Tag Archives: grief

I’m kicking ass and taking names, so don’t pity me

Thank you for your pity today. It made me see through clearer eyes how much stronger I am now and how far I have come in the nine months since my Dad’s death.

To you my life may appear to be spiralling, spinning, shifting and twisting out of control, but it’s all part of the process of finding a new kind of normal in my life. This chaos you see swirling around me, that’s part of the beauty and richness of my life.

Where you see a flailing, angry person, I see a girl pulling at the threads at the edges of her life, grasping at the bits of grief and anger and happiness and joy and love and pulling them together, twisting them into a more pleasing shape.

A wise person once said that the night is always darkest before the dawn. Or that you’ve got to break some eggs to make an omelette. I’m breaking eggs, I’m making omelettes. I am switching the light on before the dawn. I’m finding my feet again. So don’t pity me, don’t judge me. I am doing just fine. Finer than fine. I am at my very finest when I’m under pressure. I’m kicking ass and taking names right now, shall I take yours?

Do not look at me with pity in your eyes as you watch and judge me as tears spring to mine, or when I struggle to swallow my rage down. I’m busy feeling. What I’m feeling is real and it’s valid. I am absolutely normal with everyone, maybe my smile has a hint of rictus about it, but I’m fine.

No one feels the wrath which bubbles inside me. No one but me suffers because of the impotent rage throbbing in my chest. I know I need to find a safe outlet for my anger, but thankfully you came along with your inane comments and judgemental glances and became the target I was looking for.

I’d rather feel all of this anger and all of this pain than live for one single minute like you, in your emotionally homogeneous vacuum you call life. I would rather feel and live. I’d rather enjoy life and feel the lowest of the lows and taste the sweetest and highest of the highs.

I am living, I am blossoming. I am loving the people I love with every fibre of my being and every part of my heart. And I miss one of the people who lived and still lives in my heart. I always will. But don’t pity me my anger and my grief, because they are all the evidence I need that I was loved and I am still loved.

I know that the pity in your eyes is just jealousy. What a gift I have to be able to see the beauty in my grief and to be able to see that my anger is a gift born from love. My anger is a beautiful, creative gift, and your pity is your curse.

I'm kicking ass and taking names, so don't pity me

Looking back at 2016 – a year to forget

Most people will look back on 2016 and remember it for the sheer number of notable celebrity deaths. The year began with Bowie and Alan Rickman fans in bits, and went out with us saying a sad goodbye to Carrie Fisher and George Michael. For some of us, for me, we’ve lost someone incredibly important in our own lives. In my case it was my Dad.

For me 2016 began with a high. I was determined to make this whole blogging thing a success and to build on the previous few years of hard work. January began well with a blog post in the style of a school newsletter going a little bit viral. So I rolled my sleeves up and prepared to get cracking with life. Life however had different plans.

It’s hard to write a retrospective of a year like 2016. My Dad died at the end of June and my brain has almost completely deleted everything before that date, and everything after just feels a bit funny.

I’ve just scrolled back through my Instagram feed to refresh my memory and it looks like the first half of 2016 was lovely and lively. I took up crafting in earnest, attended a gin festival, won a holiday to Majorca, went to Blog Camp with a heavily pregnant friend (I binge watched Call the Midwife beforehand just in case). We had a holiday in Devon, trips to festivals, I ate and made a lot of good food and I bought a fancy camera.  

Then my Dad died. 

Looking back at 2016 - a year to forget (Peter Woolley)

And I wrote a bunch of posts about grief and how I was coping. I don’t know how I coped, but I had to. I went into myself for a good few months, my Instagram feed definitely reflects that, just the occasional photo of something I baked or something we did.

My blogging was the same. For all the reviews and write ups I do, I try (and will try harder) to make my blog a reflection of my life. The fact that there were no truly personal blog posts for months is only because I really couldn’t face opening the box inside me which contained my thoughts and feelings. Because if I did that then I’d need to acknowledge them and I didn’t have the strength to do that.

Every so often I do open my box of grief and feelings and it all pours out. I quickly slam the lid shut and turn the key in the lock. But I do feel myself wanting to write again and wanting to talk about those feelings inside me. Feelings most of us will experience at some time in our lives.

The last six months of 2016 have been busy, we did a lot of healing at the Just So Festival and we had our much needed holiday to Majorca in October. I had a jaunt to River Cottage with some blogger chums, and we went to Lapland UK in December. We’ve done a hundred wonderful things as a family and as a result our little unit of three has grown much closer. Then we three became four.

