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.

Posted in Family life, Women's issues

Top 10 Wedding Mishaps


I was listening to the radio the other day and they were getting listeners to phone up about. The topic was, ‘What disasters happened at your wedding?’. I began thinking about my own wedding, over 25 years ago. I had some of the funnier disasters and wanted to share them.

A wedding kiss, 25 years ago.
A wedding kiss, 25 years ago.

There were ten disasters all up, but each resulted in something either funny or wonderful, so instead of commiserating the disasters I’d rather celebrate them.

  1. It rained. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be good luck but I love sunshine, so it upset me until I realised nothing was going to ruin our wedding. On the bright side the rain stopped when it needed to (as I was arriving at the church) and at least we hadn’t gone ahead with the beach wedding I originally wanted.
  2. My contact lenses wouldn’t go in my eyes. I have trouble with my lenses, especially if I’m stressed. I couldn’t get them in and stated crying because I wanted to see my wedding but I didn’t want to wear glasses. My Aunty Sue poured me a champagne, told me to drink it, then said, “Lie on the bed”. Next thing I knew she plonked each contact lense perfectly in my eyes. Yay, I could see.
  3. One of our groomsmen broke his leg. It happened before the wedding and he had to ring and tell us he’d still attend but couldn’t possibly stand long enough to do the groomsman duties. We soon found out he could have died. He’d been jigging trees in the forest (his job) and something went wrong and pretty much a whole tree hit him on the leg. It was broken so badly his foot was practically near his face. He had to crawl through the bush to get help. One tough man, Gary! At least he recovered well enough to enjoy our wedding as a guest.
  4. Our best man wet his pants. Well, not as in peed in his pants but I’ll explain. Kevin was busting to go to the loo. The priest told him there was a toilet out back. It was close to the time I was supposed to arrive. Kevin was rushing so much that he didn’t quite shake enough (getting the picture?), put it back in his pants, nearly got caught with the zipper and then raced back to take his place. Bevil pointed out his wet patch. The priest stated waving the bible in front of Kevin’s crotch to try to dry him off. Everyone started laughing. What a way to use a bible! At least those already assembled at the church were getting some great entertainment.
  5. Another groomsman kept losing his pants. What was it with our groomsmen? Bear gladly accepted Gary’s place as a groomsman. Little did I know that our dear friend wasn’t a snappy dresser. He just didn’t register that groomsmen must be, well – groomed. This means keeping your belt tight and your pants up. We did not want to see plumber’s bum in our wedding photos. Mardi (his partner) had to keep pulling his pants up before every shot. On the upside he was the most fun person at our wedding and his clothing mishaps just kept us laughing, which was actually terrific for the photos.
  6. My beautiful princess style wedding dress didn’t fit. I’d lost so much weight my boobs didn’t fill the dress out (funnily enough I didn’t lose the weight in my bum the same way). On the bright side – I’d lost weight!
  7. Our cake was all wrong. I wanted a chocolate cake because neither of us were big fans of fruit cake and we had Kristopher as our page-boy and I wanted him to like the cake too. We didn’t realise it was fruit cake until we cut it towards the end of our wedding celebrations. Bright side – nonone knew or cared.
  8. Bevil had a black eye. It had faded by the wedding and you wouldn’t know if from the photos but it could have been worse. We had our buck’s and hen’s nights the weekend before. Both parties met up at Seagulls but I’d gone home by then. A group of guys had been trying to chat up Colleen, Karen and the girls. When our boys arrived they got defensive and started a fight. Karen kept trying to stop the fight but ultimately just held Brad and Bevil back giving these guys a free hit. Bevil was karate kicked in the face. Since Bevil was a brown belt he could have easily have done the same thing back, but it being his buck’s party, of course he’d had a few too many beers to keep his balance. When he got home and I saw his face I heard the whole story and it still gets told today with a grin.
  9. My Uncle Arthur broke his toe. This also happened before the wedding and it could have had a big impact because we were using Uncle Arthur’s restored jaguar as our wedding car. Uncle Arthur is dad’s oldest brother and it was more important to me that he was at the wedding to represent Dad, rather than worry about the car. God love Uncle Arthur, he was not going to disappoint me. He couldn’t drive the car from Newcastle to the Gold Coast, so he put the car on a train. It would have cost him a packet but he did it anyway. I was so grateful, not about the car, but the love he showed in getting it up here.
  10. My lap was rarely empty. Okay, this isn’t a bad thing it’s actually a lovely thing. When I married Bevil, Kris was six and cute as a button. Throughout the wedding he came and sat on my lap most of the time. He still has his mum, but that day he became my son too. I’ll never forget how happy he was on our wedding day. We’d formed a family and that is what that special little boy wanted more than anything, and of course for his dad to be happy. To this day we’re still very close and it all started with a wedding full of wonderful mishaps.
Me and Kris getting ready for the wedding.
Me and Kris getting ready for the wedding.
25 years later and we're still together.
25 years later and we’re still together.