed a phone appointment with the unemployment office, which is a Real Big Mistake, took months to get my unemployment payments back. When my father died a couple years ago it was less of a blow, as it was his time, and I had done a thorough job of helping my father through her dying before he did, which he had not expected.

68:

My deepest sympathies. Both of my parents died at relatively young ages. 30 some years on the holes they left in my life are still there if not as sharp edged as they once were. Take your time and grieve, you really owe us nothing.

69:

May her memory be a blessing. Take all the time you need. I am looking forward to your next book, whenever it comes out, because you are an excellent writer. And it will be wonderful when the political situation over there settles down enough for Laundry novels to be possible again rather than reality outpacing fiction.

70:

Condolences, Charlie. May your memories of them be a blessing. Process things in your own ways, in your own time. It's hard,

71:

"But writing can also be therapeutic, and I hope to see you on the other side."

This whole blogsite has a therapeutic effect. Maintaining it like you have these many years has provided unique entertainment, information and the influence of an overall constructive attitude I haven't found elsewhere. Much credit redounds to regular contributors, but your guidance of the conversation without actually directing it is the main reason for its longevity and level of interest. 

Confucius said large countries should be governed the same way small fish are fried. In other words, minimize interference to avoid fragmentation. That sounds like your style of benign tolerance, and might suggest an approach to times of stress in your own life, i.e. cut yourself some slack. 

Sincere thanks for creating this forum.    

72:

I'm so sorry for your loss, Charlie. I went through much the same thing about 10 years ago, and it was a tough time. It gets better, and having something to do with your time helps, but so does spending time friends and family. Take your time getting back to the writing and blogging.
We'll all still be here when you're ready.

73:

A friend of my parents said something after my Dad died (Mum died a few years previously) that I found helpful. She said that we have a word for a young person who has lost both parents, but not really for when it happens when you are an adult, and that this makes it harder to acknowledge and deal with the grief on a day to day basis with people who are not good friends. It certainly feels weird calling yourself an orphan when you are yourself an adult, but I think she was right that having a word for it would help. My aunt died last year, and I am now the oldest person in my immediate family, and that in and of itself can be disorienting.
Take all the time you need.

74:

I am sorry for you loss. Losing the people you love is never easy. I went through this a few years back with my parents dying within two years of each other.

I remember talking to my mom about my brother who had died when he was ten. She admitted that she thought about him every day even though over 50 years had passed. She, like myself, did not believe in an afterlife. After time you accept the loss even if you do not forget it or the person you loved.

75:

My condolences. There's (likely) no afterlife, but they live on in you and your brother and sister, who loved and cared for them to the end. Take time to grieve and to heal, and we're here when you need us.

76:

My aunt died last year, and I am now the oldest person in my immediate family, and that in and of itself can be disorienting.

That's been me since January and I'm still not used to it.

77:

I am sorry to hear it.

I lost my Dad about 20 years ago.

I still have occasions when I see or read something and think "I'll have to tell Dad that" - then remember. I still miss my Dad. The immediate grief fades but the memories do not which make things a little better.

79:

I'm sorry for your loss.

80:

My condolences. I lost my mother (8-10h travel time) half a year ago, and I still feel like a bad person, because I DO NOT feel too terrible about it, at least not as much as I should, or that crash will still come. But I think that's because I had enough time to prepare for that moment: Q4 2018 I wound down her small company because 70+ is DEFINITELY retirement age and early signs of dementia (spent my summer vacation doing that), and then an advanced cancer diagnosis after New Year followed by rapid decline that I covered through compassionate leave, vacations, and incurring huge favours with the head of department. Which now leaves my dad alone 1200km away, fortunately in reasonable health. *knocks on wood*. Fuck cancer, and fuck geography, too.

-an avid reader

81:

This.

For me, when my mother went, I felt guilty for not feeling grief at the time. Some shock, as those around me will have noticed (I think it was Paws' first encounter with me, the day after), but grief, no.It took a couple of years and another death before the tears came.

82:

My condolences.

83:

For me, when my mother went, I felt guilty for not feeling grief at the time.

That can happen too. When one of my aunts finally died it was an anticlimax. She had fallen into dementia years earlier and was for all reasonable purposes long gone; that her body had finally stopped breathing was almost a footnote.

