google-site-verification=1GZWcCCTENExPKRkYzK_tzoEhTPFZVvQ5bF9tCQwSxo Kathryn Johnston shares grief at losing journalist husband Liam Clarke
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Kathryn Johnston shares grief at losing journalist husband Liam Clarke

November 6, 2018

 

 

The wife of former Belfast Telegraph Political Editor Liam Clarke has opened up about her battle with grief following his death.

She has recently returned from Morocco where she scattered some of her husband's ashes in Marrakesh.

A hugely-respect journalist in Northern Ireland for many years, Liam passed away following a battle with abdominal cancer in December 2015.

He worked at the Sunday Times as Northern Ireland Editor for 20 years before joining the Belfast Telegraph as Political Editor in 2011.

Mrs Johnston said that Liam remained a large influence in her family's life despite his passing.

"This thing is that you don't automatically move on after a set period of grieving, me and all my family love the very bones of Liam," she told the BBC.

"That love is still there and will never go. There's a Portuguese-Brazilian expression 'Saudade' which is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves, and that's just the way I feel.

"To me Liam is still with us, still with the family, we just can't see him anymore."

Mrs Johnston said that she was still feeling a very immediate sense of loss at her husband's death.

 

"I sometimes wonder 'what is this grieving process?' that everyone talks about, because I wish I could learn about it and go through it, but I think it's just one of those things," she said.

A BBC documentary chronicled the final months of Liam's life and Mrs Johnston said that she watches it every few months.

"It's quite amazing, sometimes I find it helpful, sometimes it knocks me back for a few days, but then I find it helpful in retrospect, looking back to see the character of the man and how he dealt with his fears and his worries," she explained.

"We have so many happy and funny memories of Liam and one of the most bizarre was the morning after Boxing Day when I phoned Aaron Black (the producer of the documentary) and I said 'I'm sorry I've got some very bad news' and I told him Liam had died and he said 'You're kidding me', it was just such a funny reaction and I think somewhere in the midst of all the grief, the sadness, the loss and the desperate longing to get back the way things were, if you can find the things you laughed at, that were funny, the things that made the loved person so human and so real.

"We're lucky, we've got so many very happy memories."

Liam refused treatment which could have extended his life in order to be able to go on working as a journalist with the Belfast Telegraph.

 

"There was no changing his mind, nor did I think any of us had any right too. I went to all his appointments with him and his oncologist told him he had only a 15% chance of chemotherapy helping and there would be dreadful side effects which would stop him working and diminish his quality of life," Mrs Johnston said.

She said that one of the hardest things was knowing what Liam had missed out on since his death.

"He would never have believed Donald Trump, he never would have believed Martin McGuinness would have brought down the Executive," Mrs Johnston said.

"I sometimes think it would be great if you could have just one phone call with someone you love that you've lost so that you could say 'guess what's happened?'."

"Your oldest son is getting married, your middle son has bought a house and your daughter has just got her first legal job in Belfast after getting her LLB.

"I really would love him to know those three things and somehow, sometimes, I think probably, or possibly, he still does."

 

 

 

 

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