Grief… & Other Associated Stress

There is no measure of time that it will take for a person to overcome the grief of losing someone who is directly related to them; this I have learned first hand.

It has been almost four months since my Mum passed away. Four long months since I saw her face, heard her laugh, teased her with something totally inappropriate or since she commented on something she saw on one of her favourite TV shows. This seems like forever ago, yet there is a conflicting passage of time that makes it seem like yesterday that she was at full capacity and we were shopping together, having Wednesday lunches together or that I was staying at her house most nights of the week so we could watch Masterchef together where I would live tweet her hilarious commentary.

It seems like not that long ago that I was doubled over in pain, food poisoned or suffering a severe case of gastro where she was taking care of me, loaning me money to afford a “real” (non medicare) doctor at the end of my pay cycle and shuttling me to and fro and making me food until I felt better. The normal comforts of having a mother that loves you unconditionally.

It has been almost four months since my Mum passed away and all I know is that the pain of that loss has hit me with a weight that I can’t quite aptly convey to anyone else that’s in my life. No one can ever understand the love between my Mum and I because they were not part of it. I regularly dream of her and sometimes they end in nightmares and other times I wake up feeling thankful that I’ve had the chance to see her and that she hasn’t faded from my memory. I am thankful that I haven’t yet forgotten how she smelled or how it felt to be comforted by her.

Sometimes I feel that when I talk about her, people become glazed over because they kind of expect that because it’s almost been 4 months, I should be ‘almost’ over it — or that my pain should have dulled at least.

The truth is that I don’t think I will ever feel less pain about my Mum’s passing. The guilt of what I ‘could’ have or ‘should’ have said or done will never pass (despite the fact that I did a lot and I know she would never accuse me of any different). Four months may have almost passed by quickly, but the immediacy of her passing required me to be level-headed, emotion-free and diligent in planning a funeral, taking care of bits and pieces, letting everyone know, and allying everyone else’s sadness by pretending I was totally okay with the new reality of a life, motherless.

Because of the fastness in which my Mum passed, I can see how shell-shocked we all were in hindsight — perhaps that was attributed to all the denial we faced about her condition. Nevertheless, the three weeks of work that I took off didn’t really give me the time I needed. Again, in hindsight, it might have been smart to go back to work immediately and rather take the time when I began to feel the weight of losing her — like now.

I try to recall the good memories; but they even make me sad with the reality that we will never have the chance to create anymore.

Along with the other monsters in my head, intruding upon the normal functionality of a brain, I go to sleep with this sadness every single night and wake up feeling the weight of the loss as I try to turn the music up to drown it all out as I get ready for the day. When I get in the car and in those moments that I am alone, I find myself either having to listen audio books, or else endure the tears and the stupid guilt.

As a result the silly thoughts begin and I have to try to bargain with myself with a routine or compulsion just to ease it off; like a superstition. It starts with one thing and it domino effects in to a thousand things and before I know it, I can barely get out of bed, wracked with grief, depression, intrusive thoughts and feelings that not another person will ever be able to ease save for the presence of my Mum who was really the only person I trusted to tell me the truth without getting angry or frustrated with me — even if it was sometimes cutting and blunt.

It isn’t that I don’t feel like I can’t talk to people about it, my family and my friends have been so good — but I find it hard to talk about it without being aware of their discomfort or lack of words that will make me feel better. Nothing makes it better and I don’t think it ever will.

Just this week I have felt off — unsure if it is just stress of grief or genuine sickness, I took myself off to the doctors three times and each time a different outcome ensued. Yesterday I had a blood test and had to wait for the results. After hours my doctor called me back and I missed the call by around 4 minutes so she left a muffled voice message that I couldn’t distinguish and something about coming back but also the word ‘mild’ was heard somewhere — regardless of the logic that bad news wouldn’t have been allowed to be left in a voice mail, I went in to melt down. Because it was after hours, I couldn’t call back without it going to an answering message service and I lost my shit for a good hour.

