I’m not sure that I’ve begun to grieve yet, or have I grieved for so many years that now, I’m able to manage this process feeling balanced and present, without being engulfed in sadness?
Is that what we do?
Manage our feelings?
Sounds so text book!
And of course, I’ve managed my feelings for many years, until it got to a point where managing wasn’t an option.
This writing process shall remain my saviour and isn’t it strange how we are able to share with complete strangers the essence of our soul. The high’s and low’s, the authentically raw material of our mind. The innocence, betrayal, the love and honor, our most intimate misgivings.
I am grateful for this space and I am grateful to you, for playing such a fundamental role throughout my healing journey, even though you may not be aware of that fact. I write, people read and to me, someone is listening, someone can hear me.
Everyday there is something new to wade through and I’m doing okay even though I can’t quite get my head around Bro not being here. It seems that maybe he’s just gone away for a while. His coats still hang in the hallway and his glasses sit on the side table, ready for him to read the weekly paper. His chair is softly indented and still raised up slightly, so that it’s easier for him to stand when ready. Shoes are sat in the exact same position of when he wore them last and pajamas folded neatly on his bed. The old crocheted blanket lays unused, an extra to keep him warm at night and Mum placed his clean and washed vest in the middle of the blanket, just in case he needs it.
I wonder if he has actually gone anywhere, I wonder what the hell has just happened, I wonder if I’ll wake up in a minute and it’s all been a terrible dream.
Aah… there they are, my tears of release, a little at a time. I wondered where they were too and now are falling freely and uninterrupted.
Oh Bro, if only you knew how much you were loved-are loved and the empty space you have left behind is huge.
Your presence is missed greatly.
You may never really know how much you love someone until they aren’t here anymore and the sheer impact that they have on your life.
I truly know that now Bro and I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you enough when you were here.
I’m sorry that I wasted time feeling hurt, angry and so damn stubborn.
Stubborn-and suitably matched.
Checkmate-only we both lose.
My advice to you all is this;
don’t leave things until it’s too late.
Don’t allow grievances to go on for a long period of time.
Don’t waste time with insignificance.
Try your very best to come from a loving place.
See things for what they are, not worse than they are.
The garden is full of welcomed guests and morning joy.
Birds are flitting here and there and primroses are on parade in their clusters, proudly showing off their beauty.
The sun in all its glory, dances with nature and warms this coming day with its offering of hope and rebirth.
Hope-a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.
Rebirth-a period of new life, growth, or activity, a revival.
With a new beginning somewhere in the Universe there has to be an ending.
Its the Yin and Yang of life, the ebb and flow, the Karmic law.
Sadly, I heard on the radio yesterday of an 11 year old boy losing his life to the unseen and silent killer and an overwhelming ton of emotion hit me me like a steam train.
There is a place deep within me where I feel connected to this child and want to reach out to him, hold him and love him just a little bit more… to let him know that he is and always will be loved by millions of others around the world and that his life had meaning.
All lives have meaning.
We are all in this together.
Collectively, we feel the pain his family feels.
I will never know
or see your
can imagine you now
bounding with life-
by your side
the part of you
that is me
that You lived.
May you all have a wonderful day and know how important each and every one ofyou are . I am thankful for us being on this journey together.
A gentle and courteous re-awakening for the coming day.
It is quite possible that the very last person to see my Father alive was my school friend Allie, whom had returned my roller boots home after borrowing them. They were also the last gift that my father had given me for my 13th birthday, 3 months previous to his passing.
Allie told me sometime after he died, that she was worried about me because I hadn’t been attending school and decided to take my roller boots back to my house to see where I was. After several attempts of knocking on the door and as she turned around to leave, my father opened the door only very slightly and she asked;
“Is Michelle in please?” and my father told her I wasn’t there.
Allie passed the boots to him and he quickly shut the door without another word.
She said he looked unshaven and terrible.
As I have said before in my previous posts, I can not be exact about the timings of what happened but I do know that the boots were taken back, the day before my father died.
So right now I find myself back at the evening when I prayed for God to take him back to Heaven…
and the prayer was answered…
My Mother’s belief is that my father would have been cold because she left the house that Sunday morning, without lighting the fire. For years, the guilt about leaving him like that, has eaten away at her.
