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AFTER THE FUNDERAL

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AFTER THE FUNDERAL

We don’t handle death and grieving well in the so-called civilized Western World.   As we age, death and the associated loss becomes part of our lives. We confront it and work around it.  We are busy and important people.  There is no time frame for grieving and the stages of grief that Councillors pull out when confronted with clients who are unable to move through their grief- Bah humbug.

Who thinks up these words and phrases?

How do you interact with parents who have buried a child? A husband who has lost a young wife? A couple who have been together for 50plus years and suddenly two becomes one. What do you say?

And a suicide…oh no, we must not talk about that.

We don’t have an elephant in the room – it is standing there on centre stage, looming large and glaring at us.

Most people send cards, flowers, deliver a meal and dole out tea and sympathy when death knocks on the door of those we know and care for. But what do we do in the months and years after the passing of a loved one?

We avoid mentioning the person’s name, we pretend they didn’t exist because it makes us uncomfortable.  Or as a friend of mine is wont to say an “even worser” situation we tell the grief-stricken person, they will get used to it, they will get over it, and in time it will be alright.

No, it won’t be alright! No, you don’t get over it!  You don’t get used to it!

You don’t forget – you can’t forget – you are frightened –  you are terrified of forgetting the sound of their voice, the touch of their hand, the smile that made your heart jump or their smell.

You cry in private when the loneliness overwhelms you. You suffer mood swings. You over-eat or you starve yourself. Some get depressed and need medical intervention. We do not understand how to deal with grief.

You adapt, you learn to put on a face to the world. A personae that states loudly  “I am coping”, when in reality inside you are dying piece by piece.

All of these things were brought home to me today when an old friend celebrated her birthday. She and her mother were like sisters. Her mum passed away about 6 months ago.

Her birthday reminder popped up on Facebook and invited me to write on her timeline. I hesitated. What would I say?  I knew how much she would be hurting today- so I took a deep breath and sent the following message;

“Have a wonderful day. I know it will be hard today but I know your Mum is always with you.”

I received a lovely response,

“Thank you so much for your thoughts and mentioning my Mum. (As most people sidestep the fact that I lost her and this is my first birthday without her.)  That is honouring her place in my heart so thank you. It means a lot.  A hard day but her memories are close.  Hugs and lots of love dear lady xxxooxx

What we need to do is acknowledge the pain and the hurt.  You are not indulging someone when you allow them to talk about someone who has died.  You are acknowledging their pain and helping them heal.

There, I used the D word. Died. Gone. Passed away. No longer physically here.

Rarely do people die at home anymore. Too many of our loved ones die in sterile, hostile environments, hooked up to machines. We are not encouraged to participate in the process. We then deal with the additional guilt of handing their care to others.

We no longer have a wake. The body is removed with indecent haste. The hospital, hospice, care facility bed is needed for someone else. We no longer sit with our loved one in the time between the death and burial. They are confined to the cold of the mortuary, sometimes for more than a week, while we arrange for the family to attend the service. We have a polite tea party with sandwiches with hard edges, limp lettuce, weak tea and cordial in the Funeral Parlour tea rooms.  For the majority of us we make polite conversation and then go back to our comfortable lives, or do we?

Those who have died are still with us. Every day there are so many reminders. We remember them, the songs and the words they sang and used. The perfumes they liked. The movies they watched and the books they read are constant reminders. A brother or sister may have the same speech habits or mannerisms and  a new bub may look like your dad.

Don’t be frightened to mention the person in conversation, don’t have those awkward pauses. Allow people to share their grief with you instead of locking it away and being overwhelmed.gravestone

If people were given permission to share their memories, perhaps the pain will lessen and the adaption to life without the person who is dead will be easier. Don’t be the friend who is there at the funeral with promises and just drifts away, disappearing. Be there not just immediately after the death but in the weeks, months and perhaps even years that follow.  Some people will find it harder than others.

We need to have the empathy and compassion to support our friends and those we love.  We need to be adult about this and not pretend it never happened.  We need to focus on the good memories and continue to live life as best we can.

Nothing is surer than the fact that you will know that pain one day, and wish that people would not avoid mentioning the one you have lost.

 

I found this an image of an incredible image and had to share the photograph  The sculpture is located in Guildford’s Castle Grounds in a walled garden, near the house that Lewis Carroll used to rent. It was created by sculptor Jeanne Argent.  The sculpture was created when a friend of Jeanne Argent entered a drawing of Alice Through the Looking Glass into a competition the drawing won and  Jeanne made the sculpture in response. The 4ft figure was modeled on the sculptor’s daughter Anne and was installed in 1990.