I suppose the point of this is to just acknowledge the fact that there truly is no allotted time that one must adhere to when it comes to grief and its okay to lose your friggin’ marbles for as long as it takes to feel better again.

In fact, when the funeral and the flowers and the well wishes and the shock dissipates, the gravity of the loss hits hard. As funny as it is, I feel like this quote is apt and it’s from Michael Scott so I know my Mum would approve:

grief

..I mean, if we were talking about trying to put it in to words and all.

The other things I’ve learned about grief and loss is that people do say some stupid shit to you. The nurse taking care of my Mum immediately after her passing told me this as she comforted me and I knew it was true in the moment but I didn’t know just how true until someone tried to tell me to stop talking about my Mum because I was torturing myself.

I’ve learned that talking does help sometimes but in my case, writing is a release too and so if you are reading this wondering why I’ve done a violent overshare of emotions, then I will tell you it is because it is good for me and at this point in time, I am taking care of myself because unfortunately despite my age, my mother isn’t here to help me do that anymore.

Also, grief sometimes doesn’t show up immediately. For me, I didn’t feel it; didn’t get it. I didn’t cry after leaving her that night. I didn’t cry at her funeral, really. I was able to smile and laugh and joke and continually tell everybody how chill I was about my Mum dying. And for a little while, I truly believed my own hype.

Until of course, the grief did hit…

Moving on from the loss of someone is actually impossible, but adjusting your life to a lifetime without an important person in it, is possible with time. The pain won’t ever pass, I don’t think. And there are days that I’m sure in 10 years time that I will take to just cry and remember her, but I am hoping that what I am going through currently will pass in its due course.

But right now, I miss my Mum so much that it is painful to think about her and thinking about her makes it literally hard for me to breathe.

(She is probably wishing she could give me “a clip ’round the earhole” as I write this).

So yeah, that’s where I am at. Now I’m off to avoid life by nose diving in to yet another book.

Books That Have Left An Imprint On Me

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Books that have left an imprint on me

I am obviously a big reader — that is evidenced just by how many books I go through per month and how long I spend at this blog, writing reviews and trying to put a lot of thought in to them.

I decided to list the books that I’ve read in the most recent times that have left a big impact on my me. That’s not to mean that all of these books have imprinted themselves on my heart in an emotional way, but they are memorable and they won’t be forgotten quickly. They are in no particular order.

imprintWicked by Gregory Maguire

A lot of people will be familiar with this title after the number one Broadway Musical, Wicked. This is the book that the musical was based on. I was a huge fan of the musical (it is my lifetime goal to run away and live a life of song — when I learn to sing) and more specifically, Idina Menzel (original Broadway version of Elphaba) so I was interested in reading the book.

The book was a little bit hard to read in the beginning. I found it slightly confusing and put it back on the shelf for awhile. In the meantime I was hired to work a job that was 55 minutes from home (specific, right?) and I came across an audio version of the book. I am ashamed to admit, that this was my only viable way of getting through it as swiftly as I did. It cleared up the confusion for me and the narrator was just as I felt like it should have been. When I wasn’t driving and working, I was turning the pages at an alarming rate and I couldn’t seem to stop.

I felt such heart for Elphaba’s plight. The plot is so much more involved than the love story that the musical focuses on. It is a political novel that could possible be aligned with that of a Nazi regime in a fictitious world but not unlike what happens in the real world. At the end of the novel, I cried in shock and I hated Dorothy and I hated Glinda of the Uplands and I hated all who had wronged Elphie and who were responsible for her downfall.

It was the first time in a long time that I had suffered acute book grief and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks and couldn’t even begin another novel for at least a month. My heart is still with Elphaba and while I rarely re-read books, I’ve reread this three times!

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Girl At War – Sara Novic 

This book entirely changed my entire perspective of refugees. This was a perfect story of how quickly a seemingly stable life can be upturned and torn apart by tragedy and war. Refugees aren’t always poor or poverty-stricken, but are comfortable-living families who are a victim of circumstance and location alone.

