grief gravy

I have swam in it, swallowed it, fought it, opened my arms to it, shrivelled from it, tolerated it, hated it,.. It’s hit me like a personal tsunami, been wishy washy, sticky beyond treacle, invaded my brain to make it fuzzy and cracked open my tentative comfort zones. I know it’s a lifelong friend I have to accept it. It’s equal with and probably surpasses the combined effect of all the worse times in my life and for the first time uncovered real solid regrets.

It’s a gravy train that doesn’t bring benefits or maybe it does.

My heart was broken by losing Manjula, I covered it up and held it close but now I’m beginning to feel able to open my heart again. So there are positives to discover and learning to reveal.

I now love Manjula even more and in ways that I couldn’t imagine. I’m tentatively beginning to be kind to myself.

Part two of this series of postings is the heart

Thank you for your support during this horrendous journey.

I love you Manjula

a new leaf

as we approached the second anniversary of losing Manjula I took myself on one side and had a chat.

I will always have grief gravy to deal with, hopefully the flood that’s now a river, becomes a stream and in time a puddle. As part of that there is a shift towards pushing aside more of the upset and blame, allowing more space to remember the positives and her joyfulness.

The latest sign in response to that positiveness was three examples of people contacting me who might help create the garden, do interviews for ‘our story’ and help reach our story to more people. How cool is that? It’s another sign.

Another is our flag.

Out the front of our house its flapping to show, the Union Jack representing me, with the sun rising to provide a beacon of kindness, that’s Manjula and a crown because she’s a queen.

Here’s this weeks postings, if you missed them:

In planning for this anniversary we sponsor meals at the old people’s home

Manjula’s Anniversary Continuing, lunch and pooja to celebrate and help her soul find its new home, if she’s not already there, who else gets fed?

Kind friends sent messages, called round and shared poems here and here

There was an earlier sign

The anniversary reminded me of facing one of the most difficult decisions in my life which should not have arisen. Another example of me stumbling through life

happier times

Missing Manjula 2

It’s fifteen weeks now.

There have been so many goodwill messages I’m stuck for how to share them all…

Here are a selection from friends around the world.

“To live in other’s hearts is not to die”

Isn’t that wonderful?

a Fante Ghanaian quote


Hi Stephen

In the very brief time I knew Manjula she made an impact on me with her kind nature and cheeky sense of humour.

I saw how much she was loved by people within the community.

While going through her serious health problems she still went out of her way to see if I was ok and enjoying my trip.

I was so saddened to hear of her passing and my condolences and warmest wishes are with you



Such sad news Stephen. We loved our time with you both at the BnB. Manjula was a beautiful person…. she will be missed by many.

Sending you lots of love Ruth & Alan xx

such a beautiful funny lady so very sad ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️xxxxx

So sorry for your loss, Stephen. Manjula was an angel and is shining her light and love over you, always.

So so sorry to hear of your loss. Have followed your beautiful journey thru FB…She spread her radiant smile far and beyond….Even to the unknown. Wish you all the strength.

Farewell Manjula.

You always had a smile and an impish laugh, for everyone.

Will miss you, as will everyone you touched.

Steven Robert Heath


I’m so sorry Stephen. Manjula bought such a ray of sunshine to all she met.

Her beauty was both outside and within.

Her killer humour, her untold skills and cleverness.

You had the enormous joy to share this.

Your memories of her trip to UK.

Everyone who met her loved her.

She will always be in our hearts and yours.

With such sadness. Libby and Andrea Smith.

Manjula, dear, funny, clever, beautiful inside and out. You are in my heart forever 💕💕💕



A truly inspiring couple… And am gald to have met an amazing and radiant soul in Manjula…

Prayers for her sadhgathi…

And your feelings and thoughts are so well penned down Stephen…

Prayers n much luv…

Guru Dutt Bharadwaj


Some people come into our lives very briefly but leave a lasting impression ; Manjula Vellada was one such person #flyhighlovelylady

Mo Willot Hunstone


I’m sure the house is feeling very lonely without her warmth! You two inspired a lot of people around the world … me included! You are loved by so many people … please hang in there! So many in life never get to experience the kind of special connection you two shared – feel blessed for that! Hugging my hubby a little tighter tonight … and sending you all my love! 🤗 😢



Love is Sweet! and life changing, Noah Jamilu


This is such a heart touching tribute to an extraordinary woman. Manjula will always be synonymous with Mysore and the beautiful memories we made there. Her dry humour and hospitality will live on… Ankara Anson


Manjula was that little spark of surprise in the day, her food was delicious her face could light up a room, I am so sorry for your loss Stephen. Love and kind wishes Vicki and Ron


One moment at a time.

