What’s wrong with me…get writing

Having many strings to one’s bow often means that some aspects of who we are and what we do get neglected. Mine of late has been my own writing projects in terms of both marketing them and writing itself.

My regular followers and friends know that the past few years I have been a mature student and also working with dementia clients and their families which has taken me away from ‘my writing babies’. So today I am back being a writer and dusting off my manuscripts along with all the other poor tortured writers and back pitching…

At a family event this weekend I was reminded about one of my very special projects now available on Amazon. ‘A Mother’s Love’ which includes great advice from my mentor and best friend:-

Mother-s love (1)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annie-Manning/e/B005XXYJL0

Moving forward

After the loss of a loved one it is very hard for the bereaved to move forward and accept a new era of their life without them. For many older married couples the remaining spouse may have been a full time carer for sometime and that became their life’s role.

Speaking to a recently widowed lady I know it is not uncommon for the older generation especially to do everything together and this in itself can make it hard to venture out alone in search of new hobbies.

As with retirement many people find that they at last have time to persue the interests that previously may have been out of the question. With bereavement it is so often the case that a love one will feel an unwarranted sense of guilt to be seen to enjoy themselves.

Whatever your situation it is always a one step at a time process and regaining one’s sense of purpose takes time. For anyone recently bereaved please seek help and talk honestly to those that can offer support. Remember that you do not have to be a regular church-goer to speak to a local minister they are trained professionals and bereavement support is part of their community role.

Zena Skinner…saying goodbye

Earlier this week relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours said a fond farewell to the amazing Zena Skinner. This great lady will be missed to those that knew and loved her in her home village of Redbourn.

Known globally for her fame as a TV cook and celebrated author of many cookery books she was also a keen fundraiser  for the Keech Hospice…the collection on Wednesday at her funeral was also for the hospice so even after she lost her own fight with cancer she goes on to help others.

Aside of her culinary skills and community work she had a fantastic sense of humour and that is how I will remember her; making a group of ladies in the village hall kitchen howl with laughter with her collection of funny voices, and, her talk at the U3A 2016 gave an insight into the fascinating life she led…with her tales of being a Wren as young woman having the audience laughing all afternoon.

As I said to our wonderful Reverend Will Gibbs who took the funeral:

The Zena I knew would be saying why all the long sad faces?’

 

Coping with grief

In my privileged position in working with the bereaved I recognise that everyone grieves in different ways, at different times and in a family unit it is a very difficult time for all concerned.

One of the key things I have noticed is how parents hide their own feelings from their children feeling it inappropriate to cry in front of them. Of course this is to be expected and in a way for some admired but for the grieving parent who may have lost their life time partner it makes their own journey placed on hold to a certain degree.

The British way of being strong, keeping a stiff upper lip is one which frustrates me terribly and this, I speak from personal experience; as a child surrounded by adults set on surpressing their own grief and probably my own too. I always maintain to speak of our loved ones and remember them keeps them alive in our minds, our hearts and of course helps the bereavement process…to deny their existence is not only cruel but of no use to anyone.

If you know of any one mourning a loved one reach out to them and communicate, let them talk, let them cry if they need to…it’s normal. Most of all do not avoid visiting and please do not stop mentioning their loved one either – think of a funny story or a great occasion you shared.

 

Empathy and confidence

It is no secret that one can learn empathy but nothing beats having walked in another’s shoes to really know how they feel. Even the most confident person has experienced times in their life when experiences have left them feeling isolated and possibly insecure. It takes great courage to fight the natural instinct of flight and stay and fight.

However, as one gets older and reflects back on those conflict situations we would rather not have encountered we realise that they were all indeed character building. I often say to those in need of positive input and support that no experience is a waste and it is true that it is not what happens in our lives but how we handle it.

I am mindful what works for one person will not work for another as we are all different but we all have to move forward and grow in our own way and try to be the best we can. As my great mentor used to say ‘worrying about things won’t change them’ and that is sound advice.

My years spent in marketing and sales it was a case of every complaint is an opportunity and when things are tough in life it can be just the opportunity we need to make that change in our lives we are struggling to avoid making.

Seize the day and live one day at a time…as in reality that is all any of us can do. Remain curious and take that adventure as it is offered.

