Bereaved Abroad and Casting Off

Blimey. It’s taken me much longer to write this post than planned…I’ve been very conscious of my resistance to writing it…constant procrastination since returning from tour. I wonder why.

The main problem with leaving it so long between posts is that there is now so much I want to write about that it’s hard to clump it all together and put it under one ‘theme’. Headlines today as you know are: “Bereaved Abroad” and “Casting Off”. I’ll save topic number three for the next blog….ooohhh, cliff hanger?

Ps – I’m feeling very casual today…so I’m going for a particularly chatty tone…

Bereaved Abroad

Being a bereaved person abroad is an interesting experience. You are, in lots of different ways, out of your comfort zone and quite often that is part of what makes a holiday/travelling exciting….the unfamiliarity, unpredictability, the newness of it all. It is easier to park your grief when you’re away, put on a different mask and stand out simply because you’re a foreigner. Sometimes, as I’ve found, that is exactly what you DON’T want when you’re grieving; you want to be recognised as someone who is bereaved….and even more so, when you’re already going away in a different guise, when you’re going away for a different goal…someone else’s goal…going away in a band.

Singing is incredibly important to me; it’s a very important part of my life and who I am – and particularly in relation to my experience of grief, its been especially helpful – going to rehearsals and playing in gigs were a great source of respite from the pain in the early months after mum died. The band were enormously supportive and gave no pressure to return or come to rehearsals (then again, I am only a backing singer, but still!) The thing about going away though, especially as a backing singer is that for two reasons my grief is really at the bottom of the priority list – one, because I dont have total control, as its not my band, which is a challenge in itself for a control freak like me. And two, because I am there as a representative of a band…a band that people have worked extraordinarily hard to create and build up and therefore my loss is a piece of background info on one of the backing singers. People in that world (obviously) care more about what I sing than about whether or not my mum is alive. My head totally gets it…this is not me expecting something different, but sometimes my little heart goes “hang on a minute, something ain’t right for me over here!” I think also this tour felt particularly tricky as its nearly two years on so I obviously felt even less able to be a grieving backing singer…but rather annoyingly I felt it a lot more. What does one do in these circs?

Casting Off

The morning after I got back from tour I checked in with my hospice patient. She sounded awful and said in a weak voice that she was feeling really unwell. In truth it was the last thing I wanted to hear but I headed straight over and the smile on her face when she opened the door to me made it so damn worth it. Since I’d been away Mary had deteriorated quite a lot. In reference to the recent medical problems she said “its just like my knitting really, nothing ever finishes so I cant seem to cast off.” This led to our first ever conversation about death. Although I don’t think the D-word was mentioned, something is beginning to shift in her mind set.

Speaking of the D-word – it is Dying Matters Awareness Week this week, so its a good time to practice saying the D-word, or thinking about it, or even talking about it with someone.

Until next time…which will bring exhilarating stories of cardboard boxes…see you there

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One thought on “Bereaved Abroad and Casting Off

  1. Hi Annie, I am so glad you are back. Just chasing up publishers now. This is a remarkable piece of writing. And I hope you are coping with Mary – it’s a hard hard thing to be as supportive as you are being. How is the new flat/house? Have you moved in? xxjane

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