57. Hard conversations

This week I have had to have a couple of hard conversations. I’m not very good at them – who is tho?!… and there is a whole lot of anxiety leading up to and following them. I’m sure I am not the only one who goes through this stuff.. no one likes to have hard conversations, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and go for it. The lead up anxiety to anything difficult like this is quite hyper for me… my heart races, my palms sweat, I feel nauseous and get butterflies and obviously there are tears – it is me after all!

My first hard conversation this week was with my In-Laws. I love them. They have been and continue to be a huge part of our family. We need them in our world. They know that I write this blog, but have only read a couple of ‘episodes’ that I have shown them and they are not subscribed to it. We talk about all kinds of things all the time, but I have not spoken to them about starting to date and finding someone. I have not wanted to say anything, especially while I was unsure about the people I have been out with. I know they want the best for me and they want me to be happy. I am too young to live the rest of my life on my own – I don’t want that, and I know they don’t want that for me either. But letting them know that I am seeing someone was a really hard thing to do.

I think that I caught them by surprise. They came over for a cuppa (as they often do) and in the course of the conversation I kind of blurted out that I had something to tell them. I mentioned that I had started seeing someone that I have been friends with for a long time, who is also widowed, and that we are taking things slowly and seeing how it goes. I know that it came out of the blue for them, maybe I could have done it in a better way – but how do you lead into something like that?! I am aware that they have spoken about the idea of me dating with my parents previously, and while my mum knows what I have been doing (she reads the blog, and I tell her everything anyway), she kind of downplayed it to them, agreeing with me that ‘until it is something real, I maybe shouldn’t tell them’.

It feels like the right time now, and I am glad that I have had the conversation with them. I don’t like to feel like I am keeping secrets from them when so many other people know about this journey through the blog. They have said that they are not ready for an introduction yet – that is their choice, and it is completely fine… I understand that they need time to process their feelings about all of this. I know they want me to be happy and I know that is what Claytie would want too (it is absolutely what I would want for him!) But this is a big change and adjustment for all of us. I just don’t ever want them to feel like they are no longer important in our world or that they have been replaced in any way, because that will never be the case!

My other hard chat was with one of my kids who is having a super tough time at the moment. He is in the middle of a huge grief wave and is making some questionable choices… things that we have been through before between all of the boys, but it feels like a lot all in one go for this one. All of the boys are aware of the situation – we talk about everything all of the time, but it is hard knowing how to help. No-one likes to have unpleasant stuff pointed out to them – usually we are well aware of our own flaws and faults, and having them pointed out just makes us feel worse. There is a lot of disappointment and anger, frustration and helplessness – on all sides. We are working through it and have asked for help in the form of counselling.

For some reason, and I think this is the case for a lot of people particularly young men – certainly mine, there is a feeling that it can’t be helpful to talk to a stranger… ‘what could they possibly know or do about my situation that I can’t do for myself?! They can’t bring Dad back!’ A big part of my conversation with him has been around trusting people who are qualified, who have skills and strategies to help with managing anxiety and grief that I don’t have. I am just muddling my way through without a clue how to help myself, let alone the boys with their process. We all have such different ways of coping and the things that work for me are totally wrong for the boys and vice versa.

We have tried managing on our own… and while we are doing OK, we need help to get through this situation. It is 100% worth trying, and at some stage I will see a counsellor too – if not for myself then absolutely to learn how to help the boys! Again, as with all of this stuff, I have to come back to how lucky we have been. We were able to get an appointment for him very quickly with a highly recommended person, and I have high hopes that she will be able to help us – or at least point us in the right direction! I know that my son will get through this hard time. He is a spectacular young man who is working at finding his feet in a rough place. He has a spot in the world that will feel like his own, that will make him happy and comfortable – we just have to help him find it!

