Friday, 18 January 2013

Letter from God ... on living with grief

Here is a letter I wish I'd received earlier in my life. But I'm glad I have it now, and I'm glad that I can share it with you ...



My dear child,

Let me start by saying I love you. I know that at the moment you may not understand what love is all about because you are grieving. I also know that you may not want to hear anything that I have to say right now because all you know is intense pain. That’s your reality at this moment. I understand that. Nevertheless, I am writing this letter to you because I think that you may find it helpful one day when you can read it. You will know when that time is. I believe in your abilities. I think you are still in shock and need to rest while you think about what has happened.

You have experienced a loss. It’s very real to you. So I won’t tell you that it’s all going to be better on a particular day at a particular time because this journey of grief is personal to you. You alone will know when the time is ... different. Different to the time that you are in now. Different to the pain that you feel now. Different to everything that you understand right now. Sometimes I think that you think that it’s too hard to think. You are right. Everything is hard when you are grieving. Waking up is hard, eating is hard, bathing is hard, even smiling with people is hard. Thinking is the hardest part of all. I can see that. It’s why I see that you distract yourself from having to think. I see that it hurts. I know why you busy yourself with so many activities. I also know why you sit still for hours on end without moving. You feel alone. Grief makes you lonely.

Your grief is yours alone. Nobody can share the grief that you have. It’s only yours. That’s why you alone will know when the journey of your grief is another part of the journey of your life. Others around you will be experiencing this loss in a totally different way, and that’s alright – that’s their journey. All I expect you to do is feel your way through the darkness of this pain and know that it will get light again someday.  I don’t expect you to believe anything I say, actually, I don’t expect that you can really believe that I am real.
After all, the person that you are grieving for was far more real to you than I ever was. That’s OK. I understand. Really I do. They were another expression of My love to you.

Does that sound confusing? I’m sure many things do confuse you right now. Simple things that made sense before this loss are now complicated mazes of utter confusion and bewilderment in your days. Nothing seems to fit into place any more. I understand that. It’s as if the world has shifted on its axis and will never be righted again, and for you, I know you believe that is true at times. Maybe you don’t want things to be right again because you may believe that somehow that will make a mockery of your grief. Trust me, it won’t. It will be OK to live life to the full again, to love again and even to be happy. However, I know that grief is often like walking in fog. There seems to be no way out, and at some moments I know that you don’t want to leave the fog. The clarity outside of your current grief existence can be too stark to handle; it will, however, become clearer in time. You may even surprise yourself in the future as you embrace life with gusto.

How you get from here to there is not clear for you, but it can happen.

Some things will never be clear to you – not because you are incapable of understanding them, but because they are bigger than just you and your place in the world. Those things are for Me to understand and take care of. Trust Me. I hope that one day you can and will. I’ll always be here for you. Always. Even when you don’t want to know Me.

That probably sounds so unbelievable right at this moment when the person you always wanted to be with you is no longer there. I’m sorry that you feel sad about that. It was, however, their time to go to sleep. It will never seem like there was enough time for you to be together. That’s another thing you have to trust Me on. I do know the best timings for each life. Partings invariably cause pain. The pain that people feel is not something that makes anyone happy. Especially Me.

One of the most popular questions that I hear is, “Why?” I answer them all, but sometimes people don’t listen to Me. I know that sometimes they can’t listen to Me. Because the pain of loss, especially fresh loss, makes all the senses numb. This may surprise you, but that’s the way I designed it.

Not so that you can feel pain. No, that was never My intention. I designed the sensation of loss so that you could remember love. That’s what this is all about. Love: closeness and connections. Grieving is natural. Loving is natural. They are linked throughout eternity.

I have lost Someone close to Me as well. However, He’s back now. We have been reunited. But that’s another story ... you can look it up if you want to, it’s in another letter I’ve sent to the world: the Bible. (This may be one of the parts that you’ll throw your hands up in disbelief at, but that’s OK. I understand. You may even rip this letter up and burn it, or throw it away, but that’s OK too. I’ll send these thoughts to you again, maybe in a different way. Somehow I’ll keep letting you know that I love you and that it’ll all be alright soon ... because I really do love you and I know what you’re going through. I want you to know that how you feel really matters to Me. It’s all about love.)

