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Posts tagged ‘grieving well’

Losing Mumma

The grief journey

Death is still a taboo subject in our society. Nonetheless the vast majority of us experience the loss of loved ones. Hopefully we can learn from these experiences, instead of locking them away.
Death and dying have so much to teach us. There is so much we can share that will not only help us to deal with grief but help those around us as well.

We all will face our own death one day.

In the last six years I’ve lost six loved ones. Five of these were expected. It’s not any easier; but it gives you the chance to say goodbye… My dear wife Rosie, following a 16 year journey with breast cancer; three elderly relatives, all approaching 100; my very dear friend Jilly, whose life was tortured and punctuated by suicide attempts, inevitably succeeded.

The sixth was totally unexpected. My beautiful little granddaughter, born with serious health conditions, lost her fight at only 3 weeks old.

One day, I’ll write about this grief journey, and capture things I have learned, but that is for another day.

Beautiful Mumma

Rosie’s mum, who we lovingly called Mumma, passed away two weeks ago on 24th May 2021.
She was approaching 97 years old, a vibrant, caring woman with an unshakeable Christian faith, who touched many peoples’ lives over many years. As age began to take its toll on both her body and mind she was moved into high level care four years ago. Confined to bed and a layback couch, with encroaching dementia, it was clear she was ready face her own death; she had told a number of us in her lucent moments “I want to be with the Lord”.

The phone call came from Baxter Village on the Sunday morning. Mumma was fading; it was time to gather the family. These calls are always a shock, but fully expected too; it’s only a matter of time. The family were by her side constantly for the next two days and were able to say their final goodbyes. She passed away very quietly and very peacefully on Tues evening with Janet, John (daughter and son) and myself by her side.

The grief of losing Mumma brings back into painful focus the grief of losing Rosie and my other loved ones. But I also feel relief and joy. Mumma is no longer living with greatly diminished quality of life and it bring me joy to picture her reunited with Rosie, hugging, laughing and crying, together once more.

We held Mumma’s funeral last Friday at Bunurong Memorial Park, and amidst our sadness, celebrated the life of this amazing woman…

The service was streamed online as only ten people could attend with current lockdown restrictions.
Janet outlined Mumma’s life in the eulogy. My daughter Merryn gave a beautiful reflection from a granddaughter’s point of view. Both Janet and Merryn included some of the hilarious family stories that Mumma both told and was often the subject of. The service was indeed a “Celebration of the life of Nancy Mae White”.

To watch the service

If anyone would like to watch the service it is available for a limited time at:
(If you are asked for a password use: white31052021)

Press the play icon to start the video. To go straight to the start of the service move the slider to the 12:30 mm:ss point.

I also gave a reflection sharing the last two days of Mumma’s life and the moment of her passing

My Reflection

For those online I’m Nancy’s son-in-law, Ian. My wife Rosie, Nancy’s eldest daughter, passed away from breast cancer six years ago. While the grief of losing Mumma brings the grief of losing Rosie back into focus once more, it also brings the joy of knowing Rosie and her mum are together once more.

Janet and Merryn have reflected on who Mumma was, how she lived, and what she meant to us. I’d like to share with you her final two days and the moment of her dying.


The Village rang Janet and I on Sunday morning to say Mumma was fading and it was time to gather the family. We arrived at the Village to find Mumma still responsive but no longer speaking or able to focus. When we spoke to her one on one she would move her head and mouth and at times tried to form a smile.

Mumma had been due to go to hospital to have a painful tooth extracted and was being given medication to keep the pain under control. Each time the medication started wearing off she would move her hand up to her mouth. The staff would give her another dose and she drifted in and out of a mostly peaceful sleep.

Knowing that hearing is the last sense to go we put Mumma’s hearing aids in. We wanted her to know she was surrounded by family, and hopefully understand what we were saying to her.