A neighbour had felt concerned because she hadn’t seen him for some time and as the gossip had hit the street so effortlessly, she contacted the police.
And she was right to do so because my father was found dead, lying on my bed wearing his Snorkel Parka coat zipped all the way up to the top, as if to keep warm.
What I ImagineHis mind weary
wretched and confused
He laid down
Covered in a shroud of grief
cold and alone
to live no more
Once a handsome young boy
with jet black
A melancholy heart
His eyes fell closed
his prayer unheard
He gently whispered
A thwarted Soul
A Ruptured life
A weeping childLet this be his Deliverance
My eldest brother was asked to identify his body as my Mother was unable to do it and he told me many years later that he wanted to make sure that,
“The old man was definitely dead.”
He was only 21 years old.
My father was only 47 when he died.
There was no money to pay for a funeral and it must have been a nightmare for my Mother to arrange. I know that my Grandmother sent money from Australia to help with the costs and I believe my mother sold my father’s car too. My Godparents were a great help, organising the wake at there house.
The day of his cremation, seemed surreal and a bit of a blur really. I recall us having one black car for my Mother, my two brothers and myself. The neighbours were standing out in the street watching on, as we drove off down the road and I also remember my brothers laughing in the car at some point.
I felt terribly sad about that and the sadness turned into numbness.
At this point, I still hadn’t cried at all.
I don’t remember the service but I do remember sitting on the stairs of my Godmothers house during the wake, feeling angry at all the people who had come to eat and drink when my father had just left this world.
It felt very wrong…
A few years back, when having a conversation with my mother about my father, I asked her why she would allow my father’s coffin to be left open at the front of the Crematorium for people to pay their last respects? I told her that I felt it was a terrible thing to do, to allow a 13 year old child to see her father dead and that it had caused nightmares for several years. My Mother was mortified to say the very least, telling me that she didn’t know what I was talking about-that it had never happened.
Up until that point, I completely believed that my father’s coffin was left open during the service and he was wearing a blue hospital gown. His arms were crossed, resting upon his chest and he had a blue complexion. I had even shared this with friends during conversations about loss and grief etc…
My 13 year old mind made that part up.
I never got to say goodbye.
The trauma that settled in that day, had such an lasting impact that went on to effect my whole entire adult life.
The Post-Mortem determined that the cause of death was Ventricular Heart Failure.
It didn’t take much for my Father to find out where we were staying and I am surprised that he didn’t come to the house and smash the front door down.
He wasn’t the kind of man to follows rules and I think he had finally broken.
Going to school that Monday morning wasn’t really an option because of the severity of our situation and I remember quite distinctly, what I was given for breakfast;
Scrambled egg with ketchup.
“Go on eat it up, it’ll do you good to get something in your stomach and stop all that worrying, worrying won’t get you anywhere.”
Said the friend!
I had never tasted it before and I really didn’t like it-so I didn’t eat it.
The phone rang. It was my Father asking to speak to my Mother and that look upon her face returned… the one that she momentarily, had a reprieve from.
I can see clearly in my minds eye, her standing there holding the phone up to her ear. Words are coming out of her mouth and I can not hear what she is saying… but I do know that she denied his begging for us to go home.
He asked to speak to me and she handed the phone over and this time, was the very last time I heard his voice.
Hello darling, it’s me Dad.
Please come home I can’t live without you and Mum.
Please Shellie, please… it won’t happen again!
I’ll get help.
I don’t want to hurt you or Mum, she won’t listen to me just come home.
He was sobbing.
I was sobbing.
I didn’t know what to say, I had no words, just tears, uncontrollable tears, I could have drowned in them.
I couldn’t breathe… my father was pleading with me to come home and I could hear his desperation.
I could feel it…
His words were clear,
he was coherent,
he was present.
I told him that I was scared and sorry but I couldn’t come home.
There was silence-even though we were crying together and then he told me that he loved me and followed with, “I will always love you, you are my everything.”
I have been running from this sadness for so long now and have felt too paralysed to work on my writing this past week. Some days I just wander in my mind looking for a safe place to rest but seemingly, it’s proving more difficult
I have to keep writing through it.
On the anniversary of my fathers passing I desperately want to acknowledge him and give meaning to his life as no other person ever does.