Its been a tough week in lots of ways, and I think it some of it will keep going for a little while yet. Fingers crossed the counselling is as helpful as we need it to be and things improve for my boy… I hate feeling helpless and to see him hurting so much. It is hard enough being a young person and not knowing what you want to do with yourself; then throw in the loss of such a pivotal person in your life and it becomes overwhelming. It really sux that there is no easy solution for dealing with such enormous grief…

56. Widow Brain

Last week I mentioned that I feel as though I am doing a million things, and none of them particularly well. Sometimes that feeling is incredibly overwhelming when I think about all of the things that aren’t getting done and the growing pile I have to contend with! I was talking to a friend about it, who reminded me that the person I am now is a very different one to who I was before Claytie died… and that is so true! I have changed in a million big and small ways and I need to make allowances for that. Its hard when I have so many days where I really don’t recognise myself at all anymore, and then I get glimpses of who I used to be and forget that my world is not the same.

I hate feeling like this! It is a combination of huge anxiety, hyperactivity, some sort of dementia and just a heaviness that sits over me. I make lists of the stuff that I have to do in my head, and forget almost all of it in 5 minutes. Even when I write things down I struggle to remember – or I remember in the middle of the night or super early in the morning when I can’t do anything about it – especially when I’m thinking about people and who I need to call to catch up. If you haven’t heard from me for a while, it’s not that I’m not thinking about you, it’s that I’m sure you don’t want me to call in the middle of the night when I do! The whole thing is starting to drive me a little bit nuts! There are so many things that I feel I have lost control over and while part of me worries about it, another part kind of just can’t be bothered – and that’s the part really bothers me. My motivation for so many things is very light on the ground – and I never used to be like this.

I used to be that person who was super organised. I had my lists for everything and knew exactly what I wanted to do. Birthday parties and gifts, Christmas… organised weeks in advance. Groceries bought according to meals planned for the week, often cooked on the Sunday ready to heat and eat; and if we were having a party, everything organised ahead of time and contingency plans made just in case. I’m not that person anymore and it’s a weird feeling. Part of me really misses being so organised and in control and then another part just thinks MEH- what’s the point?!

In the widow community it is called widow brain. People have done research on it. Apparently it is a physiological response to trauma. In a way it is your body protecting itself from reliving the trauma of your person dying and it is a very real thing. It makes sense, no one wants to have the horrible memories of their persons last moments at the front of their thoughts, but is hard to live with when the rest of the world thinks you’re ok – its been long enough by now right?! (That was sarcasm and does not need a response, I know its ridiculous!). I actually feel like its getting worse rather than better for me tho – or maybe I am just more aware of it now… I don’t know?! What I do know, is that I don’t like feeling out of control! I don’t like feeling overwhelmed by the things that aren’t getting done, or that I just don’t have the motivation to do – but there is only so much that I can realistically outsource.

It’s a really conflicted mess inside my brain, and hard to explain to others when it doesn’t always make sense to me. In some cases I have had to give up or at least step back from people and things- some situations require input from others as well as me and I can’t always be the one to chase. In other cases I am really determined that I will get that control and motivation back – I need to for myself and the boys, and to make sure that my world doesn’t implode any more than it already has. I know now that I can’t rely on my memory at all, that my calendar is essential, and to check any lists that I come across to make sure I have done the tasks on them. If you haven’t heard from me for a while, feel free to get in touch and I will try not to be a slack arse and call or text you back if I don’t answer – but if I do forget, please, please don’t take it personally!!!

55. Just an update!?

I’m not really sure what to write about this week. In lots of ways it’s been crazy busy in my world, and in other ways it’s been same-same. I was saying to a friend just today, that I feel like I’m doing a whole lot of things, and none of them particularly well. Everything feels a bit overwhelming and chaotic, even though it’s all the same.

The boys are mostly good, although we have had some emotional ups and downs. It’s hard when everything feels off and anxiety piles on, which is what seems to have happened for one of them. He has struggled with his job for a little while- he likes some parts and hates others, and there is a whole lot of time on his own which is not great for him. He is a people person, so too much time in his own head is not great. His girlfriend has recently moved in with us too, and while there are not any problems, it has been a big adjustment sharing his space and feeling like he doesn’t have a getaway when he does need downtime….. and then there is the all encompassing missing Dad. it all just piled on and was not great for his mental health.

