Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Giving Me Grief

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  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    No. I'm a recent poster to this blog, and before that I was a lurker, but four years ago? Far too much of a computer scaredy-cat to hit "comments". (I used to read "Hard News" all the time, though.)

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Jacqui Dunn,

    It's possible it's there, I just did a quick search.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    But even if it is there, I wouldn't have ever seen it.

    It's more recent than that, anyway.

    ETA: Unless you mean it was in Russell's post. But the above still applies....

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Of course, I also said I would have my parents cremated and keep them in Marmite jars on my mantelpiece. I don’t have a mantelpiece, so i won’t be able to do that. Plus, OMG, CREEPY.

    We had my Dad's ashes on Mum's mantelpiece in their plastic urn thingy for a few years. When we had family lunches, they would be put in the middle of the table. All of this was because we couldn't decide what to do with them. We planted trees on Mum's property, and all scattered some in the holes; some were scattered at the mouth of the Mahurangi River; some were scattered up at Mum and Dad's old farm; and some were scattered across the America's Cup start line in Valencia. And all the while, the urn sat on the mantelpiece, until there were no ashes left. He always did get around, my Dad.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    When my much-loved* neighbour Bill Minehan died in 1996, he came back home after the embalming. He lay in a coffin for 2 days – that coffin built by a very local carpenter (one of my more weird pieces of knowledge is how to measure a body for a coffin, and so Ian did it to my directions) out of wood (rimu) Bill had felled, rough-sawn, and dried himself. And the coffin-handles were beautifully-worked rope & knots by another neighbour, ex merchant navy & oilrig worker.

    Over the 2 days before the funeral (held at Ross where Bill had been born, 72 years before) hordes of people came in to pay respects, share a drink, reminesce – and pop things in the coffin. His favourite adjustable mini-spanner was already in his pocket, but other tools, a VW insignia, and lots of lollies(he was famously sweet-toothed), coins (a lot of Coasters toss a $2 coin (because of the kotuku) into the grave, but Bill had a quantity in with him) and a heap of cigarettes (what killed him…) 2 of us also put in lighters-

    Bill died the day after his 72nd birthday: he had had a triple-bypass a year or so earlier, but was back to his kind of normal – helping everyone, being his twinkly
    cynical self. He had started welding a new bumperbar onto his Holden when he must’ve felt strange, because one of his daughters found him lying on the sofa with the ’phone against his chest in the mid-afternoon.

    I really enjoyed his 72nd party – Bill told stories I’d never heard him tell before (and he was a real raconteur, as so many Coasters of his generation were)- and we all went home happy & smiling.

    The next night, his partner, and family, and self, concentrated on getting the priest drunk.

    And 3 days later, I read Bill’s favourite poem at the initial (& most important for most of us locals and all his friends who had journeyed to Big O) service, which ends
    “and have touched the face of God.”
    He was also a pilot…

    Then his coffin was loaded onto the back of the Holden ute (you bet the bumper bar was now A-OK) and he was driven off to Ross and burial.

    * Bill – William Patrick Clifford James Minehan, frequently called WP – was a very popular warden of the YHA here, and had literal fan clubs in Cologne and Berlin.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    O, and what started my last post off-
    WP played rinkydink piano, and there were lots of singsongs nextdoor over the 20 years he was my neighbour. His favourite was "The Gambler"

    "You gotta know when to hold 'em
    know when to fold 'em
    know when to walk away and
    know when to run-
    you never count your money
    when you're sitting at the table-
    time enough for counting
    when the dealing's done-

    Sometime in the darkness,
    the gambler he broke even-"

    At least, that's what I recall us all singing as Bill's goodbye hymn, at Big O...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Sorry I missed this from earlier Emma. Me sad too.

    It's a bugger we only ever have one Mum.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1491 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Kia Kaha, Emma. Thank you for sharing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 402 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom,

    So about 2 hours ago someone I cared deeply for died in my arms. Pretty much alone - still - in a strange country, fate - or maybe the mixture of Scotch and Valium I've been downing since - brought me here.

    And suddenly the uncomprehending emotiveness and the forgetfulness that they're no longer there - even this soon after the event - crystralised beautifully.

    Thanks Emma, for the strength I'm finding in your strength. Kia kaha.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Thanks for coming here, Rex. Glad it helped. Kia kaha.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18715 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    And also, don’'t forget that valium makes your scotch count two times. But you knew that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18715 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Oh Rex, I'm so sorry.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Rex - I've had the person I love most *nearly* die in my arms (3& 1/2 years ago) so I have a tiny hint of your suffering.
    Please take good care of yourself now-

    and Emma - this is an extraordinary thread and many many lurkers have found it both helpful and resonating to their own experiences. Losing your Mum was great grief, but as a word-alchemist, you have transmuted your grief into the rarest pounemu. Thank you.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Emma – this is an extraordinary thread and many many lurkers have found it both helpful and resonating to their own experiences. Losing your Mum was great grief, but as a word-alchemist, you have transmuted your grief into the rarest pounemu. Thank you.

