The biggest obstacles we have to climb over are in our minds

IMG_1180I am a great believer in the power of The Universe to bring us what we need when we need it. Most of the epic things in my life began with a chance encounter, a coincidence or a whisper of an idea that planted a seed in my mind, which germinated, started sprouting shoots and flourished into the most beautiful bloom.

I met a friend for coffee and she dropped into the conversation that she was a bit bored and fancied a challenge. She told me that she had done a charity trek with Husky Dogs in Lapland and casually suggested that maybe we could do a challenge together. Now I have to add here that I am not sporty, I am not super fit and I am not known for my adventurous spirit. However, I am open minded so I checked out the website for the company she mentioned ‘Global Adventure challenges’ and a few days later a brochure dropped into my mailbox.

I love walking and leafing through the brochure of challenges that looked totally out of my league, I spotted a Sahara Desert trek of 5 days and the date shouted out at me, the 18th – 23rd Feb 2016, as the 20th Feb 2016 happened to be my 60th birthday. So the seed was planted. I then realised that this company helps people raise money for charity, so now there were two hooks, I could do something epic to celebrate my 60 years on the planet and raise funds for PAPYRUS a charity very close to my heart since I lost my son Toby to suicide. Now my seed was germinating.

I ummed and aahed, I procrastinated, I talked myself out of it, then I just decided to do it. It was made more important when my friend who suggested the idea had to pull out as she was diagnosed with cancer. All the more reason to grab life with both hands. Continue reading

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Soon I’ll be 60 years old

Soon I’ll be 60 years old

4 marriages, one at 17, one for a green card, one for a baby and one mistake.

2 children conceived, one lived to 23, the other one didn’t make it out of the womb.

20 plus jobs, a few boyfriends, lots of shopping, lots of mistakes, no regrets.

Bossy, bolshy, feisty, got most of that from my Mum. Continue reading

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Am I still a mother?

Scan 5 (2)There’s a Facebook thing doing the rounds at the moment asking Mums to post pictures that show they are happy/proud to be a mother and then that person has to nominate three of her friends to do the same.

This kind of thing stabs me in the gut, same as when I am with people who all get their phones out and start sharing pictures of their children and grandchildren. I don’t mind them doing this but as a Mum who has lost her child it is just another reminder of my pain and what I have lost. I would imagine that some women who cannot have children may feel similar emotions. I don’t know I’m just guessing. Continue reading

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Happy Birthday Toby

Toby photo 2Dear Toby,

Today is your 28th birthday, but to me you are forever frozen at 23. You lived for approximately 86,000 days and I cherished every one. Just recently I realised that it was all the ordinary days I miss so much and I wish I had known how special they were. The other day I drove past a man taking his son to school, they were walking along hand in hand and I looked at them and cried, wondering how many days I walked you to school and held your hand and didn’t realise that I should have cherished every moment.

Continue reading

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Facing Christmas without a loved one, ten top tips

Toby Christmas day 2010

I first posted this blog when I was facing my first Christmas without Toby. I still think it is good advice so republish it every year.

It starts around the beginning of November, maybe earlier. It is the same each year and there is no escape. Christmas ads on the TV, decorations being put up in the shops and houses lit up like Blackpool illuminations. Everyone asks each other ‘What are you doing for Christmas this year?’

This question can cause feelings of panic and desperation for someone who has lost a loved one in the last year, or lost a relationship that was important to them. Continue reading

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Can saying F**K it really be therapy?

DSC_0136I have recently returned from a ‘F**k it retreat’ in Italy which is a cross between a holiday and a personal development experience. For six days I attended morning sessions on the roof terrace of a small hotel on a volcanic island near Sicily called Stromboli (pronounced strom-bolly). In the evening I practiced Chi Kung (sort of like Tai Chi) on a small black beach, and dove into the sea afterwards for a swim before dinner. It was upper-lip dripping hot. In between morning and evening sessions I swam in crystal clear water on volcanic beaches, avoiding the dreaded ‘medusa’ jellyfish that plagued the waters, ate lunch at the local wine bar, drank Aperol spritz, had a siesta, or strolled down to the port to visit the small array of shops and bars along the waterfront. I met 20 wonderful new friends from all corners of the globe and came back relaxed and rejuvenated.

