Roland Barthes’ Mourning Diary

I’ve just finished reading Roland Barthes’ Mourning Diary, an enthralling collection of wee notes Barthes began to pen the day after his mother died in October 1977. It is a profound record of grief’s journey into suffering and into a deeper questioning of selfhood. Along the way, Barthes reflects on neurosis, solitude, immortality, annihilation, time, solitude, anonymity, monuments, materialism, prayer, friendship, and Ingrid Bergman. The book offers us one man’s raw reflections on an experience common to most – all? – of us, mourning and grief, borne witness to in these words:

‘We don’t forget,
but something vacant settles in us’.

– Roland Barthes, Mourning Diary: October 26, 1977–September 15, 1979 (trans. Richard Howard; New York: Hill and Wang, 2010), 227.


  1. The death of my father has resulted in a feeling of profound loneliness (grief). And it’s impacted on my life in all sorts of ways and the longing never goes away.
    How much I depend on those I love. And God.


  2. Pam, I’m sorry to hear of your profound loneliness, birthed by your father’s death. I suspect that you may very well relate to much of what Barthes describes in this volume.


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