It’s hard as mum, when there isn’t a whole lot I can do to help him feel better. We have been talking a lot (we do that anyway) and he’s thinking through options for work, or maybe going back to Tafe to study something, although not knowing what he wants to do makes that a bit challenging. The thing that has been really nice to see, is all of the boys looking out for each other. Everyone is much more in tune with the others and are taking more time to talk about hard things. We have always been a close family, but losing Claytie has absolutely tightened those bonds.

My dad and my father in law have both had some health stuff going on too, which has been hard. They have been well looked after and will be fine, but it has been a not so fun situation. Any big health stuff sits differently for us since Claytie died and it’s hard to adjust to.

Some of my friends have also had big, hard things happening in their worlds recently. Mostly I don’t know how to help, or can’t do anything to help other than be there and listen. I’m in a very different place to them, due more to luck than anything else, so any advice I give is absolutely from the outside looking in, which is not always helpful. It’s a tough feeling when you can’t fix other peoples problems and make their situations easier, but it’s definitely a good being able to talk and listen to lessen the load.

I’ve also been spending a whole lot of time with a good friend which has been really nice for me. We have known each other for about two years and have always enjoyed each other’s company. He was in a relationship which recently broke up, and we are now dating and seeing what happens. It has been just so lovely. He is also widowed, and we really understand each others down days. It’s been an easy friendship from the first and we have always talked about everything – he gets my crazy! I can’t wait to see what comes next for us!

54. Vulnerable

I’m a bit late with the blog last week/this week.. avoidance levels have been pretty high! I had some friends over at my place for a long overdue “woine toime” catch up – which was a much nicer night than last time we did it (see earlier post – WTF), went on a wine tasting tour with a group of widowed people and then spent the next day watching and supporting a friend at a sporting event (that went for 14 hours!). I had a really lovely weekend, but a couple of things that happened did make me think about how hard it is to feel and be vulnerable. 

One of the people that we were interacting with, had a moment in the group (alcohol may have been a factor) where she shared a whole lot of stuff about her life and her situation that she has never shared before. She broke down in tears telling some of us her story, and it is a harrowing story. She has been widowed for a long time now (10 years or so) and has been so busy maintaining her life, raising her children and putting a façade over the reality of her life, that she has not really done any grieving for her loss – which was very sudden and unexpected (much like mine). She has had some pretty full on issues with her kids who apparently have also not done a lot of processing, and just needed to let it all out. She was so incredibly apologetic for breaking down and crying in front of the group. She was worried that we would all judge her for not having her shit together, and she was scared of her grief and of being so public with it, and she was just so vulnerable in that moment.

I think we all worry about how people perceive us, especially when we are feeling weak and exposed. When we are emotional, it is a hard place to be. And while I know that it is the same for everyone, being widowed adds a level to that feeling that wasn’t there for me before. I always had Claytie to lean on when I was feeling low, I had him to bolster me and reassure me. Now I have to either somehow deal with those feelings on my own, or find someone I trust enough to share it with. I know I have people who are there for me, but it is hard to ask for that support, and depending on why I’m feeling like that determines who – if anyone, I will talk to.

Being widowed and missing Claytie, makes me feel really, really needy in lots of ways. I have to outsource my emotional support in ways that I have never had to before. It’s hard making yourself deliberately vulnerable and trusting others to catch you falling. Vulnerable is another one of those words that has taken on a much bigger role in my world than it used to. It’s not one I particularly like, especially when other people use it for me or about me… but it actually applies a whole lot more than I would like.

Being incredibly lonely and on your own makes you vulnerable. It makes you accept things and situations that you would not have previously. It is scary. It makes you question and second guess things that you would have taken at face value before, and it has been particularly true (I think for me) with dating. It is constant questioning of motivation – is this person interested in me for me, or are they looking for a quick scam because I am a widow who may have received a life insurance payout – something that you get warned about and see on TV all the time. Am I the only person that they are interacting with (and at what point do you have the ‘exclusive’ conversation). How true are your feelings or are you clutching at anything to avoid being on your own, and when do you mention that there are feelings. I know other people have a lot of the same concerns, especially if they have been hurt before, but for me they are a new thing and they do make me feel a bit weak and helpless in a lot of ways.

