Five Things I didn't realise would happen when you lose someone suddenly, until it happened to me by Jools Barsky.

Jools Barsky

By Jools Barsky
The sister of Jon Underwood, who died unexpectedly at the age of 44

Jon Underwood, at his home in Hackney, London

Jon Underwood, at his home in Hackney, London

1. Once you hear that your loved one is going to die/ has died, you might not respond in a 'typical' way by screaming or crying - you may even remain completely calm or look like you're smiling. This doesn't mean you're any less distressed. 

2. You will wake up in the morning not always remembering that your loved one has died, but have a feeling in the pit of your stomach that something's not right. Once you remember, it can feels like you're in a bad dream from which you can't wake up.

3. When you inevitably walk around the supermarket, you will feel confused and angry that all these other shoppers are getting on with their daily lives whilst your entire world has been turned upside down.

4. Sometimes you will dream about talking to your loved one, which despite the indescribable inner turmoil you're feeling will give you a tiny sense of relief.

5. At some point, the initial horrendous pain will feel ever-so-slightly less horrendous, and life will become just a little bit more normal.


Jools Barsky is the sister of Jon Underwood, who died unexpectedly in 2017 from undiagnosed acute promyelocytic leukaemia.

Jon was the founder of Death Cafe, a movement which encourages people to talk about death over tea and cake. Jools now runs Death Cafe with the assistance of Jon’s mum, Sue Barsky Reid, as Jon requested.

Death Cafe website