As I was saying, love is usually at the centre of grief. That’s why it’s so confusing to you at times. One day I know that you will accept your loss, and even understand it. That may not be today, but it will come.
It may surprise you to know that what you are feeling is natural. Yes, that rollercoaster of emotions that you can go through in the fraction of a moment is perfectly normal. I know that you feel angry at times, especially when the reality of what’s happened hits you fresh in the heart again and you are in shock just like when they first died.

Like the hedgehog I see you put your spikes out to protect your soft centre. You’re doing well. Your heart is hurting. It’s a natural reaction.

You know, some people find that at times like this, at times of fresh loss, they will protect themselves – especially their hearts – by detaching from everyone and everything around them. It’s one way through the heavy pain. Cutting loose can work wonders.

Other people have been known to numb themselves to reality by surrounding themselves with crowds of people so they never have to be alone. Some of these connections are never meant to last. I have seen people behave like butterflies in the summer when they are grieving – they flit from person to person, from group to group, from high to low, as if they were searching for that elusive nectar in a particular flower. Their sadness is as deep as any I have known. They avoid reality and find temporary comfort in anonymity. What sometimes happens is that as soon as someone starts to get close to them, they will detach and move away. It’s their own path through grief, it’s one that no-one wants to take but I know someone always does.
When a big link to your past is taken away – and I know that sometimes you may feel like it was taken and not just slipped away – I see that all you think you are left to live with is sadness.

Sadness is a part of the grief, as I have said you feel sad because the loss is linked to the love you had for that person. That’s a marvellous thing. You may be thinking, “How can sadness be marvellous?” That’s a good question. I’ll try to answer it, but I don’t expect you to believe Me at all, especially straight away.
The reason I don’t expect you to believe me? Well, I know that some days, some moments, some long hours when you are alone with your thoughts, when all the distractions have ceased to block out your feelings, at those times you may think that the world is just an awful place and you just wish everyone would acknowledge it and accept that we are surrounded by unkindness.

I’m not saying that that is not true. There is unkindness and awfulness in the world, but you are not yearning the loss of those things, you are keenly feeling the loss of a special love. That person was specially chosen for you, as you were specially chosen for them. You both had a connection that no one else in the world had, and it’s for that reason that you mourn their loss. They were your connection to your joint past. They still are – even though they are not living and breathing beside you right now. You see, grief is really personal. Grief is also universal. Paradoxically grief is the most private feeling as well as the most public expression.
I want you to remember this: nobody has an obligation to love you. And vice versa. Not even parents and children. Not partners or friends. No human grouping must love any other – but it changes worlds when they do. Love is a choice. Whereas loss appears to be forced on you. Nobody wants it yet everybody has to feel it as it’s a part of the life and death cycle of existence.

Families that suffer the loss of a parent, child, or sibling often have the widest range of grief experiences ever known. Not one of them is the same. It’s a private as well as a shared loss. It’s familiar familial grief and private secret sorrow.

One of the things that I find surprises people most is when they realise that they can’t control grief.

This is especially hard for those who are used to controlling every aspect of their lives – well, trying to at least. The illusion of control is shattered forever when grief breaks through your heart. Suddenly you know that there is nothing you can do to harness those feelings. They surface when and where they want to. Sometimes I know that you feel embarrassed to share the emotions that grief throws out of you, so you keep both a physical and emotional distance from people.

I know that you are trying to protect them from yourself, and they are, in their way, trying to help you but you frequently think they forget your pain. Some of them do, but many don’t. They all have their own pains to deal with. It’s sad to see how many people are walking around with their emotions buttoned up from the inside: nobody is allowed access to the rawness of their hurt. That’s why it continues to sting at your heart and mind. It’s like the unexpected left hook to your head, it knocks you flying ... and often crying. And, as you are reeling from the blow, you realise that you have no idea how it broke through your defences.