Mind you, I still miss the woman. We just lost her before her body gave out.

84:

Condolences, Charlie. Take as much time as you need.

Seems many posters here have lost a parent: condolences to all.

My mother passed away this past April -- more than a decade after a series of strokes put her into a wheelchair and then into a bed. Even though it was pretty evident that she seemed to age faster after that, that the strokes caused/resulted in other complications (cognitive and motor) all this eventually just became the new 'normal'. Even the occasional hospitalizations became normal and no longer frightening because she had always come back home. So despite knowing that death would eventually claim her -- years of consciously/intellectually trying to prepare for her eventual passing -- her death was a shock.

I haven't visited this blog for some months. Had been mentally waving the prospect of being able to find the time and energy to visit again as both a reward and a sign that my life is getting back to normal. Turns out there was a third benefit that I hadn't anticipated: a mutual support group.


85:

Very sorry to hear this, my condolences to you and your family.

86:

Please accept my condolences.
I'm looking forward to the next books, but when they are done, not when I'm ready to read them.

As you say, time. And stuff.

87:

There is not much I can say that has not already been said. I have lost my grandparents. My parents are still with me, so I am yet to fully understand that particular pain. But I did lose my brother to depression a couple of years ago, and to say that that was painful is like saying the ocean is a moderately large lake. True, in one sense, but it so deeply understates the reality.

You have my deepest condolences. Know this: we will be ready for your next work when you are done with it... but it is done when it is done, and we do not want you to cause yourself worse problems by rushing it when you aren't ready. Take care of yourself; surround yourself with those you care about, and who care about you; and the rest will eventually take care of itself.

88:

Hey Charlie, I’m sorry to hear of the death of your mother. Take care and look after yourself.

Matt

89:

UPDATE

Funeral is over.

Tomorrow (Monday) I'm flying out to New York, my first US visit in nearly 3 years. I'll be around for three days, during which I've got approximately 14-16 hours of business and editorial meetings with my agents and publishers.

(North American publishing is centralized on New York; I used to visit annually before Trump. I've been trying to avoid doing so since then, but I've hit a point at which I really really need to have a bunch of meetings, so that's what this trip is.)

I might be available for drinks Monday/Tuesday around the south end of Manhattan (not far from Battery Square) but I might equally well crash out with exhaustion: the schedule is a bit brutal, and if I'd known it would be this bad I'd have scheduled a couple more days for it.

90:

Don't worry about what we think Charlie, take care of yourself. Take a vacation. Give yourself time to get your head straight. Be well.

91:

All of my condolences.

Also just know taking breaks and avoiding constant crunch time is just needed. People burn out. Even writers who like writing will hit a point where they push themselves into a bad place.

I hope things get better so that you actually like visiting the US again. And we can all have a laugh in a new brewery in Portland (The Green Dragon got bought out).

92:

Tomorrow (Monday) I'm flying out to New York, my first US visit in nearly 3 years.

Check the weather reports. We are having a very warm fall.

Was there over the US Labor day weekend a few weeks ago for a crazy walking tour of Manhattan. We also stayed at the south end of the island but spend most of our time further north. If no rain and have the time check out Washington Square after dark. You might get a great free concert by someone local unknown like we and a few 100 others did as a nice way to end the day.

Also the subway/bus system seems determined to not post the single entry price anywhere. It is $2.75. You MUST use a fare card. They costs $1. If you think you'll be moving about much the best deal might be the one week pass for $30 I think.

All of her descendants, their spouses, and assorted others we be at my mother in law's interment in Arlington National Cemetery this Friday. She had a good life especially considering she was born in southern Germany in 1928 and was there throughout the war. She married my father in law (a young LT in the US Army) in the middle 50s and thus my wife and her sisters are army brats as we call them here. And for those wondering "how?" my father in law died before I ever met my wife from a heart attack while on active duty and he's there. She gets to share the spot.

I think you're in the same situation. She was the last of the parents of my, my wife's, our siblings, and spouses' parents. A generation has passed.

93:

Man... I just came upon your Merchant Princes series the other day, a third through the Bloodline Feud at the moment and I went to google to search for maps of that world (couldn't find any) and then to look for your website/forum/blog to express how much I am enjoying your work... didn't expect to read such bad news. Puts everything into perspective.

