An experience of grief whilst raising a child

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My brother sadly passed away at the age of thirty-nine, two months ago. I am the father of a two-year-old boy. This is my account of experiencing grief whilst raising a child.

I write this, not as a guide, but a view into my insights, learnings and experiences. I do not believe I can tell you what to do or feel, but my hope is that maybe one positive might come out of what has been a very hard time for me.

Raising a baby is hard. Dealing with grief at the same time has been very challenging for me. As much as I love my baby boy, grief has made even the most minor difficulties with him feel like the world is crushing me. Frustration has been high. Guilt over him seeing me cry or feeling too numb to play with him has made me feel even worse.

Fear has kicked in too. What if I die too soon and leave him without a father? What if I haven’t taught him enough or prepared him for the world? What if he doesn’t even remember me? What if I am not doing a good job? What if, what if, what if? I am finding that what ifs are not that helpful.

At times I have resented not being able to grieve in peace and solitude. I do feel terrible about this. I know that a toddler doesn’t understand this, but I want you to know that it’s ok to feel this way. Or to feel whatever it is you are feeling. It is your grief, navigate it in the best way for you.

People will tell you things. I believe it is mostly well intentioned. Be strong. Talk about it. It takes time. How much time? How long does this raw pain and fury last, because this shit is exhausting. Especially when your little one decides that now is the time that their own sleep is something to be avoided at all costs. I try to remember that he is not doing this to make life harder, but I admit is it a struggle.

What have I learnt from this? Be strong if I want to. Be weak if that is what I feel. Talk or don’t. Take time when needed and don’t be afraid to ask for a time out or break if it all gets too much. I know that a break is not always possible with a child, but I have found that just trying to get through a part of the day is somewhat easier, knowing I can fall apart later on.

I can’t say that it is easy or possible to set aside my grief and focus solely on my child. I have tried, but memories and feelings will surface regardless of how icy my waters are. The best I can do and say is that I try and continue to raise my child as best I can, and know that grief is a terribly hard thing to deal with. I am not a superhero and sometimes simply trying is enough, even if I struggle or fail.

I come to the hardest truth, the least helpful insight, yet the unavoidable reality. Sometimes, nothing helps. Distractions do not lessen the pain. Time doesn’t yet heal the wound. Talking does not yield any sense or peace. It simply fucking sucks. All I have is my pain and grief and it will not go away.

Yet, life does and must go on, at least for now. Life for me now is both pain and joy. Pain at never seeing or speaking to my brother again. Joy at seeing my wonderful son becoming the amazing being he is and will be. It is a confusing juxtaposition. It is also what being a human means to me. Good and bad. Happy and sad.

In the end, that is my conclusion. I feel grief and life is hard. I feel joy and life is better. I am trying to take the joy when I feel I can and allow my grief to be a part of me without fighting it when I want to acknowledge the loss I feel.

The last words my brother and I shared were to say I love you, take care. I don’t know if this will help anyone or mean anything to anyone. I can’t say I suddenly feel lighter or better for writing this. I just feel tired. I hope that it will lessen the pain in time.

Until then, I want you to know that I love you, take care.

What do people think about therapists – redux.

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What do people think about therapists – redux.

I originally posted this about two years ago. I wanted to revisit it as I have started a college course training to be a counsellor and the subject is of even more interest to me now. I am making a few additions which will be bracketed and in italics, (because who doesn’t like italics?) based on new knowledge and a change in circumstances. Anything in brackets that is not in italics is from the first post and due to my love of brackets. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

What do people think about therapists? I am not one. (Not yet anyway). A therapist that is. I am most certainly a people. I ask the question because I am curious for several reasons. One reason is that I am engaged to a therapist. (I am actually now married to her and she has achieved her Doctorate). The aforementioned therapist mentioned to me the other day that when people ask her what it is that she does for a living and she replies that she is a therapist, they take a step back. I mean a literal and physical step back. No metaphors here.

As soon as she told me this, I wanted to see it in action. Luckily I had the chance the following evening. As we were sat having cocktails (I know! How swanky are we?) the bartender asked us what we did for a living. Now, this question kinda sucks for me. I have to explain that I am trying to make a go of it as a writer and hope to one day make money from it. This is either preceded or followed by Gauri saying she is a therapist, which is a hard act to open for or close after. I have made my life somewhat easier in this respect by coming up with a way of saying what I do that doesn’t make me feel pretentious or pathetic. I now say ‘I am a non-profit writer.’ (This is slightly less sucky for me now. I still have not got my book published, but I had one of the nicest rejection letters ever and I can say that I am in training to be a counsellor. The wife can still blow me out of the water with the Dr thing, but I am at least playing catch up).