When you are so uneasy with your emotional shows I think it makes sense to you to remain isolated from people. For some fresh grievers this means being the life and soul of the party. This means living right to the edge of total exhaustion so that sleep comes quickly and easily every night. Being isolated in public is just as hard to achieve as being isolated in private. They both require lots of effort to achieve. It’s the effort that can be so appealing when battling with grief: it keeps you busy. This means never having a moment to think or remember the loss because feeling the hundreds of sharp knives that the pain to your heart brings each time you remember is just too much to bear. Keeping these emotions all zipped up works for a while but it’s the nature of zips that there are sections that interlock and connect with another part. That’s what is probably best for you right now – connecting in a real way with others. Connecting with life beyond yourself.

You may choose to connect with your family, your friends, strangers, lovers, casual acquaintances, animals, nature or any number of things. However you do it, you are the only one who can unzip the protective cloak around yourself. You can only do this in your own time. I know that. That’s why you have these emotions, so you know when to move between stages of guilt, between feelings of shock, acceptance, anger, denial and depression.

In grief I have seen that many people actively seek isolation because the fear of dependence on someone else reminds them of their connection and dependence of a person who has just died, and it is far too frightening to want to repeat. It’s a normal reaction. In grief the everyday resilience seems to disappear.
Life is fragile like thin ice. As a recently bereaved person you may need time to look at life. The whole of life. Death really brings life into focus. It’s often when somebody has died that others take time – in isolation – to decide if they want to reduce their commitment and connection to general life or to broaden it.

The relationship that you are grieving has changed with your loved one’s death and all other relationships in your life will change because of that. It’s OK. It’s normal. This is a time that you may take to reassess all your connections and look at what relationships you consider special, what friendships stand the ‘test’ of continual sadness. I’ve seen people isolating themselves in their thoughts and actions because the death of a loved one can feel like a rejection. It isn’t, but I understand the need to protect yourself from further possible rejections. I just wanted to let you know that you may feel that people around you will think that you are a nuisance – that’s usually what you are thinking about yourself, not what they are thinking about you. They may just want to love you in the best way they can. It’s difficult for everyone to understand someone else’s grief. You all have to love each other through the pain. I know you can’t do any differently to what you are doing right now, and that’s OK. Those people around you are also doing the best they can – for themselves and for you. You are all experiencing grief.

Some people anticipate grief: they know it’s coming and because of the nature of illness they have time to prepare. Or so they think. When the actual loss and separation occurs it doesn’t matter how much preparation has been done the new grief that sits on your shoulders banishes any thoughts of preparation for that moment that begins the spiral into grief. It’s the finality of death that is the worst for you I think. The absence of your loved one is suddenly everywhere. Your new thoughts, actions, and dreams are all off limits to them. You can no longer share your life with them, nor share any aspect of theirs. The disconnection is total.

Grief is like a thick blanket of snow. It keeps falling even when the emotional forecasters predict a change in outlook. It covers everything it touches and makes it impossible to decipher the landscape before you. It’s as far as your eye can see and deeper that your feet can touch. Grief is like trudging through unchartered geography not knowing where you are going, and sometimes, not even caring where you are going.
Some people have wanted to be consumed by their grief, and they are. They lie down in the snow and wait for it to cover them completely. Most snow melts, it may become ice or water, but it often changes and then you have to negotiate a different means to get through it. Thus it is with grief. It changes as time progresses. It does not always get lighter. It’s like a fairground ride: there are highs and lows on this journey. All I can say is that you should hold on. Hold on to that memory of love. Hold on to that link to the past that may not be living and breathing as a person anymore, but was real and always will be real as long as you keep them in your heart and mind and then you can pass that legacy of love forwards in the life you live.

Grief is sometimes like putting a saddle on a wild Mustang horse. It’s not a natural fit for the horse, but once captured by it, there is no choice but to wear it. People react like the Mustangs when grief settles on them, they fight it – or they take flight from it.

