Posted in Family life, Happiness, Women's issues, Writing tips

Grief – it affects us all

Grief and how it affects us all

I’m usually a happy person, but when it comes to grief I find it hard to surface from that utter disbelief of losing someone special. I’m feeling that now and it hurts but there are people hurting more than me.

A beautiful orchid was given to us by our neighbours, the Malone's, when Boss passed away. It has bloomed beautifully.
A beautiful orchid was given to us by our neighbours, the Malone’s, when Boss passed away. It has bloomed beautifully.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’d like to hide my feelings sometimes, like a turtle hiding it’s head in its shell. It’s rather useless, as the signs are there to see in my face, in my watery eyes and my withered smile. I cry easily but not through pity or irrelevant things. I just have compassion and empathy. I am moved by the feelings of others.

I know most of us are like that. We cry for a television character, though we don’t know them, we believe their story. We cry reading sad books. We cry when the news is too upsetting. We even cry when we are happy. But the crying we shed in grief is to help us survive the harsh reality, that over our lifetime we are bound to lose someone we love. Crying helps me but it can also be exhausting. Some people can’t even cry at all when they are grieving. Then something triggers in them a need to cry, be it alone, or with someone’s comfort. Eventually most of us cry.

When do you know it’s time to stop – and how can you?

I don’t pretend to understand grief. I’ve had my own grief over my father’s death a long time ago and sometimes it can feel as raw as the day it happened. Each day gets better but some memories can bring that grief back to the surface when you least expect it – events, birthdays, a song, even a smell. I guess it’s about always missing them and regretting that they didn’t get to share the rest of your life. You have to try to let go of that. Their life was what it was and it mattered. You can’t think about the ‘what ifs’ because that just keeps the grief with you too long. It’s difficult but concentrate on the good time and the impact they had in your life. Be grateful for whatever time there was.

Dogs and family and friends

I recently grieved the loss of my dog, Boss, and that is still with me, especially when I see other dogs. I know it’s not the same as a child and I don’t even want to think about that. But I have to, especially on Friday. Friday I will attend a funeral. One I never expected to attend.

Nearly three decades ago I lost two lovely friends to two different accidents, both were only in their twenties. I think about them both on and off, but this last few days I can’t get their images out of my thoughts. Why has this grief resurfaced?

The reason

My own son just lost one of his best mates, aged 24 to a drowning accident. This wonderful human being, and bright light in my son’s life, was experiencing a trip of a lifetime. Who would ever think he’d never make it home? I don’t know how to comfort my son other than to hold him. I don’t know what to say to make it better. There really aren’t words. To tell him I understand is futile.

He’ll endure his own grief in his own way. As for the parents of his friend, I can’t fathom how they feel. My heart aches for them and I am also grieving their son. He often stayed over and we got to know a gentle, happy young man who deserved a long life. It will be strange to never see him walk in our door again with a grin, or leave empty contact lense cases in my bathroom after he’d got ready to a night out with his mates. I wish I’d left them there for a bit longer now.

I want to say to my son our souls still live. I hope they do. I want to say many things but sometimes in grief silence can be reassuring too. I want to hug him tight and give him strength to get through this passage of life, that most of us have to take at some time, but nobody wants to.

I found this quote about souls and flowers. I have created a picture quote with it, using a photo I took of an orchid a dear friend gave me when Boss passed away.

Perhaps if we look to the beauty of nature we can have some solace in our grief. I hope so.

Justine (thank you photographer) in his beloved rugby league jersey.
Justine (thank you photographer) in his beloved rugby league jersey.

RIP Justin Cullen. May your bright smile now be a shining star above us making us smile back each time we see you.


Donna Munro is the author of The Zanzibar Moon, Kendwa's Secret and Elephant Creek, freelance writer, blogger, graphic designer, content writer, book marketer, administrator, web editor and book reader. She's been published in Take Five, The Australian Woman's Weekly, For Me, She, That's Life, Woman's Day and Club Life and other smaller publications. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of Australia and the current Administrative Assistant. Donna lives in Queensland and is addicted to beaches, reading, Peanut Butter, elephants, koalas, Sydney Roosters and Home & Away. You'll often find her digging her toes in the sand with a book in her hand.

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