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.

 

The loss of a great mind

I hardly dare write my blog today in honour of the great Stephen Hawking an inspirational man not just in terms of his great scientific mind but his amazing personal journey and fight against motor neurone disease.

As a non-science girl I believe he made science accessible, interesting and inspiring to everyone. He attended the great St Albans School where for many years they have had their own Stephen Hawking’s Society through which his works have encouraged many an inquisitive young mind, and, will continue to do so.

My title for today’s blog is of course a contradiction in terms as we haven’t completely lost a great mind as he leaves such a fascinating legacy. Our generation have been fortunate to have had him as a brilliant mind challenging the way we thought about the universe and its secrets.

All forms of media will be recording his many thought provoking quotes today -following taken from an interview on Radio 4 with John Humphreys:-

‘If we discovered the complete set of laws, and understood why the universe existed, we would be in the position of God. We are making progress towards that goal, but we still have some way to go.’

 

International Women’s Day

Today I started celebrating International Women’s Day by having a ladies breakfast at the Waffle House with two of my favourite women. I am extremely fortunate in having known and worked with with some amazing women in my life many of whom have been great mentors.

I look on with pride at the younger generation of females who are so confident, sassy and non-judgemental and who have ambitions and the energy to follow their dreams. Spurred on by positive supportive mothers and great role models in other female family members and successful friends no challenge is insurmountable.

As a mother of a daughter for many reasons I realise the world can be both a cruel place and one of great opportunity and for those wanting to take the plunge and make something good of their lives…it will happen.

Last year I attended a great women’s conference where a speaker suggested that world leaders and heads of large corporates should adopt the many positive female traits of compassion, empathy, caring and sensitivity to work towards world peace and fairer and more honest business practices.

Here’s to being a women with the world at our feet.

 

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

 

Cherishing those we love

The pace of life for most is fast, often too fast and so easily we neglect friendships and loved ones. We all need to slow it down at times and remember to tell those we love just how important they are to us.

I know I have said this many times before on my blog but in life we meet many people and some leave their imprint on our hearts forever. It is never a case of how long the friendship lasts but the depth of that relationship and that is what hurts the most when they leave our lives.

The journey of bereavement is a difficult one, sadly, for many without a quick exit route. Anniversaries can be extremely painful but in their own way they are good for us as it gives us the opportunity to release some of our grief. Only yesterday talking to a recently widowed friend I reminded her how it is good to cry. However, we silly English people think it inappropriate to cry; whereas many other countries openly grieve -the latter being far more beneficial.

If we are missing somebody we have lost then there is no shame in saying so. I was personally touched yesterday learning of how a young girl continued to send her grandad text messages after he had died – talking to him in heaven. For us writers we do that constantly, and I am told that my own honest rantings help others too.

Celebrate the relationships you have with those that are with you and continue to do that when they are no longer around as I am certain that is what they would want.

Sending a spiritual hug to those that really need it today.

Remember the tallest poppies are often picked first and that they were beautiful and loved.

Everyday is special

The marketing people are at it again telling us to be in love and shower those we love with chocolate hearts and roses.  Those we love are just as happy to have a hug, a kiss and kindness. On the subject of kissing for those still on the dating scene, in love, still kissing they may like to read a copy of The little book of kisses’ by Dolly Christmas, available from Amazon in Kindle download.

An amusing publication about kissing, An ideal gift for your own Valentine. Kissing is a serious fun past time but is it becoming a dying art? The author examines the truth about kissing, instinct and protocol. Behavioural or preference? Keeping healthy…yes burning calories is just one advantage …the perfect lovers diet and how kissing is good for your dental hygiene. Her mission is to encourage more kissing to produce natural heat and save the planet. She reveals some of the good and the bad personal experiences and the joys of kissing a few frogs.’

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.