Like a saddled Mustang personal grief is difficult to get hold of, to control. However, as you grieve it’s very important to remember why you are grieving. Love is usually the reason. Holding on to the love rather than the grief is a way to move back into life. You see, grief sometimes makes you run away from daily life. Everything can seem pointless and meaningless in the face of your own loss. People around you can seem occupied with banal issues when your heart is silently fracturing into tiny splinters right in front of them. I have seen a lot of anger at times like this. It’s always hard to remember that they are doing their best because they are not listening to the soundtrack in your head – they don’t know what you are thinking or feeling; especially when you find it so difficult to share any of those feelings with them.

One of the things I’ve found that helps with ‘managing’ grieving is to remember the wonderful times with the person you’ve lost as well as to remember the not-so-good times. Remember the full humanity of the person, and the full humanity of yourself. Neither of you are without fault yet you were perfect for each other just as you were. That’s the beautiful truth of love – it is still there despite your obvious failings. In fact, it’s because you recognise the reality of an imperfect existence in each other that the love is deep. Love always exists beyond life. It’s a sustaining force.

Keeping the memory real will really help you to grieve, live and love at the same time. This may take a long time, but it can happen. Remember, your timeline for grieving will never match with anyone else’s because you grief is so unlike anyone else’s. Just like your eyes, your hair, your fingerprints, so it is with your grief: it’s unique to you.

Grief is a big part of life. As you learn to understand your own grief – especially around bereavement – I think you’ll improve your ability to adapt to those losses that are a part of everyday life. It’s never easy, it can’t be really because it is, after all a loss of someone or something you’ve had in your life that has deep meaning. You may not believe Me now, but you can live with your grief. Just remember to balance your sadness with the memories of love and connectivity that you’ve had. 

Before I forget, I think I should mention that sometimes you may feel guilty when you are grieving. And afraid. That’s OK too. Whenever you can please let yourself go on your emotional journey through these basic feelings. Although you cannot go back to change anything you can go forward and make things different, hopefully better, for those you meet in your life. I hope that you will learn how to keep loving and learn not to be afraid of love. It’s true that when you love you open yourself up to the possibility of loss, but that’s not a good reason to avoid and experience more deep love. You deserve more love. You are beautiful and marvellous after all. That reminds me of the question about sadness being marvellous. To answer that I will remind you that gold is never found on mountaintops. You have to dig for it. Love is like gold and the sadness of grief is like the process of digging to rediscover the vein similar to the one that you’d experienced before. You may think marvellous is a peculiar way to describe sadness, but when it brings you back to love it has to be seen as wonderful. Just like you.

You are well equipped to make it through the sadness that shrouds you from every corner of your day. One day you will be able to accept that even though you never knew everything about your loved one you still had a close relationship of deep and lasting value. One day you’ll see this journey of your grief for yourself (from outside of the grief you are currently inhabiting) and you may even smile and share your path with another wounded hearted soul. I know that it hurts, grief always hurts.

I know that you will get through this pain and sadness.

I’m sorry that you are sad. But I’ll finish here by saying I love you. I know that at the moment you may not want to understand or accept any love at all but My love is always here for you.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Fathomless


Grief is personal and fathomless. I've spent 35 years without a mother, and nearly 10 years without a father and still this month of anniversaries makes me very sad even though I'm now 49 and behaving like a sorted adult most of the time :-(



(First published June 2012)

Monday, 14 January 2013

Loss is personal



I had a lesson in loss while I was walking through town a week ago. I was lamenting a misunderstanding that made me feel bereft when I saw a young child, maybe about two years old, run from the Disney shop in one of the shopping arcades.

On its own this even would not be peculiar but the child ran with tiny rapid steps of desperation. Glancing around I saw that no adult was pursuing this mini tornado and others were avoiding the child as it ran past busy legs going in the other direction.

I was cautious about doing anything but I set my own worries aside and quickened my step as the child ran towards the bus station. Not knowing what to do for the best I followed and when the small person came back out of a shop doorway with a perplexed look on its face I approached.