“Mumma, we’re here with you, you’re not alone.”
“We love you so much.”
“Mumma, we want you to know you’re free to go. You’ve lived a long and happy life but you’ve told us many times you want to be with the Lord.”
“Mumma, we’re so excited that you’re going to be with Puppa Ed once again. Rosie will be there too, also your Mum and Dad, and your brothers Col and Les.”


On Monday morning Mumma was still with us. Janet had slept by her side on Sunday night to make sure Mumma was not alone if she passed.

Most of the immediate family were able to visit on Sunday or Monday. The Manor staff looked after us very well, providing sandwiches and offering drinks. Sometimes the room was fairly crowded and we appreciated the staff not enforcing any limit on numbers in her room.

We took turns to sit by Mumma’s side and hold her hand. Janet and Liesel sang to her a number of times.
Mumma’s breathing had slowed noticeably but remained regular, and she stayed peacefully asleep the whole day. The one exception was when Merryn, who was in NSW, spoke to her via video chat. Mumma stirred noticeably and responded to Merryn. It was a very special moment as a tearful Merryn spoke out a beautiful message of how much she loved Mumma and thanked her for the things Mumma had taught her. I think Merryn captured what the rest of us were wanting to say but had not found the words for.

Mumma’s Final Moments

On Monday evening the family progressively made their way home leaving Janet, John and myself around Mumma’s bedside.

We were telling funny stories and laughing in typical family fashion, when around 10:30pm Janet looked at Mumma and said, “I think she’s stopped breathing!” We stopped and listened and watched. Mumma had indeed passed away very quietly and very peacefully.

It was as authentic a family moment as it could be when Mumma left. She always enjoyed being surrounded by family. Funny stories and hilarious laughter have always been part of the family fabric and Mumma was often the teller or subject of these stories.

Mumma chose to go with her three children, Janet, John and myself representing Rosie, by her side. I think that’s how Mumma wanted it to be. It was a sober and sacred moment for all of us.

Do we grieve losing Mumma? Of course we do. But relief and joy sit alongside our grief. Mumma’s final years had taken their toll. She is now free of that diminished quality of life. And we feel joy picturing her hugging and laughing with Ed and Rosie and her many friends and family gone before.


Nana / Nana-the-Great… …alias Dot James

Rachel is Dot’s first-born grandchild and gave this touching reflection at her funeral on 6th June 2016.

A Reflection on the life of Dot James by Rachel Ploegsma

For those that don’t know me, I’m Rachel, Dot’s eldest granddaughter. Today I would like to share some special memories of my grandmother who we called Nana, and her great-grandchildren called Nana-the-Great.

When my oldest daughter was born, my sister Miriam, coined the name Nana-the-Great instead of Great Nana. Everyone else had a Great Nana but ours was special so we had a Nana-the-Great.  This was a lasting term of endearment that Nana was especially proud of.

And great she was for so many reasons, including her gentle nature, kindness, acceptance of all people, along with an attitude to life to simply get on with things without complaint. Sometimes I think how amazing it would be to emulate all these qualities.

Something most relatives and close friends here today can relate to is how Nana always remembered our birthdays. She had a unique way of making each person feel special after carefully selecting the words for each card. Hers was usually the first card to arrive and always by mail even if she was seeing you for your birthday. Nana knew the exact number of grandchildren she had, as well as the ever changing number of great-grandchildren who she was always proud to tell people about.

As a child, my sisters and I spent many weekends staying in Healesville with Nana and Grandie. These were happy times where we were given money to spend at the shops, which usually culminated in us having enough provisions for a midnight feast. Nana would spend time lovingly brushing our hair and always obliging when we asked for a longer hair brush. She would supply us with fruit loops for breakfast and cook pikelets for lunch and marvel at how many we could eat in one sitting. We would giggle away when Nana would iron our socks and undies yet enjoyed the warmth of putting on these freshly ironed garments.

There was a huge a tree in Nana’s backyard where I’m sure most of the grandchildren would remember climbing and making their own fun and games amongst the branches. One time we even had a family Christmas gathering under the tree. Much time was also spent at Queens Park just down the road, and being so fond of this place I chose to have my 11th birthday party there.