Vulnerable also applies to my boys. I think they feel as though they have to be strong and emotionally tough, both for me and everyone else and that’s a hard place for them to be. They lost their dad. They lost a man that they absolutely adored and looked up to, and their grief is still really raw. I think they try to hold it all together, but every now and again there are huge cracks that show up. It’s really hard seeing them being so vulnerable and hurting, trying to support them as they process their grief. It makes me feel helpless because there is really not a whole lot that I can do to help them, other than being there, listening, hugging and supporting them as they go through it.

I hate feeling vulnerable, it is a hard place to be and it is hard to know how to make yourself feel strong again. Sometimes leaning on a friend helps, other times it makes you feel pathetic and weak. It is easier to be empathetic and understanding for a friend or stranger where you are yourself removed from the situation. It is much more difficult being kind to yourself and letting yourself fall when you’re feeling like this. It is having hard conversations and being honest about your feelings, and it is just putting one foot in front of the other and seeing what comes next. It is part of being human and it is all part of the journey I guess.

53. Highs and Lows

Something I have had to recognise as part of this new life, are the hard lows that come after brief high moments. It seems like every time I have a good weekend or happy connection with people, there is some sort of low mood and depressing inner dialogue that is almost guaranteed to follow. Sometimes it is just a brief pang, but other times it’s like a punch to the gut. It can scream at you relentlessly about everything that you used to have that is now gone. It can be brutal… But it doesn’t stop me looking for those good times, I want to find the things that bring a smile to my face, the things that do make me happy. They are the things that keep me going…. The lows are just something I need to keep in mind for my mental health.

This week I was super excited to catch up with a friend that I haven’t seen in person for ages. She lives at the Sunshine Coast, so it’s hard to see each other as often as we would like. She is a school teacher and currently on holidays so was able to come and be part of our trivia team for the evening and then spend the night at my place. We went out for breakfast the next morning and had the loveliest time catching up and talking about all kinds of things. It was so comforting having a person with me, who gets it all completely and who I don’t have to pretend with in any way. We laughed and I cried (surprise!), we talked absolute rubbish and we planned our next catch up – something I am really looking forward to but am also nervous about because she has dubbed it a “Debaucherous” event …. But when she left to head home, I crashed. I was just so very, very sad. Having those times that feel great are incredibly bittersweet because they just highlight everything that is missing for me. I want to tell Claytie all about it and have him roll his eyes at my storytelling. I wanted him to laugh at the funny bits and comfort me for the things that hurt. I just want him to be here!

So that night was a giant pity party. It didn’t help that it was also the anniversary of the first time Claytie and I met 31 years ago. The anniversary of our relationship starting – a date that is not important on anyone else’s calendar, but hugely significant to me. It was one of those nights where the tears just start and just don’t stop. Where it is physically painful to just breathe. I know those moments are important to have and to acknowledge, they are all part of learning to live this new life, but god they are hard. I had a friend call me in the middle of the tears and snot show, checking in to see how I was going and that is hard too. My immediate response is to say that I am fine, which is a complete lie – and he knows that, he is on the same rollercoaster.

We are so conditioned to be fine that it is hard to verbalise when we are not. I am very good at being the shoulder for someone else, I am happy to be that person. I am not good accepting that sometimes I need a shoulder too. People as a rule (myself included) are not great at knowing what to do when you say that you are not ok. It makes things awkward and you end up being the one to offer them comfort. It’s really hard in this case too, when there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to make me feel better, when the tears just need to happen. The one thing I want is the only thing that I can’t have. All the tears in the world aren’t going to fix that and no-one can help, but it did feel really nice to have a friend in that moment and to know that he really truly understands what it feels like as well.

II have found that it has been the same thing with dating and relationships. There have been some really lovely moments for me since I started this whole process, fun outings and nice dinners, interesting conversations about all kinds of things, and one of my very favourites just sitting on a couch together, holding hands watching movies on tv. It just feels soo lovely and normal and easy – and really hard when its time to go home, especially when it is a new relationship and you are still unsure of what (if anything) it will become. It just serves as a reminder of what you used to have.