“Hello,” I said as gently as I could while reaching for the child’s hand. “Are you OK? Are you looking for somebody? Mummy? Daddy?”

I was initially met with a blank stare and tight lips. However, in seconds the child’s eyes spoke volumes. Like a barrier at the Niagara Falls the tears were set to cascade down its face. Still, not a word passed the child’s lips.

I repeated the question and looked up to see what other adults had also see the runaway child. Thankfully, a kindly faced woman was nearby. She stepped closer.

I explained the situation to her.

I suggested that we retrace the child’s steps to the point where I first saw them running free.

“Do you want me to come with you?” the woman asked, even though she was weighed down with several shopping bags. “You don’t want people to think you’re kidnapping him.” It was a girl but I didn’t think it timely to point that out to the other Good Samaritan in the shopping centre right then.

Together we made our way back to the shop where I first saw the child escape like a speeding bullet.

No amount of gentle talking as we walked back would persuade the child to give any information about who they were with. I suggested that we take the youngster to the security guard.

Just as we were arriving at the entrance to the original shop where I first spied the child, a woman with an empty pushchair came out into the main walkway; the child released itself from my hold and ran towards her and jumped into the pushchair. The woman said a few words to the child and looked away. The child started pointing at the window displays in the Disney shop and was laughing. That was the only laughter shared between us all that day.

I started to explain to her what had happened. The mother (I think) then created something that could have been described as a smile, if you were desperate, and threw it in the direction of the other woman and I.

I didn’t expect flowers, hugs, or a reward but her whole attitude was perfectly summed up by the other Good Samaritan as we walked back in the direction that we had just come from. I guess she must have felt somewhat deflated because she turned to me and said, “She didn’t seem too concerned at all, did she? Or grateful.” I concurred. I was confused why those minutes of loss had not etched a greater sign of concern on the mother’s face.

I remember when I thought my child was lost – it was a completely different experience.

Later as I wandered around the supermarket picking up a few items for the evening I realised that loss is always personal.

The child ran like their life depended on finding the mother, their eyes were clouded with tears of desperation. The mother, on the other hand, had an air of nonchalance about her. She put the child in the pushchair and turned on her heels without even expressing a word of thanks.

What means a lot to one person may be handled in quite a different way by another. We all have our individual needs and individual reasons for dealing with loss in our own way.



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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Undertakers


Not many people like to talk about death and burial. It seems to be a morbid subject that is avoided at all costs in ‘polite society’ – this is one of the reasons why grief is prescribed as a private affair.

Grief, like many emotions, is seen as being a spectacle that should not be observed by others: you are supposed to handle it on your own, in private.

I know that I had been taught that all public displays of emotions were unseemly and, if they were experienced at all then that should be only be behind closed doors, heavy curtains or thick covers. Emotions unsettle others – this was the message I received as a child – therefore you have to hide them away from yourself and others.

I learned to be ashamed of my emotions and feelings. I did not recognise them as anything good or healthy.
I have relearned to be in touch with my emotions – and embrace them.

I didn’t know that I was so capable of breaching tradition, but I have. When my father died I took a shovel and helped, in the West Indian tradition, to ‘bury your own’. The only thing that was surprising about this was that women do not undertake this role. I have never seen another woman do it before or since, but I knew that it was something that I had to do right there and then. I did not realise at the time how symbolic of my life that experience was to be.

The physical burial of my father was the beginning of a reversal in my emotional life. Not long after that time I began digging up my emotions and experiencing them, for real.

Strangely, this grave digging experience may have cause discomfort to others but for me it has been like learning to fly.

Because of the benefits that I have obtained since that time I would suggest that nobody should be an undertaker to all of their emotions. My advice is please do not place your emotions in a coffin and bury them. 

My blog is akin to dropping a shovel for others to help them to start their own digging to freedom and feelings.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Letter to my 15 year old self


Here are things I would tell a 15 year old Marjorie ...

