I spoke in the last blog about remembering the time when my father died and how it has affected me now that my mother is no longer with us. There are some people who stick to death and bereavement like chewing gum sticks to the cat. But how do we move on?
Firstly, do you want to move on? There seems a thread now in society that if we aren’t at the grave every week or sometimes even everyday that we have forgotten the person or the person somehow doesn’t hold the same meaning to us when they were alive. I have seen and read numerous times how families are clinging on to the memory of their loved one in some vain attempt to keep them alive. Siblings forced to mourn for a brother or sister they haven’t even met.
Because you are moving on with your life that doesn’t mean you forget the person or love them less. Building shrines to someone isn’t helpful. I will talk about the person but their are times now after the stage of mourning where you have to start living your life again. Sitting around thinking about the person you have lost all day isn’t helpful or healthy.
I am not a one to shy away from bereavement and expressing the hurt and pain it causes. At my funeral I don’t want any of this ‘celebration of life’ crap. I want crying and tears. Then when you have done the dishes and hoovered then you can raise a glass or seven and then start moving on with life. I am dead. Gone. Not coming back. No amount of bright colours or waving off balloons is going to bring me back. I might joke about this but I know that a lot of people want a celebration of life and there is nothing wrong with that either. It’s not me and not who I am.
People who post messages to a person on social media like they are looking in from another spiritual dimension can be helpful for younger people in the beginning but again I have read where people are posting messages about how the person who has died will be drinking alcohol and spending christmas on a cloud somewhere. A bizarre way to view he after life and a little childish in my opinion.
Bereavement can cause a whole raft of behaviours that are strange. It’s when that behaviour is unhealthy or even dangerous that help should be given. It can cause serious mental illness and as someone who has suffered from depression for over twenty years I have had to be aware of my own health and keeping that from slipping downwards.
The best advice I have heard in the past few months is take a view small steps into the world again but don’t expect change over night. I am terrified of leaving my home town and going on holiday. I am racked with guilt about ‘enjoying’ life. Somehow it seems wrong to have a life outside of mum. Having been her carer for so many years. But if I was to say what she might say about my guilt she probably would laugh and ask ‘What on earth have you got to feel guilty about?’.
She would then chastise me for being silly and tell me to move on. It would have been her way of dealing with things. Dismissing them and then getting on with life. If life was as easy as that I wouldn’t be writing this blog in my living room but in the south of France somewhere.
So you take small steps until you are ready. I went for bereavement counselling as part of those small steps I am not ashamed to say I got help with losing mum. There is no shame in asking for help from anyone. It hasn’t been easy but I am glad I did it. It doesn’t make me any weaker or less of a man it means I am being honest about what I am feeling and willing enough to take steps to being well again.
I woke up about 6.30am on a day not too dissimilar to this one. Mum had shouted me down to help with dad again his asthma. It had got worse and she couldn’t get him to relax and calm down.
I came down stairs and dad was leaning over the sink holding himself up trying to breathe. I immediately called an ambulance as six months before we had been in the same situation and it was only the fact that dad had got to the hospital in time that they doctors manage to save his life.
I went up stairs to change and said that I would go to the hospital with him again but mum screamed my name and I came back down stairs quicker than I could. Dad head had fallen back on the chair I had sat him on and he wasn’t breathing. There was no pulse and we tried to use CPR.
For a moment I ran outside to see if there was any ambulance and mum continued with dad. I couldn’t believe what was happened it all seemed surreal somehow. Eventually the paramedics came and they tried to revive him. They had asked us to wait in the living room while they did their best. Eventually a local doctor arrived and must have worked to try and get some response.
About half an hour went by and the doctor came into the room where mum was sitting and I was standing.
“He’s dead, isn’t he?” My mum asked.
“Yes I’m afraid he is.” The doctor replied.
I can still recall that day 22 years ago today like it all happened yesterday. Now that mum has gone as well it all seems a bit bizarre. Like it should have happened to someone else. Seeing both your parents when they have passed is strange but I am glad I had time to say goodbye unlike others who have lost loved ones.
I spare a thought who have lost children or siblings. How much harder it must be so lose someone you thought that would be with you all your life. Most people don’t get to choose when they die and some live long and happy lives.
If there is anything I have learned in all of this is that only life is priceless. Making each day count.
From 1988-91 I studied Theology at Overstone College. It was a predominately black church where the congregations were made up of the West Indian community in the UK. For someone like me a young lad from the north east it was a shock to the system being placed in a totally unknown culture. But it was one of the happiest times in my life.