A special treat was to take a ride on the ‘diesel’ train that ran from Healesville to Lilydale, and scare each other as the train went through the tunnel. Nana enjoyed watching the rabbits scamper along the tracks and loved pointing out varies sights along the way.

Sometimes on these weekends, we attended church services which I believe were held in this very church. Nana would provide so many of her handmade items to the church fetes such as her fruit jams, her lacy coat hangers, lavender bags and potpourri bags made from her own flowers from her well kept garden.

One thing I do still feel bad about though was a time when Nana and Grandie took us to the local swimming pool. I was a fairly competent swimmer, whilst Nana was very hesitant around water. This resulted in us only being allowed to swim in the shallow pool, much to my annoyance. One time, and probably the last time we were taken to the pool, I took it upon myself to swim down to the forbidden deep end. As I was swimming I saw the panicked look on Nana’s face and pretended I couldn’t hear her calling out to me. When I reached the end, I decided to hold my breath for as long as possible at the bottom of the pool and act as if I couldn’t swim. From the bottom of the pool I could see both Nana and Grandie leaning over the edge. Needless to say I was in trouble and must apologise to the subsequent grandchildren who probably weren’t taken to the pool.

I really also need to apologise to Nana for one other thing. When  Nana was offered a glass of wine as a bottle was being shared, Nana would always say “No thank you, I’ve never put alcohol to my lips!” We all knew this, but also knew that Nana loved to be included and was always offered a glass just like anybody else. What Nana perhaps should have said was that “I have never knowingly put alcohol to my lips!” At my 40th birthday party, Nana came up to me with a glass of punch in her hand, remarking how lovely it was and “What do you put in it?”. I didn’t have the heart to let her know about my secret ingredient, except that it was noticed that at the age of 89 she took to the dance floor and karaoke machine like someone half her age.

For the last 21 years my husband and I have run a football tipping competition from home, and from its beginning Nana has always been a member, including this current season. In the earlier years Nana wasn’t necessarily an avid football supporter despite always having a loyalty to Footscray, now known as the Western Bulldogs. As the years progressed, when I would either ring or see Nana to put in her tips, she would enter a tip before offering an explanation of why she was tipping a particular team. She would use terms like “they are injury plagued”, “not enough inside 50’s” and “the coach has them rattled”. It soon became apparent that Nana was keeping herself well informed and when I asked her how she knew this she said “Well on Thursdays I stay up late and watch the Footy Show!” Having never won a major prize in the competition, I felt Nana loved just being a part of things and being included in what the family was doing. Interestingly, Nana’s chosen password when the competition went online was ‘Nana-the-Great’.

Nana will leave a lasting legacy that will shine on through the generations. One grandson described Nana as being ‘accidently inspirational’ after she inspired him with her love of fine fabrics, sewing and corsetry. My sister Catherine tells how her passion for flowers was ignited by watching Nana arrange her beautiful floral arrangements for the mantelpiece. For others it was her love of God and her quietly encouraging ways that inspired them. Another grand-daughter mentioned the endless love in her heart. This love extended to our spouses and friends who also described Nana a kind, gracious and elegant lady.

Finally, I would like to thank my mother Del, for overseeing Nana’s care for the last 6 years whilst she was in residence at Monda Lodge.

It would be remiss not to mention that incredible smile that captured every essence of Nana’s happiness whenever a loved one walked into her room. Even on the morning that I said my final goodbye to Nana, she  still mustered one of her smiles. This smile is how I will always remember my amazingly kind-hearted Nana. Thankyou.Rachel+Nana1

Rest in Peace Nana



Rachel Ploegsma
6th June 2016

A Tough Season Ahead

Creating Memories

When holidaying or bushwalking in special places I sometimes collect a souvenir to remember that special time.

