All posts tagged: grief

Biggest loss since Mum died? Not being her ‘kid’ any more. And I’m 55!

It’s been nearly 4 months since she left, & I’d say I’m grieving ‘well’. We’ve all heard the saying that everyone grieves in their own way, and of course it’s true; Dad’s sudden death 13 years ago knocked me flat, thumped me with depression, and took about 5 years to recover from (such a “Daddy’s girl”). But Mum? Not so much. It was a relief mainly, and expected, after a long slow decline. Plus we weren’t nearly as close as Dad and I. I’m aware I’m in a process of letting go, as I adjust to being an orphan. I’m well-supported by family and friends, and I’m so grateful Mum is free of suffering now. Yet the other day, it struck me that I was missing an essential dynamic: I am no longer a daughter. It’s a role I’ve known my whole life, and played dutifully, even when I was being the ‘difficult’ one, which I admit I feel I got typecast into for many years. There was the ‘jealous’ one when my new brother …

I am the Keeper of Stories now Mum’s gone

As I let the bath water cool around me last night, I remembered being 10 or 11, paddling in the chilly English sea. Forty-five years have passed, yet I can still recall the sand sinking beneath my toes, and the seaweed slithering against my pale legs. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore; it had been fun briefly, in the novelty of visiting the beach for the first time, but I was cold, and wanted to get out. I was only knee-deep in water, and Mum had taken my younger brother back to the warm dry sand, telling me to follow when ready. But I was trapped! Writhing and heaving between me and my family was a two metre-thick band of brown kelp, some strands as thick as my skinny legs, freezing me in fear. What lurked beneath? My vivid yet anxious imagination created snakes, grabbing hands, various sea monsters, and perhaps a pirate’s dead body or two for good measure. I couldn’t even wave to Mum, who was fussing with my brother and had her back …

Six weeks since Mum died: letting go and setting free

No one really wants to organise a funeral celebration. No one wants to go to one. And of course, none of us are ready for it to be our own. But when it IS my turn, I’m having a Humanist one, which is what I created for Mum’s send off last month. She wasn’t religious, and the rest of the family certainly isn’t; a church service would be an uncomfortable nightmare for everyone… so I decided a quiet beach in Wales would be perfect. But I’m in Australia, my brother and children in Norway, various family friends around the UK, Canada, and USA: thank goodness for Zoom! By luck (or divine intervention?), the first celebrant I emailed to ask if she was free in 3 weeks to conduct an international online ashes scattering ceremony said yes. As I sat with the reality of needing to organise this farewell, despite my tiredness and grief, I gave thanks for being exposed to ‘unusual’ send offs and life celebrations where I live in Northern NSW, such as same …

Losing my Mum to dementia at 85: the terribly sad yet sweet relief

The 2nd last time I saw her, it was her birthday July 4th, & I video called. She was in a Home in Wales, and I’m here in Australia, where I’ve lived for 35 years. Mum was kinda asleep, though it was 11am, but muttering to herself. The staff held the phone, and tickled her chin to wake her, but no success. I kept wishing her Happy Birthday, singing that damn song, but she only stirred and seemed to smile when I teased her for being so old now. It was a sad experience. Then 2 days later the Home Manager emailed to ask me to call her. “I’m sorry to say this over the phone, but I think your Mum is coming to the end of her life- we’ve seen this before- she’s stopped eating and drinking, and won’t open her mouth.” Oh Mum! Our adult relationship hadn’t been easy– I was a rebellious teenager, then emigrated to Australia when I was 20, so rarely saw her over the years before Skype and mobile …

So grateful to be locking down here in the rainforest for COVID-19

Blogging is hard when I’m such a privileged white woman

Hi everyone, I’m sorry I’ve been absent. I’m struggling so much with the terrible, ongoing events in America, both your virus toll, and racism uprising. Every time I see the mounting infections tally, I feel sick. And every time I hear of another cop-related murder, or see footage of cruel arrests and police brutality, I cry. WTF? How are you coping over there? How is life going on as ‘normal’? How exhausted are you, from being on alert, from dealing with your president, from facing your past? I can’t imagine. Yet here I sit, safe and sound. Look at my daily view. Look at my cosy home & fire. I can’t imagine the stress of not feeling safe, ever. So I’m finding it hard to write about my bushwalk with my visiting cousin, or my attempt at a spoon carving workshop, or even Part Two of my Buddhist breakup survival post, because it all seems so damn SUPERFICIAL, and incredibly spoilt. Have you seen the TikTok privilege test? One minute of heart-wrenching reality check. Last …

“Can we hold a funeral for this love?”

