oh grief..


The thing about grief is, it doesn’t leave you alone.  First thing in the morning, you breathe and then it hits you, all over again. The reality – they’re gone.  The pain hits the throat, making it hard to swallow whilst your brain starts to trace the steps remembering details, places, faces.  Eyes sting as the recognition sets in and the reality that you have to get up and perform another day.  Travelling to the very pit of your stomach, is the nausea train.  The brain sends a message to the body, to get up.  Not happening.  Eyes trying to close as focussing did not work.  Maybe more sleep will do it.  Make me forget.

It seems, the more one tries to block it out, the more the head fills up.  The more it fills up, the greater the come down.  The higher the fall.  To try and describe loss to someone who has not experienced a significant loss, is pointless.  Metaphor after lengthy comparison, how could they get it?  Who else could feel it, if they have not felt it.

Friends start off with the old, “I’m here for you” “anything you need, just ask” and they do mean it. To begin with.  But, everything has it’s day.  Everyone has their limit, their tolerance.  Empathy runs thin.  Interest grows cold.  Topic gets tiring.  Subject gets old.

So we go, the grievers.  Painting on a happy face.  Showing those who are there for us, that we are doing it.  “Look at me, life going on…”  Everyone tells you you’re coping well and to stay strong.  Strong for who?  I don’t need to be strong for me, I want to breakdown, to hate life and death and pain.  I want to scream and shout, hate faith and love. So, it’s you I must be strong for, because you can’t handle me… if I’m not. 

People text and ask “how are you?” and you reply “fine” when what you really want to say is, ‘don’t turn on the news cos you might see me about to jump off a bridge’ or ‘I’m having an actual breakdown, I’ve cried so much today that I look like I’ve gone a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson and forgot my gloves, thanks for asking’ or what about ‘how the chuff do you think I am feeling, honestly?’ Like I should be ‘over it’ by now because you’ve had enough of me feeling sad, or going over it or not wanting to forget. Not forgetting the “it will get easier” “life goes on” sorts.

When someone shares their story of loss, I feel sorry.  I dont care how when or where, that doesnt matter to me.  I am still sorry. There are no words to comfort someone in their time of grief.  Grief is like a thick black fog, but only around you.  When you look around, the world is bright and brightly coloured people are enjoying bright lives.  You can’t reach them and are struggling alone through the smoldering, stifling thickness that belongs only to you.  You can’t jump out of it, side step it, ignore it or smother it.  Grief is an all consuming wave of fear, sadness and lack of hope.

Sometimes, folk find a group or a person or a someone, who has experienced a loss only they thought they felt.  Sharing stories, exchanging tears. Life begins to not feel so lonely.  You have connected with someone who feels it. Like alot of things in life, as humans we tend to be drawn to others like us.  Not all humans are the same.  Not all stories are the same.  But pain, pain is the same.  Loss is the same.  Death, however it becomes us, is the same.  Whatever we have in life, we all end up the same, in death.

There are no magic wands, quick heals, ways around it or corners to cut.  Grief, is what it is.  There is a saying, that time is healer.  Time is important.  Time doesn’t take it away – at all.  Over time, we learn to live with it. Over time, we learn to adjust – to life without.  It isn’t the same life, it cant be, but it is still life.  We make changes, adapt.  It doesnt go away, but in time death becomes less intense and dark times become less absorbing.  Tears fall for moments, not hours.  Thoughts gradually incorporate happier times from before.  A photo, sparks a memory and a memory is shared.  Re-living moments, from before helps the soul to mend.  There was life before and there will be life after.  

Grief will not let us go.  It is us, who must let go of grief. 

We know not how, but with time, it will happen.

Of course, at the end, their are always rainbows and bright lights with hope growing by the day.  After grief, there is a future because of course, life does go on, as we know.  But, only when we are ready.

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Spring clean

Springing into the second quarter of the year, with promises of change and growth.

After a cold and murky winter, the glimmer of a delicate tiny green shoot coming up from deep in the ground, having pushed through the mound of dirt, struggling to keep its head up and stand tall in spite of insect attacks and human footprints, it finds the strength to battle on and come into the light.

Birds being chased through the skies and upon rooftops, in looking for a mate. Searching for all kinds of material to line a new nest and make it home for the warm months ahead.  Laying eggs in unsafe places and committing to sit and keep them warm, until they hear that magical cracking of shells, marking the beginning of the real hard work to come.

