For today’s prompt, complete the following sentences in your journal.
• As my grief changes, I am worried that….I will be seen as having gotten over losing Jacob. As my grief changes those emotions will still be intense as before just not as often.
• I hope to let go of the following aspects of my grief….the guilt that ‘I should have done more’ and the ‘what if’s’
• I hope to hold onto the following aspects of my grief….that I don’t feel ashamed of my grief, raw emotions and tears, I will proudly own them for when there’s great love there’s great grief. He was here, his name shall be mentioned and his life celebrated.
• Moving forward with my loved one means ….that I will look for pieces of him everyday as I continue to SMILE – see miracles in life everyday
These clever and wise words came from a wise man I only know as GSnow through an internet seatch. These words if they were mine (but they are not) could very well answer the first dot point in the writing exercise, he writes the explanation way better than my 2 sentences. But I felt this description warrants sharing to all those who grieve a loved one – “Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes.
My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out. Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”
In this passage of writing I won’t be focusing on one person. I will be talking to a group of people. A beautiful bunch of young adults. These young adults would be Jacob’s friends. I miss seeing them, calling in and checking in on me as they walk through the house to the games room where they’d used to hang out watching movies or playing the Nintendo or ps4. Our house was (and still is) an open house. There is no reason for them to call in anymore because Jacob’s not there. Why come by our house anymore? I’d hope they’d still come by to say ‘hi,’ to fill me in on what’s happening in their life (I’m still interested in you, just as I was when I saw you regularly). It might bring a lump in my throat and I may have tears, but there will be smiles and laughter too as we remember good times.
I really do miss the company of my son’s friends who I don’t get to see anymore since my son’s passing. I do get to see them on Facebook as they post pieces of their lives. I’d like them to still call by and check in on me like they used to do. I’d love to see photos of Jacob to pop up on Facebook that I’ve never seen before. It would make my heart skip a beat. Maybe it’s still too raw for them. I just hope that they haven’t forgotten him 😢 I’d like to see the mention of Jacob’s name on their Facebook page if a memory pops up. I don’t like the feelings this stirs up – envy, anger and disappointment as I don’t do them well as it’s not in my nature. Grief sometimes has a dark side.
I saw a few of them not so long ago. It was at an occasion I’d rather not have had to reconnect with them, but it was nice to see them and hug them nevertheless. We all caught up at a beautiful young girls celebration of life, a young mum Mikaila at the age of 24 losing her life to a rare sarcoma just like the one that took Jacob from us. How is it possible 2 friends from the same group at high school get a rare cancer and both fight for their lives at such a young age? The hugs I got on this day from the young adults friends of Jacob were genuine, they held on to help sooth the heartache. Hugs were easier to dish out whereas words and conversations were a lot harder. Awkward silences made us feel uncomfortable as you fumbled to find a topic to talk about to make the words flow like the lyrics of a familiar song. I took a step back and watched them converse with each other and enjoyed just being in their presence. I chatted with their parents who attended the celebration too to hear more about what was happening in their busy lives.
I hope in time I get to see those new photos of Jacob I’ve never seen before and hear more stories I’ve never heard before as we catch up again at different occasions like an engagement, a wedding, the birth or Christening of babies. I really like that old saying that ‘happiness is when you realise your children have turned out to be good people’ and that includes their friends too.
Jacob and Mikaila have good friends, they’re like stars, you don’t always see them but you know they are there.
Day 7 – grief journaling….what would your loved one want?
If I could ask you what you would want for me and my future, I think you would say to me ‘live each day as if it’s your last and be thankful for every day you’ve been blessed with.’ I’ve taken on your motto for life. I put one foot in front of the other everyday and I will live out the rest of my life in honour of you and live it in ways that would make you proud. I know you’d want to still be here with us all if you could and what we wouldn’t do for this to be true. We have to believe in our hearts that you are still with us in more ways than one. I knew it was you when the blinds suddenly went up in the family room, when I felt my hair being pulled, the huge dragonfly at Mikaila’s celebration of life and the feathers that appear by my feet. I love how we still have that connection as mother and son, but I will always want more.