I have Croatian heritage and I was a child during the Sarajevo war in the 90s so this was a topic that I enjoyed reading and learning a little bit of history about, despite it being fictional. Anna was the perfect character that I fell in love with. I understood her detachment and her sense of not belonging. This book made me sad and happy and again, left feeling grief that it had come to an end.

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Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang – Chelsea Handler

The reason this book left such an imprint on me is because of how incredibly funny it was. I am a huge fan of comedy and laughter. I don’t really conform to political correctness and I believe in being unapologetically honest which is probably just how Chelsea Handler gets through life. I have never laughed so hard while reading a book and if I was nearly this funny, I would probably copycat her and write a series of life stories similar to this just to showcase my own comedy.

But alas, I am not this funny.

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The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

I have to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of any of JG’s other books. I find them boring and dull. I did however, love this one. I’m not sure if its because it’s the first JG book I read, but this hit home for me. I put off reading it because it works as a trigger for me as someone who is dealing with a family member who has cancer and also as someone who’s biggest fear is ending up with an oxygen tank (for my various medical issues). I understood many aspects of how the main character felt, not feeling “normal” in her teen years and being that “sick” kid. There were some quotes from this book that was like a punch to the heart and that I found incredibly relatable to me.

Then, I realised that this was reduced to a creepy teen love story by 15 yr old girls and I have to work for it to keep its imprint on me without it being sullied by annoying tweens and teenagers.

anitacobby

Someone Else’s Daughter – The Life & Death of Anita Cobby – Julia Sheppard

This book left an imprint on me based on the violent, horrific way in which this poor woman lost her life. This is one of Australia’s most horrific murders that happened 30 years ago this year. Anita Cobby’s murder happened in the area of where I grew up, so I found special interest in it. However, this is a grisly, graphic book that chronicles the lives of the 5 men who savagely and brutally murdered her, as well as the chronicle of Anita’s clean-cut, innocent and young life. This book is about everyone involved as well as the courtcase that proceeded until justice was served.

I cried many times while reading and carried this book with me almost every night. How could such an awful thing happen to someone so good?

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Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

The imprint on me from this book was this — ‘you don’t get what you want by resting on your arse and expecting shit to happen’. Oh yeah, and Mindy Kaling is just that right amount of left-of-the-middle that you’ll find funny. Or maybe you won’t, but I did/do. This book started off a bit slow, but as I got in to it, I felt my admiration for this woman grow.

One thing that bothers me in life are people who expect everything to happen to them easily without putting in the effort and it was inspiring. We could all better ourselves by taking a little bit of Mindy’s work ethic.

 

What books inspire you? Which books have left an imprint on your heart?

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me- Chelsea Handler

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told MeLies That Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea Handler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you don’t find Chelsea Handler at all amusing, then I would suggest that we could never be friends — or at least you’d never find my sense of humour funny.

This book had a lot of shitty reviews which I feel were incredibly unjust. Or, at least the people that felt like this book paints her as an awful person, clearly don’t have a sense of humour that could deal with a woman like Chelsea.

What I love about Chelsea Handler is that she is a take-no-shit woman who is unafraid of offending anyone and is unapologetic about who she is. I dig that. I also think its hilarious to lie about dumb things just to see how gullible people are or to see how far I can take it.

This book isn’t really written by Chelsea, save for the last paragraph of each chapter and the last chapter itself. It’s actually a book about Chelsea Handler written from the perspective of her friends. It chronicles Chelsea’s role in their life and the kinds of stupid shit she has done to terrorise/prank them over their friendships.

I’m not going to lie (but I’ve just divulged that I think some lies are funny, so maybe I am lying) there were a few pranks that she pulled that made me laugh (mostly from shock) awkwardly and feel that maybe it’s too far, but as someone who insults the shit out of the people that I love the most and who plays stupid jokes on loved ones, I found most of this book to be hilarious.

On top of that, her friends are actually pretty good writers –some better than others.

One thing was for sure and that is that she surrounds herself with some very witty and like-minded people.

This book is a bit of fluff, I read it in one sitting — so there you go, it was actually that engaging to me.

View all my reviews

Controversial Thoughts That I Have – Volume 1.