As humans, we too are making small changes. Some go unnoticed and other things, we don’t mind putting in a little more effort. People seem happier, more polite and are generally rushing around a little less.  It’s time to throw out that old toot, give away coats we won’t be wearing again and get those old sandals out for checking. Time to wash those windows and clear the cob webs…in every sense.

Now go sit in front of a mirror, no really! Now smile at the wonderful person looking back at you and tell them..”just like that flower, pushing through all that has fallen in on top of it this last year, you too can find the light and make your way back up and blossom.”

Share your spring story, one of strength, courage and above all, triumph against the odds. You are not alone and when you rise again, you will see….

A new dawn…

A new year has descended upon us, feeling but a lifetime ago. Full of new promise, resolutions, ideas and wonder whether it will deliver.  So many of us put all our eggs into the new year basket, holding it to account.

Guaranteed that first slip up is the last time we try. We decide to diet – then a friend has a birthday! We give up fags – on comes the stress. We quit drinking, its a hen party!

What if we embraced the new year in a new way?

It seems to me that when people make a decision to give these things up, it isn’t necessarily that they want to, which is why it doesn’t work. Often, we say we will do something to either please others or give in to the pressures of society.  We bargain with ourselves and make promises to others.  Surely this means we cannot fail then?

To agree to give up these things, these vices we have in our lives, for whatever reason, means changing.  We need to change ourselves in order to become the person who lives without this thing. We need to change the way we think, feel and act about it, for this to work.

So here it is, basically we have to become a different person and live a different life. Why do we put so much restriction on ourselves? Does it make us happy?

To take away a person’s coping mechanism is like removing a crutch from a single legged fellow…

What if we dared to say, “looking back on the last year, if I could change one way I acted it would be……..”  “the thing I was most grateful for last year was………”  “last year I realised this about myself ……………..”  “last year I could have been better at …………..”

And continuing with

“This year I would really like to ……………………..because ……………………..”  “if I worked really hard at ……………….. I would be able to………………”  “if I could make one thing happen this year that would be different to last year, it would be ……………”

Asking ourselves questions like these challenges our thinking and enables us to look at the things that matter the most, instead of dictating and giving all our energy to a wasted source.

As human beings we are able to think for ourselves and make our own decisions. As scary as that can be sometimes, it can also be totally liberating. The first thing we want to do when realising we have made a wrong decision, is to blame someone else.

Taking responsibility takes maturity and courage.

Everything we do comes down to our decision to do it – regardless of excuses or circumstances. We have the power to make it and change it. See it through, or scrap it.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, be proud of your decision, for it is yours alone. Make it for you. Do what makes your heart happy. Take away the “yeah buts” for none of us know how long we have on this earth and we must not take for granted, that we will have til old age….

Ask yourself this question and leave your answer in the comments, to share with others! “What is the thing you most like the way you do?”

Love…And Other Drugs

Love is…as wonderful as it is tragic, it is as awakening as it is blind. It means something to all. It can lift you up to heights you’ve never known and drop you like you never existed. Above all, it would seem that without it touching our lives – we have nothing. Without love, we will be in no-ones memory, have no-one to share memories with and live a long lonely life without it.

Journeying through the fog

I never think of myself as a tragic person,, or someone who has experienced a particularly difficult life. I think life is difficult. There are learning curves along the way and it’s also possible to find shimmers of hope and get a glimpse of true happiness. 

I know people sometimes have such awful things happen to them and we wonder how they manage to pull through. With so much going on in the world, it’s hard to know where tragedy begins or ends at times and we may even question where that hope of happiness has gone.

But for this post, it is about one family. Nothing so tragic as war, starvation, abuse or other atrocity that would make a  headline. But for one family, this is their headline…

A father….dead. Breaking this news to your children, is tragic. Watching their world collapse right in front of your eyes. Feeling their shock. Believing their disbelief. Acknowledging their denial. Comforting their tears. Holding their pain. Answering their questions. Diffusing their anger….

I thought, losing a parent was the most difficult hurdle I had to go through in my life and I was experiencing this as an adult. Never did I imagine breaking the news to my children, that their dad had suddenly died. 

The thing about loss is, once the funeral is over, most people who attended will go about their normal lives and after a few days will rarely feel the impact of the loss. For these kids however, every day presents a new challenge, raises a new question, offers a new hurdle. Every milestone brings up a new emotion, raw and painful. Every new beginning signifies the hole left by this ending.