I can’t wait for you to see your sister Rach get married to Adam. I know you would have become great friends with him as you are so much alike. We’ll have a new life size stand up cardboard cutout of you standing there proudly in your suit for us to have selfies next to. I know you’ll be there when Amy and Ben start looking at houses together, you be like a third wheel to get them all uptight, pushing their buttons to get a reaction while you look really proud thinking ‘I did this’ just like you did with your siblings in the living years. You’d probably have your own house by now with all the movies you would have made helping you to bring in the cash, so you might have given them helpful advice in managing the realestate and getting a bargain. I know you are helping me choose my career path and guiding me one the correct path in life. My beautiful guardian angel. I know you’ll look after your dad and help him with his acceptance of the loss and grief he feels, as you know he doesn’t handle his emotional side very well and is often not a great communicator about the difficult things in life. You will watch over your dad and me together, because you got to see us at our best and look what we can achieve as a team.
I went for a walk today with my mum (your nanna) along the edge of the lake. I saw 2 white feathers floating in the weed near the jetty. One for mum & one for me, from you & grandad. Please come and visit me in my dreams tonight. I hope you are having a drink with your grandad for Les as we toast him here on earth by singing ‘knocking on Heaven’s door.’ It was early in the morning to have a glass of bubbles but like the saying goes ‘it’s 5 o’clock somewhere’ – cheers Les, a life taken way too early. You might send me a message on Saturday at the pop up zoom psychic show with Allan. Till then ‘stay gold pony boy’ love you 😘 love mum x
You have a vision in your mind of when you reach a milestone birthday you’ll be surrounded by your partner you’ve know since your teens or early twenties, your grown children proudly showing off their own grandchildren, identifying you as a great grandparent, all showering you with love, hugs, kisses, sticky fingers, chubby arms around your neck and presents piled a mile high. Well that was the vision I have for myself when I turn the ripe old age of 80yrs, an octogenarian.
My mum turned 80 last Saturday, the 4th of the 4th Month 1940. It was a milestone year. We had plans just like the ones I have envisioned for my future big birthdays, surrounded by family and friends and being showered in love. We were going to spoil her with a breakfast fit for a king, which technically could have been called brunch. She would of have had to have a nana nap from a food coma. She’d enjoy an afternoon cup of tea with a piece of cake or slice then get herself dolled up for a family meal at one of her favourite restaurants where she’d glance around the table and smile at the glory she’s created from being the mum of the clan.
On mum’s special day the world’s current predicament put a stop to celebration as we know it. We had to think how to make the day as special as her while keeping with the health guidelines for Covid-19. My siblings and I put our heads together to come up with ideas. We’d decided that we’d take it in turns of getting her some yummy food for breakfast, lunch and tea and handing her the presents we had bought her. I rang her in the morning to give her her first happy birthday greeting and asking her if she was hungry for breakfast, ‘yes I am’ was her reply – ‘I’ve already had a cup of tea.’ I drove to Maccas and picked up 2 egg & bacon McMuffin meals with orange juice and extra hash browns via drive through – 1 for me & 1 for her. Jacob would have given me a tick of approval for her breakfast choice as he often car pooled with his mates in his little Toyota Corolla for a late night snack stop. Mum and I sat on her verandah (good distance apart) and enjoyed our breakfast without being able to give her a birthday kiss, I had to blow her one. She looked every bit of the nanna she truly is, wearing her warm light blue dressing gown, slippers with a fluffy throw rug over her legs as she said it was a bit nippy. We bid farewell after our tummy’s were full.
My son Ben dropped off some yummy slices during the afternoon to enjoy with a cuppa. Her phone was going off with birthday wishes in messages and in conversations. Flowers and chocolates were delivered to her home from friends to brighten up her day with messages letting her know that they’ll spoil her again with a meal at her favourite restaurant when everyone was allowed and the world went back to her old familiar ways. Things to look forward to. My sister Trish picked up a 2 course meal for tea from the restaurant we were all supposed to be going to to celebrate our mum, nan and friend. Mum had previously checked out the menu online and took her time to pick out what her taste buds craved for – arancini balls for her entree and steak Diane for her main. We were so grateful that the restaurant had kept their business open for take-away only.
We had celebrated her 70th birthday at the same restaurant 10 years ago. Dad and Jacob were still wish us physically to shower her with love. This big birthday was the first one without dad by her side. She missed having him giving her a cup of tea in bed while they read the papers before getting dressed and ready to face the new day. I’m sure dad and Jacob found new ways of letting mum know they’re still with her just like they let me know in subtle little signs.
She enjoyed left overs for tea on Sunday night. Trish got her a nice Thai dinner for tea on Monday night which offered her more than enough to enjoy for a second night. Today is Wednesday and it’s my turn to get her something yummy to enjoy for tea. We want to stretch out her 80th birthday for a full week. Another family celebration will be put on hold at the end of mum’s birthday week – Easter….
