Posts Tagged With: 40 Days of Writing

Day 27: “Grief ambushes” are times when you experience a flood of emotion at an unexpected time. Describe a grief ambush…

I graduated under the wrong name. The principal of my, very small (I’m talking a graduating year of 8) college, who knew me personally, read my name out wrong and I graduated as Alexandra Bradbury… not my name. 

It didn’t matter, my certificate said the right thing, and I got up on the stage at the right time, shook hands with the right man, posed for my photo and sat down. 

Then I burst into tears. 

My classmates all gathered around and were trying to console me, telling me that it was ok and everyone knew who she meant, that my certificate was correct and that the name read out didn’t matter. I knew that. And them trying to console me made things worse. See, they thought I was crying because I was a pre-madonna crying because she didn’t get her moment in the limelight under the right name. 

I was crying because I had been ambushed. 

I had just been hit by a truck of grief. Grief that I, for some reason still unbeknown to me, wasn’t expecting on that particular day.  The girl who had written her entire dissertation on grief, devoted a chapter to the notion of emotional and developmental milestones and the effect of their “re-grieving” on children and young people, had been blindsided by her own grief at her graduation day. 

Sometimes grief ambushes are simple moments where there isn’t necessarily a reason, but suddenly there is a swell and we have been tossed into the rough seas of grief once again. But often for me, I am most ambushed by times when it is natural to be grieving again, and I just haven’t necessarily expected it to be the case. I think that is the curse of writing and teaching on bereavement, it’s become a little sanitised and theorised.

But even now, 13 years on, and 10 years into writing about it, Grief is still surprising and has the power to ambush me. 

Lex xx (Not Alexandra Bradbury)  

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Day 26: Love Letter…

Sometimes love letters are huge long sagas of beautiful words, but they say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So maybe this will suffice. 

Happy Mothers Day Mama. 

Lex xx

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Day 25: Reflect on Revelation 21:3-4…

The book of Revelation used to really scare me, it is all quite literally a bit end of the worldy! The idea of a life to come after death is comforting, but the reality as described in Revelation has animals covered in eyes and actual monsters. But then when we’re faced with the possibility of end of the world- I don’t actually think we’re in the midst of the apocalypse, but a global pandemic sure feels like it right?- it doesn’t necessarily seem quite as scary. 

And then we read verse like Revelation 21: 3-4…

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

God’s promises are sure. We are reassured in our grief that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. But more than that, we are promised there will be a time when there is no more crying, no more pain and no more death. Jesus has beaten death and in eternity with God, the shadows of our grief will be a mere memory. 

Now I don’t know about you, but that isn’t a scary end of the world. 

Lex xx

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Day 24 : What are some questions people have asked that you appreciated them asking…?

I find myself in the position in my life where the majority of people I live most of my life  with and interact with most didn’t know me pre-grief. My family and oldest friends aside, most people in my life never met my mum. My partner didn’t know what I was like with my mum in my life. Anyone who has met me in the last 13 and a half years, all of my adult life, have only ever known me with grief and shadow as part of my life. 

And so, because of this, the question that is most appreciated any time anyone asks me is, what was your mum like? 

I think the kindest thing that anyone can offer someone who is grieving, offering them a light in the shadows, is to ask them about their loved one. Allow yourself to be invited into their shadows and walk with them there. 

Lex xx

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Day 23: What are the ways of grieving you feel society expects of you because you are a woman? Do you break these “rules” of grieving?

What an interesting question… I’ve pondered this question a lot since I first read it on the list of prompts at the beginning of Lent. 

I guess there are some aspects of grief that society think go hand in hand with being a woman. I think it is far more socially acceptable for a woman to cry, openly, and at length. Indeed, I think sometime society has a problem with women who don;t necessarily express grief through tears. Society at large is comfortable with a vulnerable woman quietly sobbing in the corner. I think that there is still more of a “societal problem” with a man crying or openly showing emotion. Part of some of the death and bereavement seminars I have done with young people over the last few years has been attempt to normalise tears amongst all genders. 

I think the opposite is probably true with anger in grief. I’m guessing that society would be more uncomfortable with a woman’s rage than a mans- but I have very little to base that on, I’m just guessing. 

I think the fact that I researched, I read, I wrote, I learned and I got published because of (?) my grief breaks with societies rules a little maybe. I would imagine that isn’t the standard “rule” for a grieving person- especially a comparatively young one. 

But these are all my guesses, because as much as I have pondered this prompt for a while, I don’t know if there is a firm answer. 

