Sad News…

It is with a heavy heart that I share the passing away of a great contributor to the WordPress community here. Tricia Bertram died peacefully in her sleep Thursday night. She was a great supporter of other writers and particularly anyone struggling with grief, like I was when we first connected here. 

She had been battling with worsening health over the past year. As sad a day as it was for me today, I am comforted knowing that in some way her spirit will once again be with the two special men in her life, her beloved son and her husband.

At this stage I believe there will be a funeral in Melbourne around the end of this week coming. I will be flying from interstate to attend, and I hope to be able to pass on any words from those who knew her.

Such a caring person. She shared her support as much as possible.

  

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Reminders and Grief.

It is now two years since my Dad died. The grief has been hitting hard. Just thinking about Christmas, thinking about the family time to come, his birthday, triggers. The annual family gathering for his brothers and sister and their families, once again a beautiful time all together, but the biggest reminder that he is gone.

And yesterday, my highschool friend and work colleague, lost his long term Tai Kwon Do training partner to cancer. Wasted away in a hospital bed as his internal organs shut down. Reminiscent of my own Dad’s failing body. My friend talks about death and repeats the words of his own religious father.

“Bury your dead. And take care of the living.”

A reminder, to focus on the life around you. These are the people that deserve your time, your love. Share your energy with them while you are able to. 

For me, this is a positive focus reminder. Yet I also know that this won’t lessen the feelings I have. Love for my Dad. Despite the life we had. Despite all that happened. Despite the hard, unreasonable person he was at times. He still loved me. His partner tells me he was always so thankful that I had visited. 

Even though he wasn’t particularly good at expressing it. He made an effort. A few words. Remembering birthdays. Always welcoming, supportive, interested.

The love of a father. The love that I missed whilst a child. The love I still look for. Crave. Does any of this help me today? Help me with my own wants/needs? Help me with my grief? 

Only in expressing all this, will there be some benefit. Sharing my story, my words, is the only way I know to let this out. May that be enough.

Vale Sir Terry.

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Woke up to the news
Sir Terry Pratchett has died
My favourite author
Prolific writer
Sharp social satirist
Creator of many beloved characters in the Discworld universe.
A friend rang while I was commuting, checking if I was ok
It hadn’t sunk in yet, then
And now I feel the sadness, the loss
An honourable man who campaigned constantly and openly
For fairer social health services
Right to die with dignity
Saving orangutans from destruction

You will be missed by so many
But the ripples of your life will continue to spread
And effect us all for at least another lifetime
Vale Sir Terry

(Friday 13 March 2015)

Regarding Grief.

I think I would cope better
If I felt more
If grief was sobbing tears,
stabs of pain,
or wrenching emotional pangs

Physical symptoms
Allow me to “be present”
acknowledge and experience them
While this mental induced
exhaustion and lethargy
is more of a hurdle
that gets higher
every time I approach it

Is the race over yet?
I’m ready to get back into life
Or am I still racing away
from something?

Marathon
hurdles
hundred metre sprint
and long jump
All rolled into one
one long event
No-one to pass the baton onto

The crowd cheered at the start
And will be there at the end
But along this bumpy section
this long and lonely road
Out in the rain
and the blistering heat
Only the keenest followers
lend their brief moments of support

The ends come
Grieving for what has passed
for a present without
and for a future
that will always be changed
This valid loss of mine
Permanent loss
means my life has forever altered
and I may need some time
getting to know myself
as a different person now

Now
Present
The gift of life
includes this grief
There will be something that I learn
perhaps my own strength
And whether I choose to talk
or write about it
Or find other ways or creativities
to express and process
this distress
Nothing will depress
the cause of my duress
It started with
and will always be remembered as
Love

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[ Thoughts after a rough week of exhaustion and reading this link sent by my friend Charlie ]

My Dad.

What I saw, what I experienced, what I remember. There were other darker times, but to me they were caused by his motorbike accident induced physical battering and brain damage. Here is the true man that I recall.

Physically active, healthy and strong.
Strong energy of person, bold.
Comfortable to sit with himself.
Caring, patient, considerate.
Dedicated.
Humble.
Loving.

As I remember him being laid to rest with his parents one year ago, in this way I honour his memory and acknowledge his life within my own.

(1 January 2015)

Hi Dad (365 days).

Hi Dad,

It’s been a year now. 365 days since I last saw you. There was a phone call, I slept through the first ring, but a minute later I registered something was up for my phone to be ringing in the middle of the night. I saw who it was calling, I answered, and I knew it was bad. Pulled on some clothes and shoes, jumped in my car and drove around. I was only 4 minutes away, so no time to think other than “get there, see what you can do” and “be ready for anything”. I pulled into the driveway. An ambulance out front, the front door open. And there you were, laying on the floor in the passageway of the house I grew up in.