Comedy.

I read a couple of tweets the other day where someone was berating a comedian at the Melbourne Comedy Festival for some unsavoury jokes that she believes were out of line. They were jokes about rape and animal cruelty and something that may have seemed derogatory toward homosexuals. That very night in an unrelated event, I watched Chelsea Handler’s “Uganda Be Kidding Me” stand-up on Netflix. Turns out, I am a very big fan of Chelsea Handler.

I also happen to be a really big fan of myself and Chelsea Handler sometimes reminds me of myself… so….

chelseaI am not going to lie, Chelsea Handler’s jokes can viewed as incredibly racist, ignorant, sexist, homophobic – and full of everything that you think a person could say that would be offensive.

I’m going to let you all in on a secret, I can also be terribly offensive. I’m lucky that not a single person has ever taken great offence to anything that I’ve said. My humour is dark, my self-expression is dry and I like to highlight stupidity in people by making fun of offensive stereotypes. If there was a single bone of hatred in my body, I think I’d keep that side of my humour to myself as if in shame and would learn to know my audience.

There were so many things in Chelsea Handler’s stand up that I knew I could take offence to, that the moral panic’s of the world might watch and gasp in horror, but then there’s someone like me who is not easy to offend, who I feel in most cases can remain impartial despite my own strong opinions (but if you want to turn me from normal and understanding to utter offended psycho in seconds, just tell me you don’t plan on getting your children vaccinated).

I feel like comedy is a way of being able to relieve our frustration over things that happen by turning it in to something that we can laugh at. It takes a very skilled comedian to be able to not offend in the process. I sometimes feel that its very easy to tell if someone is being hateful or if they are being a comedian; it is less about the joke and more about the intention.

I thought about the tweet that I’d read from the offended person who attended the comedy festival and I wondered how, if we all took offence to something, then where do we draw the line? How can we say one thing is valid to be pissed about, but something else that offends another person for another reason, isn’t?

Then when do comedians have to start getting concerned about their jokes for fear of ending up the subject of a viral (and equally hateful) campaign on a social media website? And usually the offended party has nothing to do with the community that it is offended for. I don’t particularly have a problem with any of the aforementioned jokes as long as they’re jokes and not personal anecdotes, but I also am neither homosexual, a rape victim or an animal, so it’s hard for me to know how I’d feel in those situations.

However, a quick survey with a couple of gay friends confirmed for me that about 75% of them don’t really give a shit nor take offence to allegedly homophobic jokes as they feel the same as me, they’re poking fun at the stereotype rather than the actual reality. One of my friends said they disliked it because it perpetuated the stereotype, but then if I’m going to be so honest, this comes from a pretty serious and unfunny person (just kidding, I love you, lol).

I don’t imagine as a rape victim that a person would find a rape joke amusing, that’s one thing that I feel like could be or should be off-limits. As I said, it doesn’t particularly bother me, but off-the-cuff comments regarding rape as a joke should probably be something you keep in your head or at least know your audience if you can’t help yourself (?!). However, I would hope any joke like that has ever been made is intended to belittle a rapist rather than the victim, even so, I don’t think its okay.

With regards to the animal cruelty joke, I don’t like hearing anything bad happening to animals, regardless of if its a dog, a cow, a friggin’ mouse — whatever, I don’t want to know about it, but I think PETA is a fucking joke, and so if they’re offended, I’ll make it my business not to be.

I feel like before the buzzword ‘viral’ became a household name like ‘selfie’, ‘kale’ and ‘clean eating’, the art of comedy wasn’t such a risky game. That could be a good or a bad thing — but I’m unsure and I’m curious as to how other people feel about it.

Where do you think someone should draw the line in comedy? What is okay and what is not okay? Do you think people are just being unnecessary wowsers for no reason? 

Do you feel like jokes regarding;

race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, sexual situations/circumstances/abuse, animal cruelty, etc are okay as long as they are delivered in the right way? If so, what would or wouldn’t be the right way?

Comment below and let me know, cos I am genuinely curious!