Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Comparing the Roses and the Thorns in Grief... x

When you experience the loss of a loved one, or you go through an enormous challenge in life, there will always be ‘the before’ and ‘the after’ – ‘the rose’ and ‘the thorn.’

Sometimes, you compare how your life was before the event…in contrast to how it is now….

And I think grief or hardship, manages to rearrange your thoughts and change how you look at life.

Over time, it redirects your emotions and priorities from the unimportant stuff to what really matters in the big picture.   Like leaving those dirty dishes in the sink for just a few more hours…. :)

It also changes shape from a massive inconceivable event, that overtakes your life…to one where, eventually, you evaluate, you adjust, you absorb, you analyze….and you learn to cope with things…that would’ve upset you some time before.

And I don’t’ know if it’s just me, or if this is part of a grief phenomenon….to compare all the time….to draw comparisons from the before and the after?

For example….

Last Thursday, I dropped Dempsey off at the school gate, headed to the gym for a workout and then returned home for a shower.  When I got upstairs I noticed my bed had been made…I scratched my head, stared at the neatly made duvet, and the pillows sitting perfectly in place…I honestly thought I was going crazy! I couldn’t remember doing it.

“Maybe Peter did it?” I thought to myself. (which would be a bloody miracle as this has never happened in over 20 years.) :)

That night after school, Dempsey asked; “Did you notice your bed this morning Mummy?”

And it clicked, the penny dropped…”Did you make Mummy’s bed Precious?” I inquired, surprised.

And with a huge dimpled grin, my gorgeous little girl said, “Yes, its Random Act of Kindness Week at school Mummy!”

I grabbed Demps in a big bear hug, made a fuss and told her how sweet it was of her to do that!

It made my heart surge with love and pride.  Something so simple, yet it meant so much!  So I told her I’d return the ‘random act’ and let her choose where she wanted to go for dinner because Peter was travelling with work that night.

Dempsey chose Lucille’s, a rib restaurant which has become her new favorite.

Sitting across from her at the diner an overwhelming sense of adoration washed over me….I suddenly noticed she’s growing up so quickly, and seems to be changing…or blossoming, right before my eyes.

I felt this amazing rush of emotion, I wanted to capture the moment, so I grabbed my iPhone and took her photo…of course with Demps whining..."Muuuummy do you have to!”

                       my rose... :)

And in my mind, like I always do, now…..I started to reminisce and compare…to the thorn, and the rose……….

I thought about how she’s just a bit older than my nephew Alexander was when my sister was killed…and whether she’d be able to cope if it happened to me?

I compared her to Savannah, wondering what Savannah would look like now if she was sitting next to Dempsey?

I compared her to my nieces…how they are almost 12…and I wondered how more beautiful she’ll get when she reaches their age?

I compared the noisy family of six behind us with our family of three…and wondered what it would be like if Savannah was alive and there were four of us?

Maybe it’s a survival tool I use, a technique to deflect my grief, or categorize and sort it into some kind of functional practical device so I can absorb and survive it?   I’m not sure, but I do it all the time……

And yesterday, the Gardener’s have been in our yard, sculpting…or butchering Savannah’s sacred rose bush.  They’ve stripped it of every leaf, every rose and every thorn!

And I was mortified about it…but….I didn’t cry like I would’ve a few years ago!

Again, I compared, how I can cope with things like this….now, as opposed to ‘before,’ where I would’ve been devastated…..

I was still pissed off, and I’ll be leaving them some detailed ‘instructions’ next week. :) 

But the comparison made me realize grief does change and become manageable as the days move forward.  It has to.

Like Savannah’s rose bush...after you’ve been decimated by an event….you do regenerate, you grow and you compare.  You discover you too can be revived…and your thorns, or your grief, can change and bloom into roses someday….just as Savannah’s special rose bush will again……….

                     How Savannah's rose bush normally looks...most of the year round.

I’d love to hear if anyone else does this…the comparing, or some obsessionisms as I call them…that grief creates??

Or maybe, it’s a Libra thing….and it’s just me and I’ve learnt to compare the roses and adjust with the thorns in order to blossom….

Ps; Today on this Valentine’s Day my thoughts are with anyone who’s missing a loved one.  I hope you have a happy memory you can call up to fill your blue cup with sunshine…or chocolate you can indulge in…..even if it’s only for a little while..... x


  1. Wow, they really "trimmed it," didn't they? Hope it grows back quickly!

  2. Me too Candice...not a happy camper about their pruning skills! :)

    Sending a hug to you. I hope your Valentines Day was filled with lots of hugs from your 2 adorable little ones. Thanks for stopping by....

    Diana x

  3. I think it's probably a pretty normal grief reaction. It was our wedding anniversary at the weekend. When we got married, we had an only child, who was 7 months at the time. Now, 5 years later, on our fifth wedding anniversary, I have one daughter who is 7 months old. It should be a riddle, but you know the answer. I still have my older daughter's dress from the wedding hanging in the wardrobe - I had gotten rid of most of her baby clothes, but kept that as a momento. Now, I am pretty sure my only (surviving) daughter would fit it.

    You sit there, you stare at the baby photos - do they look alike? You wonder what Catherine would make of her little sister. I wonder how different a parent I am? Am I better - after all, I am more experienced - and maybe I have a better outlook - you don't sweat the petty stuff? Or am I worse? This mad deranged neurotic wreck of a mother, struggling to get over my child dying?