Family

The day you turned 15 you’d been motherless for nearly 6 weeks and the whirlwind of grief never slowed down for a moment in all that time. Your family, like you, are still trying to come to terms with the sudden loss of your mother – even after all these years. They are also managing their pain in the best way they know how.

It’s a shame that you all didn’t know how to talk about what you were feeling at the time, but that wasn’t the done thing way back then; it was all ‘stiff upper lip and carry on’ mentality despite the gnawing pain in your heart.

On that first birthday without her the last sentence that you wrote in your diary that day was “I wish Mummy was here.” I’m sure the rest of the family felt the same as well, that’s why they all tried to make the day happy with a surprise birthday cake, cards and gifts of money. It was good to see people smiling: we should do that for each other more nowadays too.

It’s nice to be nice – even to your family.

Writing

The fact that you’ve kept writing all these years is wonderful. At the time you didn’t seem to know why you wanted to write, but you did it anyway. The only thing you remember – and that shows up in your diaries – is that writing was your best way of expressing yourself in a house of uproar. Taking the time to release your thoughts and views in the secret pages of your diary were your way of staying afloat. You’ve done well. Keep it up, it works for you.

School

For the whole of my 15th year of life school and education saved me. It saved me from the reality of living in a family where the centre had been torn out and it gave me something to bury myself in. I remember particular teachers, like Mrs Kirkby, who taught English, being especially caring and encouraging. She knew I had the potential I am just remembering and she gently steered me towards my passions. I’d say to Marjorie at that time, listen to your heart and ignore the careers teachers who had limited visions for ‘someone like you’.  In my effort to prove them wrong I spent years in careers I didn’t like just because they said I would never be able to enter them at all. I did prove them wrong with my success, but I missed out on spending more time doing what I really love.

Love

I knew the theory about love, but the reality seemed eternally unreachable for me then. I would now tell my 15 year of self that I should hold on and not be corralled into believing that there is only one way to love and be loved. God, who created so many different species and experiences, had obviously made a way for me to express my love beautifully. The images of relationships that I’d seen were – like most families of the era – ‘making do’ because they had to. The pure, true passion always seemed to be missing.

Some things I was exposed to frightened me so much that I wanted to isolate myself from all intimate contact altogether. For a while I thought that love meant pain and suffering. I now know that it’s not so.

I would tell 15 year old Marjorie to keep going to the library and reading all those books that explained the feelings you’ve had from before you went to Junior School. Trust yourself, young Marjorie, you are not wrong to look for the love you deserve. And if you hold on, and hold true, the best love ever will find you when you find it.

Friendship

There are people I would tell a younger Marjorie to avoid because they were never destined to be friends despite the fact that you were always open and friendly with them. You’ll suffer heartache when people reject you for all you are, but never mind, when they leave your life they make way for the right people to enter. And without them, you’d never fully appreciate the joys of true friendship.

In a way, I’d like to tell 15 year old Marjorie not to be na├»ve with people because they will invariably disappoint her, but then you’d not have the simple open nature that you possess now if you did that. So, keep believing in the good in people and even when those particular people fail you don’t give up on friendship. You will find some spectacular gems that will remain in your heart for life.

Parents

Losing the pattern for what I saw as perfect parenthood so early in life I’d have to tell my young self not to despair because there are other ways of learning to be a good parent other than learning it from your own family. I’d suggest that 15 year old Marjorie did not hold on to the resentment that she had for her father for decades because it would block her ability to complete that initial part of the grieving process. Although at the time it may have seemed like a lifeline to kick against the apparent cause of her loss (in the form of her father), I’d tell my younger self that it would be years of wasted energy and angst. I would tell her that even parents have dreams that shatter, so try to find some way of accepting the mosaic that is your family set-up.

God

My message to my 15 year old self is that it’s OK to be angry at God and to refuse to pray - even when your father gets angry at you and threatens you in sacred worship time. God will wait for you to understand. He’ll always be there, in the high times and the low times. Luckily, Marjorie at 14 had already built up some of her own faith and, although at 15 it waivered, it never completely died. My message to my young self is do what you need to do, say it how you need to say it, but never forget God has got your back! Through it all, He will still be there for you. Trust me. 


