A weekend of therapy

Having promised to go back to work this Monday (ugh… freaking out about that one, but that’s another blog…), I decided to take some time away from our family home and get back to the wonderfully anonymous, stinky, polluted haven of the Big Smoke. This was not about avoiding grief and strengthening The Wall. Quite the contrary – I’m starting to discover that short, sharp, controlled bursts of peeking behind the wall are extremely therapeutic, not to mention cathartic. So, here was my weekend of therapy and controlled Wall-peeking:

Saturday morning: Got up bright and early. Dog walk in the spring sunshine. Did the washing up as a favour to my sister who I am abandoning for the weekend. Drove the 2.5hr journey from Abergavenny to London. Listened to some music I love – yes, some brought back memories of Mum and led to a few tears (but not too many… eyes on the road).

Saturday afternoon: Gym for an hour, only to discover that when I’m on the treadmill/cross-trainer/etc. my mind is blissfully blank. Food shopping. Cheeky nap.

Saturday evening: Cooking, my absolute favourite therapy. Two of my supreme bezzies round for dinner, drinks, facemasks. Definite Wall-breakage as we have a good old cry together. Feels good.

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Sunday morning: Not much. More washing up while the husband sleeps. Watch morning TV (cooking shows, what else).

Sunday afternoon: Try to catch up with homework for my Swedish evening classes. Have a mini breakdown as I realise that life, work, homework, financial situation, etc. etc. is completely overwhelming and I feel to weak to handle it. Breakdown averted by a walk and some delicious Vietnamese food for lunch.

Sunday evening: Make our way to Hammersmith Appollo to watch one of my favourite bands of all time, Elbow (Christmas present from husband). Beautiful, emotional, powerful, inspirational. Musical healing. Dirty takeaway on the way home and a crappy film to send us to sleep.

Monday morning: the fun begins… oh help.

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7 types of people you meet when you’re grieving

Any type of struggle or shitty time in life is going to put things into perspective. And for me, one of the things I’ve wised up about most is people.

My grief-tinted-glasses have revealed some pretty amazing results. Some people have been amazingly kind. Others have been painfully disappointing. Here’s a fun little summary of seven of types of people I’ve come across so far…

  1. The cheerful averter. These people are like rays of sunshine, coming into the house and chattering away about nothing in particular; knowing that often, the thing I need the most is to just be distracted from the painful reality of my mum’s death. Very conducive to keeping the Wall intact (see previous post).
  2. The awkward ignorer. Similar tactic, but VERY different execution. These people skirt infuriatingly around the bleeding obvious – that my Mum has passed away – and somehow their mundane chit-chat has the exact opposite effect on the Wall.
  3. The over-sympathiser. Some people treat me like I’m the one dying. Hushed tones, gushing compassion and morbid reflections. I know they mean well, but it’s really not making me feel any better.
  4. The weeper. Certain people come to offer their condolences and we end up spending more of the visit comforting them, than vice versa.  It’s easy to forget that my sister and I aren’t the only ones grieving. But couldn’t they have postponed the visit until their tears were under control?
  5. The feeder. One of my personal favourites. Somewhere between #1 and #2, this group may feel unable or unwilling to dredge up emotional platitudes, so instead channels its energy into another form of therapy – food! A highly appreciated silver lining to all this is the amount of delicious treats that tend to be showered on the bereaved family.
  6. The reminiscer. A sweeping generalisation, but I think most reminiscers have been through similar bereavements themselves. They know that while nothing can bring our mum back, one of the nicest things to do is to relive happier times that will keep her memory alive. This group isn’t afraid to talk about the dead.
  7. The professional. Some people are used to dealing with death at arm’s length (nurses, funeral directors, registrars, ministers, etc…). This is always useful, and actually comforting. I’m desperate to get the ‘life admin’ (or death admin I suppose) out of the way as smoothly and quickly as possible, so we can move on to properly grieving my mum.

I probably come across as a bit of a cynical cow. I know that 99% of people mean well – and it’s not their fault that death is such a hard issue to handle. But it’s actually fascinating to observe… have you come across any others?