Sometimes you feel helpless when bad things happen thousands of miles away. I felt I needed to show solidarity with those who are suffering.
In the days after the Christchurch killings I felt utterly helpless. In the past when I have seen such suffering I have been able to help by sending to money to those who need it. This time is different as how can you let people know that these people are not alone and we won’t sit silently allowing such hate and evil go unnoticed.
I follow a north east group which protests against racism and those who chose to stir up hatred within the entire country. They felt it was necessary to hold a vigil for the people who have survived the massacre in New Zealand.
It was amazing to see so many gather in St Nicolas’s Cathedral, Newcastle. It isn’t surprising but very sad at the same time that we have witnesses the rise of hate-related incidents in this country and it parts of the world. People’s inability to leave in a harmonious way has led us into some terrible times.
The rise in social media and people sharing unsavoury views about certain groups has led some in our society to have views which I think are plainly warped. Their views about the Muslim community has been distorted by those who have played a dangerous divisive game for years. Spreading lies and mistruths for their own agenda.
Thank goodness now the social media companies have started to crack down on those who spread hate. The main ones have put the brakes on those who spread hatred. They have decried their so-called action as attempt to ‘silence’ and ‘censor’ them. This only plays into the hands of the supporters as it gets them angry even though there are thousands of other ways in which hatred can be spread throughout the world.
The evening was a peaceful reflection where there were members representing a number of faiths, including those from the Jewish and Roma communities, came together as one. As someone with no faith I still strongly believe in standing shoulder to shoulder with those in a minority who had suffered in such a way.
Dipu Ahad is a Labour councillor in Newcastle and was the person who introduced some people to speak about the attack in New Zealand. It was heart-warming to hear of the generosity of those who had reached out to the community on the other side of the world. As I said at the beginning of this post I certainly felt helpless at being unable to share my sympathies with those who were hurting but after this evenings vigil I felt I was able to give my support to the victims of hate and violence.
When someone dies people are on an edge mentioning the person who has passed just incase you might upset the person. It’s a natural response because you don’t want to feel you have upset them.
The month of March is a difficult one for me in the middle is mum’s birthday and around a week or so later is mothers day. It used to be a time when I would cook food or take mum out for the day and we would spend happy times with each other.
Now she is no longer around I try to spend these days thinking about the good times especially the last ten years of her life when we were particularly close.
It is 25 years in July since my father died and when I eventually met up with some friends on a summer camp a couple of weeks later I could tell people were a little nervous around me. I told people then and tell people now I don’t mind talking about what happened and I don’t mind being asked questions. I might get a little upset but that not because you asked the question or I was offended just a little pain recalling information and sad thoughts. We tend as human beings to limit our pain whether it’s numbing it with alcohol, drugs illegal or otherwise to reduce the hurt. Slowly coming to terms with this loss is all part of the grieving process and allowing ourselves to get emotional.
The people I say that we should watch out for that don’t show their emotion and I mean those who say that they aren’t upset or hurting inside. Bottling up emotions is dangerous for health both mental and physical. It will eat away at you for a long time and eventually you will reach a point when you might not able to handle that emotion in a safe and stable manner.
Girls and women in general are much better at accessing emotions as they talk to each other about them and process them in a more manageable way. Blokes on the other hand are crap with their emotions unable to talk your way out responses become violent and the person on the receiving end becomes a victim.
So we have another mothers day which I won’t ignore I won’t go overboard and build a shrine either but I will have moments when I can remember the good times I had and that’s what I have to take with me.
What do we do when someone we know commits suicide? How do we handle it? Do we mock them for being weak and ‘taking the easy way out’? Do we simply brand the person selfish? If only the answers to those questions were that simple.
I have tried to commit suicide. There I said it. I’ve wanted to. I don’t feel ashamed of saying it, but I am not proud of it. I don’t wear as a badge in a ‘feel sorry for me’ statement. My mental health has reached crisis point and it’s acknowledging that it’s got so serious.
