I've talked in my previous Blog post about how my emergency fund helped me have peace of mind when we were faced with my son's sudden death. I also mentioned how comfort eating and taking up smoking again have acted like temporary stop-gaps as I have been navigating the emotional roller coaster of grief. But these are only two of the ways I have managed to find some comfort in the last three months, and I would like to share some healthier, more balanced, and more frugal strategies that have supported me during this time.

I think I will break this down into a short "series" of posts - as I started to list everything I realised that it is quite a long list, and I hope that others will feel free to add things that have helped them too. Crisis, grief, trauma - however we name it, the feeling of life not being "ordinary" is one that requires great energy and effort if we are to navigate it in a way that is meaningful to us - and this is individual. My list of helpful actions may not be what others would choose, but hopefully will give some ideas and some sense of the scope of strategies that can be available to us, depending of course on our particular circumstances.

It has been, and continues to be, important to me to handle my grief in ways that are consistent with my values. To continue to act with kindness and dignity as far as possible, having compassion for myself and others, has been a practical way of knowing how to deal with a stressful and unwelcome situation. This limits my opportunities for regret, and protects and builds my self-esteem at a time when "who I am" in this changed landscape seems unfamiliar and questionable.

Knowing and naming my feelings and needs, taking time to check in with myself, asking What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What am I needing? How can I get that need met? Is what I am thinking true? - questions like these have proved helpful and grounding, as I remind myself that although I am the person I once was, some of my feelings and needs have changed. Some things that were very important to me have shifted in significance, and other things have become more urgent.. Knowing that I have been changed has helped me to make wise choices, to actively work to protect my boundaries, and to be gentle in my expectations.

Knowing what to share, and with whom, has been invaluable. Knowing which of my friends are able to help me navigate my stormy emotions, and which ones leave me feeling fragile or invaded, has helped me to look for comfort from people who are actually able to give it - people who are wise, accepting, stable - people who "get me" and have a healthy understanding of the nuances of grief, and who are able to give in a generosity of spirit that isn't expecting much of anything in return - these people have given me more than I could ever have put into words. This is not to say that I like my other friends less, it is about recognising my level of need as well as their capacity to give right now.

There is value too, in being open, honest and real. Not feeling like I have to "put a brave face on it" or pretending it is "business as usual" helps my relationships to have integrity. Making sure I have the safety to express what is really going on for me, the depths of despair, the fearful thoughts (was I a good enough mother?) that pass through, the guilt about having moments of happiness or not thinking about my loved one, the strangeness of his absence - all the little and big thoughts that go through my mind, day after day. Grief is so tiring, repetitive, exhausting, consuming. It is confusing (why am I so tired when I haven't been doing anything? why dont I know what to buy in the supermarket? what am I meant to do with all these things?) and distressing (why am I so angry? why do I want to yell at people? what's wrong with me?) Whether my honesty flows through my pen onto the page, or in my prayers, or to my family and friends, I am helped by knowing that I am staying as true to myself as I can.

I am encouraged knowing that there is no right way to grieve. Also, my dear friends have reminded me that grief our is not measured by how many tears we cry. Being happy in one particular moment does not mean that we don't care, and we can actively participate in our processing of grief in many different ways (thank you to Dr Lucy Hone for her work around resilience and grieving).

I should say something here about context. I am a middle-aged woman with many years of mental health recovery and sobriety behind me. Many of the skills I have learnt over the years to keep me well and sober have stood me in good stead, and I am drawing on these even more now. I am also privileged in terms of where I live - a quiet, middle class suburb, in secure Public Housing, with my own space. I am financially secure, thanks to DSP and savings, and I don't carry any debt. Although this has a lot to do with the choices I've made, it is also greatly helped by my access to community resources and support. I am fortunate in that I have a good social network, and I am a big reader, so turning to books and my friends comes easily to me. I like being at home, partly because I am a homebody, but also because home is safe and secure. I am also fairly assertive, and articulate, so this has helped me immensely in the aftermath of my son's death. I recognise that not everyone's situation is as privileged as mine - Not everyone will have trustworthy friends, stable housing, or the luxury of time to themselves to process. I acknowledge that I come to this situation with a large kit of tools to help me, and I know that this has made a phenomenal difference in how I have been able to work through grief.

So, having laid out a bit of context, I will turn to some specific strategies that I have found useful. I will start in my next post with self-care and then move on from there.

(post has been edited)

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Last month was Chuck and Flog Calendar Challenge this was the second one, that I have done in two years in counting deleted emails I did pretty well. Now is the time to step up a notch and keep going until the next one.

It's time that I started downsizing want I have got here. It will take time as I don't get in that mood often. I hope to look at least one square metre per month anywhere. Chucking, selling or giving it away.