 

 

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ALAN RICKMAN 1946-2016

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ALAN RICKMAN   1946-2016

Greatest English Actor of all time.

No -one deserves this accolade more than this great actor – I have always been a huge fan.galaxy-quest-alan-rickman.jpeg

Alan Rickman brought to the screen and stage a chameleon-like ability to BE the character he was portraying. He played an incredible range of roles from Shakespeare to popular children’s works. From buffoon to a sexual predator, to lover and ignoble prelates. He certainly deserves this accolade. He worked across all media in stage, screen television, radio, talking books.  He was also an exceptionally talented graphic artist
His work encompassed every facet of the industry.snape300

Unlike the “greats”  he had to deal with a multi-faceted media industry. He met the challenge and conquered them all. The richness of his voice and the depth of his talent was staggering. He is a graduate of the Royal College of the Arts (RCA) and later  Royal Academy of  Dramatic Art  (RADA). In his early years, he worked as a dresser for Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir Nigel Hawthorne. He did the hard yards, He was also a Director of  RADA.

One of his most memorable roles is his 1995 movie, “An Awfully Big Adventure ” an adaptation of a Booker prize-winning novel. This Bildungsroman movie, where he plays the lecherous leading man in a repertory company, is seared into my mind. I loathed his character.

Who can forget his role as Severus Snape, a role that introduced him to a younger audience and brought him popular acclaim?  His role as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and the Sherrif of Nottingham isimages an indication of the diversity of his talent.

In “Sweeney Todd” he owned the role of Judge Turpin. Also, a comedic actor his role in Galaxy Quest as  Dr. Lazerus /Alexander Dane  When he passed it was a great loss for the entertainment industry.

Like his co-stars Maggie Smith and Richard Harris, he battled cancer. He was diagnosed in 2015 with Pancreatic Cancer.  JK Rowling trusted him to such a degree that she revealed to him how his character was to develop. He cast a giant shadow on the stage.

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ALAN RICKMAN- ALWAYS

An Arthurian Twist

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An Arthurian Twist

I still love this piece

justmecreativewriter

From November to December  each year, a competition known as the Gary Grew Award  (University of the Sunshine Coast ) is open for submissions. For Creative Writing Students at the University, this is the Holy Grail. I wrote two pieces this year, both very different. Because I could not make up my mind which one to enter, I tried a popular poll. Then I asked a couple of my peers for their advice.  The jury was out 50/50.  So I resorted to the time honoured tradition of flipping a coin.  “Myrddin Wyylt” lost.  This piece was originally written on a watermarked page.  With drop capitals and different script.  I am unable to reproduce this in the blog.The piece that I have submitted is  called, “A One-Sided Conversation.”  The theme of the competition is  “My life began with the written Word.”.  I will publish the other piece when the competition results…

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Key Tag Alert

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Key Tag Alert

In today’s busy world many family groups live apart because of work or personal commitments. The village style of life has disappeared in modern suburbia and in rural towns.  Friends are virtual, not the next door neighbour. People live longer, alone in their own homes and are more independent.   There are pro’s and cons for every situation, but what about our pets, our fur babies?

We travel in the car to shop, to go to the movies, to attend appointments and to visit friends. The unthinkable occurs, a car accident.  You loved pet is home alone.  You are hospitalised.  What happens to your fur baby?

This bright yellow key tag alerts authorities to your situation, the accompanying information in your wallet has contact details, your address and a person to call if your animals need assistance.  A simple but ingenious idea.

I recently purchased two of these tags.  my partner and I do not know our neighbours. We live in a rural town in a street that has a high occupancy turnover.  If we are in a crisis scenario, it is a comfort to know our animals will not be ignored or forgotten. Peace of mind for under $5.00.    Excellent customer service and a quick turnaround on your order. Contact https://store.fetchy.com.au/

 

In Memorium

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In Memorium

When the winds blew cold

You were there.

When the rains came

You were there.

Now death has come

You are no longer there.

 

I hear your voice

In the whisper of the wind.

I see your smile

In the smidge of a cloud.

I hear your laughter

In the burble of bird song.

 

 

I feel your touch

In the softest breeze.

I sense your presence

In the beauty of the blooms.

Now death has come

You are no longer there.