Others have mocked people who have tried to take their own lives. A simple disruption to someones travel plans of a few minutes is met with derision on social media if they have found out that it was due to someone’s action at that critical point. It was someone on the lines or someone at the top of a building; cue the insults.
I don’t wish my worst enemy the thoughts of suicide. Believe me. If you have been there you know what it is like. Nothing that you could ever put into words or have a go at describing.
Chester Bennington’s death seems to some a natural consequence of a rock star lifestyle.
“He struggled for years with alcohol and drugs addiction” as is often reported in these cases. So do a lot of people, despite their wealth or fame, but suicide isn’t inevitable. It is the treatable manageable disease of depression which causes it. Depression and mental health problems aren’t helped by substance abuse although people seek short-term fixes to alleviate the suffering.
I have come to terms with my suicidal thoughts, I acknowledge them. If they get bigger than I can handle I know I have to seek help. Recognising they are serious is the first step. Stopping yourself getting to that crisis point by telling someone else you are feeling this way. I have done it numerous times. People will be happy enough to stick with you if they are good friends. It’s the pain of not reaching out to someone at that point that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
This my be a controversial post and might cause some people to stop reading my blog. I am not here to deliberately provoke. But I am simply stating my opinion and thoughts.
The disease that Charlie is suffering from is extremely rare. Infact, there are only a handful of known cases around the world. This poses problems for those who are treating him in hospital as trials for medication and treatment will also be in the experimental stage and have no guarantee of success.
The medical staff in the USA that have treated people with this terrible disease have only treated those who were not at the terminal stage as is with Charlie. It is at a point where doctors feel that Charlie should be allow to die with dignity.
When do our emotions stop and clear thinking take precedence? I know when mum was dying it was clear that little could be done for her in the latter stages. I would have done ANYTHING to have her here now. I miss her dearly to this day but one of the things that I as well as other family members had to do was think what was in mums best interests and this is what the courts have explained to Charlie’s parents.
We are only human beings and don’t work miracles. We can only work within the parameters for what we know now as far as medical and scientific research allows us. There isn’t a magic solution for everything.
Raymond Briggs (the author of The Snowman) said that he always tries to write in his books the subject of death. As you know, very sadly the end of the Snowman, he dies. Briggs feels that children shouldn’t be hidden away from death and it should be explained that it’s a very real part of life and I whole-heartedly agree with him.
For someone who has had a very real experience of people dying I have had to look at situations clearly and not let emotions dictate what is in the best interests of the person. Friends, grand-parents, aunts, parents and beloved pets have all died in my lifetime. It is what makes us human to allow us to show utter respect in the last stages of someones life.
As I write this blog post it as has been confirmed that the death toll has now risen to 30. It is such a sad and tragic incident which has left people, rightly so, wanting answers.
What does seem apparent is that residents were demanding that safety procedures should be put in place. People said that they had spoken to the council and they did not listen. How many times have we heard this? I can think of numerous times when residents have expressed concerns about something that’s happening in their area and they council have not listened. It’s all about the money and not about the people.
I have been amazed and taken aback at the the quick mobilisation of the local community. People of all religions and backgrounds working together to help those affected. I saw that and organisation called Islamic Relief were giving out water to those people who needed it.
Where are the far-right when these things happen? Do they muck in and help? Or do they try to divide, separate and keep communities from working together? Well they have failed. They have failed this time and they will fail again in the future. It will not stop people looking out for one another. It will not stop those, who are from all over the world, living harmoniously with each other. This is what they hate.
I said it on social media and I will say it again. I would rather have 1000 muslims living in my street that ONE EDL, BNP, Britain First sympathiser.
Who talks to you about grief when you are growing up? When my grandfather died in 1984, my parents went into silence and I was told under no circumstances was I going to see him. Another member of my family experienced the death of a friend and again I was told not to talk to him about it. Silence was the way to deal with grief.