Nobody… and I feel very sad about that.
Was he that insignificant? Did he really matter to anyone? Was his life that unimportant?
If you were to ask my brothers to tell you the date of their father’s death, they wouldn’t have a clue and my Mother always needs reminding.
The date goes unnoticed.
Most years I remember him in silence but this year I wrote a Facebook status which came completely out of the blue.
If there was a direct telephone line that could reach him now, I would choose to hear him speaking softly to me and listen carefully to the sound of his voice, savouring every moment. I would ask him how his day has been and tell him about mine. I would spend the time laughing with him and sharing the simple things I know he’d love to hear… and I’d love him just that little bit more.
We must never underestimate the power of un-resolved grief. Its a burden to carry for sure and one that is so heavy for me to this very day.
Even though I was very afraid of my father, my love for him is evident.
there is a space in between
a quiet place
the stillness is laden with sorrow
the sadness of
what could have been
and the reality of
who am I now
is a question that I ask
on this merry go round of
a fragmented life
am I lost in the stillness
can the sorrow be released
am I bold enough to own my beauty
and serve the sorrow
oh how my playing with words
can free this weary mind
for a while
and breathe life
on to my plain paper
A tenacious Spirit
A joyous moment
I feel compelled to write about a little girl I know who lost her Daddy suddenly, nearly a year ago.
This morning, she is unable to access the outside world because grief is her opponent and grief is winning.
She sits on the sofa with her pet dog, wrapped in soft blankets. To the left of her, close by are her Dad’s ashes – which, she says with slight confusion, are much smaller than the ashes of Fidget! Her recently deceased, much loved pussy cat.
She is 12 years old.
Her strength has the capacity to withstand the mightiest of storms. Her wit can enthrall an audience of listeners and her smile lights up the darkest of rooms and yet…
her heart is fractured.
Over the years, her survival techniques have pushed the closet of people away, often hurting them to release some of the burden that she carried. At times she unacceptably played the role of scapegoat when other children could do no wrong.
Trying to find a way back from the self destruction was so terribly difficult for her and although she longed to be accepted and forgiven, the path was somewhat difficult.
She really didn’t want to hurt others… just to show them how much she was hurting.
The pattern became familiar until it was a safe pattern of knowing and by that I mean she knew how to fill up other people’s convincer strategies of who she was and what she was about.
It really wasn’t true.
This child with her fractured heart is hurting and there aren’t enough words to describe the pain that she is in.
I feel the depth of an unforgiving, relentless and unbearable grief that she is carrying and trying to make sense of. I know that there are questions that she will be asking internally that can not be answered now, but still she carries them. There are days when the world forgets about this little girl and her struggles and I guess that is just a part of life.
Life carries on.
Grief carries on.
When a child loses a parent their whole experience of the world changes. When the death is sudden, no time to say goodbye, no time for a last hug, cuddle, giggle, sharing of stories, anything.
Just left with an ocean of overwhelming loss.
To the education system who lack the knowledge of how to help these children emotionally, day to day within their school life, please take the time to train your staff appropriately. Give them the tools that are so desperately needed to assist these kids.
To the education system who refuses to understand that there are days when these children cannot and will not be able to access the school day because grief will take over.
Let them be children who need time to grieve not an attendance statistic.
To all you Mums and Dads out there that are struggling with loss, please please know that you are doing an amazing job and ask for help if you need it. The earlier the intervention, the more a child can begin to work through and begin to process the trauma.
I am so very proud to know you and I am grateful to be able to walk alongside you and your Mum throughout your journey. Thank you for re-connecting with me and allowing a certain trust to begin to build between us. You are the most resilient child that I know and one day you too will rise up and show the world who you truly are.
In 1981 we didn’t have a home telephone. My mother used to walk to the nearest telephone box if ever she needed to make a call and quite often on a Sunday evening, she would call her younger brother who lived in Bedford.
Uncle Kevin (christened Kavin) will always hold a very special place in my heart. I only got to see him twice a year; once when we would travel up to Bedford for a week and then the other was in the Summer when he would bring my two cousins down to the Island for a holiday.
Those times were some of my happiest of childhood memories.