The one thing most parents have in common is to want to heal any pain inflicted on their child, whether that be a grazed knee, or a broken bone or a relationship break up. We always want to be there and make the hurt go away. We might share the wisdom of experience, buy ice cream or have a photo cutting ceremony..but this…this pain you cannot take away. 

Over this last year, when I tell someone close to me how it really is, it feels tragic. It feels like a burden, a huge weight being lugged around, getting bigger by the day. I hear myself saying it and then think, jeez, this is why I don’t share. This sounds awful and heavy.

I don’t know about you but, it seems that people seldom know how to deal with a grieving person. But are usually full of quick fixes and one liners like “time is a great healer” “you’ll get through it, just be strong”. Whilst we all know these phrases are probably true, we really don’t want to hear them.

Sometimes we don’t want to be strong, we don’t want to wear a fake smile or talk small. Sometimes we want to give in to the grief and cry our bloody eyes out and feel sad. AND THAT IS OKAY! It’s not wrong to do this when you really feel like facing the world is all too much today. Today I am saying screw you world, you horrible, miserable unfair place to live, you can’t make me! Not every day is the same, but pretending can really zap your energy sometimes and it’s okay to say, not today!

I feel desperately sad for anyone in this situation, it can feel lonely and never ending. I am sure there are positives to come out of this, eventually. As with most stressful, difficult situations, there are usually developments that follow that would not have otherwise happened.

To anyone who is in a similar situation or currently on their own grief journey, we all know that in time, the pain is not so raw. We know our lives will continue. We will accept the inevitable change that comes with all loss, but for now, one day at a time is enough. We can muster energy for today, if we don’t think about tomorrow. If it seems too much, take rest and above all be kind to yourself. Those around you may not always understand or you might not feel like you should have to explain. Remember that just because it’s always at the forefront of your mind, doesn’t mean it’s on everyone else’s. It’s important to remember, this is yours. If someone doesn’t understand, it’s not their fault, find someone who does, or who takes the time to let you know they want to. Talk to people, about anything. Be honest.

This is a journey, as is life. Loss is a part of it and all that it brings. It is sad, so sad.  But as much as we might feel like it, we are never alone…

Religion…what Religion?

In a dire circumstance, some people have faith and turn to God.  Others go into therapy, take drugs or turn to fags and alcohol.

During a rough time in a pretty tricky situation, although I’m not sure it warrants ‘dire,’ a colleague starts handing me some religious readings.  His belief is that all will be well and God cures all ills if you just believe in Him.

I’m sorry.  He doesn’t.  People get sick and die.  Young people, kids even, what did they ever do?

I’m not knocking people who believe in stuff.  Have your beliefs, I have no problem with that, but please don’t knock on my door and hand them to me.

We don’t share this belief.  We do not have faith together that all things come good.  I’m not a believer in divine intervention but I am in great coincidence.

I believe in what I’m experiencing in the current moment.  I know things won’t stay the same as they are.  I take things at face value and deal with problems as they arise.

I don’t catastrophise a situation.  I accept a thing for what it is.  I accept someone, for who they are.

I think it’s cute that people want to show they care.  But show you care in a way that shows you can relate to a person’s situation.

As a therapist, you don’t throw things down the throats of your client until they cannot breathe.  You simply share with them their experience and hold on to that for the time you are together.  This brings an unparalleled understanding and respect between two people and although you know you may not have any idea what this must actually be like, you can feel it though the client enough, so they feel understood and comforted.

I’m not ashamed to say I have no religion nor am I to say I accept you have yours.  This unique world tells us often how different and diverse we all are.  Let’s share our differences and be happy with that 😀

glass box

Smashed-Glass

Last night I felt exactly like I had been placed in a glass container, just slightly bigger than my size.  It felt small, tight, somewhat claustrophobic, confined, restrictive and yet …as uncomfortable and hellish as it was, there was a sense of safety.  In a strange way the safety came from where I wanted to whack the glass so hard to free myself, but I must not hit it so hard that it shatters..now I know that makes no sense at all.

In my life generally I am quite a reserved person in what I share with others.  If someone asks me a direct question, I will answer it truthfully.  If I don’t get asked, I don’t tell.  It’s how I’ve always been.  As I’ve got older, I’ve learnt that people assume you’re doing okay if you don’t splat your guts all over social media and you don’t hang your skanky washing all over the dancefloor on a night out.