It was certainly a generational thing, as it wasn’t just applicable to my family alone. You didn’t talk when someone died. It not a healthy way I have learned to start to cope with someones passing.
Jeff Brazier was in a relationship with Big Brother contestant Jade Goody. They had two sons in that time and he was given custody of them when Jade sadly passed away after suffering from cervical cancer.
I always remember that when I was a teacher, there were a lot of lads that had so many problems due to losing someone. Usually a bond between them and a grandfather and the grandfather had passed away and they have an inability to cope and deal with the grief, which in turn, causes major mental health problems.
It’s about time that people talked about grief and I am sure that Jeff Brazier, through his own experiences, will be able to guide people in how to deal with the over-whelming emotion of losing someone.
Been away. Yep. Another time away for Philip. This time I am hoping when I come home I am not ill again. Just thought it was an ideal time to get a break from taking a break. This time I was a lot more relaxed and able to enjoy the sites and sounds of London.
London is crazy. The people are crazy. Every day I hear car horns blaring and a constant stream of emergency vehicles sirens screaming down past the hotel at all times day and night.
I was able to have a quieter moment in Green Park on Saturday afternoon as the weather had turned from nice to the Mediterranean. Coming from the northeast and unable to feel the cold it was a little unbearable at times especially travelling on the tube at temperatures that would have rivalled my oven at home. Plenty of water and patience.
I decided to have a less “touristy” visit and take in some of the bookshops that London has. It was a great time although my suitcase now looks like I have done a Hatton Garden on a local library.
The good thing as well is I don’t have to justify these purchases to anyone when I return. Why have you bought all those books? My mother would have asked.
It was a time of reflection given the horrible terrorist attacks on Westminster Bridge. Seeing all those flowers and dedications somehow made something I just saw on the news very very real. It was difficult not to shed tears for those innocent people who had been caught up in it and those left behind asking the question why.
I did make an important journey to Marchmont Street to the home that Kenneth Williams grew up in. It was an important pilgrimage. I cried uncontrollably for a while when the reality hit that I was in a place where he frequented. It was a place of heartache and sometimes laughter for him. I was moved by the fact that he was honoured with a plaque in 2009 commemorating the place.
I did stop by Downing Street where there was a Stop the War protest of Trump’s bombing of Syria. I made conversation with a lady as I wanted to get their point of view on the matter. Her simple message was forgotten all the complications and points of view and see the violence for violence as not the solution. That’s a standpoint to start from. I saw her simple view as intriguing as well as frustrating. What is the solution?
Time to come home after a great few days away. I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. Looking for work and moving on from the past few years.
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 every day 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 aren’t helpful. I will talk about the person but there 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 the afterlife 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 taking a few 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 ask 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. 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.
These are the headlines as I write on this terrible day. I am upset that she has lost her life doing the thing she wanted to do and help her constituency lead a decent life in West Yorkshire.
As with the shooting in Orlando over the past weekend we have seen claim and counter-claim from various sides of the political debate. People appropriating blame where it certainly does not lie.
I made a simple statement on the Britain First Facebook site and said that if the person who has been detained made the comment ‘Britain First’ numerous times then their organisation would be proscribed as a terrorist organisation. After about fifteen minutes I expected that it would be deleted as they don’t like people criticising their vile beliefs. I was right and getting just over a hundred likes the comment disappeared.
Britain First openly claimed that they will use “direct action” against Sadiq Khan to target where he “lives, works and prays”. The underlining racism that BF has and their hatred for Muslims and people who are seen to be colluding with them make them a dangerous organisation. I would rather have a Muslim living next-door to me than a member of Britain First. That is the level of distrust I have for this despicable organisation.
In all instances of any crime such as this, there has to be a full investigation and especially when there has been a murder it could take months. It is only a speculation at the moment that the alleged attacker has a disturbing motive for the crime but once it has been established the correct proscribing should take place.
Like others, I will continue to say that hate, division, and racist beliefs have no place in the UK or any civilised society. My thoughts are with Jo Cox and her family at this terrible time.