(I’m still growing up – still learning, still growing – I think you’d appreciate that. I never had the courage to tell you something like that before, but I do now.)

Laying there surround by medical staff, trying to revive you. What was it, about 1 or 2 AM? So I stayed clear while they did their job. Sat in the kitchen while M cried. Looked after her as best I could. One of the medical staff spoke to us in the kitchen, said they were doing all they could. Soon afterwards, came the expected news. Forty minutes working on you and no response at all. It was time for them to stop and call the police because that was protocol.

The officers who attended were very good. Explaining the process, what they had to do and why. We needed a funeral home to come and take you away for now, but who? You were so organised in many ways, but this came along a bit quick for you to be ready. If you’d had a funeral home chosen already, it would have been much easier for us there, that night. Suddenly, seemingly important decisions needed to be made on the spot. Well we did the best we could, as ill-prepared as we were, M and me.

The funeral home staff took a while to arrive, but really that’s understandable. A couple of people would have received their own phone calls in the middle of the night, have to get up, scrub up, and dress up, and arrive to deal with you.

While waiting, we dressed you. Changed you out of your pyjamas and put some comfortable clothes on you. It was relatively easy. I was surprised at how light you were, so easy to move around. And so at peace. The memory of your face then is already fading, but I will always remember how it felt. Taking care of you one last time, while you rested, comfortable at last.

They staff that arrived were great. Communication, understanding, sincerity, care, consideration. They showed you every respect and showed us every care. We wrapped you in white, so that we could lift you onto the gurney. And then you left.

I saw you again, later, but it wasn’t the same. You weren’t there any more. The life and spirit had all passed. You were made up so well, so natural, so neat in your suit, you looked good, but you weren’t there any more. I could tell, and I felt a little sad for it.

I visited your final resting place just over a week ago. There with your mum, and your dad alongside. That was what you wanted, I’m glad you had made that known. I didn’t know what to expect, I hadn’t seen the new memorial stone for you yet. I thought I might get a little teary. Thought I might want to talk out loud to you. Get angry or something. But there was nothing obvious wanting to come out. It’s just life. This happened and I was there to help you in the end. I just deal with it. Just do what needs to be done and keep going. I don’t really know any other way. Is there any other way? Maybe not when I’m me.

Oh the grief has been sneaky. It’s been bad. It has just disabled me at times this year. It has left me conscious but unable to think, unable to process a thought or make even the smallest decision sometimes. Grief has trapped me in bed, unable to get up all day. Unable to function, unable to look after myself. Unable to feel anything more than fear and oppression. Grief has dragged along depression and switched my brain around so that I disbelieved anything people said to me, so that I felt isolated from everyone, hated myself and couldn’t bear another day of it all.

It’s been a tough year. I don’t blame you. I don’t blame anyone (anymore). It’s just who I am at this time and how it’s effected me and how I’ve needed to process it. And it’s probably not over yet, may never be, but I’m learning how to deal with it. Relearning how to be me, rebuilding from the ground up. Not patching little holes of pain, but learning how to really live all that is life – the easy and the difficult times. All the emotions. All the feelings. The highs and lows and the quiet times between. It all means something and I’m learning that, bit by bit, with some great help.

I don’t wish that we’d had more time. I just wish that I hadn’t lived under so much fear that I hesitated to talk to you about my thoughts, about all these questions I had and about all that you might have been able to share with me. That’s my only regret. I wasn’t brave enough with you. But It’s taught me bravery. I’ve become much braver, I’ve become more of the person I always wanted to be. And I can thank you for that.

I know I’m a day or two late, writing this.

(Wasn’t I always a little late getting things done for you? But you never rushed or pushed me, you just let me know how much you appreciated the assistance.)

The last three days I’ve been celebrating Christmas, with family and friends. Celebrating life and being thankful for those people around me.

So today was the day to write this. Today I was ready, finally. To think about it all, to mark the occasion, to talk about and honour you. To say “hey, I missed you this year Dad, but I thought about you, as I always have, and I’ll keep you alive in my heart.”
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Friday Overload.

