Reflections on Bereavement  

Cherry Tree

Why Whacking?

I needed something to use up energy and distract my grief for a while just after Dad died. I was restless and snappy and overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness.

I discovered Scything and chopping down trees. There are a lot of trees growing where they were not supposed to be.

Using physical energy and rhythmical movement against resistance of tree or brambles used excess energy, gave me something to focus on and allowed me to sleep. Doing something hard which I was unfamiliar with was a challenge I needed at this time when I didn't was to think and feel.

Martha

Bargaining

 

I’m not sure what to write about bargaining. I have seen this in others and I remember it when my grandparents died but that is many years ago.

I don’t remember much bargaining with Dad’s death. After his death, I remember looking for signs of his soul, perhaps this is what bargaining is. Mostly initially I felt tired, I had worked so hard for 5 years caring for him and was emotionally and physically exhausted. I also felt numb, and relieved that he was no longer in pain.

I have spoken to a number of people during my life who say things, which sound like bargaining, such as they see particular animals or birds during particularly difficult periods in their lives and these seem to be related to a loved one in some way. Others smell a particular scent related to their loved one, be it aftershave, a medicine or perfume used by a loved one, again in stressful times. Some will believe this is part of the searching behaviour seen in grief, longing for any sign that death is not the end. That they are still with us in some form. Others will believe that the soul of the individual has remained in a new form and is present, guiding and watching over them as they always have in life. Others will turn to religion for solace. I’m happy with whatever works.

As I have said previously Dad was very old, over a hundred when he died. He never expected to die so old, I spent my teens and early adult hood expecting something to happen to take him away. He was accident prone and often had injuries, but he continued on and on.

Dad remained in reasonably good health until a few years before his death. He slowly became deaf and arthritic over the last years, finally blind and with other issues which were not formally diagnosed. He needed more and more help until in the last few months he needed almost full help with everything, However up to 3 months before his death he was able to walk and never lost his sense of fun and irony.

Dad always said he would leave his home feet first only. He succeeded, I requested when he was diagnosed as palliative for him to be allowed to die at home. However I had never expected him to die an old man in bed. I had expected him over the years to die by accident, or due to complications following an accident, he frequently fell off things or through things, getting trapped or cut. He once got trapped having fallen against a furnace in a small enclosed space, no- one knew he was there- he used to wander off and potter around. It took him 2 hours to get out from under the furnace and back to the house, he was in his 90’s, fortunately the furnace was not lit at the time.

I recall driving to and from his home from mine- sometimes it was hospitals instead. Each time I wondered if this would be the last time, if this time he would not come home. I bargained then, throughout the long journey, I wanted my dad, for just a little longer, but as he aged I did not want him to be the depressed isolated deaf and blind man he had gradually become, I wanted my dad, of course, but I didn’t want him to suffer for my needs, I wanted him to die if that is what he needed to do.

That was a very difficult concept to reflect upon over the months and years. I consider those who die in their sleep amazing, they have no pain and no knowledge of what is about to happen, but on reflection, they also have no chance to say goodbye for that final time either, there is no space for loved ones in this, so perhaps it isn’t so good after all. Dying in a predicable manner allows us to say goodbye, in my case I said goodbye every time I left him because I never knew if this would be my last time. Dad died alone, no one was with him, I believe this was his choice as he had been surrounded by relatives for months and could easily have chosen one of these times, had he wished to.

After Dad died I didn’t want to change anything. To do so would have been an admission that he was gone, not coming back. I wanted to smell the dad of my childhood, not the old sick man, I wanted to do childhood activities again with him, I did things which I hadn’t done for years or months which I had done with him as a child, possibly in an attempt to remember him, but possibly also as homage to him.

One thing of course which I did was to start gardening again. This is more complicated than just as a reminder of Dad, but it was very calming, full of reminiscence and allowed me to physically express my sadness and loneliness at his loss in a healthy way.

I believe that I have bargained in a number of different ways over the years, sometimes during Dads life as well as after his death. In the years since his death I have bargained less often and with less intensity, but I still miss Dad and will always feel a need to ask him for help when things go wrong. It’s my default setting.

Reflections by Mental Health fighter

Forest
Ray of Light

I follow Mental Health Fighters on Instagram. I mentioned an interest in sharing different coping strategies so they shared their thought with me. Anxiety is common when coping with grief.

Here are some tips on how to manage anxiety and take care of it;

I read on a post that anxiety doesn't have to be a monster we have to fight against, it could be a child needing reassurance and comfort. It rang the bell. If we envision our fear to be dark and big , eventually that's the place it takes us to when we experience it, but what if we picture it as someone needing to be reassured. We would find a way to tame it, to soothe it, and in the long run, the last one seems to be an effective solution.

So first things first. If you're about to do something that makes you feel nervous, make it fun, do a dance step while doing it, it takes a bit of the edge off and can actually FEEL fun even though it started off feeling the complete opposite.

Second, never listen to your thoughts while doing something that makes you stress. Work on affirmations, be who you want to be and don't wish for it. Become it. Baby step by baby step.

Thirdly don't fear success and don't fear failure. Don't fear being awesome, don't fear doing a bit less than other other days. Don;t fear just exiting for the day if that's all you could give. Nobody's awesome all the time. We're not perfect and never will be. Accept it and find a way to make things fun! You make them look fun and they will become fun!

Fourth, don#t think yourself so helpless. You;re not. You can do so much but you don;t believe it, that's why you feel like you can't do it and that's why you feel like you can't do it. The small joyful child in your brain becomes sad, and fearful and therefore becomes what you call anxiety.

Fifth, train your brain to see the colours and the good. The brain believes and affirmations you think and say, it remembers them, so avoid thinking negatively. Even if it is quite powerful. It is so easily tricked and manageable. So think and speak good and your brain will believe the POSITIVE, then it will be on automatic positive mode in anxious situations. And the anxious situations will just become situations after that. 

We all need training, whether physical or for a job or mental.

 We all have challenges to take over, we need them in a way, cause otherwise life would feel dull.

Which brings me to the last point. Find something exciting and motivation to do. Something that makes you feel so good and fine and happy (still something right and legal, okay( , find this something if you haven;t found it yet, search for it, don't think something nice isn't for you if you haven't tried it, stop the negative thinking and give yourself a chance. Multiple chances actually. Take real good care of yourself

Finally, I have one question for you: 

If someone you care about was feeling as down and sad and nervous as you feel, sometimes, what would you like to tell them? Find your answer and address it yourself

 
 My Strategies

I hope to share strategies of what people have found helpful during their grief, what friends have done and said, perhaps or activities which have helped. Please email me any ideas you have and I will be happy to share them.

Scything

I learnt to Scythe with an English Scythe. However they can be rather heavy and can feel unwieldy, I have recently bought a European one which is lighter and made to my height , however I'm not yet sure which I prefer.

Massage

I found regular massage essential when under stress. I find deep massage such as with hot stones helps re balance after lots of physical work or in order to calm stressed nerves.

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