Monday, November 29, 2010

Holy night

For weeks now, Clarissa and I have wanted to go to visit Richard's grave; to take something there; to make a small ceremony; to reconnect with him somehow. We'd had a few ideas but neither of us seemed to have time; life kept getting in the way and I guess we were both a bit scared of being even sadder.
A few weeks ago we'd had a wonderful day in the woods collecting pine cones; reminiscing; crying and laughing. It was one of the loveliest days so far. We came home and made a wreath from the pinecones and it's been sitting outside Clarissa's house making us both feel guilty for ages now.
Finally tonight we managed some time together and a more perfect night couldn't have been imagined. It's been snowing heavily here for a couple of days now so it was a quiet white world that we stepped out into. We'd searched high and low at Clarissa's house for a torch but couldn't find one so we ended up with lanterns throwing swinging lights ahead of us. We walked down to the Church and through the lychgate, past the bell tower and down the slippery slope that leads to the grave yard. We stumbled over the bumps in the snow and found Richard's grave. We placed the wreath at his head and cried, and then laughed and then cried some more, did a bit of shouting at God and various other people, laughed and cried some more and then lit two sky lanterns that drifted up quite fast past the church spire and on toward Bridgham.
And now after searching and searching for the things that makes me feel a tiny bit better, I know what they are. It's tears and then laughter and then more tears with a truly great friend. That's all it takes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Out and about with the Zebedoodle

After the last very sad post posted from bed with a cold (or as Richard would say "in bed with the wog that's going round"), I thought we could all do with a bit of fun. Without further ado, I bring you a very small person who knows how to have fun even all by himself in a puddle...

And a beautiful poem from Roxi's Mum Suzanne......

Pueblo Blessing

Hold onto what is good

even if it is a handful of earth.

Hold onto what you believe

even if it is a tree which stands by itself.

Hold onto what you must do

even if it is along way from here.

Hold onto life

even when it is easier letting go.

Hold onto my hand

even when I have gone away from you.

Friday, November 12, 2010


In these last days back from France, I've plummeted up and down. It was both hard and good to be in La Fosse de Tigne. Liz was a complete star though and surfed on the waves right alongside of me. But all things come to an end and now it's back to Norfolk and reality for me and it's been a really hard time.
I have been greatly comforted lately though by my beautiful friend Mardi who lost her wonderful Dad "Biggy" a while ago and has been a model of grace in grief if I ever needed one. Mard is the most wonderful photographer and also sent this photo of her Step-neice which has a perfect sense of peace about it.
Mardi wrote to me about her experience of grief and I couldn't put it more eloquently so after receiving more of Mard's gracious permission, I bring you her amazing words......
I'm not sure that any words will help at this stage but I was  
reading an article in 'The Age' Good Weekend that Stephanie Dowrick
wrote titled 'Grief and Consolation' and I thought of you. And having
experienced loss myself I felt her words were ringing true for me
She wrote : "Grief is extremely difficult for most of us to think or
talk about. It is also excruciating to bear. That makes it hard for
many of us to know how to give comfort to others when they are
grieving. It may also make it difficult to receive comfort, even when
it is sorely needed."
Stephanie goes on to explain that she has been reading a memoir by Virginia
Lloyd called 'The young widow's book of home improvement'. A woman
at age 32 met a lovely man, married him the following year then was a
widow at age 34 !!
She writes : "I have been transfixed by how skillfully Virginia
captures the complex and sometimes wildly varying emotions that we
lump together and call grief. There is nothing predictable about this
state of mind and heart. Even from one day to the next, but especially
in the earliest weeks and months, devastating grief can display itself
in many different ways.
Virginia writes
'At unexpected moments I found myself overpowered by
a wave of grief that swamped without warning... On occasion these waves
felled me: I dropped to the ground, slumped as if the puppet strings
I had been relying on to hold me up had failed.'
The physicality of grief is shocking for many people.
I've heard people say that it is as though their vital organs are wailing...
Your body might hurt as much as your emotional heart. Food tastes
like chalk. Your sleep is chaotic, and so are your dreams and thoughts.
It is difficult to concentrate and you may feel simultaneously
highly sensitive to other people and weirdly indifferent'.
Stephanie Dowrick goes on to talk about a unique pattern of reaction
as each of us will grieve in our
own way. She says that rage and outrage
at loss is often part of the
process and can include a sense of injustice.
Her final paragraph :
"At any stage there is no right way to grieve, nor any one right way to
console. Treating yourself compassionately and gently, and especially
accepting the unpredictability of grief's demands, helps a little.
So does accepting the consolation and concern of others, even when
their efforts are far from perfect."
Now back to Mardi's words.
In my own experience of grief I found those overpowering waves to be
exhausting, unpredictable, debilitating, shocking and strangely
calming afterwards. I had a strong image in my head of floating in the
ocean, far out to sea, the waves appearing out of nowhere and crashing
over my head. They were frequent and almost anything could trigger the
next wave... but as the weeks passed the big waves started to come
less often, still with the same amount of ferocity but more time would
pass in between. I felt it as a kind of madness. I was equally sad and
angry, furious really, that someone who meant so much to me could be
gone. And it was incredibly physical, racked my body. It also made
perfect sense that I could feel so sad but I was alone in it, felt
that no-one really understood how I was feeling, even the people who
were also grieving for the same loved one. We all have our own unique
experience of that person and will grieve for them in our own way.
What really helped me accept my Dad's passing was to take him with
I had the idea that I ought to be able to let go, get over it, move
on, blah blah, but I really didn't want to let him go... I was also
judging myself in it, thinking I shouldn't be this sad or that it was
going on quite a long time... So, instead of trying to let him go I
started to imagine him with me, in the car or out somewhere I would
imagine him enjoying the day as much as I was or think of him being
around, close by. I carry him in my heart and he lives for me, in my
memories and in my dreams. I miss him but still feel strongly
connected. I'm comforted by that.
The pain is something that you incorporate into a new
life that is different from before. And from my experience, the
sharpness of that pain softens as time goes by ; the experience of the
loss doesn't disappear it just changes.