Lex xx 

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Day 22: Reflect on Psalm 46:1-5…

As you can probably tell, I am using a variety of sources for these prompts as we move through the days. The more question based titles are journal prompts, the ones that are simply words are actually a photo grief journal, but I just use that as writing stimulus. Today we have a prompt from a place that I haven’t used yet, but I couldn’t not use it today…

Psalm 46: 1-5 reads…

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.

When we are grieving we need to hear these words. We cling to the idea that God is our refuge and helper in times of need. I love that this psalm, as so often is the case, names the fears. The psalmist tells God what is wrong, what is scaring them. I think it is important when we are grieving to name the pain if we can. To express the hurt in some way, to God and the people around us, and name what is making us afraid. 

But the psalm doesn’t stop there, because if we can do that, the hope is we can move to a place of remembering God in the midst of us. In the midst of uncertainty and hurt, God is unchanging, unmoved and faithful.  In the midst of grief, I have always found God, in the shadows there with me. 

And the reason I couldn’t not choose this prompt for today, is that this is also true for us all at the moment. I was struck as I read these five verses of how relevant these words for the world right now. There is a lot of fear; society is trembling and in tumult, but God is in our midst. God will stay in our midst; we will not be moved. 

Lex xx 

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Day 21: Has your faith changed…?

In a word… yes! 

When the music changes. When grief becomes part of your life. When there are shadows where once there was light, it changes you, irrevocably. Every single aspect of your life is touched, shaken up, brought into sharper focus. Everything is changed. 

And that includes faith. When someone we love dies, regardless of whether we believe or know that they will rise again in glory, our faith takes on a different quality. It becomes just a little bit darker, we’ve seen and known the shadows. It becomes a little more complicated, heavier, we’ve seen the cost and understand the weight of what it is sometimes to have faith. It becomes truer, less shiny, deeper. It’s more profound, robust, valuable. 

In short our faith changes when someone we love dies, not always for the better. But if we manage to keep our faith while grieving, then there also changes that comfort us and make our faith better. 

And the thing is, that’s what makes it faith rather than a simple fact that can be proved and known. Because it changes. It is buffeted and warped by the storms of life, but if it remains, even the tiniest fractured kernel of it, then that’s faith my friend. 

Lex xx 

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Day 20: Breathe…

We are living in interesting and uncertain times. I’m sure you must all feel the same way as I do currently. I have just packed up my study at college, unsure when exactly I will set foot in it again. We live in the limbo of not knowing what is to come. 

And I can’t help but see the similarities of this time globally and personal grief. Sometimes we want to self isolate, sometimes we have to. Grief causes us to distance ourselves socially. The future is uncertain, and we live with the anxiety of who we’ll see next and when. Our perspectives of who and what is important get shaken up and brought sharper into focus. And, above all, breathing is important. 

breathe

In grief, and especially currently, let’s all take a moment to breathe deeply. To remind ourselves that we are alive and just to take a breath is taking a step onward. And sometimes that is as much as we can expect of ourselves. 

Today, let’s breathe. 

Lex xx

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Day 19: Music…

A simple prompt for today, and a simple blog. A beautiful song that has brought me much comfort over the years. Take a moment to listen to it today, and allow the words and melodies to seep into your soul and touch the shadows of your grief.

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Day 18: Seasons and symbols…

I’ve talked a little bit this week about how grief goes in cycles. And I think, if something is cyclical then it lends itself to seasons. There are seasons to our grief, times when things are more acute; when the pain is more sharp. But then, there will be seasons where grief is smoother and the edges less jagged. 

Just as there are our own personal seasons to grief, there are seasons elsewhere in the world. The natural seasons outside help us to remember that things are ever moving, that fresh hope and life can come out of the most barren of situations. The church has seasons too, and as I have learnt more about the church’s year, I have fallen in love with the liturgical seasons and how they help us navigate the seasons of our own lives. 

It’s the reason that I am choosing to complete this particular writing project during lent, because that is a season of penitence and solemnity. Lent lends itself to dwelling a little deeper on the shadows of grief. Exploring those shadows and how the seasons of grief and how they make us feel. 

Symbols can do the same thing, helping us to remember an aspect of our grief. I have two tattoos that are symbols that draw me back to remembering. The first tattoo that I ever got, on my wrist; and the last one that I got, on my foot. One is the Chinese symbol for Mother, and the other is a Celtic mother and child knot. I like that not everyone will understand what they are and what they mean- but that they are symbols for me, reminding me of seasons I have been in, and may be in again. 

Lex xx

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