Today is Monday 6th of July, I write this for your Tuesday thoughts. The significant aspect is that today is Patrick’s anniversary.
Below is chapter 14 of “Layman’s Handbook” & link to the book. Your thoughts, comments and shares are always appreciated.
I suppose the simplest approach here is to tell you about myself and some of the journey of why I write nowadays.
The nuts and bolts of it are that I have changed my life in many ways as I was growing up. I was explaining this a little earlier. Did I grieve the drugs and alcohol when I gave them up in my teenage years? Probably, though not in any real memorable way. In my adult life I have had two very traumatic experiences to do with losing my two sons. Darra was 15 years of age and he did not wake up for school one morning and that was that. Sudden death is what they have called it, he died in his sleep. Patrick managed to walk his way to a swimming pool at a very young age of 1 year and 4 months old and he drowned. I tried to perform mouth to mouth to revive him and it simply did not work. These are some of the hard facts about trauma that has occurred in my life.
I have been living with grief for some time now in my adult life as I miss my children.
To explain what this grief is like can be very difficult to describe sometimes but here is an attempt. Maybe you can relate to some pieces, maybe not. There is no one correct way in dealing with or living with grief. So if we do not seem on the same path in our grief then it is still okay too. Just as we are individuals in this world, so is our grief a very individual experience.
From the moment I first learned of Darra dying I had feelings come over me of absolute rage but at the very same time extreme sadness. The tears flowed from my eyes and I somehow managed to make the longest and most difficult flight of my life to return home to see my son in a coffin. This has been such a horrible memory and piece of my story that I carry with me and it is only fair I share it with you as to allow some of myself out to you. I did not know what to think or in which direction to look on the plane home. It was an 11 hour flight and all I could do was cry and feel my lips as if they were swollen and trying to mumble but it was just mutters and mumbles of hurt trying to come out from deep inside of my gut.
I was full of anger and I had no idea what would face me when I got to his house. What I did arrive to was a wake and my beautiful baby 15 years of age in a coffin. This kind of thing, nobody can prepare for and is not something I could ever wish on my worst of enemies. I do not know if it is like they say that losing a sibling or a parent is a different kind of hurt and that losing a child is just a harder or more difficult to understand kind of pain. I can definitely say and say very clearly it is one hell of a pain to work through.
Within a couple of quick years of having my head up my ass or in some form of buried in the sand, I did become a father again and my new light in life was born. Patrick, the most beautiful of babies and he would bring to my life some hope of being able to grow from all the pain of losing Darra so young in life.
Patrick’s death was horrific and just as traumatizing as Darra’s. Nothing can split them inside of me to say I loved one any more than the other or of how it just plain and simple hurts to miss them. The grief can be unbearable sometimes and it is these two children of mine that have inspired me to write.
Their dying has led me on a journey of digging even deeper inside of myself to begin to gain a snippet of understanding. It is basically why I have compiled much of my thoughts and explanations into this book to offer insight to others who perhaps have not began to scratch the surface of their own grief and for those of you who, maybe, who cannot see things the way in which I do now. It has been immense pain and grief that have led me to an understanding of life. A kind of way of how these two situations have forced me to go even further inside of myself and see how my feelings and my thoughts can influence and or be a hindrance to my actions and this would be at any given time on any given day. Right now it is possible that you are scratching your head a little bit and saying “wait A minute here, go back, did he just say, buried his two children and traumatic experiences” hold up a second.
Yes I did just drop the bomb out there on you. The whole three years that occurred from December 2011 to July 2014, those few years saw me go from being a happy go lucky kind of guy who loved life and had put many situations behind himself from an earlier “misspent youth” type stuff to a complete and utter shambles of a man. Beat down by life, trodden on by the so called “winds of change” if you like. You may have an understanding of what it might be like to have your world turned upside down due to some life altering event. I am also aware that there are many out there that understand trauma and what it might be like to go through such severely shocking stuff in one’s lifetime. I can only say, “So tough”. I have or could never imagine the whole thing to happen again. When I speak of horrendous or horrific experiences, they really are understatements although they are quite drastic words to have to use ever.