I feel though that writing helps me so much, to reflect on my own thoughts and to be able to process my feelings in a way that helps me makes decisions or come to conclusions.  A bit like self-therapy, I guess.

My reasons for feeling so confined last night came from hanging up the phone to another call from the hospital to inform me that my child had admitted to taking an overdose and was now in an actual hospital and being kept in overnight.

The longer this goes on, the more feelings I have about it but they have changed considerably to when this all began.  What every parent hopes for their kid is that they grow up to be well balanced decent individuals, capable of life.  When these hopes are dashed and then trodden on, walked over, smashed to smithers, buried and have concrete poured over them, it’s hard to find a reason to be positive about it.

After a conversation with my child, prior to this latest attempt on their life, they spoke of feeling as though they are being kept alive against their will.  Kept alive by me and the mental health services trying desperately to help them.  When all’s said and done, whatever I say about the future, the present, the point.  It has no bearing on the inner feelings of my child.  They are certain, there will be only one outcome – death before turning 18.

How do you live with that?  It’s a milestone you can’t wait for them to reach for 18 good reasons and then some!  Something to celebrate and show off to all your friends how well they’ve done so far.  To plan the future with them and feel their excitement as they move forward with their lives and to be a part of those first steps into adulthood.

Instead I find myself thinking about funeral plans and receiving that call.  I think about who to tell, in what order and how I can pay for it.  I think about what life without them might be like and it brings me to thoughts about my mum when she was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  How do you plan to let someone go who is still here.  How do you wean yourself off of love, to allow yourself the freedom to live on?  How do you prepare to say goodbye to life, with death daring you in the face?

For me though, in total honesty, the person I am, the life I have lived, rightly or wrongly, the mind that is mine believes this..

Life is about acceptance.  Wholeheartedly if you can accept a situation for what it is, you can pretty much deal with turbulent life situations with resilience and courage.  It is not easy and takes a whole deal of strength and character to build this from within, but it is achievable.  I believe that if a person truly has a fixed idea on what they want, who are we to tell them that is not what they really want?  Who are we to deny what another person deems their destiny?  What gives us power of control over another person’s thoughts or feelings?

One of the fundamental rules in therapy is that the client knows what is best for them.

As therapists, we are facilitators of the unravelling.  We aid our clients to see things from another perspective.

It is not the job of the therapist to point out how great a person’s life is.  To an outsider, someone’s life might seem great.  I hear it all the time, “what’s she got to complain about, she has a nice house and a family” “what’s their problem, it’s not like they’ve been abused”.  People tend to measure another person’s situation against a knowledge of suffering they themselves, or someone they know may have experienced.  If it falls outside of this ‘norm’ it doesn’t seem like it registers, with a lot of people.

Yes life is for living, but for those who want to live it.  We create our own paths which pave the way to our future.  If we don’t like something, we alone have the power to change it, no matter how hard a decision that might be.  We can’t change everyone.  We can’t prevent every happening.

No I don’t want my child to kill themselves.  No I don’t want them to feel as though their life isn’t worth living.  No I don’t understand how we got to this point, why it has gone on for so long and why they are so resistant to treatment.  Yes I’m tired of explaining, making poor excuses, cancelling on people and putting my life on hold and yes I’m sick of seeing the strain on my other kids and not being able to take it all away.  Yes I wish their was a big fat magic wand that I could wave and get my child back.

But here we are, there is no wand.  There are no answers.  It is what it is..

My kid will make their decision, with all the help, support and guidance they have always had.  Ultimately it is up to them.  They have it all to do.  I accept that I cannot change their mind.  I accept I have tried until I have exhausted every possibility.  I accept the services are doing their very best to try and change the patterns of thinking and behaving.  I accept that none of these interventions are working.  I accept that they feel at peace with their decision to die.  I accept they don’t want to hurt me and they have the intelligence to know that they are doing just that, but that this is not enough to stop it happening.

If I can find peace in acceptance, I can carry on.  I can find the will to answer every unknown call.  I can find the strength to smile at things I don’t find amusing.  I have the courage to face people’s judgements, about me, my child, their upbringing and my parenting and all things in between.  I will have the drive to get up and go to work every day and support all my children with the same love and devotion I always have.

Life isn’t perfect.  I can’t imagine a perfect life.  I don’t wish for more than I have.  Life really is what you make it. Wake up, breathe, carry on.