Looking back at 2016 - a year to forget / Our dog is for life, not just for Christmas

We welcomed this monkey into our home. She’s a joy, she’s a distraction, she’s a menace, but we love her. She’s the four-legged piece of the puzzle we needed to complete our family jigsaw. 

2016 will not be remembered with much fondness or joy by me. It’s a year which has completely changed my life forever. Some of it for the good I’ll admit, but a bit of my heart broke in June and it will never heal.

As for 2017, my hopes and ambitions for the next 12 months are modest. I’d like for me and the people I care about to survive the year unscathed. I really hope that isn’t too much to ask for.

Happy New Year, let’s hope 2017 gives us a better run of luck!

Looking back at 2016 - a year to forget

Grieving…. four months on

So *takes deep breath*, it’s been a while since we talked about how I’m getting on. It’s been a helluva year and not the good kind. Since my Dad died in June, apart from the initial outpouring of grief blog posts I wrote, I’ve tucked my feelings and thoughts away and tried to focus on just getting through my to do list instead of grieving.

I’ve tried to grieve privately and come to terms with everything in my own way. People we love die all the time, who am I to gnash and wail and to hog the grieving limelight? But people, kind people do ask and I say I’m doing ok. I’m not really, I’m doing as ok as I can do under the circumstances.

I’ve lost the first man I ever loved. I’ve lost one of my best friends and I don’t think I will ever get over it. The initial shock has gone, only to be replaced by the weird constant reminder that he’s not around. I saw some books yesterday he would love for Christmas. I didn’t buy them. I baked a cake I couldn’t share with him. I see things on TV I remind myself to tell him about, then remind myself that I can’t. I constantly think of going shopping with him. I loved going shopping with him, he hated shopping as much as I do and it was always a bit like supermarket sweep, something which amused us greatly. 

I cry a lot, every day. I cry privately and stick a smile on my face when I go out. If I can’t do that I throw on a pair of sunglasses and act like I’m too busy to hang around chatting. I went to the dentists the other week and lay in the chair, tears rolling silently down my cheeks because I was reminded of my Dad. The dentist probably thought I was being a wimp over my filling. Let him think that.

The small boy talks about him a lot. We don’t discourage it because I want him to hold the memory of him close. But kids are so blunt. “Grandad is dead isn’t he?” There’s no “passed on to the other side” euphemisms there. Sometimes I prefer the bluntness, he was never one for sugar-coating things when he was alive, so why dust his death with icing sugar?

So how am I doing? Not great, but as well as I can do under the circumstances. Thank you for asking x

Grieving

Grieving: Mending my broken heart

My broken heart just really needs a big cuddle right now and I need to learn how to do that for myself.

It’s been three weeks now since my dad died. I’d been doing pretty well until last week, keeping strong and ploughing on. I’ve been outwardly cheery and strong to the point where you’d think nothing of any consequence had happened in my life. 

The first couple of weeks after someone dies you’re busy. You’ve got stuff to do, people to talk to, arrangements to make. Then it all stops and the world carries on without you.

Last week the world quietly took itself off pause and carried on and I crumbled. I crumbled and touched the edge of the abyss and I scared myself. Last week there was time and space for me to open the door a little bit on my grief. I shone a light inside and saw that my heart was broken. I have an utterly broken heart.

I don’t know how to mend my broken heart. Everyone says that time is a healer. I’ve been quoted three months to get over the shock, one year to get through the first tranche of painful anniversary memories and three years to get over it properly. I’m taking it one day at a time and for the record I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

I am excellent at compartmentalising things. I put little lumps of feelings, painful experiences, whatever, in boxes in my mind and when I’m feeling strong enough I take one down off the shelf and look inside. Sometimes I have a rummage about and wonder what the fuss was about, sometimes I slam the lid shut for it never to be opened again. 

I think this is a box that will become very well worn over time. I’ll take it down, open it a bit, deal with whatever pain and sorrow I can and then close it and put it back where it come from. I also know the box next to it on the shelf contains a whole load of really wonderful, special memories of my dad too. I’ll try and open that box and share its contents as much as I can too.

