hey that’s no way

“Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.” Joan Didion

The music, books and art that I have carried with me since childhood, were all handed to me by my mother. She is also responsible for my absolute love of the Lord of the Rings; the only level above me there, are the people who LARP and speak elvish and so on. I’m saying that now, because the songs in this post, from kitsch to sublime, are directly from her.

An old friend who phoned after mum died said “your mom was always your best friend,” and I thought “bloody hell, she’s right”. It had never crossed my mind before that. It’s two and a half years ago now – many of you held my hand through the second anniversary. Two and a half years is about a week in grief-time, the total despair is no less total, its attacks are less frequent though. The sweetness of my old friend and your kindness astounded and touched me, but idiocy can be astonishing too. I crashed badly after my bushveld holiday, it was manageable at first, and then it sucker punched me. My neighbour walked in on me while I was desolate and crying those hot tears that spill with zero effort required. She bleated at me with panic in her eyes, “It’s gone on too long now, there must be something else she can give you”. She meant the grief and medication. It was particularly fuckwitted given that she lost her true love eight years ago and she understands the weight and longevity of grief very well indeed. Perhaps she just feels it without analytical thought, it’s possible. She rushed off and I trudged back to my couch, holding a little more despair. Thing is, the crash wasn’t all about my mother, it was about loss. Losses. Plus, obviously, I am bi-fucking-polar. I was fine with leaving her assumption alone; it was a logical one and besides, the rest of it isn’t something I’d talk to her about. She’d just look worried and say “oh sweetie I’m so sorry,” and as well intentioned as it is, it would irritate me hugely.

I have solid reasons stemming from a very young age, to be conditioned to being almost comfortable with a certain level of sadness. What I don’t get, however, is the numbers. My family has nearly been wiped out and and many of the other losses, whether by death or by distance, are open wounds. I’ve applied the get over it and get on with it principle to a lot of them, but the rest hurt, and they should hurt; it’s the amount that crushes me. Ja ja ja, my perspective and notion of context are fully functional; there are a hell of a lot of people who have it worse than I do, and no doubt many who handle it far better. Everything is relative though, one man’s hell is as real as the next. The numbers are further confirmation of my disbelief in karma, equilibrium, justice and any god around.


(It’s not a big thing in my life though. I’m still fond of my mind and its logic.)

Unless it’s a death, I fail to cope by failing to convince anyone that I am tough, and gritting my teeth till it hurts. I incubate migraines and tears and the night sweats reek of fear. It triggers my ghosts and oathbreakers and they line up to stare baleful at me. Apparently it also ignite the most purple of prose and florid metaphors. I can’t help it (I don’t want to). It seems logical to me that each fresh loss triggers the old ones.

The ghosts that haunt me / won’t leave my mind (the The).

Nothing has ever hurt as much as my mother’s death, which startled me, because she wasn’t the first close one. It kicked me into  immediate nostalgia and a lot of my days are full of fond memories. I’m immensely glad of the fact that past conflicts etc melted away; during the first year, I kept thinking and saying, “and at the end, there is only love.” I still believe it, it doesn’t erase tragedies or grief though. Of course it doesn’t.

I wake up still crying the next morning. I didn’t know it was possible to awaken from a state of sleep in tears, but I do. It is my 34th birthday, but Facebook doesn’t understand that I’m not in the mood to celebrate anything ever again and that all the messages being posted on my wall are those of condolence. Every time I log on, a window pops up with this exploding fireworks graphic and a happy birthday banner that displays all the wall posts about my brother’s death. I tell my husband to take my birthday off the calendar for the duration of our lives. Pieces of Grief

And today the migraine has emerged from incubation to drill into my cranium and make me nauseous. But! I’ve only wept once, it’s late in the afternoon – that’s serious progress. The other day my therapist asked, “did you cry at the time of your mother’s death, or did you suppress it?” I did one of them hollow laughs and told her how the tears waterfalled then. After that she made me laugh by saying, “you know, in black African cultures, it’s okay to throw yourself on the floor and weep and wail and scream, but Caucasians…” It’s true – we are right up our own asses with repression in that respect. Stoic, stiff upper lip… all that crap. I said, “nah, I’ve been in Africa long enough to shake off that sort of Eurohabit, I’m patient and I know how to cry.”

Do I ever know how to cry. And cry. And cry.

I suspect that whatever the grief is about, what is actually being grieved, is the loss of love. Then again, I believe that everything is about love.

Dunno how long I’ve been writing this post, it sits in drafts and I add to it when I think about death, loss, love, grief and goodbyes. It’s not even just people, is it? We can grieve places and stuff too. I’m hoping that, as with the bipolar stuff, writing all this stuff out will bring me more clarity and context. Losing my mother kicked my ass in ways I never dreamed of, and there were important losses after her. I’m still struggling and throwing emotional tantrums about it all in my mind. I have another 20 weeks free CBT too. The Ugandan is my favourite therapist so far. Maybe it’s because she’s almost a psychiatrist. Anyway.