No Good Friday gathering of eating fish and chips and yummy prawn cocktails with dad’s home made thousand island dressing to drizzle on the top. No family gathering at Trisha’s at Jamberoo for a huge bbq lunch and the traditional little egg hunt in the front yard. No conversations about finding eggs still in the garden from the previous year, and how their dog Bozz would eat them as we scattered them on the ground had we done the egg hunt in the back yard. There’s so many things we take for granted, like catchups over coffee, a birthday celebration, a family wedding, a celebration of life, a day at the races. What a party we will have when the bans are lifted and life will go back to the way it was. With human touch, a hug, a kiss, games nights and parties and connection. I hope we will appreciate the small things in life and learn to smile more – see miracles in life everyday. This distance thing will soon be a thing of the past and that can’t come quickly enough. Stay safe and well everyone and look after each other (while keeping those self-distancing guidelines in mind 😊)
I hope you enjoyed ‘your’ day mum, one that we’ll never forget, in the year 2020. I promise we’ll spoil you again just as we should do everyday. You deserve it ♡ just remember with each new day we wake up we’re a step closer to the end of this pandemic 🙂
Day 2 of grief journaling – I love it when I dream of Jacob. It’s like he’s really visited me and we’ve made contact. When I wake up from my dreamy slumber I get a warm fuzzy feeling that I’ve just chatted with him over the phone like I do his siblings. He visits me in all different ages and stages of his life. People may think that it’s my memories showing up in my deep subconscious when I’m asleep, but the scenes are different, ones I’ve never had with him before. Sometimes he appears as a toddler, sometimes as a dorky preteen with braces, sometimes he wears his signature fro and other times he’s bald and unwell from obvious chemo treatment. These dreams are in colour and I can often recall the details in the morning. Today I’m sitting outside by my pool waiting for an online live streaming of a funeral of a dear friend from my nursing days. It’s so sad that we can’t go to offer our condolences in person, for human touch and hugs. I waste time by looking through Instagram. I glance away from the screen for a second to watch a bird in the huge tree overhanging the pool when I remember Jacob taking a photo of this view that my eyes could see. I look up his Instagram account and searched for the photo he’d posted. I found lots of views around the pool. I began to recreate Jacob’s photos with my iPad camera. I can’t recreate family portraits of my children from when they were little to the age they are now, so I’ll twist that idea a bit and recreate his photos. Not much has changed except the size of the trees and varying leaves for the different seasons. I loved reading all the positivity in the words he wrote to accompany the photos…..
Awesome sunny day
Times like these, times like those, what will be, will be and so it goes – Jack Johnson 🎶
Everything is gonna be alright in the summertime – Thirsty Merc 🎶
I have enrolled in a ‘30-day grief journaling course’ with What’s your Grief – Health and Wellness website. Today is day 1 – looking at barriers that could get in the way of a daily journaling practice and write at least three goals you have for this course.
I sometimes have to be in the right frame of mind to write. I find it better if I have a task or topic to write about to stir the creative juices. I do feel guilty that I’m wasting time when I should be cleaning the house, or exercising while staying safe at home during the covid 19 pandemic. I have always liked writing my thoughts down and I find it very cathartic & it helps to shape my mind into a healthier space. Goal 1 – I will try and take photo each day to accompany that piece of writing. Goal 2 – I will try and take out a period of my day to devote purely to writing and will complete the journaling prompts. I know each day will be different in the way that we deal with our grief and emotions and the words will be reflective of the way we are feeling at that particular time. Goal 3 – I will try and get outside in the fresh air to write, if it’s raining I’ll sit on the verandah, if it’s nice I’ll walk to the jetty with my iPad & snap a photo and start writing. It’s a rainy day today and emotions are running high. I’m worried about my mum being on her own as the whole country is forced to stay at home. She’s lonely without my dad who passed away early February, just only 2 months ago. I try and remember what grief was like in those early raw days. It’s been such a shitty start to the year what with bushfires, poor quality air, flooding, a pandemic and the grief of losing 7 people who I know and love with all my heart. Thank goodness for technology, wifi and tv. I watched one of my favourite shows on tv which brought tears as I heard a song my mum & dad listen to as I was growing up. I know the words off by heart and I think it would be a perfect song for my daughters wedding to honour her grandparents love – ‘true love’ by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. We have had to postpone their wedding till next year because of this horrible virus that’s putting our lives on hold. I took a walk in the rain out the back of my house and counted my 100 steps and noticed the pattern of rain on the glass table. I placed my iPad underneath to keep it safe from the rain, switched the camera around to face me and took a selfie. Unrecognisable messed up face just like the mixed emotions that can manifests over a 24hr period.