 

 

Helping the bereaved not ignoring them

Earlier this week during a visit with a bereaved lady we both agreed how we put on a brave face with those around who are also struggling in coming to terms with a loss of a loved one. Why is that? Over the past few years I have read many books on the beravement journey of others and have my own experiences to recollect too and what is blatently obvious is that to deny somebody’s right to grieve openly is of no use.

I am certain I would have said this before -my own mother said people crossed the road to avoid having to speak to her after my father died suddenly. It made me cross and upset then as a child and still does. However, shall we just be angry with the person that does that or should we feel sorry that they cannot find the words…any words?  As I have written in various articles just a hand on the arm or shoulder and ‘i’m thinking of you’ will suffice nobody who is recently bereaved expects you to say something profound honestly!

What we need as a bereaved person is for people to acknowledge our pain and the existence of those we have loved and lost. We have such a long way to go still in this country in dealing with how we approach the subject of death and it is something all of us will have to encounter and deal with at some stage of our life.

In a world where people post so many private things about their life (which frankly I would rather not see) I find it hard to believe that talking about death leaves them dumb struck.

As always I am sending a little reminder that it is after the funeral people need you to to phone or visit and let them know their loved one is not forgotten.  For anybody who is feeling alone in their grief then please talk to somebody, your loved one would not want you to suffer in silence and most of all celebrate their life.

A Mother’s love

The older I become the more, and I guess obviously so, my friends and extended family members are losing their parents. The loss of a Mother cuts deep and I described my own feelings at the time of just losing my sense of purpose – when I say that to the recently bereaved I always get a nod of acceptance. Bereavement brings a whole range of emotions and at times these feel so over-whelming. Some may argue it doesn’t get any easier and they are probably right but acceptance becomes stronger and we do start to remember their love and the gift they brought to us.

After being nagged by many of my friends and family I wrote my own thoughts and experiences of my own relationshipwith my mother down. It is true that writing is indeed therapeutic.

‘A Mother’s Love’ Gospels according to Dorothy is available from amazon kindle to download.  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annie-Manning/e/B005XXYJL0

Mother-s love (1)

**Cover illustration courtesy of Paul Manning

 

The Michael Blake Foundation

In keeping with Oesophageal Cancer Awareness month I have been reminded by a family member that The Michael Blake Foundation’s website is worth visiting. Like so many charities this foundation was set up following the loss of a family member.

Sadly it is not until we experience a specific illness personally that we realise just how little support and information is available and all credit to those that then turn their own dificult situation into doing something really productive and help others.

Having worked within the not-for-profit sector for many years I have seen how little charities are doing really useful work in their local communities.  Their website is: http://www.michaelblakefoundation.org.uk should you wish to donate, volunteer or in need of advice.

 

 

Dementia Support

I have had the great pleasure of working with dementia clients and their families and I am aware how difficult it is for family members to adust emotionally to the challenges this condition brings.

Discussing with family members we agree in a way it is like a mini bereavement as one watches the person we know, loved, and possibly depended on disappear in front of us.

My key advice is to seek support and make the effort to find out as much as you can to learn new ways of communicating. It helps to find small ways to react in different ways to situations to defuse rather than over react, it takes a great deal of love, patience and understanding. Bear in mind your loved one is living in a very frustrating and confusing world now and needs you more than ever.

There are of course dementia charities who have support groups locally and advice on hand to make the journey easier.

 

 

Stroke awareness

I was pleased to see ‘Call the midwife’ this week featured a young mother who suffered a stroke. Any awareness is useful as knowledge is of course power in life. What a great deal of people do not realise is that strokes can happen at any age it’s not just the elderly. However, often elderly people may suffer a slight stroke (TIA) in their sleep and on waking just feel ‘unwell’.

Our family are stroke aware as we lost our Dad age just 44 to a massive cerebral haemorrage. I also had a slight stroke in my early forties though cause was never discovered.  I do as much as I can to raise awareness with stroke symptoms and just as importantly the stroke charities which do such great work supporting stroke suvivors and their families.

The Stroke Association have local support groups and quality information which can prove so useful when having to meet and discuss your situation with medics. Please visit their website:-

http://www.stroke.org.co.uk