I keep two souvenirs on my key chain… a blue lego block I found on the beach below the cliffs at the Twelve Apostles on The Great Ocean Road… and a small metal washer that was part of the Pacific Dawn; I found it on the deck of the ship during Rosie’s and my final cruise.

Sometimes I gave Rosie a souvenir as a gift… like the alpine flower I found when I climbed to the summit of Victoria’s highest mountain, Mount Bogong.

The other day I picked up a shell as I was walking one of Perth’s beautiful beaches. There was nothing special about this shell; it was one of many similar shells scattered along the high water mark; but it captured my memories of the pristine white sand and crystal clear waters along the West Australian coast.

I then picked up a second shell for Rosie… even though I knew I could not give it to her, I sensed it was important for me to do this, even if I didn’t know why.


A new season of grief

Travelling to Perth to celebrate the arrival of my second grandson was a time of joy and delight like I have rarely experienced before.

It was also a time of being exposed emotionally… alongside the joy I felt the pain of knowing Rosie was not there to celebrate this incredibly special moment with me.

The coming month is going to be tough

This Wednesday 30th September, many of us will receive a Facebook reminder that it is Rosie’s birthday. For some who were close to Rosie I know this will come unexpectedly and deep feelings of grief will resurface.

Rosie’s birthday is the beginning of a new season of grief for me too. It is the forerunner to an intense time, the first anniversary of Rosie’s death on October 29th and her funeral on November 6th. For me the awareness and pain of losing her is already intensifying and I know this will only increase as these weeks progress.

So how do I navigate this difficult time? This question has been echoing around my mind, calling out for an answer so that I don’t enter it unprepared.

The simple answer is that there are no simple answers. Grief is something you deal with by going through it; it does not readily lend itself to plans and strategies designed to manage it.

Some helpful principles…

Grief is not something to run away from, rather it is one of the dark strands of the tapestry of life that we have no choice but to weave. Going through it is not easy, especially in the first year after losing a loved one when all the ‘first anniversaries’ take place, but it is far more healthy to allow oneself to feel and experience grief when it comes than to try and suppress it.

Grief can give rise to a range of other deep emotions. For me, deep anger and frustration are also crying out to be resolved. Allowing grief and these other emotions to rise will provide me with an opportunity to work through not only the loss of Rosie, but a range of other issues that have been buried within me for decades. (Thanks heavens for grief counselling… there will be no lack of ‘grist for the mill’!)

I may not want to acknowledge it, but grief provides a unique opportunity for me to learn about life and myself, and to grow. None of us like “grasping the nettles” of painful times, but I know it can bring healing, growth, empathy for others, and equipping for the future in ways that nothing else can; grief actually has a positive side that can encourage and empower me, giving me strength to make it through.

To the extent that grief brings us pain, it also brings the choice to accept it, learn from it and find healing, or to suppress it and perpetuate it, possibly in harmful ways.

I know I am not alone

Knowing I am not walking this journey on my own is a huge blessing and comfort.

My close friends will play a key role during this time. I have the freedom to call on them anytime and know they will be there for me. Catching up with them regularly allows me to offload the emotional pressure… these friends know how to really listen, a rare skill these days.

My wider family have been supportive beyond what I thought possible over this last year, and we now share a much deeper bond as a family. I will not want to be alone for Rosie’s birthday or the anniversary of her passing. Spending time with my family on those days will be very important… I have no doubt my family will need each other too.

I may also spend time at Caritas Christi, where I can quietly reflect on being with Rosie during her final days and final moments. The hospice is my sacred place for reflection; it is here that Rosie was last alive; where she spent her final days “living well and dying well” as was her motto to the end.

A helpful metaphor

As I write this I have the two shells in my pocket… they represent Rosie and I and our relationship.

The shells are of the same type but are nonetheless unique and complete in themselves… no two shells, no matter how similar, are ever exactly the same. In a healthy relationship not only do “two become one”, they also grow as “one plus one”, complementing each other.