You don’t realise how many of the little things are missing when your person is gone. Its easy to see and imagine the big things, but you forget about the million little things that are so totally ingrained in your life that you don’t notice them. The random touches as you walk past, the smell of your person, the smart-alec comments about something on tv, scrunched up socks in their shoes, the noises they make as they drift off to sleep…. They are the things that will bring you to your knees every time. They are the things that make this loneliness the biggest thing you will ever have to accept, and you don’t really have a choice but to accept it.

It’s hard, this process of acclimatising to living with grief. It is everywhere and takes up every tiny bit of space in you. It makes it hard to allow yourself happy moments without some sort of misplaced guilt. I make a conscious choice everyday to find the good things around me. I am not going to let the lows swallow me, but I have to acknowledge their existence and I have to accept that they are going to happen. The hope that I need to have, is that there will be more happy times to counteract or balance the lows, that somewhere there is a middle ground that I can live with.

52. Funeral

For the last two weeks, it seems that all that has been on TV has been the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the lead up to and wind down from her funeral. I understand it… she was the most well known woman on the planet, and she made history, and it was always going to be a huge thing, this coming to the end of an era. Regardless of how you feel about the monarchy (I’ll be voting to become a republic when the time comes), it is easy to get caught up in the pomp and ceremony of it all. I have to confess to staying up ridiculously late to watch it all… but as I said to my mum, I have watched all of the weddings and things up until now, as if I would miss this!

All of this relentless coverage has had me thinking about death and funerals (again) and how hard all of that is to get through when you’re a “joe average” person, let alone famous and constantly in the public eye. When a person you love dies, your brain actually shuts down. There has been all kinds of research done around this subject – not that I can quote particular studies for you. Your body shuts off trauma parts of your brain so that you can manage day to day stuff , and the shut down parts can take a long time to switch back on. Poor King Charles was mocked in all kinds of ways for complaining about a leaky pen on a couple of occasions, and while it could be that he is a complete dick (time will tell) it could also, and more likely be a grief response. His world feels out of control, his mother just died, and complaining about a leaky pen is something that feels like he has some kind of control. I know that when Claytie died, there were things that I said and did that probably seem stupid in hindsight, but felt really important at the time.

And then there is the funeral… your last chance to publicly honour your person – a final event just for them, and oh so important to get it right! This funeral has been in the planning for years. The details were incredible and on a massive scale, but I wonder if there was a personal eulogy for her majesty? Did they tell any of the funny stories that we all have about our person or is that something that they are able to do with their week of personal mourning? – as if a week is enough!!

I actually enjoyed Clayties funeral, and I know that enjoyed is a weird word to use in this context. But I did. I was really happy with his funeral and how we did it… some parts were absolutely out of my control, and were incredibly frustrating for members of my family, but in an odd way they make sense to the big picture. It was super important to me that we didn’t have a stranger speak for us about Claytie. He was ours, and his story was for us to tell. The boys chose the music that we played and I loved the unorthodox -ness of their picks .. Beasty Boys, Cows with Guns, and Kasey Chambers… as well as a couple of my choices for his slide show. It all felt like him! I am insanely proud of how well the boys all did on the day, particularly our oldest son who spoke on our behalf. I loved that Clayties school friends accepted my request, without hesitation, to be our MCs and that we were able to celebrate after the service at a good friends home instead of a random venue. I’m also grateful that we were in a window between covid lock downs that meant we were able to invite 100 people, and that technology allowed everyone else to be able to view his service on line. It all made for a day that was absolutely a celebration of the awesome human that he was.

The funeral tho, while signifying an ending is also a beginning. It is the start of a very different life with out your person. It is learning to live in a world that you no longer recognise. It’s hard! I can only speak from my own experience of losing my husband – I hate that phrase by the way… I didn’t lose him, I know exactly where he is! Luckily for me, I don’t know what it is like to have a parent die, and in the case of the royals both in a very short time span. Any death leaves a huge hole in your world, and adjusting your life around that hole is hard. I hope that they get the time and support that they need to grieve, and to work around the queen sized hole in their world.

