Grief

From: Penelope Fitzgerald: Charlotte Mew and Her Friends (1984) Chapter Twenty – The Loss of a Mother:

“Sydney Cockerell made one of his rare miscalculations when he offered to take Charlotte’s mind off things by getting up a lunch party, the kind of thing he liked to call “a little gathering of understanding folk”. She refused. “Sympathy is not the forcible administration of one’s own patent remedy,” she told him, “but a consideration for – even if one cannot understand it – the other person’s point of view.” Then she added, relenting a little, “I know very well that your intent is kindness, but quand meme.” On 12 May 1923 Ma died in hospital, of bronchial pneumonia.

…Charlotte could neither eat nor sleep. She described the death, which the doctor had understandably called “inevitable”, as “a stupefying blow – and I feel like a weed dug up and thrown over a wall”…the saddest part of the situation was that to most of their acquaintance Anna Maria’s death seemed an absolute blessing…Edith Sitwell, who had met Charlotte at the Bookshop in 1919, saw her as…”sucked dry of blood (though not of spirit) by an arachnoid mother”…Secrecy brings its own penalties, and it would have been necessary to have stood by Henry’s graveside and visited Freda at Whitelands to know what Anne and Charlotte felt when they buried Anna Maria.”

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