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Friday, 11 January 2013

Sadness suspends time


Being sad is like floating in zero gravity. There is nothing solid to grab on to, there is nothing firm around you. 

You are just freewheeling away from the sad event and, often, there is no desire to stop or go back. You just let go ...

Sadness, grief, upset, disappointment: all these emotions can lead to you being suspended above the path of your own life. Grief causes a metamorphosis. How do I know this? I know because I have grieved, I do grieve, I will grieve. (This is not an exercise in grammatical forms, this is a view at the reality of sadness.)

What I have realised is that there is no size to grief. No length, depth, shape or colour. Grief just is. With that in mind I am sending hugs and love to those who are grieving – including myself.

I do know, however, that all people handle grief differently.

For some there is an emotional breakdown that lasts beyond time ...

For others there is a management of the sadness at allotted times of the day and week. And for as many other people as there are in the world there are ways of managing or dealing with the arrival of grief in their lives.

It can be embraced, denied, accepted, shared or hated – just to name a few options.

After sharing some thoughts on her current state of sadness the other day, a dear friend said to me, “It’s time to zip back up my emotions and go and face the day.” I’m glad we can share these things together. It helps us to understand our separate journeys.

However, I wish we didn’t generally find the need to hide our sadness from each other (and ourselves) so much, because if we shared more then maybe we’d be able to understand and help each other more. That way we’d get through our time by spending more time together -and discover we have more in common than we thought, rather than by floating away with our own un-tethered grief. It might just help to restart the clock of life.



When faced with sadness it’s very hard to think about tomorrow. That’s only possible when you have hope in the future.

Grief will not go away, but we can walk with it rather than feeling that it had taken us captive from our life - especially when we walk with each other.

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Thursday, 10 January 2013

The path of grief



The path of grief

... is long and winding. Or short and straight. Or both. Or neither.

My road of grief took me back to where my parents are buried. I don’t go there too often because it seems to hurt even more than when I am away with my thoughts and deep sadness. You see, although I have bundles of happiness in my days my life is still lined with grief. For over 36 years I have been almost insane with grief. There are times when the pain is searing like a slab of raw meat thrown onto hot coals.

In my family of many I know we all experienced a major loss – especially when our mother died. I know now that the grief united us and separated us from each other. I became very angry in those initial days, months and years. Anger, self-pity and spite was an integral part of my external expression of grief. I was still a child and I didn’t care much that my way of communication hurt me as much as it hurt other people. I just let it go. Or I held it in. Or I did both. Or I did neither.

Why am I talking about grief again? Does it ever go away?

I have just enjoyed a wonderful couple of weeks with my most favourite people in the world, my child and my partner. They never made me sad at all but they may have witnessed moments of my uncovered sorrow when I visited my parents’ resting place.

My child told me that I was almost unrecognisable as I stayed at the foot of the grave alone. The sadness was unzipped and covered me like a heavy blanket.

I remember some of it. I felt like a small child. I howled with uncontrollable emotion each time I went to that special spot where I last said goodbye. I sat on my haunches and rocked back and forth as the tears splashed all around me.

I felt like a discarded piece of yarn. I knew I was unravelling. I know things unravel in times of grieving.

Will I ever stop feeling this great loss? I doubt it. Some people suggest it’s time to move on after this long mourning period. Is there ever a time to move on?

It’s time to move on when you feel it’s time, not when the calendar says so.                              

My path of grief is part of my path through life. So is my path of joy, my path of happiness, my path of love. They all exist together but sometimes, just occasionally, one of them is just a bit more prominent than the other. And that’s OK.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The day my life changed


The day my life changed beyond comprehension was when my mother died. I still had my father but I felt like an orphan. I still had all my siblings but I felt lonelier in the midst of them. I was suddenly shipwrecked.

As I’ve grown my grief has grown with me, it’s a second skin.

Time will never be enough for me to understand why - then or now.

I miss mummy. Still.

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