All posts tagged: loss of a parent

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 …

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 …

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 …

Happy Birthday Dad, & I still miss you

It’s my Dad Lawrence’s birthday today– he would have been 83. We lost him suddenly 10 years ago this year. I miss him so much, & yet he’s still around somehow, which is awesome. I’m deeply grateful for the life I’m living now, which is his legacy to me & his gorgeous grandson, who’s soon to turn 18, OMG! I’m going to stay home quietly on retreat today, & oil his antique French furniture, the yearly ritual. Tonight, all across the world, his loved ones will be eating Indian food, his fav cuisine. With love & thanks for all the ongoing support you give me on my journey through this life, in good times & bad, or sad, like today, G xO  (Photo is of his last live birthday in 2008)

Two rocks lie heavy in my heart; the first is Mum

Why was I getting an email from a policewoman in England; is this the latest scam? But I recognised her station’s address, so clicked it open with dread. It was about Mum. “We’ve had a couple of calls from members of the public concerned about her welfare as she appeared very confused. I attended her home address & agree that her dementia is getting worse.” I wrote last year about Mum’s diagnosis in the post ‘She’s slipping through my fingers and there’s nothing I can do’; it’s been a waiting game since then. You see, as a child, Mum spent two years in a sanatorium, recovering from Tuberculosis, and has had a dread of hospitals and ‘group homes’ ever since. Dark things happened there, and she is forever scarred. So for the last ten years, when it would have been a smart, forward-thinking plan to move to a retirement village, and enjoy all the facilities and interactions available, she refused. Wouldn’t have a bar of it. Last year when I was in England visiting her, she …