Time heals,” is bullshit. Nothing heals, grief is like bi-fucking-polar in that respect. The goal is not the absence of grief, it’s the manageability of it. The part time plays is creating wider spaces between each punch in the solar plexus. I suppose you could destroy your memory in order to banish grief, but that’d banish you too. As lovely as that might sound, it’s all too unsustainable. I think I’m over the loss of my purple crayon when I was three, but tbh all of the meaningful losses are still with me. Years might go by without them disturbing me, but then something reminds me. I don’t cry for every single one of them, but the common denominator is a feeling of being covered by a blanket drench in desolation.

My mind quotes the queen at me frequently, “the price of love is grief,” and it’s true. It’s only really helpful for the feeling of injustice that grief brings. I sigh to myself, “yeah, it was worth it”. I try to remember to remind myself of the thing I say to everyone who weeps for a loss, “you honour them with your tears”. Yes, yes, I know I can be a pompous ass. We all find comforting mantras though. I think of my mother every day and miss her. Some days the smallest thing makes me weep, I get through other days with gritted teeth – and some days I’m level about it and free of it. That’s just how it is.


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

15 thoughts on “hey that’s no way”

  1. Time is a cunt. A human construct for sure. I have yet to feel any death lessen to nothing. I don’t think it ever should. Love to you, darling.

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  2. Sorry for your losses over the years. I lost my mother in Oct 2013. Certain things will remind me of her loss, but we had 10 or so days in the hospital where she was gone, just living to everything stopped. She had a DNR. I thought that would hard, but we went in and talked to her anyhow. Even though there was no response and my dad, my sister and I were there for the end. Then we all cried. I am kind of numb about it now. Different things will trigger it.

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  3. this is pretty much similar to how i experienced my father’s death a few years ago. i didn’t cry when it happened. i didn’t cry for weeks. i felt hollow, sometimes. i went to a service where some of his ashes were buried, but i didn’t cry. but late, i looked at a picture of him and just broke down. i left that picture out, and when i saw it, i cried some more. but over time, i quit crying and just felt somehow robbed–not ME being robbed, i felt badly for him being robbed of the rest of his life, of his retirement plans. I wished it could have been made right for him, cause this just wasn’t fair. And then i seemed to be at peace, and just look at his picture to remember the memories, the happiness, the times that were so good. that is what i feel now when i think of him, see his picture or catch a glimpse of my small box of his ashes. we all grieve differently, and no matter how we do it or when or how long is unimportant. the fact that we loved is.

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  4. The day my mother passes — if she goes before me — is the day I will undoubtedly go into in-patient. In my mind no one in this world loves me except her. I may doubt every single thing in the universe, but not her love. And in my heart that hates and loves at once, she’s the only true, whole love. Therefore I would lose “everything” and that will be a day in which if I don’t kill myself, I’ll definitely consider myself a warrior for surviving that. Time means nothing like the sayings promise. Words sound empty even though my heart is breaking for you. I’m listening to the tracks as I attempt “the sleep.” Thank you for sharing these pieces of her.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your feelings rather than keeping them to yourself. It shows a certain amount of trust in humanity. That is something your mother gave to you, I think. Even as you are sharing your loss of her, she is inspiring you in the process.
    Annie <3

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  6. Stephen Fry says we are captains of our own souls. But there are people on this planet who affect/influence/stimulate/encourage us – and they then become members of our ‘circle of trust’. I hear your pain, it’s not in vain. So I’m standing on my kitchen chair and I’m telling you “oh captain, my captain”, hang in there…….

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  7. ‘The goal is not the absence of grief, it’s the manageability of it’ – you hit the nail on the head there. I feel loss for different reasons. It’s been several years, and its still wrenching. And my legs have been cut off at the knees with my latest depression. I may be caucasian, but I still throw myself down on the cold bathroom floor and cry, and cry. And when the tears let up, however long that takes, my tummy aches, my throat hurts and I’m sporting an imprint of the tiled bathroom floor…. I will weep beside you in thought

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  8. I relate to the best friend part you wrote about; my father was my best friend too.

    I’m sending extra love to you today – I could write more, but it wouldn’t be anything that you haven’t read from me before. :0

    Off to cuddle with Miss Lucy, who just earned her bachelor’s degree in “Tear Licking Off Her Crazyass Human’s Face” studies. Did I ever tell you this precocious hound has THE longest tongue I’ve ever seen on a canine? It’s hilarious to watch her yawn. I’ll try to capture her yawn for a vlog sometime, which would be a challenge, wouldn’t it? But I have a feeling a video wouldn’t do it justice.


    Liked by 1 person

  9. So well written. Though I haven’t experienced as much loss as you have and though, as some say, losing a pet isn’t comparable to losing a loved person, I am grieving as well. For me, the loss of my dog, Luna, is my first real loss of a loved one. I’m still learning about grief and your post was helpful. Her death triggered a depressive episode and I became even more useless than I already am. But indeed, “The price of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief.” In happy to pay those things for the love I gained.

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  10. Maaan…. I wish you didn’t feel all this because I hate to see you in pain but at the same time these sound like natural feeling and crying is probably the most natural reaction. You know I never cried after my mother passed? I feel the overwhelming sadness sometimes but it’s not connected to my tear canals somehow. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. Tons of hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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