    You sit there and you wonder - because (I think) it is all we have left of the people we loved that we can carry forward into our new lives. I will never meet my daughter's first boyfriend, or see a school report card, or find out whether she would be a good cook or a fabulous ballet dancer. All I can do is wonder, and speculate, what she would have made of it all.

  4. Oh Susan...so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter.

    Your comment is heartbreaking to read however Icould totally relate to most of your comment, especially the bits about never knowing what our children would become or who they would love in life etc...

    And I think as time goes by the reality is that we will be comparing for the rest of our lives...sometimes life deals some shitty hands.

    I hope you find some comforting similarities in your new daughter..and while she will never be a replacement, I know with Dempsey, I am gifted with love and a future of having some things I have missed out in Savannah.

    Sending you a big hug...thanks you so much for stopping by, leaving a comment and for sharing some of your story. I'd love to read more if you have a blog?

    with love
    Diana x

  5. I absolutely find myself comparing life "pre" and "post" my sister's death. For example, where would I be if that wouldn't have happened? Would I have met my partner? Would I have returned to school? Would we have ever reconciled our differences? What if... would that... I wonder what... all of the time. I can't stop wondering what life would be like today if she were here, and that tragic event hadn't stained my life forever. It goes without saying that nothing will ever be the same, and because of the way that our family suffered in losing her, we became different people; a little bit for the better, and a little bit for the worse. What I do know is that seeing the pain and depression in her life during those final days before she took her own life has taught me an invaluable lesson, and for that I am grateful: I don't ever take anything for granted anymore, which I sadly can't say was't the case "pre-death". I also have a much more optimistic outlook on life, and try to focus on the positive rather than the negative... it's so easy to get bogged down in what's going wrong instead of what's going right. I refuse to let her death be in vain, and that means that I consciously make the effort everyday to be grateful for the time we had and the lessons I learned from her during her short 18 years of life.

    Thoughts and hugs to you tonight!


  6. I enjoyed reading your short poem at the beginning of this blog. And how very true, and accurate, it is. Life is full of ups and downs. Occasionally, there are a few thorns amongst the many roses. Learning how to adjust to all the "thorns" in life is what makes us better.

  7. Yes, true. We can normalize this for you. BUT - you are so articulate and illuminating in your discussion of it. Love, Love, Love to you, sweet one.

  8. Dear Coley,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how you compare the life lessons you've learned from your sister....I too have learned similar lessons, so that the death's I've experienced aren't in vain.

    Unfortuantely, we are different after experiencing loss...there's no going back to who we are...and in that, even though it's hard to comprehend 'why' we do become better human beings because of the change. Even though I'd give anything, like you would to have my sister back..so I feel your pain.

    I miss not being able to call Tarnia and share whats happening in my life and I sometimes imagine what it would be like to have that again....

    Thank you too for reinforcing that I'm not going crazy and that other people do this 'comparing' like I do... :)

    I know one thing, you sister would be so proud of how you are living your life 'now' because of her death.

    love to you,
    Diana x

  9. Dear Dipplo,

    Thanks for your comment...the saying is so true isnt it?

    The thorns in life make the roses all that more sweeter...thanks for stopping by and I hope you are travelling well.

    with love
    Diana x

  10. Dearest Kim,

    Your comment made me smile...THANK YOU!

    It's sweet to me to know and to have these feelings or thoughts validated by others as sometimes I feel I obsess over comparing.

    Thank you too for your encouraging words...especially from you!

    sending lots of love backatcha!

    Diana x

  11. Thanks for your comments and sympathy. I see you found my blog! You seem to have been through a lot, and that, together with our daughters being the same age when they died, sort of drew me here. My boyfriend (not my daughter's father) killed himself about 6 years before my daughter died. I feel like surviving his death (if you see what I mean) has helped me deal with my daughter's death better. I suppose I am looking for answers - how do we get through this - how do we accept it isn't the life we planned, but still make it a good life.

    Savannah is a wee cutie by the way. X x

  12. Hi again Susan,

    I did find your blog and enjoyed reading your words...if you get that...your story is so sad, my heart breaks for you that you lost your little girl so suddenly. Sometimes there are no answers in life as to why these terrible tragedys happen...I'm so sorry.

    You have also been through a lot with the death of your boyfriend...grief never changes, it's always hard to deal with I've found. Especially when it's a death you weren't prepared for.

    I also know what you mean about your boyfriends death helping you. I think that all the time with my sister dying first then mum...whether those losses were preparing me for the worst loss, Savannah.

    Susan, you'll always look for answers, I know I still do, even after all these years. I wish I had some for you, but I feel life is random sometimes and unfair..as we both know.

    I think as time moves forward you get to a place so you can survive where you learn different coping ways to accept your 'new' life and new identity. I don't think I will ever 'accept' the way Savannah was stolen from me, however, I do accept thats how my life is now...if you get that.

    I'm glad we've found each other. There's not a lot of blogs around about the loss of a 4-5 year old...I hope we can help each other on this sometimes unusual, difficult, amazing journey we call life.

    Sending you a big bear hug...I'll look forward to reading more of your posts.
    with love
    Diana x