Break ups suck, we all agree.Whether mutual or one party initiating; whether a shocking surprise or long slow death; whether relief or torture, short or long-term, the loss of a loving connection tears at the heart. We know this. We’ve all felt it. I’m nearly 54, and can’t believe I’m still working my way through this sad swamp, grabbing at the tree roots of friends to pull me out. Black sticky smelly mud weighs down my shoes, bedraggles my hair. Yes, I’m alive- I’m safe from the virus, the pantry is full, and I’m typing this in front of the fire while the rain drums overhead. I’m safe. But my soft bleeding heart is simply bleeding. She patches herself up for a few hours; strikes a bold pose to a couple of upbeat songs, then wilts as the day moves on. Until bedtime, when all the lonely ghosts inside drift up, casting around for comfort and to be held. To be soothed, and lullabied. To be warmed, and heard. To be safe. ‘There’s nothing to …

Racked with sobs at 5.30am: break ups suck

Yes, these virus times are horrifying, terrible, weird. Yes, these virus times are weird, transformative, full of potential for change. Yes, these virus times illuminate privilege, selfishness, and inequality on a global scale we can truly see. And these times also suck for a break-up. But after two years (minus the upcoming fortnight), my ‘Comet’ love just imploded. Exploded actually. Which finds me sobbing at 5.30am, having been awake since 3, thrashing over recent emails in my mind, composing a wide variety of healthy destructive neutral  unnecessary replies. I’m 53, nearly 54: I’ve done a shit ton of break ups. I know about all the stages, in no particular order- the denial, relief, shock, sadness, rebound fuck, period of isolation, anger, care, ‘let’s be friends’, reunions, accusations, apologies, gratitude etc etc. Some break ups evolve to friendship, and some certainly don’t. But this fresh period right now, this stomach-churning, grief-stricken, anxiety-ridden, anger-fuelled maelstrom is exhausting. One good thing though: the gag order about romance blogging has been blown up. I can write whatever the hell …

Oiling Dad’s furniture: my precious annual ritual

April 24th is Dad’s birthday. He would have been 84, if he hadn’t died suddenly 10 years ago. As devastating as the loss was, dragging me into a depression for 12 months, it helped me find deep resilience, and gratitude for my unwaveringly loyal friends and family. Each year, we all eat Indian for dinner, Dad’s favourite cuisine, wherever we are in the world. And I have my own personal ritual too, as I try to keep the day clear of work or other commitments: I shut the front door, turn my phone off, allow myself to cry as often and as much as I like, while cleaning and oiling Dad’s antique French furniture. He wasn’t religious, (despite an interest in the Baha’i faith, mainly because it emphasised the “essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people” [Wikipedia]), so I can’t go connect with him in church. He has no gravestone or memorial plaque, as we scattered his ashes all over the globe, as befitted a world traveller and citizen such …

Osteopath: ‘You’re all locked up, & we need to shift it.’ Me: ‘OK…’ *gulps

I’ve been back from England for 10 days now (16,886 kms away from home in Australia), and my valiant struggles with the dreaded jetlag are finally paying off. Last night I did open my eyes at 1.30am as usual, but instead of lying there till 4.30, wide awake and wanting some dinner, I went back to sleep within 30 minutes, so have woken up feeling relatively normal. This is joy. And I’m not going to whinge on about the incredible privilege of international air travel, when so many millions of fellow human beings are homeless or without access to clean water… But jetlag does suck bad. Plus sleeping on a shitty pull-out bed on Mum’s floor for 3 weeks had stressed my back, therefore a visit to the Osteopath was part of my self-care strategy on returning. I was massaged, manipulated, adjusted and cracked, especially my chest/rib area, front and back. You know, around your heart. Interesting that. I went home from the appointment feeling terrible: nauseous like morning sickness, grumpy, on edge, and prickly …