I love my dad. He was one of the biggest and brightest stars in my universe. I will always love him and I will always miss him and I’m going to try very hard not to fall into the abyss again. He told one of his friends that I was one of the strongest people he knew and I’m going to try and make that true.

broken heart

Nothing will ever be the same again

Grief makes everyone act and react in different ways. On 25th June 2016 my dad died suddenly and I was tossed into that weird limbo stage, part grieving, part organising everything, part comforting his also grieving friends and relatives. It’s been nothing short of a privilege to know my dad, he was a one off in the truest sense and we have been overwhelmed with love and support since he died.

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Everyone copes with loss differently. I can see this in my immediate family and in his close friends. There are said to be five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For me I feel like I rattled through them quite quickly, but even now as I write this just over two weeks since I last saw him, I am very aware of the gaping hole he has left in my life. I will miss him forever. I know this to be a fact.

In times of adversity, and there have been many of those such times for me in recent years, I have turned to my dad, my husband and to a small but loyal band of close friends to help me through.

My dad is no longer able to support me, but I knew him pretty much inside out and well enough to second guess his immediate response and what advice and guidance he would give. I know in this situation we’d be indulging in some gallows humour and bantering our way through the trickiest bits in order to not look the full horror of his loss in the face. I thank the friends who have made me laugh, really laugh at this time. I know he’d probably want to shake them by the hand.

My boy Ben has been fantastic. At just 5 years old he doesn’t really understand what’s happened and why I’m so upset, though I try not to be too glum in front of him. He has granted me extra cuddles, he’s made me smile a great deal and almost managed to tidy his room. If you ever need a distraction from grief I’ve found a 5 year old boy is pretty effective.

My dad and my husband had a special relationship. They’ve known each other since we started going out in 1995. He started working for my dad in 1998, becoming a partner in the business in 2000 and when my dad retired in 2013 he handed the business over to him. They worked together for a long time, didn’t always see eye to eye, but made it work. I think they had a tremendous respect for each other.

My husband has lost someone incredibly special to him. We all have.

My friends have been excellent. Too many to name, all messaging me offering quiet support, making themselves available for trips to the pub, or for lunch and just letting me talk and cry and laugh. I am incredibly lucky to have such good people around me. I know these words to be an understatement.

I think I’ve managed to choose the best friends I could hope for. Every message of support, every card through the door, every whisky raised to my dad has been very much appreciated.

The funeral may have been and gone, and life must for almost everyone return to normal. For me nothing will ever be the same again. It will take time for me to learn to live my new normal, find a way to be without my dad there to pick me up when I fall down.

I always see adversity as an opportunity for change, a chance to alt-control-delete my life. Something big may come, or something small. But whatever happens I know that my dad instilled in me humour, logic, love and the steely determination to get through and succeed in whatever direction I choose to strike out in.

I’ll miss the old bugger. But I’ll keep trying to make him proud of me if it’s the last thing I do.

Nothing will ever be the same again

Baking the blues away – keeping occupied

I’m trying to ease myself back gently into the world of blogging. My dad died less than a fortnight ago and I’m still trying to settle the thoughts in my head. I know I’ll not be back doing what I was doing for a while yet and I am determined to be kind to myself.

My blog posts will be sporadic for the next few weeks or months. Who knows. It was his funeral on Thursday and I’d planned to spend yesterday baking for an afternoon tea party this weekend. I like baking, occasionally I really nail it and pull something extraordinary out of the oven, sometimes I bake something which goes straight in the bin, and oftentimes I make very average cakes which people appreciate but I see fault in every slice.

Yesterday was about fulfilling my promise to bake for the party, but also to spend the day focused on a creative task and a way of keeping occupied. To properly occupy my mind and my hands for long enough to make the world feel ordinary for a while. I had to resist the temptation to box up a batch of cakes for my dad, but a day baking is a day well spent.

Keeping occupied

I baked a coffee and walnut cake, cute coffee cupcakes, a Victoria Sponge, blueberry buttermilk scones and a sticky marmalade tea loaf. I spent the whole day on my feet baking and clearing up after myself. I don’t know if it’s done me any good, but it’s kept me occupied and there’s enough cake for 30 people at the party.

I wasn’t especially impressed with my Victoria Sponge which I think suffered because I rushed it and I forgot about it while I was chatting to the window cleaner. I’m pleased with my little coffee cupcakes and the coffee and walnut cake. I know the scones will come alive with a dollop of jam and clotted cream too.

I’ve always enjoyed baking and I think it’ll be a good therapy and distraction for me over the next few weeks. Anyone got any decent recipes for me to try?