As Gauri was about to tell the bartender that she was a therapist, I entered hawk mode and watched him closely; very closely indeed. As sure as sunshine comes out after I come home after getting rained on, he did indeed move backwards. I don’t think he was even aware of doing it. Given the topic I am discussing, it makes sense that he did it subconsciously. He even laughed and said ‘A therapist eh? Are you going to read my mind?’ I love this reaction. Now, I know he was joking, but I have heard this response way more than once and it makes me think of the idea of ‘no smoke without fire.’ Even if it is a joke, why does it come out as that joke more often than not?

It is the logic behind it that I find interesting. Do people on some level think that therapists can read minds? Even Derren Brown, whose stage show is about supposedly reading minds admits that it is nothing more than suggestion, reading of body language and facial expressions and theatricality. So what is it that makes people think of it as a possibility? Is it a fear that a person, because they are a therapist, has a preternatural gift to see inside their very minds? How likely is this? I imagine that if a therapist could read minds it would make a therapy session much easier. (So far, mind reading has not come up in my course, but I wait with baited breath in case it does). 

Client: I don’t know what I think about that.

Therapist: Yes you do. I can read your mind and you are repressing it.

Job done in a fraction of the time I think.

I also think that if a person could read my mind, I would just think some really messed up shit about them until they stopped. But that could just be the way my mind works. (I will of course take this to therapy when I am required to attend it as part of my future training).

A quick therapy joke to make another point about when people say to me ‘Your girlfriend (wife) is a therapist? I hope she doesn’t therapise me.’

Q: How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. The lightbulb has to want to change.

Now, apart from the fact that I love this joke, it also makes a point about it being the client that has to make the effort in therapy if any real progress is to be achieved. I am fairly sure most therapists don’t go around giving away free therapy to all and sundry. (I certainly won’t be. College is expensive and I need to earn my money back). Where is the business sense in that? I wouldn’t spend hours on a painting and then give it away for nothing. This is mainly because I am a terrible painter and people wouldn’t take my work, even if it were free, but I hope you see my point. Also, isn’t it similar to being a chef or a gynecologist? If you spend all day at work doing something, you are not necessarily going to want to do it in your spare time.

The final thing I have noticed is that people tend to talk to me about what Gauri does, rather than talk to her directly about what she does. (Now of course, they can not talk to me about it) I had two conversations yesterday about what she is doing for her thesis. I suggested they could ask her but i got the distinct feeling of ‘Oh no. I can’t ask her. What if she therapises me?’ I find it funny that people are happy to talk to me about what she does. It’s like I am a gateway drug to therapists. Yet, they have a strange fascination about the whole thing, similar to wanting to know what is under the bed but being too scared to actually look.

Now, I am not making any judgements on people’s perspective on therapists. Far from it. People are entitled to think what they think. I am simply curious about the way people think. So, over to you. What do you think about therapists? Are you a therapist that has had any entertaining experiences of telling people what you do?

(I am looking forward to the day when this happens to me. I wonder if people will react the same way in the future though. Therapy seems to be much more mainstream now in Britain. Perhaps we will have a situation in America where it is perfectly normal to have a therapist. I certainly hope so, I really do need to earn my money back. Joking aside, I hope people feel more relaxed and able to access therapy in this country.)

I would love to hear from you.

Take care buddies,

David.

What do people think about therapists?

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What do people think about therapists?

What do people think about therapists? I am not one. A therapist that is. I am most certainly a people. I ask the question because I am curious for several reasons. One reason is that I am engaged to a therapist. The aforementioned therapist mentioned to me the other day that when people ask her what it is that she does for a living and she replies that she is a therapist, they take a step back. I mean a literal and physical step back. No metaphors here.

As soon as she told me this, I wanted to see it in action. Luckily I had the chance the following evening. As we were sat having cocktails (I know! How swanky are we?) the bartender asked us what we did for a living. Now, this question kinda sucks for me. I have to explain that I am trying to make a go of it as a writer and hope to one day make money from it. This is either preceded or followed by Gauri saying she is a therapist, which is a hard act to open for or close after. I have made my life somewhat easier in this respect by coming up with a way of saying what I do that doesn’t make me feel pretentious or pathetic. I now say ‘I am a non-profit writer.’

As Gauri was about to tell the bartender that she was a therapist, I entered hawk mode and watched him closely; very closely indeed. As sure as sunshine comes out after I come home after getting rained on, he did indeed move backwards. I don’t think he was even aware of doing it. Given the topic I am discussing, it makes sense that he did it subconsciously. He even laughed and said ‘A therapist eh? Are you going to read my mind?’ I love this reaction. Now, I know he was joking, but I have heard this response way more than once and it makes me think of the idea of ‘no smoke without fire.’ Even if it is a joke, why does it come out as that joke more often than not?

