wings and things

Making friends with grief

on April 10, 2018

I have learned so much about grief through my imagined conversations with “Anthony deceased” (as he is described in some legal documents I had to sign the other day) that I thought I’d share them here.

One of the things I’ve discovered is that if I wake up to what I know is going to be a day of acute grief, there is no point trying to evade it (one of the things I was trying to do). Now what I do is sort of greet it kindly, not exactly in a “Hi Grief” kind of way, more in an accepting way, almost as if it is a friend. After all, my grief about Anthony’s death, personified, has more empathy for me than anybody else possibly can.

In a way, the imagined conversations are a way of addressing Grief directly if that makes sense (if you are not sure what I mean then rest assured that I’m not really sure either!) Every time I write one of these conversations, even the ones that were a bit contrived and didn’t really flow) it helped somehow. I fought against doing it for awhile because I didn’t want people to think I was going nuts. I also didn’t want to become dependent on these conversations on a daily basis, to the preclusion of other more ‘normal’ daily activities. But I don’t care about either of those things now. Writing these conversations has often been fun and is sometimes quite enlightening.


During a grief workshop I attended recently, Pat Kelly, a grief counsellor, pointed out that there is no one way of grieving. I found that very comforting in light of the imagined conversations I was/am writing because these have helped me more with my grief than any amount of kayaking, motor-scootering, cycling, swimming, socialising and volunteering (yes, I have been busy) have. All of these activities have helped enormously of course, but writing down conversations I imagine having with a now-well Anthony has been magical.

In re-conjuring Anthony’s voice as a younger, fitter man I have remembered all sorts of wonderful things that I’d forgotten – our holidays down south when Ming was young, our debates about whether animals went to heaven, our private jokes, our delight in the moonflowers blooming, his passion for motorbikes and classic cars, the parties, and so on. I’ve remembered poignant moments and sad times as well but mostly ‘talking’ with him has been a joy. I used to tell him everything even when he became less able to converse so, during the nursing home years, I sort of forgot about the way we used to talk and talk and talk. Remembering these conversations has been like a gift.

Making friends with Grief in this manner reminds me of how I ended up making friends with Dementia. In doing so, a lot of the associated fear diminished and a feeling of wellbeing returned.

I suppose since it’s my grief, after all, I am kind of making friends with myself again too. I’ve been working on that anyway with my wonderful psychologist, Daniella Princi whose program has provided me with all sorts of interesting tools for living my life the way I want to live it.

One thing I know for sure is that Anthony would be proud of the way I am coping with his death and he would be chuffed to think I am pretending to converse him still. He was always very accepting of my idiosyncrasies, as I was of his.

Me: I’ve sort of made friends with the grief now, Ants.

Anthony: Good on you, Jules.

22 responses to “Making friends with grief

  1. as you say. there is not one way of dealing with grief. I think you are doing well to be able to vocalise how you are dealing with it. So well done for sharing it with others.

  2. susanpoozan says:

    What a thoughtful piece of writing, you are so good with words.

  3. That is beautiful …. keep on going. Katie

  4. ksbeth says:

    have you seen this film? you may find it interesting –

  5. I think you are wonderful.

  6. judyrutrider says:

    Whether you’re nuts or not, you’re still teaching us coping skills as you figure them out. Good on you, Jules!

  7. Anonymous says:

    This post joined so many dots for me as I have journeyed with you through your grief. Your wifehood, womanhood, personhood, all shine through and bless your readers with hope.

  8. dodsydo says:

    It seems a wonderful way of allowing grief to flow through you Jules. Gives it the constant movement that all emotions are. In saying that, everyone will prefer joy, love, happiness, and laughter, rather than the sadness of grief. That is part of loving. Grief is also a truth. 💓
    My Aunty Teeny loved her husband Bob. He passed a good 40 years afore her. 😢 She spoke to Uncle Bob every day of her life without him!!
    I myself never thought she was nuts.. nor did most of her family!!!
    💖 💟💖💟💖💟💖💟💖

  9. I know one day grief will come to visit me I just hope it isn’t any day soon, your strength amazes me

  10. Judy says:

    Not only have you made friends with grief, Julie – you are inspiring other people to learn from your courage and wisdom. I love how you’ve helped yourself through this in such an amazingly beautiful way. Perhaps Ants truly is with you and helping you through. That is the key!

  11. Rhonda says:

    Boom! And there it is! You really are one very smart cookie!!

  12. Val Boyko says:

    Good on ya Julie 💛

  13. I love this, Julie. I’m sure Anthony would be proud, and I hope you’re proud of yourself, too. I’m also learning to make friends of the uncomfortable emotions, attitudes, and circumstances in my life, to accept them as I accept difficult relatives because, after all, they’re mine. Thank you for continuing to post your journey. You encourage me in the most literal sense of the word–your example gives me the heart to go on with humor, with love, and with a willingness to feel what it feels like to live, find, love, lose, and rediscover the little joys of being here while we’re here.

  14. lensgirl53 says:

    I marvel at how you have coped with grief. Even before the inevitable happened, you related in your writings with gracious sensitivity the enduring complications of dementia and Parkinsons. Grief is multi-faceted and lingering but somehow we survive. Your survival is rooted in your creative sensibilites, in imagined and past dialogue. God bless you. Hugs!!

  15. Julie I love this way of dealing with grief! You are very clever and I have often suggested this in counselling! Well done for finding a way through 👏💕💚💕

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