I hope you’re back visiting Dovercourt, Harwich Dad 😘 love & miss you forever ♡ sleep easy & give Jacob a big hug & kiss for us x We’ll look after mum for you x here’s a poem my dad wrote about memories of the hometown he grew up in, where he met my mum when she was sweet 16, & where my siblings Trish & Stephen & I were born.
Thinking of Home by David Ling. Take me back to England – take me back today To the town where I was born – how I miss old Dovercourt Bay. Take me to the lighthouse – I can smell the seaweed there, Take me along the windy prom to tangle up my hair. Just about here I’m thinking the Cliff Pavilion stood, With Queen Victoria watching on in a very sombre mood. Twas here just fifty years ago I met my future wife At a summer dance on a Saturday night the luckiest day of my life. Then on to the Spa – into the park to watch the squirrels play A go on the swings and down the slide, then be on my way. A bit of a hike to take a line and fish off old Stone Pier But for all I ever caught there they didn’t have much fear. Then onward down to Harwich where we used to moor our boat Where I watched her go down in a gale one day, she lost the will to float. Just past the wharf to Ha’penny pier where we used to catch the ferry, To Shotley or to Felixstowe for a day of making merry Watching trawlers coming and going alongside the Trinity ships, The follow your nose up a side street for delicious fish and chips. Round the corner to Gas House creek and the railway ferry crane That my father once worked when I was a boy and aspired the same Through Bathside past the sinky mud to a railway bridge by the sea As a nine year old a most beautiful sight having been an evacuee Then up to Dovercourt High St, past the lights to look at a place Where I worked for ten years in my twenties and recognised every face On up the hill where the Regal once was – next to my first high school, Where the French teacher gave me my nick name for acting like a fool. Down the lanes to the back of the school was the daunting Toboggan Hill, On the few snowy days in winter sledges flying what a thrill. Now I’ll look over to Parkeston Quay to watch the ships sail by, After that stroll through the Hangings at dusk when bats invade the sky. I’ll head out westward to Copperas Wood, bluebells there to pick And on Wrabness foreshore where the tide comes in so quick, Then I’ll make for the Wix Wagon pub through pretty country lanes And down a couple of English ales to soothe away my pains. Meadner through some winding roads to Oakley Little and Great Into Mayes Lane to Ramsey church and Chafford where my mate Spenty many years there cooking for the boys of the school. They used to have a smashing Fete though it rained as a rule. Through Tollgate past The Devon and onto Dovercourt Green Where if you’re lucky daffodils to make floral scene. The Memorial – the water towers – then wander down the Drive The Skating rink – Putting green, the Boating Lake that I’ve Dreamed about quite often in the years I’ve been away, Then I’ll be back where I started on my Odyssey today.
I never thought I’d be able to speak at my dad’s funeral to deliver his eulogy. I have always had more strength in writing words rather than saying them. But I wanted to do it for him, to show him I could do it. For him, for mum, for my sister Trish, for my brother Stephen, for family and for friends. I stood in a middle standing space surrounded by love from my siblings and spoke from the heart, sharing these words and adding extras like a actor forgetting their lines where they ad lib.
Dad was born in Essex England in 1936 to Kit and Sid. He had an older sister Brenda and has a younger sister Josephine, still living there. In spite of the war he had a happy childhood. After high school he joined the airforce, then trained in electronics and eventually became a tv technician and managed a shop.
He met mum when he was 19 and she was 16and they have been together ever since. They married in 1960and we’re blessed with 3 lovely children haha I’m the favourite (don’t tell anyone) Trisha, Debbie and Stephen.
Dad always wanted to come to Australia but mum wasn’t as keen, but eventually gave in and in 1969 along with their three children then aged 8, 5, & 2 they emigrated and have never regretted it. Dad got a job in Sutherland with a tv repair shop and they rented a unit in Cronulla, right near the beach. Every weekend they would drive south to look for a place to build a house with a work shop so dad could start his own tv repair business. Luckily they found Mt Warrigal overlooking beautiful Lake Illawarra. They bought land and had their house built with dad’s workshop underneath and it became Mt. Warrigal TV services.
