‘An exploration of grief and recovery’
– This is My Sea
[ About This is My Sea ]
Over the course of seven difficult years Miriam Mulcahy lost her mother, father and sister, each grief threatening to drown her. But instead of going under she discovered the lessons of the sea, letting the water teach her how to get through anything in life: one breath builds on another, another stroke, another kick and you will get home.
This is My Sea takes our greatest fear, death, and wraps it up in language so fine and beautiful that the reader is carried along and comforted by how completely lost Miriam was and how she found solace in all the things that sustained her: books, music, art, friends, love, swimming, and of course the sea.
[ My Review ]
This is My Sea by Miriam Mulcahy was published with Eriu (Bonnier Irish Imprint) August 24th and is described as ‘a memoir about death, how to grieve, and the healing power of the sea.’
A powerful read, Miriam Mulcahy has written a book that will resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one and has been completely levelled by the overwhelming feeling of grief and regret that follows. Everyone handles the grieving process differently. There are no set rules, no right or wrong. Each individual has to carve their own path through it. In This is My Sea, Miriam Mulcahy reflects on her own very personal journey as she witnessed her family disappearing one by one before her eyes. She was unable to stop their pain and suffering, watching on as each slipped away. Her wonderful father was the first to leave them, shocking the family and putting a gaping hole in their lives. Her mother was strong, suffering yet enduring her loss but, within a few years, cancer took her, followed by Miriam’s sister a short time after. Within seven years Miriam Mulcahy’s life was changed beyond comprehension. Her own partnership also collapsed during that time, leaving her a single mother with four young children to rear. She got through the autopilot routines of the day but underneath Miriam wasn’t coping too well.
The sea had always played a huge part in Miriam’s life. Her parents, both passionate swimmers, discovered a little part of Kerry, where they returned to regularly, to a mobile home. Here, in a small site overlooking the pier and waters of Rath, the footprints of the Mulcahy family were embedded in the path to the sea. All weather and any season, would see them loving the ocean and the secret beauty it held in its depths. In order to try and make sense of her grief Miriam would return again and again to Rath over those seven years, alone or with family. She sought and ofttimes achieved the solace she searched for in order to assist her with coping with life. This wild sea off the coast of Kerry was her saviour, her stepping stone back to living a life without her mother, father and sister by her side.
‘The Atlantic is wild, clear, unpredictable and magnificent. It holds secrets you have to go deep and far to hear. It’s a startling, vivid green that other seas dream of being. Yet it holds qualities of night that are visible during the day, it’s a green of sleep and dreams and rest, it’s the green of peace and perfection, it’s the work of the moon, the shifting of the tides, it’s mercurial and magical, and when I swim in this water I know I am home. This green, this impossible green that intensifies and builds into a combination of white, turquoise, aqua, blue layers, this is my soul’s colour, pure and the best part of who I am’
Along with the sea, Miriam’s books and passion for reading and writing kept her sane. She had great friends but she needed to escape and be by herself to process what was happening to her. A retreat in West Cork provided a moment of calm, one she returned to many times. Her ability to harness the power of the sea, alongside her time spent in the tranquillity of West Cork and her writing, combined to give Miriam the strength and the courage to get up everyday and get on with her life.
Miriam Mulcahy has had very challenging experiences but she has put these experiences to good use by assisting others to explore their grief and to not always fear it. Miriam Mulcahy is an inspirational individual, with an incredible passion and belief in the power of the sea to help combat the feelings of hopelessness and despair that follow grief.
This is My Sea is an emotional and commanding book packed with poignant stories of family and love, of pain and fear, of grief and suffering. It is also a beautifully written, heartfelt expression of courage and hope, an extraordinarily uplifting book about life and living it to the fullest.
‘Being on Rath without them is so hard, but it’s also the place they come closest to us. They return and reappear, in memory and in the heart, when I plunge in the water and take a swim, they are here whispering to me from the green water, telling me to swim out further, to the deep, where I will leave other people’s noise and chatter and hear what they are saying to me again’
[ Bio ]
Miriam Mulcahy is a writer, journalist and editor who contributes to the Irish Times. She has a degree in European Studies and French from the University of Limerick, lives in Kildare, and is a single parent to four children and a dog called Juno who takes her out for long walks on the Curragh every day. Last year she curated the Surrealist Gallery, a permanent exhibition on the life of Desmond Morris, bringing together her passions for art, books and nature.
X (Twitter) ~ @MulcahyMir