My grief has consisted of a lot of questions and limited amounts of answers; there is just nobody to ask. The pains that can bring me down as a person and hurt like all hell and the thoughts that can begin to drive me to an almost point of no return have been very real for me. So this larger than life word GRIEF gets thrown around a lot and some often mention the “stages of grief” and at what point one may be at in their grieving. These are all nice ways of looking at the concept of grief and what it might actually be, our feelings are definitely taken to a new level and how the feelings and thoughts can combine to stay so focused on the actual negative that has occurred can swamp the living daylights out of a person. I am a true living survivor or person dealing with this kind of stuff on a daily basis.
Like I said, I have had the misfortune of having to bury my two children on two very different occasions and for two completely different deaths. The similarities, both are my sons, both had graves to go in to and both hurt like hell. So what does grief mean to me nowadays and what do I do?
Here are some suggestions or ideas based on what I have found out to be, well what I might call simple remedies. Nothing can fix the way it is or change things to go back to how they used to be. Nothing will ever be the same again. It is a hard thing to understand if you have never been through it and it is even harder for the person living in it to explain.
My son’s deaths have led me to look back in my life and try and find a why, looking for some signal to how this all may have came about. Not soul searching, just more like asking myself what is it in my life that twisted or turned in any particular way that led me to where I am today. The answers were or have been limited and my questioning does continue. What I have found in my look back over my life was that not only are my two beautiful son’s deaths somewhat unbelievable but a whole bunch of my life and the ever changing nature of it has been pretty unbelievable also. This led me to make notes and begin writing things down, my experiences and some of my travels and adventures. The end result of this, I wrote a book “TWO sons TOO many”.
Why mention another book of mine in here? To self promote (yes of course) but to demonstrate to you that within my grief and my hurt and out of death, something new has been born. A monument to my children. This book has become somewhat of an amazing journey for me, every time somebody tells me they are reading my book or sends me a message of how they have just finished my book, I smile both inside and outside. Another person has just read all about me and my inner feelings and my life. The beautiful thing though is they have shared a moment of mine and paused to imagine Darra and to think of both Patrick and Darra and this somehow gives me a tiny bit of comfort. I did not know the first or last thing about writing a book or the business of books or publishing or any of that type of thing. TWO sons TOO many exists and is out there and I am now an author. Another life change that is just part of my story as it continues.
What makes me proud of my achievement in this book writing stuff is that I was totally beat up from life, I really didn’t think I could change again and reinvent myself as a person any more. The death of my sons has been the extreme of hurt and pain. Writing has been a formula to help me set goals in life again. Little goals, where I can set myself a target to have some chapters finished by certain times of the year. I have taken to advertising my writing and books and built a website to showcase where I write some short stories and some blogs. I have all my social media accounts now set up to help me advertise and attract new readers all to read some of my writing. It has been of inspirational value to readers to read about my story on how I have picked myself up time and time again in life and turned it around. Some readers find things motivational as I have demonstrated to the world that even in the hardest part of my journey a new direction was born and I continued on. These are the important pieces in my grief that may help another out there who has their head hung low. I too was at the end of my wits to find out how can I live again, how can I love again and how on earth will I ever laugh again. It is possible, I am living proof that the journey did not end with the loss of my children. Yes the story completely changed and yes that life today has been more about finding solutions to problems and taking a basic view of almost everything.
It has been my breaking everything down into simple parts that has helped me see more clearly. The breathing I have mentioned earlier is a technique that has brought me to a clearer view point of any issue that may raise itself up in any day. These are the tools I have been recommending to you because, well quite simply, they work. It is from learning and teaching myself to understand how I hurt and what the feelings really are, that has helped me to become okay with all of the pain. I now enjoy it, which I know sounds like something sadistic but it is that I prefer now to be real and I know that my pain is authentic. What is a better way to live than to feel every little bit? Just now as I feel good days and enjoy the fun and laughter it is just as real when a day is a little more down and reflections of the past come to haunt me so to speak, these too are real. I have grown hugely appreciative of real and authentic feelings. I have learned to see beauty and I have also grown to see things in a basic light.