51. Avoidance

I was asked recently, while going through my calendar for the next month or so, if all of my socialising and dating is just a way of avoiding my grief, and yes of course it is! – but I wouldn’t say it is that 100%. A lot of what I do these days involves other widowed people and that is actually incredibly therapeutic in a whole lot of ways. 

Too much time spent at home on my own is really hard. It highlights the huge chunk that is missing in my world. Trust me, I know exactly what I have lost – better than anyone! There are plenty of nights spent re-living every minute of THAT day, and feeling like I’m still there. There are more tears and hard days than I ever could have imagined having, and certainly more than I share with anyone. There is no ‘getting through’ this stuff, there is just living with it. My entire world has changed completely. Not just the immediate stuff, but the entire future that we had planned is now not what it should be. There is not a single hour in the day that goes past without some thought of Claytie. He is in everything that I do and there is no avoiding that…and honestly, I really don’t want to avoid it. I loved my life with Claytie and I love that my memories mean he is still (and always will be) with me in a way.

Going out and doing things with other widows actually takes some of the weight off. These people get it in a way that no one else can, and with them I am just Robbie. I can freely be this new, evolving me, and in that group my loss does not feel like the main focus like it does with people who knew me ‘before’. I don’t know that this is how my friends and family actually see me, but that is absolutely how I feel. I feel like people are watching me and analysing the things that I do, questioning what is ‘normal’. I’m really glad that most of the people in my world don’t know what any of this feels like because the reality is far worse that you could imagine. I know that I have people in my corner who are always there for me and I am beyond grateful to them for that, you guys mean the world to me! But it is nice knowing that in this new group of friends I have people to talk to who completely understand what an absolute shit show all of this is because they are walking a similar path. It’s nice having people who are also awake at 2am to chat with. It’s helpful being able to vent about someone with good intentions whose commentary is actually just hurtful, or to question why so many people have pulled away.

I know Clayties death left a hole in everyone who knew him, I know others are also grieving his loss, but their lives have kept going in the direction they were headed. They still have their person, they still have the lives they had planned. For them, Claytie is a passing thought or a fond memory and I guess that is how it should be, that is how it has been for me with friends that have died. But as a part of all of this for me, a whole lot of people that I thought would be there for me in person just disappeared, and my relationship with others has also changed in ways I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t only lose Claytie, I lost a bunch of other people as well and that has had a huge effect. Nothing in my life is the same. My world imploded and it’s bloody hard recognising and putting the pieces back together. 

I can’t apologise for the things that I do going through this process of finding a way to live with my loss. Sometimes it feels as though that’s the expected thing, that even though I am the one who is now different, whose life changed completely, I still have to fit in. I am supposed to be the same person that I was to make everyone else comfortable and less awkward. I’m not sure I know how to, because I do feel so very, very different now. Obviously I’m not intentionally setting out to upset or worry anyone, and I know some of what I have done has raised some eyebrows, but I have to do the things that make my life bearable. I have to figure myself out and I have to find a way to live with the new me. I don’t know how to do anything else. 

I have come from a very privileged/lucky world. I grew up in a happy united family and I married my high school sweetheart. I have lived a fairy tale and I am incredibly grateful for that. I have not had to confront anything like this before, so I feel like all I can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing the things that feel manageable and good. The things that make me smile and take the load off for an hour or so. So yeah, while it looks a lot like avoidance, all of this is a kind of therapy and I find that for now, it works for me.

50. Just checking in …

So this week, given that it is Mental health awareness month, I thought that I would check in with all of you and see if YOU are OK?! I have been so amazingly lucky with the people in my world that have been there for me, and I want you to know that I am here for you too! My door is always open. I have tea, coffee and vodka ready anytime (and I can usually put together a cheese platter at short notice). I have spare beds and willing ears if you want a chat, and pretty broad shoulders if you need to cry…. I am also happy to cry with you if it helps, but lets face it, I’ll cry with you anyway because that is what I do best!

We have been having conversations at work this week about mental health and how important it is to prioritise that…. certainly something that I have learned recently. If you need a mental health day – take it! Work will still be there when you come back! My usual go to is to take myself to the beach and walk it off – often at sunrise after a night of not sleeping very well. It always makes me feel better and it absolutely clears my head! Even the rainy or windy days help me to recharge if my feet are in the sand at the edge of the water.