 

Your corporeal body

Has long since passed.

Crumbled and gone

A life well lived.

Where hides your soul?

Your love ?

Your laughter?

You left me

Standing here.

 

Alone I ponder

On the greatest mysteries.

Of life, of death, of birth

The answers elude me.

I seek the comfort of your arms

Alas they are no more.

For you are gone

Now death has come.

 

Will we meet again?

Will we walk hand in hand?

Will we find peace

In the Elysium fields?

When death has come for me

And I am no more.

 

TURNING POINT

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  NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS – These do nothing for me I always break them. Yesterday heralded the Southern Hemisphere’s  winter solstice.  Time to ring in the changes.

If I were writing an academic piece I would be castigated for using a cliche, however, this is my blog and I am rather fond of cliches if they are apt.

I attended a lecture yesterday and had a “light bulb” moment.  My muse has returned and the blockage cleared.  Thank you, Gary – it was a great lecture. Sometimes you hear things and they don’t really sink in.  The lecture yesterday is one I have heard, perhaps four or five times in differing formats. Every time I hear it I come away with something new. That says more about the skill of the lecturer than my listening skills.

I have been struggling to find the voice of my character in my novel.  There are times when I am spot on and times when I miss the mark completely.diaries

Recently I have discovered I love using epistolary devices – letters, diaries and newspaper clippings and I have come to a considered decision.  Taking a leaf out of my mentor’s work, I am going to become a bower bird and use the technique of bricolage. I will create these items and integrate them, using them as an entre to each chapter. In turn,  these provide background and verisimilitude to the work and helping to ground the voice in the chapter.

What does all of this have to do with resolutions and changing habits? I have arrived at a space where I need a formal structure to get through my day.   A roster has been drawn up and is now in place and it allows for writing, study,  household chores, exercise and other unanticipated events. In a word it is flexible. Written in bold across the top is NO GAMES & LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA.

It will be interesting to see how I manage. My aim is one day at a time and to see what eventuates.  Buckle up folks it could be a bumpy ride.

Mustard Balls

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MUSTARD BALLSGluten free √Vegan √Vegetarian √Each ball weighs 30 g (just over 1 oz)

Ingredients: Severn Cider (www.severncider.com), Mustard flour, Horseradish.When you think of the mustard ball the original ball is from us, Tewkesbury Mustard. Back in the 16th to the 19th century, Tewkesbury Mustard was “the” condiment of choice and only sold in this variety, not involving jars or any other container. Offered as a soft, moist mustard ball, allowing for easy reconstitution; patience would have been the key back something William Shakespeare would have struggled with back when the ball was dried.This mustard ball can be grated straight onto your food and in any other way you choose!If you were looking to turn the mustard ball into a paste, include a liquor of your choice whether it’s beer, cider, wine vinegar,  or even cider vinegar. Cognac can also be included as tried by one of our in-house chefs! Add a little olive oil for a smoother texture, a recommendation by the 17th century gourmet,  John Evelyn. Another popular choice was to include cinnamon into the blend. Bearing this in mind  you get the idea that the mustard ball works with anything so why not make your own masterpiece today.

Source: Mustard Balls

You don’t scare me. I was taught by Nuns

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I posted this meme on my Facebook page the other day.  I have been surprised by the responses.  When I posted it it was done tongue in cheek.  Growing up in the 1950-60’s I was educated at a private school. I attended an all-girls school. The administration staff was made up of Nuns reporting to Mother Superior. The greater percentage of the teaching staff were Nuns supported by lay teachers; we even had males on staff, Mr. John Ryan, the tennis coach, and Joe the odd job man.

It has become fashionable to bag the Nuns and Brothers who dedicated their lives to teaching.  Undoubtedly some of them should not have been teachers let loose on young souls.  But, I have friends who experienced the same issues with teachers male and female in the state school system.

My husband who grew up in the state school system was taught by a woman who was a kleptomaniac, another who used to take their books and throw them out the window, and one whose method of teaching was to have the children transcribe their textbooks into their writing books. One of his teachers was removed for,  “undue influence” on the boys in the class. Peculiar classroom behaviour was not the sole province of the religious education staff.

The statement is true – you don’t scare me because I was educated by the Nuns.  But not in the way many people think.  Some people of influence, Germaine Greer for example, have painted the most horrific portrait of education in the non-secular system. While the system was not perfect I would remind those people they would not be who they are today without the education those people and the system provided.

