wings and things

Gutsy9, the teenage peacock



Grief Intelligence: A Primer

Vic's Final Journey


For the past 25 years, I have worked with thousands of grievers. I have sat with widows and widowers, the young and the old. I have offered tissues to bereaved parents in their inconsolable grief. I have normalized, educated, listened to and championed those grievers who, through tremendous pain, still engaged with life.

In the decades since my book Transcending Loss was published, the grieving process has not changed. As I interact with grievers from around the world, I am reminded of the universality of grief. And though each person has their own journey, still they share many common experiences.

Yet, still, I see and hear so much misinformation and confusion around grief. Principally, this comes from the widely-held myths that grief should be easy, that grief should be short, that grief has closure, that people should get on with their lives unchanged and that ongoing connection with the deceased…

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On the fence




During the time I taught creative writing units at the university, I remember saying to the students, “Just pretend your parents aren’t looking over your shoulder and write freely; don’t censor yourself!” This was very effective in some ways (a lot of powerful writing was produced), but it was also problematic in that sometimes I would become privy to secrets never shared before. So, over time (I taught for nearly 20 years), I changed my instructions to, “There will be no gutspill please!”

Well, blogging is now a well-established form of published writing and self-censorship is probably a conundrum that many bloggers wrestle with. When I began my blog here on WordPress, I used my own name but, in an attempt to be semi-anonymous and private, I called Ming, ‘Son’ and Anthony ‘Husband’. Eventually I began calling them by their real names (with their permission) and I felt comfortable doing so despite some of our situations being uncomfortable.

This week I have had the self-censorship wrestle with myself, yet again, because I was writing about Ming, and I realized that maybe the issues we were having were better kept within our little household. So I deleted two posts (realizing of course that they are still readable via email notification but I offed them from the blog).

But yesterday’s post deletion (my 3rd in two days – how embarrassing) was different. In that post I had related an anecdote that could have been misconstrued as black humor about an issue that is, and never will be, funny. I didn’t receive any negative comments, but I still felt a bit yucky about my anecdote; hence the deletion.

Today, I discovered a blogger whose experience with grief and loss is so profound that it took my breath away. I am yet to make contact with her, beyond following her blog today, but I want to because she has drawn my attention to issues I didn’t want to recognize, not just in my own life, but in the general community.

I am glad I deleted that post.

PS. Internet is only working spasmodically until new modem is figured out.


Minimal connection with internet ongoing – grrr.

Hopefully fixed next week.


No words for this much beauty – Gutsy’s father, Prince!






Annie get your gun!

Well last week I finally got my firearms licence and was able to collect Anthony’s rifle from the lockup. It was a rather strange rigmarole which began three months ago when a policeman came to the door and frightened the hell out of me (because I keep getting speeding tickets – another story). He said he had come to seize the guns because Anthony’s licence had expired due to nonpayment of annual fees. I said I had deliberately let that go because Ants was in a nursing home now, so not in any fit state to shoot, and that I had no idea where the gun cabinet key was but his brother probably had the guns anyway. The policeman said he would go across the road and ask the brother and give me a few days to find the key.

So, as the brother did have the rifle, but said he didn’t have the other three guns (an air rifle and two shotguns), the policeman seized the rifle and put it in the lockup place for me to pick up when I got my own licence. Then I had to search for the gun cabinet key. Now you might be wondering why on earth I didn’t know where this was but (a) I have never known Anthony to shoot anything and (b) pre-nursing home, he had a habit of hiding strange things in strange places throughout the house and (c) when the new gun laws came in way back when, we got the gun cabinet and it hasn’t been opened since – nearly 20 years ago!

I didn’t even know what was in the stupid cabinet except I recalled Anthony putting a bunch of antique walking sticks in it (yes, he was eccentric even before the Parkinson’s disease). Anyway, after a 3-day search of all the nooks and crannies, I found a zillion keys, including the one for the gun cabinet.

Inside was one rotting old shotgun (which had to be seized and destroyed) and the walking sticks.

You see, I have to shoot the rabbits before they dig up the foundations of the house. Of course I am not relishing this horrible task, because I love animals, but these rabbits are taking over. Here is one of the bigdaddies flirting with one of the peahens – argh!

I will get a better shot of how MANY rabbits are here tomorrow. If I can’t do it with the camera, how will I do it with the rifle? Oh dear.


I will not lose my sense of humour!

Yesterday and today, despite visits from many friends and family, it was just Anthony and me. Yesterday his eyes got wet when I had to leave, and today his eyes went blank when I had to leave because he didn’t understand why I had to come home and leave him at the nursing lodge.

I wish I could laugh it away.



I only have one white peacock (named Prince) and two white peahens. Prince’s tail feathers are fully grown now. I will try to get a photo of him doing the fantail thing soon.

My young human prince (son, Ming) has rediscovered his princely ways. Obviously a lot of his recent angst was to do with having unwittingly fractured some of the titanium in his spine post scoliosis surgery, and having to quit milking cows, and feeling emasculated by not being able to ever lift anything heavy. We have now seen the surgeon again and Ming is scheduled for revision surgery in the next couple of months. It has been a bit of a dramatic couple of weeks with tears etc. but over that now and have bought ramps and a trolley to help us lift stuff that is too heavy. Example: as we don’t get a rubbish collection, we have to take stuff to the local dump. Today it was some heavy stuff but the trolley + ramp thing worked beautifully! Such a relief.

Ming’s biggest sorrow is that he won’t be able to carry his bride over the threshold! (BTW there is no impending bride yet!)