The other thing that I love and works well for me is just talking. It doesn’t even need to be a conversation about whatever it is that’s bothering me, although that will usually come up – you may have noticed that I talk about pretty much anything that is happening in my world! I find that I get my energy from the people around me, and lucky for me I have some amazing people in my world. I like to be busy. I find it hard to sit at home if I am on my own…. it makes me sad because it highlights all that is missing in my world.

Music is another thing that will always change my mood. I love my playlist, and rarely listen to anything else lately. It goes for about 9 hours and has all sorts of things on it – my favourites and a whole lot of Clayties, as well as some random Spotify suggestions. I will often put a question out into the universe and depending on what song plays next I will have an answer of sorts. It is not particularly scientific, but it makes me feel better! – I have on occasion been asked to change songs by people driving with me tho, because they are ones that we played at Clayties funeral and where for me they are comforting, for others they are sad.

So whatever it is that works for you and your own anxieties I want to make sure you are OK! I am here to support you – however that looks! Without all of you in my world, helping and looking out for me, I am not sure where I would be, so it is only right that I return the favours. As I have said to my kids in the past, there is no problem so big that it doesn’t have a solution, sometimes you just have to look in odd places to find it! I am happy to be your ODD!

And a little PS: – What ever your thoughts on the Royal Family, it is certainly the end of an era with the death of Queen Elizabeth. She absolutely held true to her promise of dedicating her life to the crown, working right up until the very end. I do have an admiration for her absolute commitment to her job, although her children may well feel quite differently about it, especially Charles who has had to wait such a long time to have his turn at it. I have to confess to some surprise at being quite shaken by the news – but as someone said to me this morning ‘Death has a different feeling in our family now’. I feel for her family, regardless of what I think of them, as they grieve the loss of their Matriarch.

49. Psychic

Have you ever seen a psychic or a medium, and did you get from them what you were hoping for? I’m a big believer in this stuff – factoring in that there are quite a lot of fakes out there. I just think there are so many things in the world that are not able to be explained any other way other than in a psychic/supernatural way.

I went to see a psychic in 2018, and at the time was in two minds about the information that she gave me. All she knew about me, was my first name and phone number – so no real way to ‘research’ who I was before I got there. She was really, really good at characterising my boys and a whole bunch of other stuff, and I left the session feeling quite upbeat, but there were also some things that just didn’t fit with us at the time. I re-listened to the recording of that session just the other day, and with hindsight, she was actually incredibly spot on with a whole bunch of her predictions as well – things that at the time seemed a bit vague actually turned out just like she said. – I am still looking for the beach front property in northern NSW that she told me I would own…. but given how accurate she was with everything else, I am very hopeful that it will happen!

I have been wanting to see another Psychic since Claytie died. I think it is a very common thing that people do after a loved one dies, and I know a lot of people who have done it. You want to know that they are still around you, that they are aware of your world without them in it. There is a longing for validation that they are ok with what you are doing, and that they are guiding you in some way. Losing someone you love, whether its a partner, child, close friend or parent is so incredibly difficult and hard to make sense of, so seeing a psychic/Medium feels like you’re doing something! That is probably also the reason that there are so many scammers in the world! It is easy to target a vulnerable person – and grieving people are certainly that!

The advice I have read is that you shouldn’t do it too soon after your person is gone as they need time to ‘adjust’ to the new situation as well. I waited two years and one month – although I booked my appointment back in March of this year! The person I wanted to see was crowned Australia’s best a number of years ago, and I have seen her before in a group setting where she was very impressive. I had pretty high hopes!

I had my appointment on my day off this week. I made sure that no one would be at home with me to create any kind of disturbance or interfere in any way. The appointment (thanks to COVID) was done via face-time, something I am not necessarily a fan of at the best of times, but you do what you have to! My call was spot on in terms of timing and we started in quite a promising way….. She was pretty good in some ways, but then way off the mark in a whole lot of others!