One hour at a time.

One day at a time.

You will get there.

I feel blessed for having met you both.

Love and Hugs.



Dear Steve

Please accept my sincere condolences for your deep loss, and indeed the world’s loss. I can’t imagine your pain but I can feel your love for Manjula. According to a fante (Ghanaian language)saying, ‘to live in other’s hearts is not to die’. I know this to be true Steve, and I hope will bring you some comfort. I am sure your Manjula is smiling and watching over you, with endless love.



I stumbled upon your BnB when looking for some experiences around Mysore. Never happened to visit you guys but have followed you ever since. Feel like I have known Manjula and her inspiring life over the years through your posts; thanks for sharing your journey Akshay Surve


My dear Stephen

I am so sorry to hear this. I hope you are bearing up well. It sounds like you were expecting this.

I only met you and Manjula over a couple of days whilst staying in your home but I feel we have continued the friendship by the power of the Internet. You have kept in touch with your blogs and posts and I am sure I am not the only one who feels your loss.

Not much I can say but if you’re ever in my neck of the world you have a friend and a bed available.

With kind regards and sadness.



I am so very sorry for your loss. I followed your page with the hope of coming to Mysore one day. Manjula has been a luminous presence in your posts: such warmth in her smile. She was beautiful in so many ways. My deepest condolences sulwen


Stephen I always harbored this small hope that Manjula (with you of course) would some day make it to my part of the world. Alas that will not happen but that sweet, dear face will always be a part of me.Diane


Steve This is a very beautiful tribute to a very beautiful woman. You were both so lucky to find one another and have those years together. What a unique and special relationship it was and what a huge loss for you and the hundreds of people who met her and through you and your love of her grew to know and love her too. May she be sitting peacefully somewhere watching over you and feeling proud to have been your wife. Emma


You were both so lucky to find each other and share those years even though they were surely not enough. They love you shared shone out so bright and clear and was wonderful to be around.

I can’t imagine your home without her spreading her warmth and I send you strength to move through the days. We send our love to you.

Your friends in Oregon.

Abby and Dean


Farewell Manjula.

You always had a smile and an impish laugh, for everyone.

Will miss you, as will everyone you touched.

Stephen Robert Heath



Our thoughts are with you; we had the chance to meet both of you last December and we will cherish this memory of you and her together in your beautiful garden. She had such a warm smile and a gracious presence.

Marie Andree Dubrule


I’m filled with such sadness of the passing of Manjula. However whenever I think of her I do so with remembrance of her positive spirit, her wonderful smile and her sense of humour. She has left an indelible mark of joy in all of us. — with Manjula Vellada.

Thank you Stephen for sharing! I‘ve met Manjula and you only once a time in my life but I still feel really in a relationship with both of you. I have a lot of tears in my eyes, believe me … Again a lot of power for you! Be grateful that you find each other 🐝

Sabine Willers

I am so sorry Stephen both Lorna and I have happy memories of staying with you both some years ago. The laughter and happiness in the house created such a wonderful atmosphere. Our thoughts are with you David Cross

Stephen how lucky you are to have found each other. My heart goes out to you. xxxxx Libby Sandbrook



Dearest Stephen

Yesterday Varis and I did a puja for Manjula with a Baba in a temple at the foothills of the Himalayas. I picked some wildflowers and threw them in the waterfall coming down from the mountains and prayed for Manjula’s soul to fly free. We prayed for you too, to find the strength you need to help you through your loss and heartache. They call this place the Land of the Gods. If we couldn’t be with you in Mysore, I’m glad we were here in this special place to pray for Manjula’s soul. Sending you love and healing light 🙏🏻 — at Palampur Catherine Cullen


A star on earth is now a star in heaven


Dear Stepen, we are very sorry to hear about the death of Manjula. We remember Manjula (and you) with great love. We stayed at your BnB for 3 night almost 5 years ago, and for us, this is one of very few places in the world which made us feel like home. We wish you all the best and may you find some comfort by knowing she made an impact on people all over the world. Take care, Oren and Ofra from Israel


Stephen Farrell these photos came up on my memories today from 2 years ago. Just check out Manjula’s cheeky smile!! I know you probably have the originals as you took the photos but wanted to share them again with you. I’m so glad we had the chance to meet her (and experience her wonderful cooking!!) Hope you’re coping okay, be strong my dear. Sending you big hugs and love. X — with Manjula Vellada and Paula Calder.

Kerry Hague

Three stages

Our (Manjula and my) friends are really really cool and warm.

After three months I can appreciate (wrong word if it ever implies like!) three distinct and overlapping stages (not quite the right description) that also still exist, often all at exactly the same time.