Condolences from a stranger on the other side of the world.

94:

Charlie, I hope your trip goes well. We will, eventually, be a country you can enjoy visiting again.

For you non-USAians, Arlington National Cemetery is our premier military cemetery; to be buried there, you must have served in the U. S. military during a conflict. Spouses of those interred may be buried on the reverse side of their mate’s grave. As a historical footnote, ANC occupies what was once Robert E. Lee’s estate on the west bank of the Potomac River, across from Washington DC. The estate was confiscated after the American Civil War.

95:

You'll be in Arlington this Fri? If you have time, drop me an email (admins, please pass along my real email), and maybe we can have a cup of coffee, or a drink. Not working, and I'm only up in Montgomery county....

96:

Jesus H Christ on a crutch!

Johnson stood in Parliament this evening and said: “the best way to honour Jo Cox is to deliver Brexit”.

Moral vacuum hardly seems a sufficient description.

97:

Apologies!

Previous comment was of course meant for the Brexit thread.

If there’s any way for the mods to move it, it would be much appreciated.

98:

Charlie Stross @ 89: UPDATE

Funeral is over.

Tomorrow (Monday) I'm flying out to New York, my first US visit in nearly 3 years. I'll be around for three days, during which I've got approximately 14-16 hours of business and editorial meetings with my agents and publishers.

(North American publishing is centralized on New York; I used to visit annually before Trump. I've been trying to avoid doing so since then, but I've hit a point at which I really really need to have a bunch of meetings, so that's what this trip is.)

I might be available for drinks Monday/Tuesday around the south end of Manhattan (not far from Battery Square) but I might equally well crash out with exhaustion: the schedule is a bit brutal, and if I'd known it would be this bad I'd have scheduled a couple more days for it.

Whether it was drinks or crashing out, I hope your meetings were productive and you managed to slip in & out before the "Nazgul" caught up with you. 8^)

99:

Spouses of those interred may be buried on the reverse side of their mate’s grave.

Actually while they may have done that in the past for a long time now they stack them. Room is at a premium. They just put out a proposal that you don't get a spot going forward unless you die as a result of combat. Currently it is 80% full and 10 to 100 times as many eligible people as slots just now.

Anyway my mother in laws urn will be put on top of her husband's coffin.

100:

You'll be in Arlington this Fri? If you have time, drop me an email (admins, please pass along my real email), and maybe we can have a cup of coffee, or a drink.

If the admins connect us ...

Any free time I have would likely be noon or a bit later Sunday before I drive back to NC. Will be with a gang of relatives ranging in size from 5 to 20 people depending on day and time till then.

This is an army brat family. They have haunts to visit in Alexandria, Laurel, and a few other spots. My father in law was stationed in the area twice. Second time as post comptroller for Fort Mead. One sister and her husband were stationed there in the early 80s. Back when civilians could visit without being escorted. (I got married there. No way now.) Plus we haven't been to any of the Smithsonian downtown locations in over 10 years.

101:

Update: Checked in, flying home tomorrow (Thursday) overnight, spending Friday (and probably Saturday) dead of jet lag. Business side of things was (so far, two final meetings to go) a success.

102:

It's a terrible thing, Charlie and you have my deep condolences. Yes, this is going to weigh on you for a long time. It happened to me eight years ago, and still overwhelms me with grief and longing at unpredictable intervals. Take care of yourself and Feorag, sir, and lean on your friends as needed. It's what friends are for.

103:

Be kind to yourself. Losing a parent is hard - losing two in quick succession must be brutal.

104:

My deepest sympathies, Charlie. My own mother's birthday was two days ago... except that she died in 2009. It was sudden and unexpected, and I don't know if that's worse than a slow decline. I suppose it makes it easier to remember the happy times, which is what you should do.

As others have said, take your time and allow yourself to grieve properly and when you're up to it I look forward to seeing you at a FORTH Tuesday night meeting in the Oxford Bar.

105:

Thanks for the correction. My wife's grandfather (and his spouse) are there as well. Sorry for your loss.

106:

Just got an email from Amazon that Invisible Sun is postponed, so I checked in and read about your loss.
Take your time and best wishes!

107:

Invisible Sun is really postponed now—at a meeting with my publisher last week we agreed to put it back to 2021 to give us time to get it right.