She started by saying the Claytie wasn’t really a believer in any of this stuff, and he absolutely wasn’t – AT ALL! He thought it was all a bit of a scam and kind of crap, but indulged my thoughts and ideas about it all anyway. She knew that he died very unexpectedly and that it was his heart that did it; she knew that it happened at home. She knew that he loved his job, but would have preferred to be at home with us – and all of these things with enough detail that she could not have got from anywhere else, so it felt OK…. and then it took a turn and she completely missed the mark trying to describe Claytie. She said that he was a small man – short to average height, and a quiet person who was not great in a big social group….. he was anything but! He was a big man with a big personality – there was absolutely nothing small about Claytie at all!

She talked about the boys a little bit, and again got some stuff right – apprenticeships and promotions, personalities and relationships but then seemed to go to generic boy stuff that just has never been us, and did not fit at all! – She did mention the new baby and that Claytie had already met them and would always be watching and recognised the significance of the middle name, but got the gender completely wrong – unless my son and daughter in law have been telling fibs!

I did record the whole thing and once I’ve let the initial feelings settle I will go back and re-listen to it all again, but I was left feeling quite flat at the end of the appointment and kind of don’t know exactly how to process the whole thing. I am not sure if I had too many expectations going in based on what I know of this psychic or if it actually just wasn’t that great – maybe facetime distorted the energy and skewed the reading?! In any case, it has not stopped me believing, and if I can find the name of the person I saw years ago I will go back and see her again. In the meantime, if you have a great recommendation send it through and I will check them out as well! If nothing else, it is something different to do, and I am all about trying new things at the moment!

48. Lost

This week I’m feeling a little bit lost. I’ve been good and bad and ok again. I’ve been looking at some of the things I have been doing in the last little while and I don’t really recognise myself a lot of the time. There are some things that I don’t feel great about, but at the same time I don’t have any kind of regret for the experiences that I have had up until now. I do also know that I probably don’t want to keep going like I have been, it all feels a little bit out of control… so maybe it’s time to just hit pause for a minute and breathe a little bit!?

I’m tired and I’m missing Claytie… that’s absolutely a daily thing, but some days are just more! This whole week feels like more. I miss knowing who I am and where and how I fit… I don’t feel like I have that anymore, and while people in my world try to understand, most of them don’t really and they can’t. I hope that it stays that way for them too, because the reality of this is horrendous! I think there is a kind of belief in a lot of people that at two years in I should be not necessarily over my grief, but a bit more steady in my life… if only it worked like that!!

My entire world got turned on it’s head when Claytie died. It’s a pile of broken and tangled, twisted rubble. I’m trying to find pieces that I recognise and hold onto them. It’s really hard putting them back together in any kind of way that looks like me because I’m never going to be the same person that I was. I can’t be – and I absolutely feel like the new me is very different. I’m trying to get to know her, and that’s been a hard thing to wrap my head around, I feel like I should still be me!? There are parts of the new me that I am getting to like and others that will always feel strange and wrong. I feel like I’m constantly contradicting myself in so many ways. Old and new feelings and opinions clashing making my foundations incredibly rocky.

I absolutely second guess pretty much every single thing in my world, and often I seek out people that I trust to get their take on things – we don’t always agree, and that’s ok! I go round and round in circles weighing up pros and cons, often with no clear outcome! Mostly I settle into the thing that makes me feel happiest, because life is too bloody short! … And while from the outside it maybe looks like I’m doing ok, it’s all just pretending! It’s like that meme about the sock sliding off inside the shoe… untie the laces and you’ll see the chaos!

Every so often inside this mess tho, there’s been a glimmer of something that feels good and real. Those things aren’t always neat and tidy either, and they don’t always line up with the things I thought I knew about myself – more second guessing and contradicting myself right there! I do know that sometimes things aren’t going to work out the way I’d like them to… fairy tales are impossibly hard to recreate, and I have had the most amazing fairy tale! There’s a whole lot of risk taking with your heart in all of this that seems obvious, but is a surprise at the same time. I’m trying to find a new happy and it’s hard not to grab onto those glimpses of lovely things when they are there, even with all of the mess around them. Maybe the messes cancel each other out?!