With all the stresses and anxiety life can bring about in a day, it is how I have brought things back to a very basic practice for myself of allowing my body to breathe in the air that I need. This is my most basic need in life, to breathe. From this foundation I / we can begin again and start our day over. We can begin to figure out some of the most complex of our feelings and we can grow into the person we are and have always been. Understanding a tree in nature or understanding another person’s motives or agendas all can stem from knowing our own feelings and practicing our breathing.
I am not saying that everyone who grieves should become a writer and spread the great word through books. What I am pointing out is that a project of any type can become something in where we can express ourselves and set little targets for ourselves and we can actually meet our goals in our project and take great satisfaction from this. We can remain in our feelings “in the now” and enjoy them, though it could be argued that we endure them as the feelings in grief are quite cumbersome. It is the rawness of the feelings that were so new to me. I had been living a feeling type of life for many years and I had no idea things could ever get so raw and gritty. And look at me, a man over 6ft tall and full of muscle, a fine specimen of a man. I always had a presence when I walked into a room, I walked tall all my life (might have been called an arrogant asshole a few times too lol) how and ever I was beat down. I wanted to be left alone and not noticed. I avoided conversations with people and I walked away from where ever I felt hurt was happening. This is where grief was taking me. To grow out from this to have my little projects and then speak to people about my grief and this was brought about because of conversations about my books. Interviews and radio programs and group talks all born out of the hard path because of my loved ones no longer being around for me to have fun with.
I found out the hard way, it is us who have to make our own fun. It is upon us to make our own life and it is entirely us who can create a life of misery and being down just as much as it is upon us to lift ourselves up and keep going forward regardless of what shitty hand we feel we have been dealt. Yes it is a fine thing to wallow for a while and feel like we have been hard done by, of course naturally, I have lost my children and anyone who grieves has lost someone near and dear to them also. So it makes perfect sense to wallow for a while, the piece of our thoughts running away with us and bringing us down is a tough one because it can be hard to claw our way back up out of it. It is why I believe in setting goals, small short term goals that we can achieve. There was once a time my goal set was to get out of bed and be sure to take a shower for the day. Get up and start the day, I promised myself I must shave and be clean, when I would catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and realize I was beginning to grow a beard, well I knew I hadn’t been hitting my goals. I had to break life down to a very simple step by step process. Get out of bed, shower, shave and be sure to eat something. That is what grief can do to us.
When I found myself in that kind of a “no man’s land” place in life I basically had one of two choices to make, stay down and rot away or get up and live. Our basic instinct to survive can kick in or we can kick it in and that is what I have learned. When we notice we are slipping back into a depression type state of mind it is our duty to ourselves to put a halt to the negative thinking and the lowly feelings, allow them to pass through and begin again. We can begin our life again ten times a day if we so choose to or should we actually need to. There is no written law that says we have to be an upbeat person or there are no requirements for us to participate in anything. We do it because we want to and because things around us and other people can help us to feel good. Yes we still hurt and we still carry pain that can crop up at any given moment, we will not live in fear of it and more the opposite really, we will live in awe of the raw feelings and accept them.
Grief is something that is not totally understood in the world of psychology or any where. It is a love we have had for the person who has died. A respect we carried with us for a person all of our life and then they were no longer there for us to express our love to or for us not to be able to show respect to anymore. We are left holding the bag, the bag of feelings that we are supposed to be directing at them but they are not there to receive it. We are left with all these feelings inside of us for a person who is no longer there. We begin to feel down because we have nowhere to direct those feelings, just and empty open space where we think there should be someone. I am a man and I have lost my two sons and I have no sons to direct my love to. How sad is that? It is totally fine though, I carry them with me in other ways and the effort I put into my books and my writing is because they have died. I write for you to maybe help piece some things together for your life because I have walked a long path figuring out stuff in mine. This is where I can direct my love for my sons. This helps with grief.