debriefing the grief

I’ve been writing about my mother, death and grief, because her deathiversary is coming up. It’s part eulogy and part therapy, I guess.

Metaphorically speaking, I could feel my brain bulge a bit after my mother died, as I began to wish that I had some form of faith. Faith in an afterlife, in reincarnation, mediums – anything to put some kind of bandaid on the hurting. An ex hospice nurse told me that the dead show themselves clearly to their loved ones before they go wherever they go. She’s such a no nonsense, practical type that I wanted to believe her, but I couldn’t. You can’t take a conscious leap of faith for any of those things; either you’ve got it, or you get it, or you’re stuck with science and chaos theory.

I landed up with a two year long sporadic earworm too:

Death is pretty final, I’m collecting vinyl,
I’m gonna dj at the end of the world

Frequently it seemed as though I was outside looking into my mind with slight astonishment at the shiny new cogs and hamster wheels. Everything felt different, of course, because my whole world had changed and I was worldsick as a result. I’m back inside my mind again now, but knowing me, probably too much.

She was hardcore tough, my mum. Friable too, guess that comes with the territory when you’re made of flint. I was intimidated by her when I was a kid; as an adult, I predictably locked horns with her on numerous occasions. And we are/were both as stubborn as mules with their hooves superglued to the ground.

She was tall, tanned easily – a good looking woman actually. Nextofkin got her looks and I got her mind. We are probably sharing her personality. Her unshakeable punctuality too. She loved classical music and unclassical music (idk how to define genres she liked without writing a paragraph on its own). Brahms, Sibelius, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Gorecki, Leonard Cohen, Mark Knopfler, Dave Gilmour, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Eddie Vedder. See what I mean? She wrote poetry. She was incredibly intelligent. My psychiatrist thinks she was possibly bipolar ii. She loved poetry, books, islands, sea shells, african wild dogs, cheese, travel … etc. She was a passionate woman. She was a good teacher, she had an amazing sense of humour. She loved her children fiercely, the way mothers should. She called Facebook twatbook and refused to go anywhere near it. She could play the piano, speak German, she was so tough and so wounded and just … really cool.


There wasn’t a funeral or an obituary. There was me, holding her (fuckit!) body while we waited for the hearse, playing her very special songs loud to mask the conversation on my stoep. The rest of it is private and it’s hard for me to write and face anyway. But it’s good to keep at it. It helps.

It is complete and utter bullshit that she died. I am not reconciled to it; I’m as sad as fuck and pissed off too. I accept the fact that it happened, but I’m foolishly hooked on justice, even though I know justice is irrelevant to death. I don’t accept that it’s okay that it happened. It’s not okay. Apart from the selfish stuff, she was far too young. Things left undone …

I’m so tired. Last night I got two hour’s sleep and the night before, zero. I hate this hypervigilance crap. Sleep beckons and I haul up and start boxing like a kangaroo. Or hares. Anyway. I’ll take a pill tonight if necessary. I’ve been walking the dogs at 5.30 am, which is now sunrise. And it keeps on surprising me that my dogs and my mother never met. When I talk to my mother, I complain bitterly about her being dead. It’s bullshit, I tell her, what the actual fuck happened? There are a couple of unsolved things, one that I’m sure is answered in her diaries, but I am still thinking that she wouldn’t want anyone else reading them. She burned a big pile of them many years ago.


What the actual fuck happened is that life and stuff happened and cancers happened and who knows which cancer killed her in the end. Fuck the collective cancer. There is much to be grateful for. I can’t list that stuff now, I’m tired of these leaky eyes, they need a little rest. I don’t hate easily. But cancer. Argh. Fuck cancer with someone else’s syphillitic dick.

My neighbour (the nice one) said, I’m so glad your mom didn’t know about the bipolar. I was taken aback. I think she’d have been consoled by the fact that it wasn’t all down to the child abuse. Maybe she’d have been able to forgive herself a bit. Futile thoughts, those. My neighbour says she’s glad I’m so much like my mum, that she finds it comforting. I wish nextofkin wasn’t so far.

Poxy damned hellfucked leaking eyeballs. I know weeping is good, but not right now. Not with Noah unavailable. Let me go find some music that sje liked – not those last songs, they’re rather sacred to me now. Like me, she usually preferred male vocals, guitars and ballads. Unlike me, she didn’t feel compelled to be hipsterish about obscure music etc. Me, her and nextofkin were constantly trading and recommending music. We are/were rather obsessive about it.