    I feel exactly what Islander says, and thank you Emma, what you wrote is beautiful, and insightful. Thank you Islander as well.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Islander,

    Goodness, islander, I am deeply humbled. Or the exact opposite of that. Alchemy is a lovely thought.

    We are now at the lesser-discussed stage of grief known as Bureaucracy. I have a stack of will-related forms to fill in. I'm going back down to Mum's this weekend to help clear out the house, getting it ready for market. The boys (my brothers are always the 'the boys', and will be til they die) have done a wonderful job but they won't deal with any of her personal stuff. That's vagina-bearer-business, that is.

    I'm not entirely sure I'll cope with going back.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Hang in there mate, as it is said-
    I'm trustee-executrix for one of my family - because of shares & peculiarities, the estate still hasnt been wound up (a decade after the death.)
    It is a mind&health drain, and I never asked for it - but.

    We do what we have to do.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom,

    Thanks Russell, Emma, and Islander.

    I've never been much for the "five stages of grief" theory. This situation went from "slighty off colour" to "deceased" in three days, and I had to make decisions on treatment, advised by what seemed like a confident doctor but who I now recall as more a cocky know-all.

    Since my default mood tends to be "mildly irritated" it therefore progresses to "anger" fairly easily. So at present I'm alternating between anger at myself for my possible gullibility and at the doctor for a quick and somewhat glib diagnosis he didn't bother verifying, and debilitating grief.

    Oddly I find I can still rant on blogs, though I can't do any work - a focus for the anger I guess. Someone should write a thesis on "Redbaiter as therapy" ;-)

    Whether I'll get to the other stages or not remains to be seen. They've never really happened in the past, but maybe with age comes (greater) wisdom...

    Good luck with the trusteeship, Islander... it's something I've seen it send people to the edge of sanity. There has to be an easier way, surely.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    There are people that are dead to me now but still have lives of their own. There are those that no longer have lives but will live with me forever.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4693 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Hi Rex, take care mate. I don't know what you're going through, I don't - I've never lost anyone dear to me yet - but I know a bit about pain (and medicating with alcohol and other drugs). If you've got the chance so far, reach out and share the burden, always a fraction lighter shared. But you knew that... ;)

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    If it's any consolation, Rex, and I suspect it may not be, I don't believe Kubler-Ross ever intended the five stages were to be taken so literally, nor did she mean them to be in order. I also think that she was saying that grief takes a lifetime. I prefer to think of her stages as states. In grief, we may vacillate between denial and anger, or bargaining and acceptance. We may never reach acceptance, unless we let ourselves. The other thing that I think people misread about Kubler-Ross is that she was talking about grief in general, I believe. I have always believed that the grief we feel about the first person that we love who dies, melds and morphs into the grief we feel when the next person we love dies, and so on. And so the first time that someone whom we love dies, we start at the beginning, and on until we ourselves die. I am very sorry that someone you loved, died. Any loss is never easy, nor is it always explicable. That they died in your arms, says alot about how you cared for them. May you find comfort in that some day. Meanwhile there are lots of people here to share your grief with, if you so choose.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    If this is becoming the general dealing-with death-via-the-internet thread (and thank you Emma, for writing it) … firstly my sympathies to previous posters, especially Rex, I do so know that mood.

    My brother-in-law committed suicide a few days ago. Pretty much out of the blue, he was in a bad way (since learnt) but had never shown any indication of taking that way out…

    I only saw him a couple of times a year at family gatherings and we didn’t have much in common so it’s not having huge effect on me (yet) (effect felt nevertheless…), but my parents had taken him into the family and into their hearts and were down there trying to help him sort himself out … they’re devastated and there’s little I can do except keep in touch and be prepared to travel where/when/if I’m needed to support them.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Robert Urquhart,

    Oh Robert. What a shit of a thing for everyone who loved him. And what you are doing is not "little". Your parents will need you and you will be there. That's a big thing, a valuable thing, a very important thing.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Robert Urquhart,

    So sorry to hear about that Robert. The role one plays in these things is never easy, when you feel slightly removed. Having some difficulty knowing where my own efforts are best placed in an 'In-law' situation right now. The feelings of helplessness can be quite overwhelming at times. 'Being there' is what I'm trying to do. It doesn't feel like enough, but it does matter. There are days when it can be the difference between someone getting off the mattress or not.

    Wishing you and your family all the best.
    Jack

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I have always believed that the grief we feel about the first person that we love who dies, melds and morphs into the grief we feel when the next person we love dies, and so on.

    I don't quite know how this works, yet, but it sounds totally right.

    Very sorry, Rex and Robert and Jack.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3628 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Danielle,

    It's sort of like the more people who die around you, the further along you move in your generalised grieving experience, seems to be the case. Or to put it in other words, the moment we are born, our losses begin, and as we accumulate losses, so we gather experience at dealing with it, till - with any luck - we reach that place of acceptance. Certainly there are plenty of people who never get to that. I think Kubler-Ross was talking about the ideal, not the practical, in alot of ways.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

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