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The F**k it philosophy is an approach to life developed by John Parkin.   Parkin had experienced a burn out after working in advertising in the 90s in London and had an epiphany and came up with a controversial approach to life where you just said ‘F**k it’ to help change your normal mode of negative thinking and put things in perspective. The idea is that the word is so emotive it stirs us into action, it is not intended to make you go around shouting out profanities, in fact it has been proved that if you overuse the phrase it loses its impact. Continue reading

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The power of a hug

Scan 4Every morning I walk my little dog Elfie along the seafront at Newlyn Green. I used to do it at the same time every day when I was working, now I’m a student my times are more sporadic but it is always the same walk. Drive down the hill, (yes I know you think I’m lazy but if you saw the hill I lived on you’d empathise), park by The Tolcarne pub, walk up to the bowling green, then round the bowling green and back down the seafront path.

When you have a dog you tend to talk to other people who have dogs. There is a kind of unwritten code that doggy people talk to other doggy people. I usually say a cheery ‘good morning’ to most people, with or without dog and whether they like it or not. I have got to know a few regulars but most conversations are limited to two subjects, the weather and the dogs. Continue reading

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Beyond Surviving

hopeI found this today and thought it was worth publishing to my followers. Especially useful for newly bereaved parents.

Beyond Surviving: Suggestions for Survivors Iris M. Bolton

1. Know you can survive; you may not think so, but you can.

2. Struggle with “why” it happened until you no longer need to know “why” or until YOU are satisfied with partial answers.

3. Know you may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings but that all your feelings are normal.

4. Anger, guilt, confusion, forgetfulness are common responses. You are not crazy, you are in mourning.

5. Be aware you may feel appropriate anger at the person, at the world, at God, at yourself. It’s okay to express it.

6. You may feel guilty for what you think you did or did not do. Guilt can turn into regret, through forgiveness.

7. Having suicidal thoughts is common. It does not mean that you will act on those thoughts.

8. Remember to take one moment or one day at a time. Continue reading

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What is grief?

2013-01-27 14.25.18Grief….I’ve read more about grief than I ever wanted to, and yet I still seen to be drawn towards it. I recently flicked through a supplement in The Times of the 50 best new books that you should read over the summer. I picked two to read. The first one was about a true story about the trial of a man who had driven his car into a lake killing his three young sons. Was it murder? Had he done it to revenge his ex wife for leaving him and meeting a new man? Could a father ever really kill his own children?

The second one I chose was called ‘The Last Act of Love’ and it was a memoir written by a woman whose brother got knocked down in a hit and run accident when he was 16 and was in a coma for 8 years before they finally applied to the court and got permission to withdraw all support and let him die. Both books were very sad and the second was really just an account of the impact that intense grief had on her life.

Toby Christmas day 2010Out of all the light hearted novels I could have chosen about love and hope, I chose two dark tales of grief and despair. It didn’t hit me until this morning and I started to wonder why I had chosen them and how I had been affected, especially reading the second one about how this woman was just weighed down with grief for years and how it affected her life and her relationships. I even looked up at Toby’s picture on the wall thinking if he hadn’t been successful in his suicide, he might have ended up brain damaged. The sister who wrote the book prayed the night of the accident to let her brother live, but actually 8 years later she realised that it would have been better if he had died that night. Continue reading

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Finding the healing

17FEE056-2DBC-4302-AD3D-74BD0CE426B4One of  the first thing I get asked by parents who have just lost their child to suicide is ‘How will I survive?

There is no easy answer to this question. No formula, no prescription, no set of rules. Each person has to find out for themselves. But the first thing I tell them is that they will survive, and more than that they can go on to have a good life. Of course they won’t believe this at first, how can they? But then I urge them to join the support group and talk to other parents who have faced the same nightmare and found ways to cope, survive and even thrive.

I realised today that the most powerful thing to do is to search for what heals the soul. Even after four years I still find that it can be the simplest things that gives healing to the part of my soul where I feel the loss of Toby most deeply. Continue reading

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