Together the shells represent our relationship… it took both of these shells joined together to protect the life that grew and thrived within them for over 33 years. But every living thing and every relationship one day must come to an end… this is a tough reality we all face. When that day came for Rosie and I we experienced the pain of separation and our two shells now travel their own paths through ‘the ocean of life’ here and beyond.

When I took the shells out of my pocket I found the smaller shell nestled fully within the larger one. From above, only the larger shell can be seen; turn them over and the smaller shell is revealed, hidden within the larger one. While Rosie is no longer with me physically, I will hold my memories of her deep within me for the rest of my life…


On a practical note…

Being able to express in a practical way, our gratitude for who Rosie was to us, and the grief we feel at losing her, can be an important part of the healing process, not only for ourselves, but also for others with whom we share.

Rosie’s facebook page is still active for this purpose. If you would like to express your thoughts and feelings during the coming days and weeks, please feel free to do so.

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My Birthday Gift

Today is my birthday.

As I do most Sunday mornings I’m sitting in a cafe enjoying a cappuccino or two while thinking and writing. Today is different however… it’s my first birthday in almost 40 years without Rosie.

Lots of special events are happening at the moment… Flynn’s 3rd birthday party yesterday, my birthday and family party today, tomorrow I’m off to Mount Beauty to spend a few days with Rosie’s legendary Uncle Ron who turned 95 this week, then in 3 weeks I’m off to Perth for the arrival of Rohan and Sheralee’s first baby (due mid Sept) and grandchild number 2 for me!

Each of these occasions brings an understandable mix of emotions however… the joy and excitement of life in all its variety and the grief and sadness of knowing that Rosie is no longer here to share these celebrations.

There’s a powerful life lesson in this that has only just dawned on me this morning…

Rather than allowing sadness and grief to cancel out joy and excitement the key is to allow both sets of emotions to be fully present at the same time. Allowing both the dark and bright threads of life to be woven together in their fullness creates a far richer, more beautiful tapestry than weaving it with the grey threads of negated or suppressed emotions.

I wasn’t expecting to receive any birthday gifts until later in the day… but I think I’ve just glimpsed one that is more valuable than any gift I could have asked for.

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Black Clouds… Gold Linings


Sometimes the darkest clouds have the brightest linings…

Last Saturday night I attended the Tuxedo Junction Charity Ball… a stunning and heart-tugging experience all wrapped up in one.

Tuxedo Junction is a charity organization gathering corporate sponsorship for Cancer Council Victoria and plays a major role in funding cancer research projects undertaken by Peter Mac Cancer Hospital and other organizations.

A few months before Rosie died last year she and I were stunned and humbled when close friends from MiTec Medical Publishing, a leading medical publishing company in Australia, announced they were sponsoring a 3 year Rosie James Cancer Research Award through Tuxedo Junction!

Tuxedo Junction have an annual Charity Ball as their main fundraising event each year and this year I had the privilege of being invited to attend.

The event was held in the Regent Theatre Plaza Ballroom in the Melbourne CBD. The unpretentious entry doors on Collins Street lead to a long staircase taking you down into the foyer. When I reached the top of the staircase my breath was literally taken away. It was like walking into a stunning underground medieval castle complete with rock walls, windows, balconies and chandeliers.

Walking into the ballroom was another ‘wow!’ moment. The underground ballroom is huge, with the stone walls decked out with more windows and balconies and numerous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. A large stage occupies one end of the ballroom with a dance floor in front of it. A second smaller stage was set up in the centre of the floor surrounded by dining tables, all set up with glittering table lights reflecting off an array of sparkling glasses and tableware. Around the sides of the ballroom an amazing collection of donated items were on display for the silent auction.

My breath was again taken away when I saw a slide including a photo of Rosie and I displayed on the large projector screens on either side of the stage… it was a photo taken at Rosie’s funeral… I was standing on the church stage sharing my reflections on Rosie with a large photo of her smiling face projected behind me.