Death dare not come for me
My anger will not keep him away
Though that is all keeps me going
When all is numb and dead from the brokenness of my life.
Today I can’t see past the brokenness that is spilling out from me,
surrounding me,
burying me
Death dare not reach for me
This brokenness will separate dead bones
will disintegrate dead fabric
will blunt even the blade of death

I don’t feel any love today
My heart is black
There is only anger left
And it smothers me while it carries me along

I judge others as I judge myself
Harshly and bereft of compassion
This I was taught
This I still do

I trust no one as I trust not myself
This as I learnt
This I still do

I believe others judge me
As I judge them
As I judge myself
Swiftly and mercilessly, without a second thought

No one to trust
Not myself nor others

Today I am blind
To anything outside my mind

Despising who I am
And who I become

This started when I was a child
Before I could understand what life was

Lack of connection
Haunting my whole life
Shadowing me
Scratching at me more often than not

Words are not my friend today
Words have come out
dragging along all my darkness
Out into the light
Horrified and exhausted
This shell of a body wants to collapse

I understand my exhaustion.
I understand tiredness triggering negatives today.
I need to care for myself now,
just enough to sway my thoughts towards some positivity.
I want to cry.
I want to let go of the hurts.
And yet I’m scared to let go of all that I know of as me.
I’m scared that there won’t be anything left afterwards.
I’m scared and lonely and hurting.

(Friday 14 November 2014)

Not A Stranger.

I’m discovering a relationship
That I didn’t really know
Because I was uncomfortable asking
It was easier to say nothing and wonder
Not that doing so was particularly easy

A relationship of understanding,
Companionship and love
Of life and dreams, sharing and enjoying
I’m learning about this relationship
Now that my Dad is gone

(25 Sept 2014)

I Need To Talk.

[ I sent out these words to my family (and closest friends) today. (Minor privacy edits). Taking one step forward, out of the shadows. ]

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I’m writing to you all because it is difficult to talk directly about that which I barely understand. And you should know, because I don’t want my family uninformed through poor choices on my part.

I’m really struggling. I would ask for help, but I don’t know specifically what would help me. Feel free to offer suggestions from a loving heart.

The last 18 months or 2 years has been particularly rough. Initially I have been on about half pay at work just to catch up with managing finances, then with lingering health problems I have consistently been barely managing half-time productive hours. So my pay has been well under minimum wage for some time. This puts financial pressure on my wife and I and puts pressure on our relationship. We have been getting by, thankfully she has a good income. But we have been feeling the pressure for some time, as we only “tread water” in terms of money.

A few months ago, we were trying to sort out some financial planning for the future, and I basically had an anxiety attack. I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t make decisions, I couldn’t function at work at all and I felt exhausted when home. I went to my GP to get a referral to a Centre for Treatment of Anxiety and Depression and he put me on some anti-depressants to help the mood disorder. Just adjusting to that new drug in my system has been physically harrowing and quite unsettling, but hopefully it is helping more than hindering me now.

This has all been triggered by a host of factors. Last year’s struggle with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) diagnosis and the resulting extended illness. Dad’s hospitalisation and how I dealt with that personally while trying to spend as much time with him as possible and taking him to all his medical appointments. Then his death. And all the other personal matters that end up stressing one out. All these weakening me, leaving me susceptible to constant viral infections or just lethargy. Basically, my body never had much chance to recover and build up again.

Run down, run out. All that is still going on. Just this last week I have had days where I hardly got out of bed. I didn’t want to eat or drink, I didn’t feel depressed, I had no obvious symptoms other than complete exhaustion. And some days I would manage to get into work for a few hours and end up completely exhausted again the next day.

Grief, the most likely explanation for this recent situation. Talking with a writer friend who has much experience with her personal grieving over losing her adult child and then husband. Everyone will experience grief differently and for me it is triggering exhaustion and a numb mind.

Have been very unhappy with my local GP after last year’s IBS issues (He should have sent me to a gastroenterologist straight away). So have sought out a more holistic GP that will treat me as a whole person, not just treat each symptom individually as the local doctor did. Is not easy to find and is not cheap, around $80 out of pocket per visit – financial pressures loom again.

CTAD currently has a 5 weeks waiting list (I guess my situation is not acute enough to get more urgent assistance). I also have a general psychology referral from my GP. Will use this mental health plan once I find someone with experience in Anxiety and Grief. Getting health assistance costs money. Or I could just stop working altogether and get more rest and time to help myself, but then we would probably not manage financially anyway.

Needless to say, my situation impacts significantly on my wife as well.

I’ve always enjoyed being happy. I’ve always liked to smile. And those old habits tend to mask what is going on underneath when I am in public. So while I have never revealed much about myself, there has been a lot going on inside me for most of my life. And it’s got to a point where I can’t manage on my own anymore.
I see the unfinished extension, the unfinished renovations, the yard outside, housework and I just rarely have any energy to make any headway. That is an indication outside of me. And inside me there is more going on too, but this is all I have the energy to share at the moment.

Love to you all.