I must have been lucky I had run-ins with teachers, who didn’t? It was not restricted to the Nun’s it included the lay teachers. And one was an absolute nut case, these isolated incidences aside, from age 4 to age 16 I was provided with a system of values.

I was taught respect, for self and others, and respect for authority. I was taught to think about the less fortunate and how to help and given a well-rounded education. I was taught to be myself, think for myself and not be afraid of having an opinion as long as I could validate it. I was taught to be modest and compassionate.

I was taught not to dumb things down and how to use a dictionary and a thesaurus. I was exposed to a world of wonderful things that included learning Latin and history and the romance of poetry and language. Art and drama sat side by side with physics and applied maths. I was encouraged to stretch my mind and test my capacity for learning and work outside the box. to reach for the stars.

I was taught that I was the equal of any male student and could do whatever I wanted in life if I had a good education. It was drummed into me “manners maketh the person” and this did not prohibit me from being an independent thinker.  I was encouraged to love learning and I guess this is what drove me back to complete my Bachelor’s degree at 67 and to undertake a Masters ofProfessionall Practice.

I was shown that you have to work hard to achieve in life and even if you do work hard that there will be times you will not achieve the results you want; because there are people who are brighter or more determined than you are. I learned what failure was because from failure comes the will to strive to do better.  I learned to start at the bottom and work my way up and not to expect to always be a winner and there are times when life simply isn’t fair. Your options are to stand and fight or suck it up and move on.  You were taught to pick your battles and learned quickly about pyrrhic victories and their cost.

I had blackboard dusters thrown at me for being an obnoxious smart mouth and got cracked over the knuckles a few times for being rude and disrespectful. Yes, I learned the art of sarcasm and was terrified of being sent to the head nun’s office – primarily because I was afraid of not living up to the high standard they set – of being a disappointment. These women taught classes of 30+ children and commanded respect. Sometimes they made my life miserable but I thank them every day because they made me who I am today.

Among the graduates from my Alma Mater are world famous entertainers, journalists, news anchorwomen, politicians, sportswomen, academics and artists and writers, doctors, lawyers.  Not a bad bag for a group of oppressed Catholic school girls.

Our school motto was Fidelis et Fortis  – faithful and strong. school crest

These were the women who formed my personality and taught me to be proud to be of who I was and what I achieved. Sister Joseph Therese, Sister Theresa, Mother Mildred, Sister Isobel, Sister Burkman. Mrs. Kelly, Mrs. Sheedy, Mrs. MacNamara, Mrs. Anderson, Miss Williams, Miss Wilkinson, Sister Gabriel, Sister Felicia, Miss Magnaninni, Madam, Sister Aloysius. Miss Nicholson, Mrs. Pitney.

On a personal note I am no longer a practicing Catholic and have not been one for over 4 decades – that was another gift. I was introduced to other religions and given the tools to decide on which path my beliefs would take me.  A disappointment to the Nuns no doubt, but I have the knowledge, the understanding, and the life skills to make those decisions.

 

 

MUM

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A Mum MUMis a person who brings life into the world

She nurtures it and watches that life grow and blossom.

A wise Mum lets go,

Knowing that to truly love someone you must set them free.

A Mum is someone who is your whole world when you are two or three or four

As you grow older a Mum is someone who guides you through the horrible teenage years.

You may fight with your Mum but you still love her

The bond between mothers and daughters is special.

For some as they mature it becomes a lifelong friendship

For others, who maybe too much alike it becomes a battle ground.

You hate her

But you still love her.

The years pass the divide deepens

Hurts real and imagined take hold

She is still your Mum.

 

Then comes the day when the positions are reversed

You are the parent figure she is the child.

The resentment on both sides bubbles over

She is still your Mum

You still love her.

She pushes you away

She cannot cope with what has happened.

Her world has turned

She tells you to go away and leave her alone

She is your Mum.

 

You cannot walk away

You say it is white she says it is black

Nothing much has changed

Then comes that day

You hold her in your arms and say

I forgive you – you ask

Can you forgive me?

She cannot speak but

Her eyes fill with tears

You tell her you love her  more than life itself

She nods, you know she hears your words

Then she closes her eyes and is no more

Your Mum has gone

 

You have done your best

You have kept your promises

She did not go, alone and in the dark.

There was light and soft music

There was love and warmth.

She has gone on that journey we all will take

She is your Mum

You love her

She is still your Mum.