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Background story of how it got this way.

It has taken 68 years to pile up as my home it been a family house since 1951 when the first person moved in. Some of the furniture is hers since that time. I moved here in the early 70's with my parents when my son was born. As things don't get moved out that often as other members of the family live too far away. So, when a member die and their house was sold, somethings were bought here for others to pick up and some of that stuff has never been taken away.

Then you have what I have collected over time as well. So, it's time. I'm not even going to tell the others that some of they stuff is going now! As it's been nearly 30 years since my parents have died.

I do have enough storage here that the equivalent to 10 town houses would have. I'm not short of cupboard space that's for sure.

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It's time to put things in reverse and move the stuff out.

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How do I plan to work this task?

Just pick area and start on it, I think.

First up will be anything on the floor or in a walkway.

Goal is the fill a recycle bin every two weeks. Start collecting for January Rubbish Street Collection.

Plus, OP shop drops off when I have a few items to go their way.

Some books will go to the by-weekly drop off to the Street Library nearby.

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Cleaning out the house is seriously never ending. Especially with four kids. I honestly just dont know where it all comes from sometimes.

I have just spent 2 hours with DD13 in her room working through it... well she just sits and moans I do all the work. So far

- Half a garbage bag of clothes, she needs to stop growing!

- Small pile of clothes for her sisters to look through

- Other half of the garbage bag full of other stuff she doesnt want

- Bean bag moved to my bed, huge hole oh the joy

- 2 coles shopping bags full of rubbish

- Small pile of containers

- Large pile of craft things to come out.

That is in one tiny bedroom barely big enough for a bed and set of drawers.

DD12 has her clothes on the bed ready :( I really hate having to do it but once a quarter, the saturday after school finishes for the term, we do the bedrooms. That way they are reset and ready to go for the holidays and I have a list of anything they need. DD10 should be this arvo but with how much the bigger two need it may have to be tomorrw. I do bubbas once a month so hers is good.

The worst part is the 'holding zone' that develops. The pile of crap that needs to go but has not gotten from house to donate yet. I already have a considerable one by my door from the last few weeks but it has literally doubled in size this morning. My goal is this afternoon to load it all in my car and take it to the bins at the mall when I go out tonight but that never goes according to plan!

So it is the start of the holidays here in Adelaide. Next friday would be Amelia's 8th birthday, crazy how long its been.

Ok, this mumma is tapping out, time to dive back into the junk :(

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I started Coming to Room by Jan Patrik Krasny on the 29 April 2019. 572h by 800w stitches. 18 stitches to the inch Aida fabric

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I have been retired from the workplace since the beginning of April last year (2018). Health problems kicked in due to the amount of stress I was under both at work and at home. Now I just have home stress.

That's enough, isn't it?! The health problems that I was dealing with have mainly gone, still have the regular ones.

We have recently moved into a set of units that are for people over 55. And DH is now talking as though he is going to die next week at the latest. DAH! He is four years younger than me, albeit in a great deal of pain. He carries on as though being in a place for older folk is the death knell and we had better pay attention.

I want to live my final years.

I am having trouble with being satisfied with not spending my retirement how I thought I would - traveling and enjoying it happily with a reasonably healthy spouse. We cannot travel because he cannot due to pain and total lack of any sort of comfort while in a vehicle of any sort. Going to the local shops is hard work for him. I do all the driving and all the shopping and all the housework, etc. Trying hard not to be upset about not being able to share my retirement with my DH.

I do not think that I am capable of traveling far, but any suggestion of a trip to the coast for a few days is rejected as too impractical. Although he wanted me to buy a caravan with my super money. Ehh, how was he to handle traveling with a caravan when he cannot get into the car without assistance? And who was going to be setting it up when we reach our destination! I cannot do it all by myself. We have had caravans before, so I know the work needed to be travel with one.

He has some ideas that to me seem very strange. A suggestion from me that we hire a cabin in a caravan park is not acceptable.

I have tried to get him to look at joining groups (for years). He is jealous that I go to a sewing group, but I have spent many years building that relationship with those people. He has not done this. He is a member of the RSL and is accepted there, but doesn't go as it hurts to get in and out of the car. People will only visit so many times before they expect reciprocal visits or see an effort to join in somewhere.

He has joined clubs over the years, but he never sticks to it as he always finds a reason to leave and move on. Or he joins a group that he wants me to be part of, but holds no interest for me what so ever or if it does, I cannot attend as the travel arrangements do not allow it. Such as joining a motorcycle group for couples, then having a motorbike that could not take both our weights on it.

Oh dear, I do hope that I don't sound as though I am whining. I am trying hard not to. I just do not know what to do with him or for him.

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