Kevin was virtually blind in one eye, walked with a limp and always smelled of the most delicious, expensive aftershave. Bedtime, was just the most fun with him telling us silly stories and ryhmes. He seemed to have an abundance of material to use and improvised effortlessly.
I can still hear him now, singing one in particular that always made my cousins and I giggle collectively and knowing full well that ‘wetted’ should have been a rude word, made it all the more fun.
Oh the black cat wetted on the white cats eye the white cat said Cor blimey
Oh I'm sorry my dear the black cat said You shouldn't have sat behind me
I remember so clearly that often times I had wished Uncle Kevin was my father and feeling so, so sad when it was time for them all to leave to go home.
Ryde Carnival is one of the oldest and biggest carnival’s in the UK and when I was a child, the parade used to walk right past the old hospital so that the patients could watch it too. I have always loved that idea and even more so, the children’s ward was situated in the round building with the big windows, right at the front of the hospital. As the parade walked past, the sick children along with the nurses would wave and the carnival participants would wave back. Such a lovely sharing of joy.
The hospital isn’t there anymore. It was knocked down in order to provide more housing for more people moving to the Island.
Mum and I had been warned about what we would see on entering the ward and told not to worry as it would look kind of scary buy it was okay. He was okay…
Of course he wasn’t okay.
My father laid there in his hospital bed covered in what seemed like a hundred wires stuck to his hairy, grey chest. I remember staring at his massive, bloated stomach. He looked like a mad man, with his hair all wild and stuck up and knowing how particular he was about combing his hair back neatly with brylcream every day, he would have hated me seeing him like that.
I think it was Old Spice! Can you get Old Spice brylcreem?
He was furious with Mum for letting me see him in the hospital and the aggression, in front of another male patient, was evident.
His stomach had been pumped.
I felt scared of what I saw. I couldn’t hug him. I couldn’t comfort him, I couldn’t do anything but endure this situation that we were in, seemingly alone without any support from anyone.
I don’t know where my older brothers were and I desperately needed them.
Why didn’t anybody pick up on the dysfunction of our family?
An elderly gentleman in the bed opposite my fathers, beckoned me over towards him, wanting to show me a trick. He took a cirgarette paper out of it’s packet and wripped two tiny pieces off. Then licking his index and middle fingers, he stuck a piece of paper on each one. Next came his rendition of the rhyme ‘Two Little Dicky Birds’, with the cigarette paper disappearing as Peter and Paul flew away and miraculously reappearing on their return.
I am grateful for the magic in that moment and the gift he brought to me during a very difficult situation.
My father wanted to leave with us and come home and he was told that it was safer for him to stay another night. So we left, believing he was in safe hands and thinking we could rest easy, just for one night.
All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019
I fear the dark the dark fears me we fight at night won’t set me free. Shadows creep they terror my eyes slow to sleep how hard I try.
I’ve been struggling to write the next part of my story. Its been weeks since I have managed to even get this far, deleting my words over and over again. I guess I didn’t realise the magnitude of the emotional backlash I would feel just by revisiting my past in such detail, hence my breaking the story down in to manageable excerpts.
“Hey! I’m a therapist… I can sort my own shit out…”
It was the morning after the disco and Saturday morning’s were devoted to gymnastics, a place where he never came to watch me, a place where I found respite from my ‘torrid’ home life, a place of freedom (momentarily).
He remained in such a drugged up state that my mother couldn’t wake him and she had no choice but to call an ambulance. My father was slipping into a dangerous place of not-living, close to leaving his body, close to death. He hated hospitals and any form of institution after being contained as a child in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
I remember walking home from gym feeling that sense of dread in the pit of my stomach yet again, what would I find when I got there? Taking the familiar short cut through the garages, from a distance I could see an ambulance parked outside my gate and I started running…
I ran so fast with absolute urgency as if I was being chased and the desperation to get to my father, my dad-before it was too late, was heartbreaking.
I thought that I had lost him, that he had gone, that he was dead.
Not this time.
All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019
It can be difficult for a child to find the words to describe what it feels like to lose a parent and for me, there was such a sense of nothingness, not really understanding what happened, not believing, confusion – just strange and surreal. When a traumatic event precedes the loss of a loved one it can exacerbate the emotions and personally, I can liken it to having a pile of breeze blocks lying on my chest, squeezing the breath out of my lungs and then being thrown into an abyss of anxiety…
I didn’t share my grief, I wasn’t able to as the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth and I shed no tears for some weeks afterwards. What I know and understand now is that I was in shock and a part of my sweet 13 year old self, shut down and went into survival mode.
