Grief - Language and the Rawness of Death

Grief – Language and the Rawness of Death

Grief – We only grieve to the extent  that we love and allow ourselves to be loved.

“The limits if my language mean the limits  of my world”

~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

Grief; Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that revised, Grief has a lot in common with Love.

The Last weekend in May was a biggie. I was meant to be in Adelaide, running a pre conference event, then manning an exhibition stand, then today, I should have been a Keynote Presenter at the National Massage Conference. Something I had set my mind to 6 years ago, as I became a coach.

After a massive Month of work, goals and loads of things happening…. I had also injured my foot during the ½ Marathon a few weeks earlier so as I got the results of the X-Ray I started wearing a mood boot to heal a suspected stress fracture…

That weekend was going to be the weekend of celebration, connection and joy.

Then on the Tuesday before I tested positive for old mate Rona.

Sadness. Disappointment. Loss. Longing. The realization that the weekend was not going to be what I had planned. A final test in behavioural flexibility that Covid had thrown my way.

My bestie said I wish I could give you a hug and I said I’m not ready for that level of positivity right now.

So cancelled everything for the week and I went to bed early, took vitamins and Panadol and slept.

Thinking of all of the things I teach – and thinking dam. This one will be big. But not yet. This is just to hard right now. I was low, it was hard and I was feeling, everything.

Wednesday and Thursday I worked on the logistics for the weekend. James was now going to do my keynote. Both he and Christine (Our business partner and friend) would be doing the expo and running the pre conference event. I shared my slides, my transcript id been writing, which id literally never written a talk like this in my life, I would normally not prepare a talk with a word doc, there would be more texts and Post It’s… but something was pushing me to plan this differently.

I thought I was starting to do OK – until the team started to leave for airports or checking in to hotels…. Bitter Sweet. Ouch.

As I say in bed lamenting about the situation I got a message to say that my Grandpa is now palliative and that he’s not going to live much longer. I am unable to visit him because I’ve got covid and it’s not allowed into the home.

Talk about a perspective shift. Now I knew why I was home. But without James, no car and in quarantine until Tuesday, missing an event I’d helped to organize for 3 years.

Allllllll the feels….

As I have no frame of reference for grief, loss or any of this as no one I love and know really dearly (Grandpa had been my father figure for all of my life). I picked up Brené Brown’s – Atlas of The Heart. Ch 6, places we go when we are hurting, Anguish, hopelessness, Despair, Sadness and Grief.

I think to copy and paste the whole chapter to explain how this feels might be a copyright violation… so I’ll just share a bit…

Firstly, this really stood out….

David Kessler, in an episode of the Unlocking Us podcast, says:

“Each person’s grief is as unique as their fingerprint. But what everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed. That doesn’t mean needing someone to try to lessen it or reframe it for them. The need is for someone to be fully present to the magnitude of their loss without trying to point out the silver lining.”

Owning our sadness is courageous and a necessary step in finding our way back to ourselves and each other.

Knowing what I do now, I was able to become grateful for this strange, slow, silent, still, emotional weekend of connection.

I have been loved by my Grandpa from the day I was born. I somehow found a place into his heart that he (or anyone else) did not expect and that now gets to live on in my heart as he passes from this world to the next.

I’ve never been prouder of James or more grateful to have the most incredible team in Christine and some beautiful champions who have stepped up and ran an incredible event/expo/keynote.

It has been a blessing to share with my kids about grief and loss and hold space for them and have them comfort me as my tears spilled out, normalizing the process.

And to have my beautiful mum and uncle around as we do this as a family. As it should be. Each of us has taken turns in my Grandpa’s care over the years, I joke that it takes a village to raise a child – it also takes each person’s superpower in a family to care for an elderly man with dignity until his big departure – which is what he called his own funeral.

It’s was a big few weeks between his passing, his funeral, a client retreat and a family holiday.

My NZ Bestie had booked flights to come across and was able to be here for the funeral. I had already booked the family holiday and we were able to have the funeral while she was over and before we flew out to Brisbane for our client retreat.

Running a client event is always big emotionally for me. We run them with excellence and are very intentional with how we BE as well as what we teach and bring to the clients.
I was aware that they could have a sense of needing to catch me or hold me emotionally OR that they wouldn’t be able to bring everything they had been carrying into the training room….

I didn’t want to lock away my feelings ( I don’t think I could have even if I wanted to) as that would have been incongruent and not authentic.

I chose to share that I was raw and wobbly and that its OK to wobble and that we can wobble together. This allowed for a deeper level of authenticity and modelled vulnerability and allowed me to be honest when I wasn’t OK.

The 2 weeks off as a family were a beautiful break and rest. James and I got pretty sick and by the time we were well – the kids got sick – BUT what was beautiful in that was that we got to rest and we got to be WARM – thank you QLD!

The last few months have been different. So many changes. A lot of uncertainty. There have been some beautiful gifts of community – my home looked like a florist, and we were so blessed with meals, chocolates and wine being dropped at the door. So many messages of love, kindness, and care.

I’m sure it will continue to go up and down as we start to experience the world of firsts… his first birthday with out him.  The first Christmas. The First Anniversary.

My sister-in-law gave me a beautiful analogy that grief is like a big box of pain and when it bumps into the side of your heart – it spills out. You don’t know when it will hit or what will trigger the bumping, but its always there. The box will start to get smaller over time.

My Grandpa was old. It was his time. I cannot fathom how people lose people they love suddenly like children, babies,  partners, parents.

I am learning that grief is a journey and that I will keep wobbling and wobbling is OK.


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