Reflections on Life, Love, Loss and Grief

This is one of my rollercoaster weeks as it includes son, Harry’s birthday (22), and my mother’s anniversary (1921-2009).

It has also been a week which has seen the horrific bombing in Manchester and a number of terrible tragedies here in Ireland.

I suppose it’s not surprising that I have found myself reflecting on all sorts of issues around life, love, loss and grief. The following are among the many thoughts that have been flitting around in my heart and mind:

#1. The fragility of life is mesmerising. While we need to be very aware of this fragility in order to make the most of every moment, it is something that dances around like sunlight playing with trees in a soft breeze.

 

Leaves
Fragility

 

#2. To love and be loved brings with it the risk/likelihood of having to deal with loss.

#3. Losses are not objectively categorisable in terms of their level of awfulness. To go down that road is to over-simplify what is a highly complex matter ~ and we need to be conscious that a whole host of factors come into play in terms of how losses are processed by different individuals and that one person may process losses in his/her life very differently.

#4. While there may be competitiveness in the cut and thrust of life ~ competitiveness has no place when it comes to grief and grieving.

#5. We need to recognise that there is no single best way to grieve or to deal with people who are grieving.

#6. We also need to be acutely aware that what may appear like the same loss in say a family context may well be dealt with very differently by the various members of the family. Remember that each family member is unique and has unique relationships with other members of the family.

#7. The extent to which we love someone does not necessarily equate with the grief we feel when they die. We may have a sense that a person has passed on a legacy of strength and that is something that can sustain us through what can appear on the outside to be an overwhelming loss.

 

Fragility
Layers of Love

 

#8. It is impossible to know how anyone will react to the death of a loved one, no matter how expected or unexpected that death is.

#9. Memories of loved ones who have died live on in a host of different ways and cling to all the senses, especially touch, smell, sight, sound and taste.

#10. Memories can be extremely vivid and key moments may remain etched in one’s being for years and years and years.  Those key moments may well involve exchanges with people around the time of the death of a loved one as our senses may be very heightened as we seek to cope with what may seem like the overwhelming.

#11. Life is for living; life owes us nothing; we have no ‘entitlement’ to live to a great age.

#12. Love should be nurtured, treasured, celebrated and scattered to the winds as well as held close to the heart.

#13. The sharedness of life and love, lived to the full and with as few regrets as possible, are anchors that can sustain us through unthinkable losses and terrible tossings of grief.

 

Harry
The Birthday Boy!

 

Stormy Seas

It has been one of the stormiest days for a long time and the sea took on a whole new look in Co. Waterford today.

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Rolling Waves at Kilfarrasy Beach

 

Stormy seas have a wild beauty about them,  but they are also reminders to never, ever take the ocean for granted as it has its moodiness and turbulent times, just like the rest of us.

Here’s a few quotes about storms that I especially like:

The heart of a man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too. ( Vincent van Gogh)

 

You don’t have to love the storm but you have to know its language in case you meet it. (Mehmet Murat ildan)

 

There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms. (George Eliot)

 

America needs to get over it. We can’t control everything. We can’t control the storms. (Russel Honore)

 

Nothing is more beautiful than love that has weathered the storms of life. The love of the young for the young, that is the beginning of life. But the love of the old for the old, that is the beginning of things longer. (Jerome K. Jerome)

 

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray. (Lord Byron)

 

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Sea Spray at Newtown Cove, Tramore

Simplicity in a Complex World

The world is full of highly complex and challenging issues ~ wars, starvation, greed, absolute poverty, inequality, quiet desperation, physical agony, homelessness, hopelessness …..

I often think that there is far too much of an ‘I’m alright, Jack,’ attitude out there and that there is a ridiculous level of crazy positivity knocking around, which essentially acts as  blindfolds and earplugs to the hurt that is just around the corner, if even that far away from any of us.

I really worry about the message that the massive emphasis on positivity sends out. In short, I feel that stuff like: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ essentially makes people who are in horrible situations feel like it’s their fault for not being able to get out quagmires that would be overwhelming to absolutely anyone.

Some people, though, have a way of doing very simple things that reveal all that could be great in a world that often seems to be losing its way and imploding into ‘I’ ‘I’ ‘I-ness.’