She began using food to stuff down the pain.
I don’t remember being consoled by my Mother… I really don’t but I guess I must have been, thats what Mum’s do right? What I do remember is that everything changed about my whole exisitance within a few seconds of being told about my father’s death. I would never ever be the same again…
“I do not believe that grief changes who you are, if you let it… it will reveal who you are” – HRH Prince William
My Parents passport photo (approximately 1960) taken for their passage to Australia on the Ten Pound Ticket Scheme - I wish I knew them then, before all of the difficulties that consumed their lives.
Some years back a story broke in the national news headlines about a little girl that had gone missing. At first it was thought that she may have wandered off with friends when playing outside of her house on her bicycle but after some time it was clear that she had been abducted and murdered. Heartbreakingly, the child knew her abductor and it is believed that she may have gone willingly with him. So very sad…
I awoke early on the morning after the child had been found, heartbroken for the unknown family and mourning on mass with millions… I felt compelled to write a poem.
In a second gone all alone place unknown that moment in time tracks changed moved on. Unrest despair not here nor there no trace no trail the toil recoil. Exhausted confusion depleted emotions shattered withdrawal immersion in sorrow. Crowds praying hearts pleading a nation united same nation weeping searching, searching. Precious child returns to her ‘Source’ arms embracing gentle dancing. In a second gone now spirit reunited. A mother weeps her life torn a soul reborn.
I have this vivid memory of me dressed as a pirate standing outside of my parents house just in front of the cast iron black gate. Covering my head is a bright red bandana and I am wearing a little black waistcoat, black trousers tucked into my long white socks and little black school shoes. I think that I was about the age of 6 or 7 years old and it was the day of the local village carnival.
I started dancing lessons at the age of 4.
In between working three jobs at once, my mother made all of the outfits for my ballet shows. She spent hours lovingly hand sewing the little costumes and I still have three of them to this day; a blue Angel costume, a little Dutch girls outfit and a pink tutu. Over the years both of my girls have worn them when playing dressing up and as I think about it now, I’m not sure if I have ever told her how grateful I am for all of the time that she spent making things for me as a child. Dollies clothes, knitted blankets and cardigans, a soft clown with orange hair, cotton sewn purses and a bib and brace dungeree outfit all made by hand.
My mother always worked extremely hard and somehow I feel like I missed out on having her as a wholesome, healthy mum for the majority of my younger days. She lived under a cloud of my fathers depression and illness which prevented her from following her own dreams and passions. As he never worked in the latter years, my mother had to work even harder to make sure she could provide for us all. I wonder how he felt about this and what it did for his own self worth, esteem and beliefs about himself as a man, husband and father? I remember her being so exhausted at times and no matter what was thrown at her, she would soldier on, mustering up the strength, managing, coping, surviving. I think that’s a trait of hers that I’ve learn’t from a very young age; you just have to keep going no matter what… When I look back now it must have been unbearable at times for her living in such an emotionally draining situation. If ever we talk about the past now, she always states quite clearly that leaving my father was never an option and that you made your bed and you lied in it.
My eldest brother refuses to accept the fact that our mother choosing to stay was the right thing to do. He believes that she had a choice and by her staying in such a volatile relationship, my brother suffered the most horrendous abuse and in his words now;
“Because of the old man, my life is fucked.”
I don’t know if she was ever truly happy within her marriage or her life in general and wonder if she just stayed out of fear because she too was terrified of her husband.
My father had threatened suicide several times and my mother picked up the pieces of his desperation time and time again.
There doesn’t seem to be a beginning for me, just a mixture of memories, some more powerful than others and in no particular order, allowing them to rise and fall .
My Father died when I was aged of 13.
My belief is that he had to die, in order for meto live and somewhere within his soul, he knew that. Its a struggle to remember him without the overwhelming feelings of fear and pain. Everything about him seems tainted with those two powerful emotions and I feel sad that I can’t find a single memory that is full of laughter or joy. Sorry Dad… My hope is that by writing my story down, it may evoke some happy memories that are stored somewhere within me.
