If you read my previous post you’ll know I’ve applied to This Is Your Life Change for a chance to spend 2 weeks in Fiji with a life coach , a business coach and a personal trainer then the support afterwards to get my daughter’s book written. Let me tell you a bit more about what’s brought me to want to be part of this journey.
I started this blog 3 years ago so I could get into the practise of writing with the intention of writing the book about my daughter, Aimee’s life. Then I got so wrapped up in the blog that I found I was enjoying the habit of writing and the interaction with other bloggers. I started to write the book but the blog was a bigger distraction. I figured I just need more time, so allowed myself that time.
Then, I decided the blog needed photos that I had taken, not someone else’s that I found on Google. So I started a “little” photography course so I could learn to take some decent photos. It was to be a six month course after which I could get back to the blog and then, eventually, the book. Trouble is, the photography took over. My six month course turned into an 18 month Diploma and then I immediately started a business with a classmate.
Of course, I’ve still been writing, but I find myself so busy with what has now become my work, that the writing has taken a back seat. Realistically I have time to do both and they really do make a great marriage. My motto is “If a picture paints a thousand words, then it makes sense that a thousand words must also paint a picture”. I have a long term dream to travel the world, writing and photographing other places, other cultures and all the beauty this wonderful world has to offer.
But, I am the mistress of distractions and whilst I have no regrets as to the journey I’ve taken so far, I know it’s time I finally started on this book properly. It’s not that I haven’t written any of it, but I need to really get stuck in. So when I saw the This is Your Life Change program, I jumped at the chance to finally get some help with breaking down the barriers that stop me from doing what I know I am meant to be doing. So I applied.. I set up a facebook page Aimee’s Voice to get some support for my application and thought, okay, I’m on my way.
Well what sometimes happens when you start a journey, is that you realise it has more potential than you first thought. You start off in one direction with a destination in mind but you never realised how much stuff there was to do along the way. And that my friends, is exactly where I’m suddenly finding myself. I thought I had to write a book (and I do).. but there’s so much more to do and I’m excited at the thought of doing it.
For a long time, I’ve pondered on how we, in the western world sanitise death. We somehow don’t see it as part of life, although it is one of the only absolute givens we have in life. We are born and somewhere, sometime, we will die, guaranteed. We can’t escape it. So grief should be a much kinder and more natural process. We should be a lot more involved in it. We need to talk about it more. We need to allow those who are grieving a chance to talk without feeling uncomfortable.
When my grandmother lived with us, we had a bush nurse who used to come and visit to help Mum care for Gargie. When Gargie died, the bush nurse came and got Mum to help her prepare Gargie for the Undertaker. Mum didn’t want to but did as she was asked. Afterwards, she said she was so grateful to be the person who got to brush Gargie’s hair, and change her into a fresh nightie and do all the things that she’d always done. She found some peace in being able to do these final things for her adored mother. It was a natural progression.
When my beautiful Aimee was killed, I really felt like I was completely left out of the loop where she was concerned. I wasn’t allowed to see her until she was at the Coroner’s. I wasn’t allowed to touch her other than to kiss her as her body hadn’t been released. The next time I saw her, she had been cleaned by a stranger, she had been dressed by a stranger, she had her hair done by a stranger and I was still out of the loop. Please understand, I have no problems with the person who did those things. They treated her beautifully and had the utmost respect for my baby girl but they weren’t me. The most natural part of the whole process was holding her hand as I sat next to her at the viewing. That was only for a very limited time though.
It made me start to think, why do we take so much away from a grieving person. As her mother, it was my RIGHT to be the person to wash her and prepare her for burial. Would it have been hard? Of course it would.. Would it have made my heart break more? No.. It was already in pieces. But at least I would have felt that I was part of the process. Mothers who have still born children, cope so much better when they are allowed to hold that baby for as long as they want to. It doesn’t make sense to take the main people out of the process of death and grief.
I of course, want to write Aimee’s book but I also want to travel and study grief in other cultures. I want to see what rituals they have, how involved they are in the preparation, how society treats them afterwards. I want to change the way we, in Australia at least, treat death and grief. We can’t keep thinking that the “stiff upper lip” and “just get on with it” process works. It doesn’t. Not one bit. We’re a nation who’s answer to trauma is to take some anti depressants and pretend it never happened.
One of the most common things I’ve heard from other grieving parents in particular, is that people wouldn’t talk to them as they didn’t know what to say. I’ve heard stories of people crossing the road to avoid saying hi to someone who is grieving. That’s crazy. And it’s completely destructive. Noone needs to know the right words to say.. A pat on the shoulder, a hug, a “I don’t know what to say”… they all work. Don’t stop saying the deceased person’s name.. Say it often!. Talk about funny things you did… It helps a parent to know that their beloved child is still alive in other people’s hearts and memories.
I have a whole list of things I want to do to change the “don’t grieve” culture we have here in Australia and probably most of the western world. We have so much to learn from other cultures. I want to learn their rituals and customs and bring them back. I have a small industry connected with my plans, that I’d like to set up in a small village somewhere in the world that needs employment. The industry is something I have wanted to do for a long time and would certainly benefit grieving families and friends but would also benefit a community in another country. My life purpose being associated with death probably sounds morbid to a lot of people as we have been raised to avoid the discussion about death and grief, but to me it’s the most natural thing in the world.
I’m far from an unhappy person. I love life. I have come through the worst thing that can happen to a parent and I not only survived but I have truly lived and intend to keep living with as much joy as possible. My wanting to do this has nothing to do with maintaining my own grief and everything to do with wanting to make the process a little easier for others. We can’t escape death.. But we do need to embrace the right to grieve when it happens..
I hope you can all continue on this next leg of the journey with me.. Remember to head on over to Aimee’s Voice and like the page to show your support.
Happy embracing life… Livvy xx