Sunday, 26 March 2017

Flowers and family

Mothers' Day today and I got flowers. I felt really bad because my son had ordered them and the combination of a ring at the door, cardboard box delivery/ signature and then putting flowers in the vase was so reminiscent of the days before and around the funeral that I inevitably got the shakes, hammering heart, nausea and so on. I felt really frustrated and cross with myself for being such a wimp about what was after all a lovely present from my gorgeous sons. I  was heartened though during a conversation with a friend from the bereavement group this afternoon who told me she promptly burst into tears on receiving Mothers' Day flowers yesterday again because of the associations with her husband's funeral.It made me feel a bit more like I might just be quite normal and not some kind of freak,;thank goodness for the chance to talk to people who understand and have been through it.
The flowers are really very nice, and even nicer was a call from the youngest son and a chance to chat to him. He is going on holiday to Budapest and then Sweden tomorrow and rather sheepishly confessed that he had been so busy that he didn't order a card until quite late on- had it arrived? No, it hadn't but I am looking forward to it some time this week so told him not to worry.
My family has been fantastic over the last few months and weeks. The only difficulty I've had has been trying to persuade the youngest to take more money and the eldest that he doesn't need to give me more money!  am very lucky in that I get a small pension from Kev's work and this currently pays for the living expenses and accommodation for our youngest (Oxford is not cheap.) It is actually slightly less than we used to give him and so I always expected to have to top  it up by a couple of thousand but he won't take the money insisting he can get by! However, this week he texted me to ask if I could transfer a hundred pounds into his account just as a float for while he was on holiday. I transferred several hundred and got a text telling me it was too much and I would be getting some back. I think we might fight over this one! Kev and I always wanted him to have enough and, without being extravagant, to make sure he enjoyed his undergraduate days. My eldest son is just the same, he is working part time  on the minimum wage and for the last few years has given us money towards his food and keep. He now wants to increase this and is learning to drive in order to give him the chance to look further afield for  a full time job.
I do feel really proud of the way they have both rallied round and at just how grown up and supportive they have been. You'd kind of expect this is how family should be, unfortunately I know quite a few people, mainly in the bereavement group, who have had conflict and difficulties instead of support. Maybe we got something right in the way we brought them up or maybe they are just naturally lovely people. I might be biased, but I think so anyway.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Dilemmas

I received a text  from friends yesterday letting me know they are about to book tickets for them and for me to an open air theatre production in July and asking "is that OK?" in a way that implied they expected it would be. Kev really loved this particular event; we've attended it along with these friends for years and always aimed to have a picnic in the grounds first depending on the weather. I've got a real dilemma now as I just don't know if I will be able to go.
One problem I've had since Kev's death is that I've struggled to return to places that evoke strong memories, whether good or bad. It is not just that the experience is emotionally painful, I get physical reactions such as intense nausea, heart pounding and shaking, then often flashback nightmares which will involve that particular context. Sometimes these reactions take me completely by surprise. For example, just recently I had to drive past the turning to the canal where we often used to walk the dog/ go for a cup of tea. As I approached the turn off, I had the feelings of nausea again and began shaking so badly that I had to pull over as I didn't feel safe to drive.
The reason for this is very likely to be the sudden, unexpected and traumatic nature of Kev's death ( I found him along with my son and attempted to resuscitate him, the flashback nightmares always involve this.) In fact my doctor has suggested it may be a form of post traumatic stress syndrome and given me medication which stops the heart pounding but has little effect on feelings of nausea and distress or  the nightmares which follow and/ or precede a visit to places with strong memories. These reactions began very soon after Kev's death, I never anticipated that I would still be suffering from them five months later. My doctor has explained that having had a history of childhood sexual abuse has made me more likely to develop PTSD and has offered to refer me for bereavement counselling.I'd like to say that I will be OK to go to the play in July but I can't be in any way confident that this will be the case.
Although this couple are in many ways very good friends, we always did things together, we never really talked at any deep level. I've been out with them for lunch and been round to theirs for a meal  but if I have ever mentioned Kev, I've sensed they feel uncomfortable. Their incredibly kind way of helping me is to offer company and trips out rather than talking. In many ways I have to say this suits me just fine but I suspect if I told them why I don't want to go they would be uncomfortable and embarrassed -and I might be as well.
So, what to do? I could a. tell them b. make a general excuse c. say to book and then cancel later if needed. Why does life have to be so complicated?

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Philip North

I read with sadness the news today that Philip North has withdrawn from accepting a post as Bishop of Sheffield. It is always a sad day when someone makes a decision of this kind that affects them personally, and also I believe North is very highly thought of and clearly has many gifts to offer which will now not be exercised in this capacity.
At the same time, it is true that women priests in the  diocese of Sheffield- over 30% of its clergy- would have been faced with the prospect of being led by someone who could not accept their ministry as possible or in any way valid. I read that one of the organisations North belongs to issues "passports" to guarantee priests are of a "pure blood" lineage, in other words they have not only not been ordained by a woman, they have not been ordained by someone who has been ordained by a woman, or by someone ordained by a man ordained by a woman... (continue ad infinitum)
 When I volunteered with WATCH and with Changing Attitude at Synod, it opened my eyes to the bitterness and "at all costs" mentality with which some held to enshrined positions and ideologies. I  reflected on the sheer impracticality of the "good disagreement" that the Church speaks of and of finding a place for all around the table. Surely everyone knew this would happen? Surely everyone realised that it is unacceptable and untenable to have a bishop would doesn't recognise the calling of those he leads? Surely at the same time it is equally unacceptable to promise "good disagreement" and an honoring of those who hold a traditionalist line only to see someone of high standing step down in the face of opposition? This is not to say that I do not think North's views of male headship or the male apostolic succession or whatever he holds to frankly ludicrous, but let's be honest, lots of Christians hold beliefs that might be seen this way and the point is that a gracious place for all was promised.
And what of those outside the Church- an organisation which it is still sometimes mooted "exists for the benefit of its non-members" (really? excuse me while I laugh.) Once again the Church looks downright dodgy and rather nasty, filled with what I believe are termed  "weirdos" and "haters".
It  rather brings to mind the words of Ghandi- "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."