Tag Archives: grief

Continuing bonds

Day Ten: – grief journaling

For today’s journaling prompt, we want you to write about the small, personal, everyday ways that you continue your bond with your loved one.

• What objects do you hold onto? 

• What rituals do you engage in? 

• What sayings do you repeat? 

• What traditions do you uphold? 

I have an old suitcase in my room that holds a few items of Jacob’s clothing. A couple of my favourite t-shirts of his with funny sayings written on the front. A nice sloppy joe kind of jacket with a zipper. His warm and fuzzy winter trackie dacks that became his most comfortable attire as it hid his skinny frame and a catheter. A couple of his good old faithful shoes that he bought in Hawaii (our last holiday as a family) that he tenderly walked in when he was using crutches and in a wheelchair. We had hoped they’d walk along a different path for our beautiful brown eyed boy. I love wearing his 2 beanies when the seasons change to keep my head warm. These kept the world from seeing him rock the bald look in the winter months. His Hawaiian shirts he bought for him and his mates to wear at was his last New Years celebration. One of those shirts is missing a sleeve, I cut it off to create a stitched up heart. A few brand new t-shirts he bought for his mates to wear as they watched WWE wrestling in Sydney. I have his beautiful straw hat he’d proudly wear and would look really shmick wearing it with his dark sunglasses. I have his wallet with his licence and cards in it still. His pirate patch he’d wear to relieve his double vision takes its place on his memorial shelf. Ohh there are so many other items I treasure.

I guess we do have rituals we engage in to keep his memory and spirit alive. My husband Pete has created ‘Jake’s bar,’ a special place to feel his presence and to have a toast to him as you ring his drink bell while you browse through family photos in a frame with Jacob pulling funny faces making us laugh. We write messages on his table with a permanent marker. We get out his life size stand out cardboard cut out at family celebrations to have him physically there with us and to take selfies with. We scatter a little bit of his ashes nearly every holiday destination we travel to over land and sea. We raise money for one of his favourite charities dreams2live4 and an awareness and research one to hopefully one day find a cure for sarcoma on his behalf. I’m using his camera so I’m seeing the world through his eyes the lens of his camera keeping us connected.

Jacob had 2 mottos as he neared the end of his life – ‘live each day as if it’s your last’ and ‘be thankful for everyday you’ve been blessed with.’ His dad quoted a line from one of Jacob’s favourite movies and these words became very powerful for Jacob to give him more fight that he needed – ‘stay gold pony boy’ from The secret life of Walter Mitty. The song by Ball Park Music ‘it’s nice to be alive’ was playing right up until he took his last breath and yes it truly is ‘nice to be alive.’

Disabled sailing gives out a memorial trophy each year with Jacob’s name on it to the most inspirational person of that year. Jacob will always be part of the movie ‘Truth’ with Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and many others and when we watch the movie we pause it and say ‘there you are, found you’ when we see the photo of him and Cate in Mary Mapes office. Lennie shows the WinTv news segment we starred in showing Ben pushing Jacob on the beach with an amphibious wheelchair in his line of work that he does with physiotherapist etc to spread awareness of the great piece of equipment to be used with people with a disability to enjoy recreational times in the water. I will continue to feel him near me as I see a butterfly or dragonfly, see a rainbow, the stars I wish upon at night, a penny from Heaven, a feather, a song on the radio with messages in the lyrics, numbers, dreaming of him while I sleep and connections with him with the help of a psychic medium.

I loved him yesterday, I love him still, always have and always will x


C.S.Lewis once wrote ‘no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.’ He penned these words in A Grief Observed, a collection of reflections on the experience of bereavement following the death of his wife Joy in 1960. That’s just how losing a loved one feels, like fear….

According to Wikipedia Fear is an emotion induced by perceived danger or threat, which causes physiological changes and ultimately behavioural changes, such as fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events. Fear in human beings may occur in response to a certain stimulus occurring in the present, or in anticipation or expectation of a future threat perceived as a risk to oneself.

Fear is the most general term and implies anxiety and usually loss of courage.

C.S. Lewis explain his fear as ‘I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.’

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”

I can totally relate to him feeling like this. After losing Jacob fear reared it’s ugly head in noticeable ways. It almost manifested as a panic attack like state. Fear of losing another child was high on the list. Any disappointment or upset in life hit me like a kick in the guts. The first year of loss came with the realisation that this was our new world, a world without Jacob physically being with us. I’d have to stop those raw memories of the last few days of his life playing in my mind when driving alone in my car. Fear of visiting the hospital to have a blood test right next to the ward where Jacob spent time in isolation would cause a rise in my blood pressure. Fear of losing my father when he was hospitalised for double pneumonia. Fear when Rach had been tested positive for influenza A.

I didn’t want fear to rule my life and I wasn’t about to let it. I have had to learn how to train my mind to slow these negative thoughts. I like to take a good hard look at the things I’m grateful for each day to curb those grief like fears rearing its ugly head. I try and SMILE – see miracles in life everyday. I have become more mindful with my thoughts that often prevent me from sleeping in the wee hours of the morning. I have needed to practice mindfulness. When being mindful my breathing slows, thoughts become less and I become more aware of my surroundings as I enjoy the freedom of photography.

We are only 3 months in to the year 2020 that I think will top Queen Elizabeth’s year of 1992 as her ‘annus horribilis.’ January saw Australia with the worst fire season with over 12.6 hectares burnt. Thirty three people lost their lives due to the fires and over 1 billion animals were killed. For months, we breathed air pollution up to 26 times above levels considered hazardous to human health. Following the fires rain fell from the skies thankfully putting the fires out but also caused extensive flooding with the newly burnt land not being able to cope with the extreme deluge.

February saw us mourn the passing of my dear old dad at the ripe old age of 83. I count my blessings of spending his last day on earth with us sharing laughter, smiles and tears and lots of opportunity to say ‘I love you.’ The fear with grief makes you see how fragile life can be and helps you to value it. Too many lives have been lost this year and tears have been shed for my dad, for Dave, for Lesley, for Mikaila, for Donna and for Les just late last night. It is in these times of grief we need to have that human connection of touch in hugs and kisses and kind words. Covid-19 has put a stop to humanity reaching out to hold space for those who grieve. Families are limited to a small number of people to say their goodbyes. Weddings have been cancelled and postponed, including Rach & Adam’s we were to celebrate this June. Families are forbidden to see loved ones for fear of spreading the virus.

Life is on hold. Jacob once said these words when he was interviewed for a documentary to raise money for a cancer unit to be built. We lived in hope that things would get better, and he would recover and get to live a long and healthy life. Things did not go to plan and we said our goodbyes to our beautiful brown eyed boy only just 2 months later after filming.

I hope this fear we face with the unknown circumstances of Covid -19 will disappear as quickly as it came and let us go back to our old life and pick up the pieces where we left off. I’m sure this year 2020 will change us all. My nephew posted a message on his Facebook page that he shared from a friend and when I read the words tears fell….’When this ends-AND IT WILL-every football match will sell out, every restaurant will have a two hour wait,every kid will be GLAD to be in school, everyone will love their job, money will sky rocket,pubs will be rammed, and gigs will be plentiful and we’ll kiss embrace and shake hands. That’s gonna be a good day Hang in there, World.’

My dear Dad Dave