I’m done writing about it for tonight. I feel better for having done this one.

leonard cohen – take this waltz
queen – bohemian rhapsody
dire straits – brothers in arms
coldplay – viva la vida
tom petty – the golden rose
eddie vedder – rise
robbie robertson – golden feather
buffy sainte marie – starwalker
john trudell – bombs over baghdad
mark knopfler – je suis desolé
james blunt – beautiful
the killers – human
james morrison ft nelly furtado – broken strings
r.e.m. – the great beyond
crowded house – weather with you
midnight oil – blue sky mine
yothu yindi – treaty
robbie williams – sexed up
charles aznavour – la boheme
david gilmour – on an island
ismael lo – jammu africa
bright blue – weeping
bob dylan – the ballad of frankie lee and judas priest
alice cooper – welcome to my nightmare
metallica – enter sandman
smashing pumpkins – bullet with butterfly wings
lionel richie – dancing on the ceiling


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

30 thoughts on “debriefing the grief”

  1. Another poignant post that makes me feel understood and not so alone.
    I’m so glad you feel better after writing it!!!

    Crowded House is one of my all-time favorite groups & that’s an incredible song.
    I love the entire Alice Cooper “Welcome to my Nightmare” album. To learn about spiders just listen to Vincent Price’s speech in “Black Widow” – Alice Cooper is both entertaining *and* educational!

    Liked by 1 person

          1. I thought it was funny that a lot of the dishes are named after his songs & the assorted pictures of him are pretty special (when you scroll down) – but the menu looks kinda gross & nothing out of the ordinary.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. (((hug))) Positively visceral. I hope that laying bare the vile anger that inhabits you helps put out some of its fire. I am with you, FUCK CANCER! Dad died of what was supposed to be successfully treated cancer and it’s an ugly, nasty death. 5 yrs and I still can rage at his wasting away bravely. (((hug)))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope you do take a pill if you don’t sleep, because no sleep = uh oh, at least for me!

    I wish I could say something that would be of comfort, all I know is she was special and it sounds like that rubbed off on you.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Someone said something similar to me. A relative said, “I’m glad your dad passed (Leukemia) not knowing that your daughter had schizoaffective disorder.” It hurt.
    I served as a hospital chaplain before my daughter became ill. I sat with a woman during her final hours. Shortly before she passed she opened her eyes, looked at me with complete and utter joy, and whispered, “There’s so much love.” That’s all the faith I need. Just knowing that whatever happens…there is so much love.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, love is the thing that matters most and lasts longest. People say insensitive things with the best intentions I guess. But it gets tedious putting up with that. Anyway.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. 1st off, as others have expressed, I am so sorry for your loss. Amazing post. And most importantly, I’m glad you feel better for writing it. Kickass Playlist on the end there.
    People say all sorts of garbage-y crap with good intentions. Being who I am has resigned me to that. It just makes me appreciate the people that get me all the more.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are most welcome. You have been an encouragement to me repeatedly even when going through plenty yourself. I think one of the best things about WP is the people that it’s put me in touch with. Prayers and positive thoughts <3

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My wish for you is that you reach a point at which you are no longer nursing the hole in your heart but rather holding your mother in that place and letting the strengths and good pieces be your guide. She lives on in you. Love ya.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s great being the daughter of an amazing woman, and shit when they die. One of the many bones I have to pick with god(s).

    Your mum sounds fabulous. My sympathies to you & nextofkin.

    A passionate & honest blog. I hope writing it helped. And I hope you get some sleep!

    Good night …

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You eulogize your mother beautifully. Who says that science and chaos theory are not also spiritual? Your mother is very much alive in these words of yours, in your heart, in your yearning for her physical presence, in your rage at the disease that stole her from you. I send you my love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmmm. Interesting. Yes re science and chaos theory – I guess I just don’t agree with them this time. Or rather, I agree, but I hate it. Thanks for caring and being there and writing me beautiful words.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Powerful post and a lovely tribute. I know what you mean about justice. I got over my mother’s death as my own personal loss, I can deal with that. But she had so many friends and they did stuff together and she wanted to travel and do so many things… She should have lived on for her own’s and her friends’ sake, just to enjoy life (minus worrying about her son). It would have been fair but alas that’s not how it works.

    A gazilion of hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

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