The prospect of life after death is not only the central theme of Things I Should Have Said and Done but also something that fascinates me. The way I see it, whoever or whatever made us wouldn’t have invested millions of years of evolution for us to just live out our three-score year and ten (or whatever the modern equivalent is.) There has to be something after this.

In the book, Ellen dies suddenly and hasn’t had time to prepare herself or put her affairs in order. There are things that she needs to do before she can put this world behind her and move onto the next and with George, her Greeter at her side, she sets about doing them.

This is total fantasy of course and I have as much an idea as the next person about happens when we die but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I have felt the presence of someone who is no longer with us. Are they paying us a visit? Personally, I often smell cigar smoke and the only person I have ever known who smoked a cigar is my grandfather who died in 1970. I like smelling the cigar smoke because I have very few memories of him but the one’s I have involve him smoking his pipe. He always looked contented when he had his pipe so I get the feeling that wherever he is now he is happy.

Shortly after the book was originally published in 2016, I received an email from someone at Barnardo’s Head Office who had read the book and wanted to tell me what a profound effect it had had on them. They had recently lost their mother and the person said that after reading it, they tried to imagine their mother being happy with her parents and her sisters who were already dead. They said the book had given them hope.

I wish that I could quote the email directly but thanks to being furloughed (three times) and works network clearing all computers that aren’t used for five weeks I’ve lost it but I will always remember how good it made me feel that something I had written had helped me through a difficult time. However, this is a direct quote from one of the reviews Things I Should Have Said and Done received the first time around.

“I loved this book Collette ! After the loss of my husband Mark at 47 it helped me and made me laugh – not quite sure about Marks greeter tho ! – Who is she! What’s her name and is she thin ????”

I had a lot of fun writing this book because there were no rules for Ellen to conform to. Like I said before none of us know what it’s actually like to be dead. Maybe I have described it perfectly. Maybe there really is a Gerald making big decisions and an officious Arthur with his black hair and his white suit. Who knows?

I’d like to leave you with my late mother’s thoughts on death. “It can’t be bad because no-one ever comes back to complain.” The simple logic of a simple woman who, when her time came, was happy to die.

Colette McCormick

Colette was born and raised in Sheffield but now lives in North East England. She has had a wide range of jobs from ledger clerk to school dinner lady and lots of things in between but in 2001 she found her calling in the world of charity retail. After working for CR UK for 10 years she now works for Barnardo’s and while it’s a job that she loves, writing is her real passion. When she is not working or writing there is a good chance you will find Colette, baking, gardening or walking the dog in the beautiful countryside that Co Durham has to offer. She has been married almost forty years and has two grown up sons.

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