The rules of grieving

Theres a beautiful new purple Bearded Iris blooming in our garden.  A fresh splash of colour amongst the greenery.  It has had to fight it’s way through the other plants, but the job is done and it is making a good show on its own.

I’m guessing that there’s a message in that.  It is standing out from the crowd, not afraid to be what it is meant to be.  It didn’t wait for the others before it bloomed, in fact I’m not even sure there are any others to come.

All too often we stop and wait for the others, as we are too fearful of making a stance on our own.  Worried about what people might think about us if we stand up for a cause or something we believe in.  Rather we can stifle that urge, because nobody else is doing what we want to do, or perhaps they are doing it well and we think we couldn’t be as good.  Or maybe it is not the accepted ‘norm’.

Grieving is a little like that.

I recall being asked a few months after Kelly died, if I was ‘over it yet?’  I was so shocked I just stared, couldn’t find an answer.  By the time I was able to get some thoughts together, that person said ‘I suppose that was a silly thing to say!’

Sure was.

I didn’t just lose something of little value, that I could ‘get over’ in a few months.  Some take years to manage everyday life without getting teary at any mention of a lost loved one.  Others seem to cope reasonably in a fairly ‘normal’ fashion after only a few months.  It really doesn’t matter much.  There are no rules around grief, it is whatever and whenever and pertains specifically to you.  Just because I can talk about Kelly without crying anymore — doesn’t mean I’m not on the inside, I’m just getting better at masking my feelings.

So we go about our lives judging ourselves by others standards, when really we need to look to ourselves to set our own.  There aren’t any rules to follow, it’s not like making a cake and following a recipe, particularly when it pertains to grieving.

We each do it in our own way


The Voices of Youth

On Wednesday evening we attended our local theatre complex for performances from some of the local high schools.  It was called “Take Over” and the theme was ‘Thinking Big and Global’.  There were three schools involved, each presenting two short plays.  We went because my grandson was in one of them, but it wasn’t in any way the boring or ho hum performances that we’ve sat through in the past (in the name of support your grandchildren).

The students were from Years nine through to  Year 12.  No costumes, but most groups dressed the same, minimal props and each play was limited to twenty minutes.

Starting off with the students views on a variety  of related subjects such as  Earth Hour, Parity — more views on gender roles, Belonging — which was about arriving in a strange land, a refugees viewpoint.  Then there was the Cycle which showcased poverty, gender inequality, domestic violence and the effects on the family.  Other topics covered were slavery, domestic violence and the judgment of others by their appearance.

One group asked the question “What would happen if we looked at things from a different perspective?  What would happen if we stopped judging people by their appearances?”

The final group tackled the Seven Deadly Sins — of Social Media!  Really entertaining and enlightening.

On the whole it was a very thought provoking evening, and we were well entertained.  But what struck me the most was that here is a group of people whose views on life  we largely ignore.  I’m not suggesting that we don’t take any notice of them, but from ages fourteen to seventeen we are busy organising their lives with school, sports and music lessons.  Complaining about their focus on devices and social media, nagging them to participate in family chores, but not really looking or listening to their views on current affairs.

They certainly have them, but I believe a lot of the time we don’t bother to ask their opinion.  They often go unheard as we parents (from memory) are involved in the manic race to provide a home, food  and ‘good’ schooling for our growing children.  To get them ready for the ‘real world’ when they finish school.

We worry about the world we’ve brought these young adults into, and bemoan the fact that there is racism, terrorism, violence, bullying and so on.

Are we typecasting them as being addicted to war games, social media and sloth?  What if we really looked at what we have, and appreciated it as it is.  What sort of examples are we really setting for them?

I notice that although my grandson appears to be absorbed in his computer or phone, he can still tell me what is going on in the TV show thats running! (Note to self — don’t talk about him even though he doesn’t seem to be listening!)

Suicide is a tragedy at any age, but never more so when it takes our youth.  I don’t have all the answers, but listening to those young people on Thursday evening was quite inspiring.  It gave me an abundance of food for thought.

As one of the groups suggested — perhaps we could

‘Accept the whole world and never lose hope.’


Don’t judge the book by it’s cover.

It’s an old saying, but oh so true.

How often have you looked at a book cover and thought it would be something worth reading, only to find you just couldn’t get past the first few pages.  Or even read a chapter or three and thought it just wasn’t worth continuing, that you could spend your time much more  productively doing something else.

I know the feeling well, and sometimes it can be so disappointing, especially when you’ve saved it for a special time like a holiday.

People can be much like books.  We often see only the surface, like the cover of the book.

We make judgements on a short connection, labelling the person as being ‘touchy’ or ‘aggressive’ or even ‘rude’.  Or we might meet someone and think  ‘What a lovely soul’ after only spending  a brief time with them, then meeting them again and finding them totally different.

Now sometimes this can be attributed to someone just having a bad day, and haven’t we all had them a time or two?   So we might give them the benefit of doubt, putting them in that category.

I work as a casual in a retail clothing store, a job I really enjoy as I get to talk to lots of lovely people.  There has only been the rare occasion when someone has been rude to me.  Usually if they are a bit terse I can make a few comments and have them chatting quite easily.  Some are not so easy.   Others seem very polite, but not inclined to chat, and I respect that, keeping conversation to the necessary minimum.

The other day, I had a customer who I’ve chatted with before, but not more than comments on the weather or the clothing on display.  I had thought her to be a little stand-offish, but politely so.   This particular day she commented on my locket, saying that she had one the same size and just like it.  We spoke about it for a bit, and I told her how I’d searched for it so I could put a decent size photograph in it.  As I said that I opened it and showed her my photo of Kelly.  She smiled and told me how she has a picture of both her children in hers, and the conversation progressed to sharing about our children and their ages. When  I said that Kelly will always be twenty – forever young, she looked surprised and then realised what I meant.  So  then we talked on the death of a child and suicide.

When I mentioned the book I’d written, she started talking about her experience as her partner had also died by suicide.  Talking of her years of struggle to provide an income as a sole parent back when there was not much government assistance.   She shared confidential information with me, all because I’d walked in her shoes for a bit.

It got me thinking about the people we meet, but don’t really know anything about.  How we judge them, make assumptions based on brief meetings, label them and put them in various categories that we have created.  But that’s not who they really are.

Consider the image that you portray to others, the first impression you make.  Some of us are shy and reserved, until we get to know someone better.  Others of us are garrulous and outgoing all the time, cheerful no matter what.  Some seem unfazed by anything – but are they really?  What is happening beneath the surface?

So when you next meet someone who you think is rude, ask yourself if thats really who they are, and could they be suffering or grieving or just having a bad day?  Or perhaps is the way you are feeling clouding your judgement?

Maybe not judge that book by its cover.