January – my apologies for writing this in February!
January has passed in the blink of an eye! Try as I might, to share a little something each month, I’m letting busy get in the way. I have to confess, in a past life, I found the glorification of busy – boring. Now I’m allowing myself to be swept along in its necessity, to survive. Like most of us, my head is barely above water some days, and still, I’m determined to roll with it. After all, more is more and busy hides a multitude of things. Grief is one of them. I guess, for the most part, that’s why I’m a convert. For now, anyway.
I loved spending a week away from work early in January with Tyra and Baden. It’s becoming harder to coordinate time off together for all 3 of us now. Which is ok because these days they’re enjoying their free time with friends. I am happy that they’re independent and ready to step out into their world – home will always be here for them.
The Shed Luxe powered on without me while I spent my time off enjoying quick trips to the beach, catch-ups at cafes and dinner with friends between working on getting our cottage reorganised for the year ahead. The shop is a pretty well-oiled machine these days, manned by a vibrant and capable team that includes me of course, it continues to allow me both security and flexibility along with a great place to socialise. This one will be an exciting year at TSL. I can’t wait to shift up another gear.
I’m sitting here writing January’s update on the 7th of February with a small sigh of relief. Yesterday would have been Bren’s and my 22nd wedding anniversary and today the kids and I spent time with Bren’s Mum Margaret for a little birthday-eve get together. The first week of February marks the end of the 6 most difficult months of each year for me since losing Bren..
Each of the 6 hold a special event that I never imagined celebrating without my husband until he was gone:
- Sept – Fathers Day,
- Oct – Bren’s Birthday
- Nov – Tyra and Badens Birthday
- Dec – Christmas
- Jan – New Years
- Feb – Our Wedding Anniversary
For me, powering through the pain of loss has become second nature, because of this, my grief can sometimes come out in physical ways. I find I sleep less, have heart palpitations more, and experience extreme fatigue and irritation – more often in the lead up to important family events. Yep, I’m a joy to be around at these times. Thankfully when the second week of February clicks over, I know I have better months ahead.
The guilt of not “moving on” promptly (two years seems to be the acceptable marker) is also a bit of a struggle. Not meeting social expectations is frustrating. Or not so much the not meeting expectations, but the underlying knowledge that they are there, is frustrating. Grief doesn’t magically come to an end by the two-year mark, and I hope that general expectation will fade away as grief becomes more openly talked about.
I’ve learnt through personal experience and talking with other grieving people in grief groups and forums that we all move through the grief and challenges of loss at a different pace. That pace has countless amplitude of variables. Someone still talking about memories of their brother, child, sister, aunt, cousin, uncle, friend, father, mother, grandparent, husband or wife – 5, 10, 15 or 20 years after their loss, doesn’t have to mean they are stuck in grief. Grief is a response after all, not quicksand. It more likely means they love and miss their person and take any opportunity they can to talk about them.
Three and half years after his death I still talk about Brendan a lot. I don’t feel stuck. I know he’s gone. There is no doubt in my mind that he is never coming back, I held him as he left. But I don’t want to erase the life we shared and the fun we had together because he died. I want to talk about how cheeky and loving he was, what a great dad he was and how good we were together. I want to be able to talk about our memories like I would if he was still here.
Things that might help with the hard stuff…
I have been working more consistently on some techniques this month (listed below) to support and strengthen my mind, body and spirit and in turn, help with the pain I experience on those more difficult days or weeks.
- Guided Meditation
- Traditional and Contemporary Reiki Techniques
- EFT Tapping Technique
- Very, Very Beginners Yoga
- Controlled/Focused Breathing
They are all easy to follow – I have been a Reiki Practitioner for more than 18 years, so I didn’t need help with that one. I found the other disciplines on Youtube and am trying to find some consistency in practice .
Blogging – a tool for life
Blogging was a tool we leaned on heavily throughout Bren’s illness for both practical and therapeutic reasons. I have always found journaling therapeutic, even before blogging existed. CallieMM, a blog that would eventually focus on Brendans Cancer Story, was really just a platform I used to journal in the very early days. Only Brendan and I read it initially (to our knowledge) along with maybe some family and close friends. I think I wrote my first post around 2007 or 8 I can’t quite remember because I deleted it before starting another several months later. Eventually I renamed my blog on blogspot CallieMM before moving it to WordPress in 2015. I started out journaling about our little family and the things we got up to in 2007. I also shared ideas, thoughts and lifestyle tips. (like the benefits of drinking warm water and lemon every morning – I know, riveting.) Blogging became a habit that meandered alongside my life.
- March 2009 : I added – My Guru Me, sharing the benefits of Traditional and Contemporary Reiki Techniques when I first started to take on Reiki Clients. I also began sharing some ancient wisdoms and more spiritually based ideas.
- August 2013 Bren and I added Calibre – Get Fit, when he started thinking about a new career in Personal Training. I was his lucky guinea pig and we shared my 12 week program. It was a huge success, I need to delve back into it pronto!
- May 2014: We started to share Bren’s Cancer story, Cancer – The Story of Us
- June 2015: We relaunched the blog here on WordPress as CallieMM and continued to tell Bren’s Story. There was way to much going on with our blogspot menagerie of categories so we defined the purpose on WordPress and made it all about Bren.
- August 2018: CallieMM became and continues to be a story about Love, Life after Loss, Grief, Widowhood and Rebuilding.
Only this CallieMM blog is still live. I look back over the others and can see the ebb and flow of my life and am grateful that I wrote stuff down. I know my kids will become curious enough one day to read it (maybe not until they are parents or grandparents themselves) and get to know me and their Dad a little better.
One of the greatest gifts my Mum left us was a journal she had kept tidbits of hers, dads, my sisters and my lives in, that we didn’t know she was keeping. She had written about big life moments and funny small things. To us they are priceless. She made us laugh and cry, like she was in the room. It was a true blessing.
I don’t give advice here, it’s not the purpose of this space, just my thoughts on what’s happening in my life for those who find me here and future generations to read – if I were to give advice today, however, I would say …
Write it down. All of it. The big, the small, the funny, the sad and the serious.
You do not have to be an author to tell your story, you just have to write. Trust me, Your thoughts and feelings are more important to the ones who love you than you’ll ever know.
Everyone ‘s story is a great one to someone…so get writing!
** Information shared here are the authors thoughts and feelings and not a substitute for professional care. If you are concerned for the wellbeing of a grieving loved one, support them in seeking professional counsel from a medical practitioner.