It is the logic behind it that I find interesting. Do people on some level think that therapists can read minds? Even Derren Brown, whose stage show is about supposedly reading minds admits that it is nothing more than suggestion, reading of body language and facial expressions and theatricality. So what is it that makes people think of it as a possibility? Is it a fear that a person, because they are a therapist, has a preternatural gift to see inside their very minds? How likely is this? I imagine that if a therapist could read minds it would make a therapy session much easier.

Client: I don’t know what I think about that.

Therapist: Yes you do. I can read your mind and you are repressing it.

Job done in a fraction of the time I think.

I also think that if a person could read my mind, I would just think some really messed up shit about them until they stopped. But that could just be the way my mind works.

A quick therapy joke to make another point about when people say to me ‘Your girlfriend  is a therapist? I hope she doesn’t therapise me.’

Q: How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. The lightbulb has to want to change.

Now, apart from the fact that I love this joke, it also makes a point about it being the client that has to make the effort in therapy if any real progress is to be achieved. I am fairly sure most therapists don’t go around giving away free therapy to all and sundry. Where is the business sense in that? I wouldn’t spend hours on a painting and then give it away for nothing. This is mainly because I am a terrible painter and people wouldn’t take my work, even if it were free, but I hope you see my point. Also, isn’t it similar to being a chef or a gynecologist? If you spend all day at work doing something, you are not necessarily going to want to do it in your spare time.

The final thing I have noticed is that people tend to talk to me about what Gauri does, rather than talk to her directly about what she does. I had two conversations yesterday about what she is doing for her thesis. I suggested they could ask her but i got the distinct feeling of ‘Oh no. I can’t ask her. What if she therapises me?’ I find it funny that people are happy to talk to me about what she does. It’s like I am a gateway drug to therapists. Yet, they have a strange fascination about the whole thing, similar to wanting to know what is under the bed but being too scared to actually look.

Now, I am not making any judgements on people’s perspective on therapists. Far from it. People are entitled to think what they think. I am simply curious about the way people think. So, over to you. What do you think about therapists? Are you a therapist that has had any entertaining experiences of telling people what you do?

I would love to hear from you.

Take care buddies,

David.

Your Fear of Upsetting Others by Saying No Might be Overblown and Here’s Why.

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Your Fear of Upsetting Others by Saying No Might be Overblown and Here’s Why.

Are you like me? Do you tie yourself into so many knots over upsetting people that a group of Boy Scouts could not unravel you? Well, fear (k)not. I have had a realisation that may be able to help you.

Time to fess up. It was not a realisation as such. When those close to me and the universe have spent so much time slapping me in the face and saying ‘I am trying to tell you something’ it seems unfair of me to take the credit for realising something so bloody obvious.

So, let me rephrase. I was led slowly and patiently to realise that my thoughts on upsetting other people have been ever so slightly skewed. Not wanting to upset others is no bad thing. Not wanting to upset others to the point where it is a detriment to yourself might want some evaluation.

Let me clarify what I mean about upsetting others. I am not talking about you walking down the street and knocking an ice-cream out of a child’s hand for no good reason and for the sheer lark of it. That would be a douchebag move. I am referring to when you think you are going to upset someone for saying that you do not want to do something.

So why is this? I think there are various factors. One issues that I have (and maybe you do as well?) is with being selfish. I would rather feel bad than make others (or suppose that I have made others) feel bad. The question I ask is this – is it a negative to listen to what you want to do and do not want to do?

I would argue that it is not. Life is hard. There are a lot of things that can make it more difficult and simply being able to say you can’t face that thing someone wants you to do is a great first step in listening to yourself. It is about being honest. Do not make your life harder by doing more than you feel comfortable with.

Another thing to think about is that you may not actually upset a person by saying you don’t want to do something. Chances are, if someone you know is a decent and understanding person, they will not give you a hard time for saying no to something. Thinking you will annoy someone else before you even know that you will is giving yourself a hiding for nothing.

Also, if you know someone and they do you give you a hard time for not wanting to do something because you are having a hard time, then it is likely that they are not that helpful a person to have around anyway. That does sound harsh I know, but is it harsher than  you being swayed by someone who does not have your best interest at heart?

In the end, I think it is fine for you to be kind to yourself. Take it easy when you need to. Do not do more than you feel fine with doing. It is your life. It is completely ok for you to say no.

I am only giving thoughts on things I have noticed in my own life and I am by no means an expert. If you have ever felt like this or similar, then please let me know and share your thoughts too.

