‘There is a time for everything. The time for hope is now’

Louise Hall lost all hope after her father died. She worked hard to get it back and has put it into a book

Change can be difficult, especially when you are used to a set routine and certain structures in your life. We’re encouraged to embrace change, to choose different paths, but it’s not always easy to do, especially when your brain has developed pathways over the years and the familiarity has become so embedded, that it seems impossible, even unnatural to let it go.

If there is something we have all realised over the past few months, it’s that nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable. It is, at times, out of our control. Sometimes, it can be cruel and cause emotional pain that manifests into physical pain. It can make your world seem out of sync and give that incessant feeling that things are just not right.

When it hits hard, it can create a sense of detachment from your own body where a fog descends in your mind, and it can feel as though an imposter has seeped in under your skin. An uninvited, dominating force; one who at times, though unwelcome, feels strangely familiar - as though it has always been there lurking around in the background, just waiting for the opportunity to arise – the opportunity to charge and fire up the electric currents of negativity so they can flow freely through your brain.

It’s not a pretty scene. And when you are the main character in that scene, you just want the movie to be over. I know. I’ve been in that film. Partaken in that scene. I was the method actor worthy of an Oscar, such was the flawless portrayal of a tortured soul.


It didn’t happen during the pandemic. It happened two years after my father died. Some said it was grief – delayed reactive depression. I had been through a trauma – it’s not easy to watch someone you love die. Others said it was stress, and that I was burnt out. Looking back now, I think it was a combination of everything. At 43, life had caught up on me.

I had my three children before the age of 30 and I was always kept busy. When they went to school, I went back to work part time where I joined my father in the family business and helped him with work as he lived through stage four cancer for t10 years. When he died, I spoke at his funeral, went into work the next day at 7.30am and put on a smile. It was business as usual.

Life went on. I threw myself into working full time and other distractions. When people asked how I was, I told them I was fine. Except deep down I wasn’t. I had also lost my sister 11 years earlier, so when grief finally hit me like a battering ram last year, I had to revisit her death too. It was a double whammy. And it knocked me for six.

During the months that followed, I experienced anxiety, low moods, ruminating thoughts, panic attacks, night sweats, exhaustion. I thought that everyone I loved was going to die. Simple tasks became difficult. I experienced what I can only describe as adrenaline rushes to my brain. I constantly worried. Everything was disastrous. Catastrophic. Negative. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees even though I had so much good in my life. I felt like a failure.

It lasted eight months and I thought I’d never get through it. I remember thinking at the time, that I couldn’t live like this. My worst moment was when I was lying in bed and in my mind, I came to the realisation that there was no purpose to life. I had nothing to look forward to. I had no hope. At least that is what I thought. The light of hope inside of me was burning so low that I thought it had extinguished completely.

I feared that I would never feel normal again. Never find joy in my life again. When I admitted this separately to two people on different occasions – one a family member, one a counsellor – I was a little astonished to see them both smile at my remark. They promised me that I would. And though I didn’t believe it at the time, they were both right. Maybe because, like many, they had experienced something similar too.

It took a while, but I got through it. How?

Family. Friends. Rest. Time. I scaled back, in general. Made time for myself. Walked. Talked. Cried. Grieved. Meditated. Prayed. Observed the many emotions I went through and allowed them flow. Accepted things. Learned to be patient. Educated myself – listened to lots of podcasts and audio books such as Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place, Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail and Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B. I also wrote – writing has always been my saving grace.

The way I felt during those eight months, soon became a memory. I started to feel good again. Feel like myself again. I had been on a journey, and now I was back. And like all journeys, I had seen and learnt much on my travels. Some of it might not have been pretty but I came to realise that just because you witness the most painful of sufferings, it doesn’t mean you will never again experience the most beautiful pleasure of joy.

Late last year, I finished a new novel I had been working on. I had begun it around the same time my father died. Back then, I had wanted change, a change in direction of my writing. Something new and out of my comfort zone. This change was my decision – something I had control of – and so it was welcome. The new novel was domestic noir. It was an idea I had toyed with and when I started writing it, discovered that I was really enjoying this genre.

Literary agent Sonia Land read the manuscript and offered me representation just before Christmas which I accepted. The wait during the submission period is arduous and never certain. The way to handle this, for me, is usually to write something new.

And so, I did.

During the pandemic, with the advice and encouragement of my agent, I wrote a small book of reflections to help guide us through difficult times. It is designed as a little pocketbook, which you can carry with you wherever you go – a timely reminder of the gift of hope that lies inside us all.

It’s dedicated to all those around the world who have lost hard but loved much. That they may rediscover hope and welcome the freedom of joy back into their lives.

There is a time for everything.

The time for hope is now.

Little Book of Hope published by Peach Publishing is available as e-book and print on demand from Amazon. Louise Hall is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and short stories. You can find out more about Louise and her writings at louisehall.ie