America’s ‘shoot first ask questions later’ policy is causing innocent young men to die needlessly on the streets. I watched online a video of Ronald Johnson who was running away from the police at the time when he was shot and killed. I have to get my head around USA law that says that a police officer can use deadly force if they ‘reasonably believe’ that someone has a firearm on them. Even if they don’t see it they can use force to kill.
The CNN article that I linked goes on to explain that each case is determined individually and that the prosecutors should way up the information leading to the police using deadly force.
I can understand that each case will have to be assessed but what I still cannot understand is the necessity in the USA to have guns. The lack of gun control laws is alarming for someone born and raised in a country where it very rare for you to see policemen holding guns.
Black lives matter as much as white, hispanic or Jewish lives. But what seems to be emerging that you are more likely to die at the hands of police if you are a young black man.
It’s alien to me. I never saw or heard of any racism at my time at Overstone and I would have been horrified and distraught at the police deliberately targeting any of my friends.
What on earth is going on with our society and other countries?
- Two unarmed black men shot and killed in USA
- Over three thousand incidents of hate crime reported to the police in the UK last month
- Five police officers killed in a sniper shooting in the USA
- Hundreds dead in Baghdad in a terrorist bombing
- Two dead at a music festival before its even started in Scotland
- New prime minister voted in who has a poor record on LGBT rights
These are just some of the stories I have been reading about this morning. What really is going on? Has the world turned in on itself?
Hate is the keyword in all of these. Hating on black people or gay and lesbian community. Lack of tolerance and education has caused this. Justification of religious freedom to deny decent equality laws.
Let’s get rid of proper education on relationships in schools as we are terrified to teach children to be aware of dangers that lurk in all areas of life. Terrified of standing up to people who spout hatred and bile about muslims or other religious groups.
I bet not many people know that the Mayor of London met with Archbishop of Canterbury and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to discuss the rise in race hate incidents that a occurred since the vote to leave the EU. Mr Khan broke his fast during his time in Ramadan for Iftar.
There are those who think that people of different faiths and nationalities cannot live side by side in harmony. There are those who are determined that their hatred will somehow win over the rest of the country. I have said it time and time again these people will NOT win. I prefer to live in a world where there isn’t fighting or death. Where people can share their differences and respect them.
There has to be reform of gun control. There has to be the continual stamping out of race hate and crime. Those who perpetrate these crimes should be punished. Those who use deadly force again another person without proper justification should be made to face the consequences.
I don’t remember doing any work on World War I at school when I was young. I think we did some on the Second World War I might be wrong. I certainly think that it is important that we teach not just young people about war but also everyone who is living today. A respect of the past and its atrocities is needed for a better future.
The Battle of the Somme started on the morning of July 1st exactly a hundred years ago today. It has been said that it was once of the bloodiest battles in the history of World War I. It is estimated that there were least 60 thousand casualties by the end of first day and around 20 thousand of those men lost their lives.
The horrors of the war are just unimaginable. People thought that it would be over by christmas but seeing the wounded come and with horrific injuries it must have been a sharp realisation to those in the front that it was going to take more effort and sacrifice than first thought.
Some of the men were teenagers. A word that wasn’t used a hundred years ago once you got to the age at which you could work which was around fourteen you were considered an adult and joined others at work each day. Young men who signed up for the army before conscription was brought in where trained and sent to the trenches. Many never to return home to their loves ones.
I think it’s more poignant to remember their sacrifice of their own lives for freedom we have today. Those who have greed and hatred in their hearts aren’t welcome. Commemorating their loss is something that we all should do and taking time out of our arguments and squabbles, however trivial some of them seem to be, to realise the events of 1916.
I have been thinking about this post for a long time. I have been wondering how to make sense of it all. For someone who is innately miserable and depressive I am trying to see the good.
I said in my last blog that we need to pull together as a nation and work for the good of everyone. That seems a far away dream at at the moment when rolling news items talk of awful incidents of racist attacks on people who are British citizens but where born in a different country than the UK.
Racism and abusive hate speech should be socially unacceptable. It should be condemned right from the beginning from all political parties what every their differences of opinion may be.
The turmoil within the Labour Party adds fuel to the uncertainty. Within times of crisis it has been said that the country needs an affective opposition to hold the government to account and to ensure that we come out if this crisis as unscathed and intact as we were before Brexit was announced.
We need to reassure each other that things will be okay. There might be some rough moments but those in the communities should reassure the minorities that they are welcome in our country. Our country is better than racism and hate. Despite the lies that have been bandied around by both sides its time for reconciliation and hope.