wings and things


on January 25, 2018

You know how something just clicks into place? That sensation of the absolute ‘rightness’ of a situation? A snap of clarity? Noticing something really tiny and recognising it as huge?

Well, having clambered up and out my pit of absolute despair (with the help of a new medication and a compassionate doctor), I have gone back to volunteering with a newfound energy. For a couple of years now I have volunteered for various organisations but, even as I was facilitating – or helping to facilitate – meetings to support families of people with Dementia, visiting nursing home residents with and without Dementia, and doing some public speaking, there was something that didn’t quite click.

My usually buoyant personality was being slowly squashed by my anxiety about Anthony, the fear of him maybe dying slowly and painfully and then, of course, the still-resonating shock of his sudden death.

As a volunteer, I was so positive to begin with; I had so much wonderful, funny, innovative stuff to say about how to relate, enjoyably, with a person who has Dementia. But, as Anthony’s health declined and he became more and more incapacitated, my energy flew away, terrified, I guess, that I was going to lose him.

One of the strangest things about bereavement is knowing how your own grief is a tiny thing compared to others – people who have lost children especially. I only know a few of these people but I do know that their grief is on a different planet from mine; mine is miniscule and I think it’s important to emphasise this. I feel guilty to be so grief-stricken when there are others who have much greater grief.

After all, Anthony was old and infirm and, as Ming so unintentionally and callously put it not long ago, “a dribbling wreck.” Obviously he and I had a heated exchange until he explained that he had suddenly been struck by memories of being a child with a dad who was well.

Anyway, back to the topic of volunteering, the one thing that has given me the most pleasure, sense of purpose, and fortitude, is visiting people with Dementia in one of the local nursing homes.

Imagined conversation 3

Me: I met this guy yesterday who reminded me of you so much, Ants! He had the same look in his eyes. You know, that staring, bug-eyed look because of the Parkinson’s.

Anthony: What’s his name? I’ll punch him.

Me: No – it’s not like that. He is really old and is in a nursing home.

Anthony: Poor bastard.

I’m not quite sure where this scripting thing is going but what I would really love to do is to write a screenplay of sorts, maybe even a movie script. It’s great to have the blog as a place where I can write whatever.

In the meantime, visiting people with Dementia is just the click I needed to restart myself!



16 responses to “Volunteering

  1. susanpoozan says:

    So glad to read that things are looking up, good luck with the volunteering and the conversations.

  2. Vicki says:

    You sound very positive and inspired tonight. Maybe the time is right to give back to the community and help other people in your position.

  3. ksbeth says:

    it sounds like a wonderful idea, and will give back to you and those you visit, many times over. i’d love to see these imagined conversations as stage play –

  4. ingridrick says:

    A screenplay is a great idea Julie … “Tuesdays with Morrie” comes to mind … along those lines – brilliant 🙂

  5. What a lovely post.

    I’ve always believed that giving back is a way to fill up my appreciation bucket.
    And I love that you are writing — you’re witty repartee with Anthony is lovely — imagined or not! ❤

  6. Ellen says:

    Finding something that clicks for you is wonderful and an essential part of contented living. Please, do not ever feel guilty about or minimize your grief. I will share these words of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross : “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to be.” I love your imagined conversations! Thank-you!

  7. tootlepedal says:

    Good scheme. The script sounds like an interesting possibility.

  8. Sounds like a wonderful thing to do

  9. Judy says:

    It is so meaningful to share our life experiences in a way that helps others. That was how I survived my grief.
    I’ve never found comparing grief to be helpful – I used to do it and it was very isolating. Of course, with anything there’s always a worse scenario. Ultimately, it is still difficult to handle losing someone we love deeply – whether it’s a friend, lover, parent or child. Please don’t diminish your grief by imagining it’s not as awful as what others have gone through.
    You are moving along on your grief journey, Julie. I don’t even think you realize how far you’ve come. I’m really proud of you. Falling down happens, and you just keep getting back up. Sending you a big hug!

    • jmgoyder says:

      You are such a tonic and mentor, Judy – many thanks ++++

      • Judy says:

        These imaginative conversations are truly a tonic, Julie. I love them so much. If I don’t comment on every single one, just know that they have me chuckling. Humor is very healing and instead of trudging in despair on your grief journey, I see Anthony holding your hand. He will never leave you!

  10. A long awaited sequel to “Mother and Son”?! Such a screenplay would relate to a wider audience now as our population ages and younger generations don’t understand why “that oldie is mental”.

    The snippets of conversations (some hilarious!) you have shared with Ants, Ming and others could be woven into a story and perhaps help your healing process.

    Just a thought.

  11. Can’t tell you how awesome it is to read these conversations! I think a movie script is absolutely brilliant!

    • jmgoyder says:

      I am really enjoying writing them – such an unexpected idea and quite comforting. Yes, I have been reading some plays and scripts to get a feel for how it might work. Thanks Linda x

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