I found the table hosted by MiTec right next to the central stage. I was relieved to find I was seated next to my friends from MiTec as I didn’t really know any of the others on our table. It turned out they were all members of my friends’ extended family who very significantly had experienced the sudden and traumatic loss of one of their own to cancer earlier this year. I was not alone… they too were on the same journey as me.

The night for me brought a wide spectrum of experiences and emotions. The venue was stunning, the entertainers were top level performers all generously donating their time, the food was superb, the drinks were included (so I indulged in two glasses of champagne… rare for me!), and the auction was ‘out of my league’ with people bidding for items going for thousands of dollars.

Early in the evening I felt somewhat awkward. The family on my table were all understandably catching up with each other … I took a few walks to take photos and check out the silent auction items to avoid just sitting at the table. As the evening moved on (and the alcohol helped bring down our social barriers!) a number of family members made a special effort to talk to me, warmly communicating their care and support while sharing some of their own painful story. By the end of the evening I felt very welcome and at home in their midst.

The photo of Rosie and I kept appearing on the big screens as the projector cycled through the sponsor logos and the major items to be auctioned off later in the evening. The final auction item was the corporate sponsorship and naming rights for a new 2016 Cancer Research Award. The accompanying slide included our photo to highlight the existing 2014-2017 Rosie James Research Award as an example. I happened to be wearing the same suit and tie as in the photo… I only have one formal outfit!

The toughest part of the evening was immediately before the main auction. A slide show of people involved in the Tuxedo Junction projects including those touched by cancer was played on the big screens accompanied by Debra Byrne singing a beautiful song to set the atmosphere. The first two photos hit me hard. The photo of Rosie and I was now displayed full-screen, followed by a beautiful photo of Rosie and her dear friend from MiTec, both beaming with smiles of delight as they often did when together. I struggled to not burst into tears… it was a painful but very special moment… I haven’t broken down and wept since the night Rosie died and I came within a whisker of doing so at that point.

When the formal part of the evening was over a great band started playing and an Elvis look-alike singer hit the stage. The dance floor quickly filled with people including most of the people from my table. While I thoroughly enjoy dancing and had no desire to be sitting at the table alone, it’s difficult at the best of times to be a bloke going up to the dance floor on your own.

I spotted my friends on the dance floor and found the courage to join them. It turned out to be the final dance of the bracket so we stood on the dance floor while the raffle prizes were drawn. I was feeling uncomfortable when the music started again and I was starting back toward our table when one the gracious women in the family grabbed my hand and headed back to the dance floor with me in tow. It was the first time I’d danced since Rosie’s passing and great to have fun with a family who had warmly drawn me into their midst.

Each time I reflect on the night I still feel the sense of wonder and blessing I felt during that incredibly special evening.  More than just a special event, it was the gift of a life experience to be remembered and treasured for years to come.

Winter Grief

It’s been a long time since my previous blog post… there’s a reason for this…

This winter has reflected my internal world… long, dark nights interspersed with cold, grey days occasionally broken by welcome stretches of warm, winter sun. Having a tough time was not unexpected… the only way to handle the grief process is to go through it… but that doesn’t make it easier.

Autumn finished with an exciting three week adventure in Perth and the beautiful south-west corner of Western Australia. I had a load of fun and it was great spending time with my son and pregnant daughter-in-law. But when the trip was over I arrived home to an empty house… not empty of kids and visitors, but empty of Rosie… yet full of reminders of her absence.

My mood sank immediately and for some weeks a dark cloud of depression hung over my head. Earlier in the year I had growing sense of freedom and excitement about moving into a new phase of life. It was gone. Instead I carried a deep anxiety telling me I had to find new purpose, meaning and activities in life and start living them out, instead of sitting there wasting my life. But I had no energy or motivation to get moving… just a deep weariness and confused grief.

Grief for me has two key aspects
As expected I grieve losing Rosie, my faithful loving marriage partner, friend and life companion for over 33 years. Not expected has been a deep grief over issues in our relationship that despite years of hard work and counselling separately and together, were never resolved.

