The Great Below – A Journey Into Loss

Maddy Paxman


Maddy’s husband, the poet Michael Donaghy, died suddenly at the age of fifty, leaving her to bring up their young son alone. After the shock of his unexpected death, the funeral and public mourning of this well-loved and respected writer, Maddy had to help her son deal with the loss of his father and come to terms herself with being a lone parent. In this extraordinary account, she describes how grief and bereavement had re-opened the wounds of her past – the loneliness and emotional neglect of her childhood – which must be acknowledged and healed if she was to truly find her way back into life. She learned that there are gifts in pain and tragedy, if you have the courage to look for them. And she came to understand just what the incredible love of her husband had brought her, and how hard it was to lose that. Written with warmth and humour as well as searing honesty, this book takes an unflinching look at both what it means to grieve, and what it means to love.

Maddy Paxman met her husband, the well-known poet Michael Donaghy, in Chicago and they moved to London together. She later worked as a counsellor in women’s health and as a music teacher, and currently teaches the Alexander Technique. She is also a painter and musician. The Great Below is her first book.