It was lovely for us children as dad worked from home and mum was at home too, answering the phone and taking in tv’s for repair. They had wonderful neighbours and friends and always made them welcome. Last Oct on dad’s 83rd birthday when his health wasn’t good, they moved to an over 55’s home at Lake Windamere, near Little Lake where dad used to swim everyday until his breathing difficulties made it impossible. Once again they settled well and had lovely neighbours. There it was easier for mum to care for dad as his breathing struggles became worse. Dad was a wonderful husband, dad, grandad and will be missed terribly. We have some wonderful memories but how to you share 50 plus years in a few minutes? I’ll share some with you here from all of us in no particular order…..
When we had first arrived in Australia our family was invited to a bbq at his new boss’s house. His boss told dad to bring a plate. Well dad came home and told mum ‘he said to bring a plate.’ ‘What size plate?’ – mum asked. ‘I’m not sure, he didn’t say’ was dads answer. ‘Maybe they haven’t got enough’ mum thought. The day arrived and our family turned up with an empty plate and mum handed it over and said ‘we weren’t sure what size you needed.’ Maybe this is why pommies have got a reputation of being tight.
Pronunciation of the Aboriginal places near us – Ulladulla, Cronulla, Bulli,
Appreciation of music – lounge room watching thunderstorms and he’d conduct the music as we heard the thunder and lightening crash. We were born in the Beetles era, I can remember getting in to trouble for putting smarties down dads new record player. After visiting the club he’d come home and play the piano or put Beethoven on his record player
Made things to entertain us on bbqs, long skipping ropes for tug of wars and swings, he’d make kites with old newspaper and sticks,
Pete was expecting to meet a Chinese man when he met dad because of the name Ling, told dr on his last day he was a Chinese Pom.
His Gilligans island terrytoweling hat he’d wear,
He taught us to fish, how to bait up, gut the fish, untangle a line, pump nippers Prawning – only time you can wear clothes in the water. Trish reckons the only time me he got cross with her was when she threw fish back in to the water when he wasn’t looking
I shared his talent of stringing words together in poems and stories and Jacob tapped in on that creative talent too with his movie making.
Dad booked accommodation for Pete & I went we went away for a weekend before we got married & when we got there it was 2 single beds
Movie buff like Jacob but his classics & favourites were different, loved musicals, high society, singing in the rain, Oklahoma, South Pacific, sound of music, wizard of oz and he loved singing the tunes from them as well, he called my mum Samantha (fondly Sam) a character from the movie high society starring some of his favourites Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra (old blue eyes) & grace kelly. Richard will read a poem he wrote for their 25th wedding anniversary starting off with ‘dear Sam’ when we gather for tea & coffee downstairs afterwards & mum & dad would write ATW on cards to each other – ‘all the way’
Drove the council bus for before & after school care
He has a sweet tooth – worthers original, Maltesers, and Cadbury blocks
He’d always sit half sideways in his chair with his legs over the armrest
He like to have a little flutter on the pokies and the horses, if he won a bit he would say ‘little fish’ and after a bad day of betting he’d say ‘that’s because I’m a lucky man in everything else’ or sing ‘if I was a rich man’
he always provided for us (thanks mum) never needing/wanting anything more.
He was always there for us – we had a secure, loving childhood – he did everything with us, taught us so much to become who we are.
He was involved in our friends – he gave Trisha’s friends Cherie, Kim & Monica 10c to keep for an emergency phone call – & Kim still has hers. He called Stephen’s mates – Bradley my boy, Paul my boy, Frankie my boy & he loved the father/son drinks with Neil, Henry and Mick and all the boys
He loved parties & our friends always talked to him & mum & say ‘your parents are great’
He instilled a great love of family, including those in England and loved that our family grew and will continue to grow
He loved the ocean and beach & taught us to surf (even though he’d never surfed) he got us boards from the tip
He’d take us for bbq’s on Sunday’s & we could always bring a friend (plus on holidays too) he took Stephen camping
We’d have fish & chips on Saturdays and get paddle pops wrapped in newspaper
When we got lost driving on holidays he’d say a phrase that I can’t repeat in church but there’s one that I can say that we were going on a ‘magical mystery tour’
He loved playing bridge, particularly with his bridge partners Warren and Pronati
He always had a crossword or soduko game sheet in his hand, he loved watching the chase and other quiz shows on tv, and he could have easily won sale of the century.
He loved Aussie life and he took to it straight away, he loved his life and he loved living
But most of all he loved us, & we will always feel just like the words scribed in this Captain Corelli’s Mandolin quote – ‘your roots have entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part’ and we won’t.