No marriage is perfect and ours was no exception. Many issues arise in every marriage and need to be resolved… marriage is a working partnership… but sometimes in the real world of imperfect people and imperfect relationships some issues cannot be fully resolved. The key here is being able to accept these issues for what they are and keep moving on, but this does not mean it is easy. (Note: Sometimes moving on means moving on separately.)

For Rosie and I there were significant areas in which we struggled to really connect… not unusual in a marriage but painful for us both. I won’t go into further detail now… maybe it will be appropriate at a future time. (Don’t misunderstand me however… Rosie and I were deeply committed to one another and shared genuine love and deep trust.)

My grief over these unresolved issues seemed to be blocking my grief over losing Rosie, and feeling that I was stuck in the grief process was only reinforcing the depression.

I then went on a whirlwind 4WD trip across the Simpson Desert. 5000km in 13 days! New friends, so many things to see and do… an experience of a lifetime… but also very tiring! The trip temporarily distracted me from grief and depression… but it was all waiting for me when I got home exhausted.

It dawned on me that I need some grief counseling (why hadn’t I thought of this before??) so last week I spoke to a counseling administrator to assist with choosing a suitable grief counselor. I told her that the grief counseling I needed was different from normal. I needed a counselor not only experienced with addressing ‘regular grief’ (dealing with the loss of a loved one), but also capable of addressing unresolved relationship issues.

The administrator’s reply was both insightful and encouraging… one of the most common aspects of grief counseling is helping a person dealing with unresolved relationship issues. What I am going through is very normal!

My counseling sessions begin next week… I don’t look forward to facing and dealing with tough issues within myself but I do look forward to the healing and freedom this will bring. Even though the depression has now lifted (thankfully) I believe grief counseling is essential for me to rediscover who I am now without Rosie and be free to move on into a new life.

For those who pray, I’d value your prayers. For those not into praying (and to me that’s perfectly fine) I’d value your thoughts. As always I greatly value the amazing support I receive from my family and close mates and the encouragement I receive from you, my friends.

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Six Months Today


A café is my solace on a wintry Autumn day,
I look out through the window,
Thick clouds, grey and white, fill the sky.
The leaves are falling from the trees like tears,
I think they know my grief.
They swirl endlessly in the wind, unable to rest, not knowing where to land.
I think they know my confused thoughts, my perplexed emotions, my longing to find peace,
but finding only turmoil.

Winter will soon follow Autumn.
Will my days become even colder and darker?
My nights longer and blacker too?
Spring and Summer seem a long way off,
Across a gulf I don’t want to cross.

I look up from this page and out the window again,
Amid the thick heavy clouds is a patch of bright blue,
And a long flurry of clouds are glowing silvery white.
Signs of hope, they lift my spirit.

Grief will have its seasons,
As inevitable as the seasons of the year,
And as essential too.
Autumn and Winter bring the painful gift of discovering and accepting what is lost,
Spring is full of hope of a new life emerging in its abundance,
Summer will be rich and green again,
And the trees will have new leaves.

The years will roll on, and the seasons too.
Summer will have its storms and cloudy days,
But Winter will have days of bright, sunny skies,
As grief and healing continue hand in hand.

Next Autumn I’m sure the leaves will fall again,
Not only as tears of grief this time,
But as dancers celebrating joyful memories,
Of a loved one and our years together.

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Ian James
29th April 2015

Sometimes It’s Just Hard

A holiday exploring rugged coastline and climbing mountain peaks… spending time with family with the excitement of a new grandchild coming… freedom from the tasks and commitments of everyday life… these times are refreshing, life-giving times…  essential as I adjust to a new life.

But coming home can be tough… stepping through the doorway into a house full of memories of is not easy… each room I enter has so many reminders of Rosie… her personal belongings, decades of life lived together raising children. The lounge room and the bungalow, Rosie’s special places, especially hold deep imprints of her.

All these things remind me that she is no longer here… I feel a deep emptiness… grief.

And there are no easy answers… sometimes it’s just hard.

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