 

 

Dave of the Week Radio Show 8.5.2016

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Dave of the Week Radio Show 8.5.2016

This week’s show features happy and unusual news from around the world including the loch ness monster going on holiday, a five story slide in a shopping mall, pizza delivered to a train, 100 objects sent into space and much more besides. Did I mention there was also great music? I didn’t. Well, there is great music as well.

If you have any happy or unusual news to share then please let me know and I would be delighted to tell your story.

Listen to the show on the Mixcloud link below and please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

In Therapy with Myself.

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In Therapy with Myself.

I have done a lot of self-reflection recently. The problem with this is that it is much like looking in a mirror. At first I think ‘Ok, looking good’ but the longer and more closely I stare, the more the imperfections and flaws are noticeable. I often feel like I am both the therapist and client in my head and this week I have felt more like the client, so this is my way of being the therapist and making sense of what I am telling myself.

Client: I have a conundrum and a paradox rolled into one. I want to talk about something and at the same time I do not want to talk about it. If I talk about it, I am admitting I think it and I do not want to admit I think such things. In a strange way, it is the not wanting to talk about it that makes me think I should. If I do not want to discuss it, then perhaps others do not want to say it, so maybe if I do, then they can feel more at ease to talk.

Therapist: What is it that you do not want to talk about?

C: I have realised a few things this week. The first thing I noticed was that I am now aware of knowing when something is bothering me but that it might be another few days before I realise what it is that is actually bothering me.

T: How does that feel?

C: On the one hand it is good because I know I can now sit with it and accept that I am feeling a certain way and that the whatever the problem is will probably come to me eventually.

T: On the other hand?

C: It is horrible because I am sat with this horrible feeling in me and I can’t lance that boil without knowing what is causing it. I just have to sit there and try and contain the hurt, or upset or whatever it is and try not to let it come out at other people.  But, I do feel a sense of improvement in that I now know that there is a problem and rather than getting angry and not knowing, I can relax a bit, relax in a kind of way because I am not just getting angry and not knowing.

T: You accept that not knowing is ok?

C: Sort of. I feel a bit better about it at least. Better than knowing that I don’t know about any of it. Or that only makes sense looking back at when I didn’t know I didn’t know and how I used to react to not knowing. Now, I know I didn’t know at that was part of the problem.

T: I get the sense that you are going back and forth between how you think you used to be, how you feel now and how you want to feel in the future?

C: Yes. It is the past, I think, that affects me most about how I see myself now. How I see myself as I used to be, how people saw me, or how I think people saw me, it all bleeds over into the present and dyes my perspective on others and myself.

T: Can you give an example?

C: This is hard to say, I realised that I have spent a while thinking that people hate me. I get that they probably don’t or at least not all of them, but that is what I have been feeling. I can see now that it is a unfair view, but that doesn’t stop the thoughts creeping in and me believing them for a time, I can come out of it and say I am being silly, but the feeling is still there, or the memory of the feeling. I don’t like thinking things like that. It seems crazy.

T: Do you think you are the only one that thinks like that?

C: No, probably not. I do not think I have enough self-esteem to believe I am that original. I don’t think like this all the time you know? I have my good days, I have very good days. I don’t feel hopeless merely concerned that I feel this way sometimes and sometimes is too much for me.

T: What makes you think people hate you?

C: Weirdly, it was talking to someone and realising they really didn’t hate me, in fact that they really liked me and that made me feel stupid for wasting so much time thinking people hated me. That is the thing right there. I keep doing this thing where I sort one problem in my head out and rather than feeling better about myself, I go straight to looking for another thing to worry about. It is like a dependancy. Or a habit might be a better word. I have got into the habit of looking for the worst in myself. Then again, and this is a good thing, if I have realised that I am aware of when things bother me, then I am aware that I am step closer to resolving them. Isn’t that what life is? A constant search for ways of looking at it be a happier person? It might not always happen fast, but what I find comfort in is that I am still trying, that I will always try. I don’t know if any of this makes sense.

T: Isn’t that what you are saying? That it is ok for it not to make sense now? That it will make sense at some point and that is ok too.

C: You know what? That is what I am saying. It is ok to feel bad at times, but it won’t last forever. It is ok to not know what the problem is because it will be revealed at some point and then I can deal with it. I think my time is up. I will see you next week.

Author Andy Rumbold Interview on Dave of the Week Radio Show 8.4.16

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Author Andy Rumbold Interview on Dave of the Week Radio Show 8.4.16

On this week’s show I was very fortunate to interview author Andy Rumbold about his debut novel ‘The Last Fiesta’ which has been shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize. Andy also shares his thoughts and tips about writing, his writing influences and rituals and much more. There is also my round up of happy and unusual news from around the world and some cracking music to go with it. Simply hit the play button below and please add your thoughts, comments and any happy news that you want to share.