Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I have been reading a few posts recently regarding the deaths of loved mothers, fathers, siblings or close friends.

I have a problem with death, more precisely with grief and grieving. I don't do it. My shrink from way back wanted to know what I did do about death. This was before my father and my son died so I hadn't had those dramas to tell her.

There are rooms in my mind, down the stairs towards the dungeons but up a level. The dungeons are where the slings and arrows of outrageous hurts are locked up. Behind the other doors hide the deaths of people I knew and loved in varying degrees. Occasionally I'll open a door and have a look around at the memories and then I'll wander back up the stairs and continue on with life.

To mothers, the death of a child is the most horrific thing imaginable. My fear was that my son would die before he experienced the world around him. When he died at 24, he'd packed more experience into those years than anyone else I know. I cried when I heard about his accident and then I didn't cry again for nearly ten years.

All of the deaths in my life have been gradual. No-one has ever suddenly stopped being, without my having been able to say goodbye. And then there is my, perhaps unreasonable, belief that we have all been here before and we will be here again and so we never really pass away completely. I believe I'll see them all again, not sitting on some cloud in some imaginary heaven but here, in someone's else's eyes I'll recognise for a moment something familiar.

I've seen a grief counsellor. I had contact with The Compassionate Friends, a group that concentrates on helping parents with the death of a child, of any age. They helped by telling me that I was always the strong one, the rock against which grieving family leaned. So I put death down in those little rooms with the strong doors and never grieved.

I'm not without compassion, feelings or empathy. I am shocked by cruelty in all its forms. Death is still tragic, I just don't grieve.


Middle Child said...

Oh Jahteh, I have the same feelings and beliefs. I look at Don's picture and tell him that if he doesn't bloody well wait for me to die...hopefully in my 80's so that we can be together again I'll kill him...a bit hard to do as he is already dead to this time. I have a wierd feeling about my family (some of them) I feel we all recognised each other and that this time we got it right... but I still want to be amongst them next time... time doesn't matter in the after... but I could no more imagine being without my girls and Don and Mum and dad than fly to the moon... hope its true. Take care.

Caroline said...

Swedenborg says that whenever you think of anyone whether they be dead or alive you bring them into your sphere of being, which for me certainly helps to explain alot of the synchronous running into or having people ring up, who you were only just 'thinking' about.

I feel alot closer to my father now that he's dead as in someways he is more available than he was when he was incarnate. I don't have problem with people dying because I know that I only need 'think' about them and they'll be available. I'm also a bit non-plussed about physically getting together with people for the sake of seeing them, even though it is nice to see people (sometimes) its also good to be able to think/feel fondly of them--even better, they can't argue with you, answer you back, tell you what they think you should be doing.

Swedenborg also says however that after ten years of being 'dead', people tend to forget who they were in life, he also reports having seen incredible re-unions between people with genuine affections for one another and also hideous shit-fights between people who were joined, unhappily at the hip in life. He's very interesting Swedenborg.

Brian Hughes said...

My way of dealing with grief is to stuff it as far down the empty toilet of my brain as possible and hope that it stays there. Unfortunately, it tends to bob back up in the small hours, unnanounced, like an unwanted turd...usually just as I'm nodding off to sleep, at which point I'm forced to go downstairs and watch dreadful late night television until its been firmly stuffed back down around the U-bend of my subconscious again.

No wonder I've got bags under my eyes.

Andrew said...

Was going to make a comment but decided it is worth my own blog post. But anyway, I understand. I am similar.

Jayne said...

I grieve by celebrating the person and their life with laughter and afterwards I visit them in my mind every now and then.

Lord Sedgwick said...

Seems like you were born to be a stoic ole rock, Coppery One.

If I were silly enough to want to stub my toe on one, you'd be the first I'd seek.

Mmmm, seem to remember it was in fact your toe with which I had a deep, meaningful and (for you) painful.

River said...

The rooms in my mind are very securely locked and the keys long ago lost. Beats me how those memories still escape their solitary confinement every now and again.

JahTeh said...

Therese, it's still so raw for you to not turn round and see him laughing but he deserves his "moment of rest upon the wind".

Caroline, I know what you mean about the 'synchronous running into' feeling. I think one of the biggest jolts about Euan that I had was when I was transferred to rehab in an ambulance. I looked out of the window and realised that this would have been the last view of the sky that he had and it's why the computer is in front of a window where I can see the sky.

Bags, Fleetwood? More like suitcases. I think having the time to say goodbye helped a lot. I'm not sure how I would have handled a knock at the door at 4 in the morning.

Andrew, I've always wanted to be a muse. I look forward to the post. Being Gay I'm sure you've had to deal with more deaths than most because of the AIDS epidemic.

Jayne, exactly the way I feel and I've been criticised for wearing red to funerals but red is the colour of life to me.

Thank you M'Lord. Never mind Hughes 'robotic pea of death' your clodhopper works better than a crutiatus curse on unprotected digits.

JahTeh said...

River, it's always the little fragments that catch you unaware.
If I watch the films that he watched I can remember in my mind the exact moment he laughed and I'm prepared for it but someone using a phrase can take me by surprise.

R.H. said...

I've been awake forty-three two hours and fell asleep last night at Werribee Bingo during the second session and no one woke me up they just took my books and played them the rotters, and ate my lollies too.
Then they told me a good looking old hen who loved me very much has been carted off the loony bin. "Oh." I said, and we all had a good laugh about it. Well we shouldn't have, but I started and they all joined in.
I won't be here tomorrow so here's your Valentine -from me, Mad Robert, Australia's greatest poet, and that includes Miss Grogon whom I admire very much for looking so good when she's well over forty, ha ha.
Well sorry, but I'm joking, I did dash one off but changed my mind.

Please accept this instead:

He is not gone
Would never leave you
Or why would there be tears.
He is not gone
Wouldn't leave you
Love comes closer
Closer years.

He is not gone
Not taken

He is yours.

R.H. said...

And that's mine, for you.


Anonymous said...

I had a dream about you last night. I came down your way and we went to the Melbourne Cup together. It was great but getting dressed in that bathroom of yours with un-metionables hanging from the shower/bath rail and your cat following me around amused me!


JahTeh said...

Robbert, all your past transgressions and future ones are forgiven for that Valentine.

If I'd been there I'd have eaten your lollies and probably picked your pocket too.

Anonymous, If you're blond, big knockers and lousy taste in men, I'm glad to see you back.

Lord Sedgwick said...

Anonymous sounds like my kind of sheila.

Got a phone number for me Coppertop? (You know I'm good for lots of well stuffed brown paper bags.)

Anonymous said...

Glad you rememebered me! You still rock......big knockers....lol are you kidding!
The dream was so real!!!!! Cant explain it!
you keep well dear one.
All my love, ALWAYS!!


Ann O'Dyne said...

Once a day
All day long.
And once at night,
but just till dawn.
The only time I wish
that you weren't gone ...

is once a day every day all day long.

JahTeh said...

M'Lord, I'm shocked, you're a big knockers man and I thought it was all intelligence with you.

Listen here, anonymousknockers, never mind going to the Melbourne Cup, did you dream the winner?

Thank you Annie O, I like that.