Translation: this is the book that killed (a) my editor, (b) my father, and (c) my mother. Well, it wouldn't stand up in a court of law as a homicide charge, but I was working on it when each of them died, and that did a real number on my head. (It's a cursed project.)

It'll come out when it comes. Meanwhile, "Dead Lies Dreaming"—which was never intended to happen at all; it was me giving myself permission to do therapeutic writing in-between hospital visits—has slid straight through edits and is on its way to publication in fall next year, with sequels planned.

108:

Charlie
In which "universe" is "DLD" set?
One of the previous, or a new scnario?
Or, is it the "Peter Pan" one?

109:

In the US, "Dead Lies Dreaming" will probably be marked as the first of the "Tales of the New Management", i.e. same universe as the Laundry Files, but not dealing with the Laundry (or civil servants, spies, and government functionaries). Not sure how Orbit will pitch it in the UK. It's both a continuation and a clean-sheet reboot of the Laundry; I needed to make a break after 20 years of writing about the same characters.

I'm still going to finish the Bob, Mo, et al story arc—the Laundry Files aren't finished yet—but it's come to a fork in the path, or maybe a new offshoot. (For TV folks, I guess it's like "Deep Space 9" wrt. "Star Trek", or "Torchwood" wrt. "Doctor Who".)

Just two characters from the previous series crop up in this book: the Prime Minister, Fabian Everyman, puts in a brief guest appearance, and a surviving Spetsnaz soldier from "The Fuller Memorandum" turns up working for the Transnistrian Mafia as a "loss adjuster" (the kind of loss adjuster who carries an AK-74).

110:
loss adjuster

"Nice factory you have there. Your children will remain lost until you sign it over to us."

111:

Insert comment about how organized crime can't rely on state infrastructure for guard labour and underwriting ventures (because it's all illegal) so they have to provide their own ...

112:

I've been through this multiple times: grandfather in 1961, grandmother in 1981, father in 1994, mother in 2005, beloved most-senior-aunt in 2016 (at 102 - respiratory failure; she was mentally clear).

I would like to have had more time with my father; he told me once that not everything is worth doing well (he was a mechanical engineer and had that tendency to aim for perfection every time).

113:

I’m so sorry, Charlie. I lost my own mother in August after a long struggle with cancer and a shorter struggle with dementia. I understand.

114:

Eternal rest grant them, Lord, and light everlasting shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Charlie, we've had our differences of opinion, but I've been where you are. It wasn't fun, it isn't fun, but it is an unavoidable part of being human. Either you will read their obituaries, and attend their memorials, or they will read and attend yours.

Hang in there, guy. The hurting eases off, eventually.

115:

condolences to you and yours. may you get your wind back, and find your joys.

116:
Insert comment about how organized crime can't rely on state infrastructure for guard labour . . .

Not that some people won't try.

Googling will find you a few more instances, but few with the record of accuracy that Lowering The Bar has.

117:

My condolences to you and your family- take care of yourself during these trying times.

118:

Hm, one could parse statements like hcmeyer's according to the philosophy of eternalism, where every moment is in existence at once.

Thinking like that has a certain appeal to it, most objections to it boiling down to "I don't like it" and "but free will!!!eleventy"[1] hardly make for arguments against it.

That being said, time to join the people saying condolences to you and your family. Sorry for being late, as usual, new job, and oh the joys[2] of underfunded public transport services...


[1] "collides with free will" is more or less an argument FOR something these days. Though then, there is always Kant:
"Moreover, the determinism of modern science no longer threatens the freedom required by traditional morality, because science and therefore determinism apply only to appearances, and there is room for freedom in the realm of things in themselves, where the self or soul is located."
I learned about that one from a certain guy I met again at my last work, com eto think about it...

[2] In other news, I cyberstalked[2a] hmpf again lately, and it seems she is writing quite good Laundry fanfic at the moment.

[2a] Err, not really stalked, just read her blog, err.

119:

Just read this - my deepest condolences :(

120:

In a similar chunk of time my father died and my mother had a massive stroke.

Your writing, and the strange bag of weirdness that is this blog, has given me much comfort over the years. To you, and all the wonderful folks that pour thought and humour into the ethersphere, thank you. All of you.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on September 11, 2019 9:28 AM.

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