The first is raw, extreme grief that fills your every moment when not concentrating on physical practical action things such as rituals and sorting things out. It still raises it awful ugly head and manifests itself in salty wetness every single day. Needless to say it also involved anger, pity, it was frankly messy. Sharing my feelings and the support of friends around the world was superb. Overall though it was and still can be really shitty. More on the three buckets of grief can be found here.

Second stage became more obvious and vivid when I was at Liz’s house (big ex, mum of my boys and still a great friend of Manj and I). On a small corner table was a photo from my eldest son Ben’s wedding with Manjula in the group. During the evening I found myself looking away from her picture as I was overcome by sad feelings. At that moment I properly realised what I’d been doing and what I needed to do next. The sad memories of the difficulties she experienced, particularly at the end and of her being snatched away needed to be and were being replaced by lovely memories of our time together, the adventures we’d created and how much of a difference we’d made in each other’s lives. I therefore spent more time Looking at her photo, appreciating her beauty; remembering the joy and the wonderful life we’d created. Things slowly start getting better.

Third stage. I’ve now met up with our friends in India, UK, USA and Canada to share our memories of Manjula. People’s care, kindness and compassion has been immeasurable. I now feel that whilst the above ‘stages%’ are still very much part of my life, and things will continue to be raw for some time, I need now to start pulling things together a bit, get a bit more focussed. To move from any regret to remorse, check article here. A critical part of that will be to confirm and clarify, speak out to Manjula, ask her forgiveness for the things I didn’t do, or wish I’d done more of or better, and recognise the amazing things we did do, thanking her for her time with me (that continues) and being an absolute star.

I love you Manjula and always will.

Manjula more memories.

It’s eight weeks now. I’m in London and carrying with me a photograph of my beautiful Manjula.

We don’t have access to Mysore Market and it’s wonderful selection of beautiful fragrant flowers.

Manjula did however love receiving roses and the local Sainsbury’s has obliged.

Manjula is, of course, in my thoughts, every single minute but I also especially remember her by placing her photo somewhere prominent and displaying flowers on the monthly anniversary of that Saturday morning when she died.

What happens after we die?

A letter to my Granddaughter Poppy.

I’m staying with her and her mum and dad.

It’s her dad Ben’s birthday.

This morning on waking Poppy gave me sweets and asked if Manjula liked them and if we could telephone her.

So she doesn’t know about what’s happened, or maybe she does and she’s looking to me for further explanation and understanding, hence this letter to be read out….. to her, which I’ve just done after supper

Manjula has died.

When people’s bodies become tired and can’t manage anymore they stop working, they die. Usually it’s when they are older, sometimes when they are younger.

It’s OK to be sad, to miss her and to cry. I do a lot of the tIme. She’s still with us in our hearts and in our minds.

We don’t know what happens to their spirit when someone dies because it’s not happened to us yet. Most of us believe part of us, usually called our spirit carries on.

Manjula (and I and lots of people in India) believe that part of us carries on and usually comes back and lives within another body. So that would mean we never really die, nobody really knows.

In India when someone’s body stops working it’s cremated and the funeral ceremonies are about helping her spirit move on….

Some people think that afterwards they hang around in a beautiful place, like a valley, where they sing, dance and have great fun.

Some believe we’ll catch up with each other again, hold hands continue to be friends and carry on.

Some people believe that butterflies or dragonflies are messengers or they find some other way to pass a message back to their loved ones.

I know Manjula’s spirit is still alive – where exactly I don’t know – maybe waiting for me, maybe waiting to be the spirit once she finds another body.

We know she was loved and gave love and we can’t ask for anything more we still love and miss her.

I know she had a happy life when we were together, she was a very good person, looked after others wherever and whenever she could. I think and believe our spirits will meet again somewhere in the future.

So it’s sad because we miss Manjula but it’s also happy because she’s left us with wonderful memories, she’s still in our hearts and her spirit lives on.

Follow this link for picture book suggestions.

A smile

Manjula had a most beautiful smile that many have said lit up the room and left a presence in their heart.

A smile brings us together and Manjula most definitely brought people together, crossed social, class, cultural caste and international boundaries and made connections. Just one of her astonishing attributes. (There’s that Farrell bias again 🙂)

“Care granted to the sick, welcome offered to the banished, forgiveness itself are worth nothing without a smile enlightening the deed. We communicate in a smile beyond languages, classes, and parties. We are faithful members of the same church, you with your customs, I with mine.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I know this of Manjula, she beamed her smile, passed on her warmth, lit up our way regardless of the toll her gattling gun of illnesses was making on her poor depleted body. To her very last she squeezed out a giggle and a smile.

Thank you to Janie for this wonderful portrait.