Here’s one example of such simplicity which I happened upon, as I was out and about the other day here in Co. Waterford:

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Thoughfulness ~ Step at a Time

 

 

Hillary, Donald and the Simple Things

I spent half the afternoon watching last night’s US Presidential Election Debate on You Tube. I’m a political animal and would have stayed up half the night but had been up almost all night the night before so sleep won.

It  was very strange to be sitting in my kitchen here in the South-East of Ireland, watching Hillary and Donald do battle. I had made a point of not listening to any analysis of the debate until I had seen it for myself.

It was intriguing viewing and I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about the human beings that lay behind all the talk. Nor, could I stop myself from wondering if anyone in America would have the remotest interest in watching a Presidential type debate (or a Prime Ministerial one) from Ireland. I can’t imagine how that would come across to an American audience!

Yes, the human stuff!  How nervous were they?  To what extent did they feel an ironic sense of being in the same boat. After all, even though they are on absolute opposing sides in political terms, they had a lot in common last night as they ‘shared’ that stage being watched by millions and millions of people from all over the world.  In overall terms, I felt that had I been unaware of the background to this debate and just arrived from Mars, I would have thought they were both pretty articulate, civilised human beings. (I never, ever thought I would be writing such a thing!).

The debate certainly dealt with BIG ISSUES ~ world matters; stuff that marks a moment in global history.

It stood in stark contrast to a chance meeting I had this morning with a man who comes to stay in Tramore for the summer months each year. We stopped to have our usual chat and I was sorry to hear that he’s packing up to go back up country this weekend. He’s a fine cut of a guy; well into his seventies and looked a million dollars in a pair of shorts, bare tanned top, and a his wide brimmed sun hat.

He’s known hardships in his life but is always on for a laugh, as well as down-to-earth honesty. After our ‘hellos’ he pointed out to the dancing sea and then up to the beaming sun and just said: It’s the simple things …’ 

I’ve been thinking about his words in the context of all the hullabaloo about the US Presidential debate and, what I’ve found very odd, is that I haven’t been able to identify anything that I feel I could call ‘simple.’

I was looking through a heap of photographs to find an image of ‘simplicity’ and this is the one that keeps pressing forward but I hesitate to agree with it!

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‘Solitude’ up the Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford

 

 

 

 

 

A Gentle Jaunt

What a relief to be able to walk again and with the blessing of my physiotherapist who was caring as could be about my back issues.

Where else would I go for a lovely flat surface than my old haunt, The Anne Valley trail with its cindery path.

The sun was setting and I’d no idea
how far I would be going – just relieved to be out of captivity.

It was pure Summer and seeng the ripples in the river as fish played,I found myself hummng: ‘Summertime and the livin’ is easy. ..’

Thoughts, too, of The Impressionists as reflections painted their deliousness, luring me deeper and deeper into the enveloping light.

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Reflections and Reflecting
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Haytime
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Dunhill Castle
Magical Moments
Magical Moments

I hope health is being kind to you too and that you are not in pain – physical or emotional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking the Silence

It’s been quite a while since I last posted and I would like to thank all those who were kind enough to get in touch to ask  if everything was okay.

It’s been a difficult period but the story is not mine to tell. I’m glad to report, though, that the sun is beginning to break through again, however tentatively.

The fragility of life has been at issue and it’s been a time of heightened sensitivity to everything that it is so easy to take for granted.

As always, the ebb and flow of the sea has brought immense comfort. While the world has seemed like a very uncertain and shakey place, the sea has continued to be its beautiful self – rising and falling at the predicted times.

Tonight, I would urge everyone to take time to count their blessings and stop, stop fretting about ‘stuff’ that doesn’t matter one weenchy bit in the grand scheme of things.

Sleep tight, Dear Friends, and thanks for your kindness.

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Sunrise over Tramore Bay, Co.Waterford

Live Life

Life

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.

( Diane Ackerman)

I love this quote and it made me think of the road out near Ballyscanlon Lake here in Co. Waterford. You could be driving along this lovely winding road and not think to look over the high hedge. Lying beneath is one of the most delightful lakes I know:

Ballyscanlon Lake, Co. Waterford
Ballyscanlon Lake, Co. Waterford