It wasn’t until I discovered NLP and whilst on my training in the USA, that I realised I had emotional ‘stuff’ that needed dealing with. I have to add, that a NLP practitioner training is not the place for personal therapy in any event. During learning the processes, I experienced some emotional releases that were extraordinary and quite profound and my passion for helping others to do the same began. That was over 21 years ago.
The events leading up to my father’s death were extremely traumatic.
I remember one day when he was lying in bed in a drugged up stupor, slurring his words, telling me to write down his life story. In more coherent days he would say that the world needs to know the truth about his traumatic experience of being a child prisoner of war. He suffered mentally and physically for the entire 13 years of having him in my life and as a family, my mother and two older brothers, were marred by his suffering too. Even as a little girl I could feel the intense sorrow that seeped out from him and it was confusing. I’ve in turn carried his pain deep within me maybe to acknowledge him in some way. I loved my father so much but was terrified of him too. The double edge sword.
On the night before my father was found dead, I knelt down, sobbing, resting my elbows on the bed, placed my hands together and I prayed;
Dear Lord Please forgive me for the sins that I have committed. Please make my Dad die and take him to Heaven to be with you because if you don’t he will kill my Mum. Please Lord keep us safe, I’m so scared. Please forgive me. Amen
I started writing this blog so many times over the past few years (in my head) and now I am finally getting down to putting my thoughts out there into the Universe, albeit it being much slower than I had anticipated. I have allowed FEAR to suffocate many opportunities that have been presented to me throughout my life and the sad thing for me is, that I have dedicated my entire career to helping and supporting people through their own life challenges of trauma, pain, grief etc… and didn’t feel worthy enough to heal my own immense pain that I carried.
I made a decision last year when I turned 50 that I would start living my life on purpose and do all the things that I long to do. I decided that I would live my life coming from a place of being true to myself, being more creative with my writing and poetry, begin public speaking and in general work towards a healthier mind and body.
7 months on and here I am just beginning with the writing bit…
I am writing this blog for me.
I am giving myself a space to be free of the critical restraints that I have so beautifully bound myself up with.
I am giving myself a gift, of loving myself enough, to be okay with being who I am, just as I am and being alive because I am worth it.
So my journey begins with me being as open and authentic as I can be right now. This is the start of something new for me and I am excited and a little nervous too but I know thats okay.
On a summers evening many years ago, I was standing in a queue at the local fish and chip shop waiting for my turn to be served. In front of me was a little boy who was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt that looked like it had the reminants of a weeks worth of wearing on it. He was crying and pulling at the arm of his young Mother who was talking on her mobile phone. The child appeared to be no more than 4 or 5 years old and his knee was bleeding. As he cried and tugged at her arm, she pushed him away and the blood continued to trickle down his leg. The little boy with his arms stretched up to reach his mother, pounded on her stomach trying to get her attention and the Mother pushed harder at him to stop. The smell of alcohol from the young lady was so strong and she was slurred and staggering. After several attempts to bring her attention to his knee and being met with her aggression, he finally gave up.
The boy in the chip shop stood with one side of his face buried into his Mothers thighs, staring at me and periodically looking down at his wound. Tears rolled down his filthy, beautiful little face.
In that very moment I felt a whole wave of different emotions from anger, frustration and fear, to pity and a deep sense of sadness. The Mother part of me wanted to scoop this child up and wipe away his tears. I wanted him to know that he was loved and that he would be okay. I wanted to shout at the Mother to put the phone down and acknowledge her son and his needs as she seemed oblivious to the discomfort that he was in. Instead I stood by and did nothing and felt ashamed for not intervening with at the very least a tissue for his knee and also ashamed for judging a young person who was clearly not much more than a child herself. You see, I let fear ride over me once again, because she was drunk. I was afraid of the repercussions for the child and myself. If I brought the fact that she was ignoring him, to her drunk attention, I didn’t know how she would react. I remember being frightened as a child. I remember trying to get my fathers attention when he was so drugged up. I remember…
I made a promise to myself all those years ago that I would acknowledge that little boy by dedicating my first piece of public writing to him because he touched my heart that evening and I will always remember him.