Grief and the second circle

Over the last few years I have been through a few deaths – not of my nearest and dearest, but of the second, or even third circle of people you know. An aunt by marriage who I never really knew well, a colleague I had worked closely with from time to time but seen irregularly, an old family friend who I hadn’t seen for year, a friend who I would talk to at parties and connect with on social media but not invite out alone…

When these deaths happen one feels grief and sadness, but it is odd and can be mixed with other feelings? Am I being self indulgent? Do I really *deserve* to mourn these people. It is made more complicated because in many of these cases there are people close to me who were closer to the person who died, who have a deeper connection, a greater grief. I often avoid mentioning these deaths directly on social media, because the compassion from friends you receive sometimes makes me feel like an imposter, taking the attention from those who probably deserve it more. As if compassion is finite.

But these deaths do impact on me. Sometimes it is the grief of others – watching the sadness and grief of those you care deeply about is a great multiplier of grief. Sometimes it is regret – regret that you didn’t have that chance to get to know that person better or learn more from them. Sometimes it is guilt – that you didn’t take the chance to spend that time, so say that thing. Sometimes it is shock – the method of death, the suddenness, the sense that the world is less ordered than you think. Sometimes it is the sense of mortality – yes I may die, or anyone may die, sooner than you think or expect or hope. Sometimes it is the sadness for the loss of what could have been. And sometimes it is a realisation that no matter how small a detail that person may have been on the tapestry of your life, that detail is forever gone and your life is changed, no matter how minutely.

I think I need to let myself feel what I am feeling and recognide the need to mourn, that whatever I am feeling is the appropriate way for me to feel. That death matters and we all need room to process it, no matter how close we were or weren’t to the person we are mourning. 

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The week that was…week 47: death and everything else

2013-11-11 11.50.32 - CopyOn Monday morning we went to the crematorium with Steve. Jill’s funeral was to be in Melbourne on Friday, so it was just us. The coffin kind of whooshed into the furnace, so not a lot of time for contemplation or anything else. But we had lunch with Steve who I think just needed some company. Understandably.

2013-11-11 14.52.06 - CopyIt was that kind of day.

2013-11-12 18.19.19-2 - CopyIn relative normality, off to training. My finger had been declared healed by the plastic surgeon, so nothing stopping me any more.

2013-11-14 08.16.20 - CopyAnd Thursday morning held the usual early walk to school with Zac so he could go to choir.

2013-11-15 15.28.58 - CopyThe funeral was Friday. I must say, the moment I saw the order of service I burst into tears. I guess it is that moment when it all becomes real. Sebastian had some down to Melbourne for the funeral – he wanted a chance to say goodbye. He cried and cried, which of course tended to set me off again. James spoke well. Jill was such a determined person who did what she wanted. Deciding to change careers in your early forties and work your way through a PhD while fighting breast cancer isn’t something we all could do. She was stubborn, but sadly cancer was more stubborn. Goodbye Jill.

We took Sebastian out to a very grown up dinner at the European that night. He was adventurous in his food choices and it was a lovely chance to all talk and enjoy ourselves.

We had time for some breakfast and a little bit of shopping before heading home, via the Qantas Club of course.

2013-11-16 12.09.36 - CopyZac and Jude has spent the night with Ga, and were happy for some quiet activities when we got home.

2013-11-17 10.53.40 - CopyAnd Sunday there was skating. As there usually is.

The week that was….week 45: not a great week

 

2013-10-28 19.58.48 This was never going to be a great week. James and I had slept poorly with Sebby waking in pain in the middle of the night, I was still feeling frustrated about my finger and then, during the day on Monday we found out that our dear friend Jill, and James’ close colleague, Jill had been hospitalised with pneumonia. Jill had been fighting cancer for many years. In and out of remission for number of years, I think she did almost her entire PhD while being treated for cancer. She had started with breast cancer, but over the last year it had moved into her bones. On Tuesday when James and I were at the hospital getting my finger checked, we caught up with Steve, Jill’s husband who told us that Jill was still needing assistance breathing.

So there was a bit of a cloud over the week – James and I were stressed and tired and emotional.

2013-10-30 17.55.40George was in good spirits. But longing for the outside world. Of course, at the moment when he escapes outside, his choice of activity is sitting under a rose bush, making him quite easy to recaputre.

2013-10-31 07.36.59One up side. My big order of derby socks for both James and I arrived. Yay for new socks. I just wanted to find reasons to wear them all.

2013-10-31 12.55.52On Wednesday I made myself feel better by buying these completely frivolous shoes which I had been stalking for months. I was having a particularly bad day on Wednesday – it was all getting on top of me. Work hasn’t exactly been stress free, and I knew that I was off overseas again on Sunday. And everything else.

2013-10-31 14.40.46On Thursday I managed to guilt my staff into giving me cake. As General Manager, I don’t get invited to staff birthday celebrations when sections hold them – so I miss out on all the cake. I needed cake.

2013-10-31 15.01.32One of my Directors thought I needed vitamins too. Pretty sure I wasn’t looking my healthiest.

2013-10-31 17.47.28I did manage cocktails with Bec (largely responsible for dragging me into derby) and who I hadn’t properly caught up with for ages on Thursday which was a nice interlude.

2013-10-31 18.34.50And came home to find Sebastian making crumble, which is always a nice treat.

2013-11-01 21.57.47On Friday the news we had been hoping we wouldn’t hear came – Jill had died. James and I went out with Steve, her husband, to keep him company and talk about what needed to be do0ne. While it is terribly sad to lose a friend, it is devastating to see the grief of someone who has lost the one person in the world they cared about deeply and to see their emptiness. Jill was 51.

2013-11-02 11.59.28But life goes on. The boys play Lego Star Wars games.

2013-11-02 14.44.49And I take the shoe shopping.

2013-11-02 17.30.44Then Saturday night it was off again – to Korea via a night in Sydney.

2013-11-02 20.00.34My finger dressing fell off (the hospital physio was nowhere near as good at dressing it as the nurses) revealing a rather Frakensteinian sight – but healed, mostly. Fortunately I had all the tools to redress it with me.

2013-11-03 07.54.01

And then on Sunday it was off to Seoul.

Once there I went for an eveing walk. Finished my week with bubbles….

2013-11-03 20.16.08And flowers…