Grief triggers.

December 11, 2017

My late Father was a mechanic. He (from what I remember / have been told) was a warm, compassionate and vibrant business man who could turn his hand to any car.

In fact, after his final diagnosis of cardiomyopathy (swelling of the heart) he was told not to lift anything heavier than a teaspoon. Easier said than done for an active man of 6ft tall. Mum tells of how she found him in the pit of his garage under a bonnet with tools in his hand.

It was his passion as well as his lively hood.

As someone who loves to see a plan come to fruition, especially in my own business, I can see why he loved fixing cars and making them better. It’s rewarding and takes skill.

Two weeks ago I crashed my car having had it for just three weeks. It is a used car but it was perfect, in my eyes. Nobody was hurt in the accident. Well, besides my pride having driven straight from the valet garage straight into a wall.

I was reversing my new baby down a hill to let another person past in case they would clip my wing mirror. Ironically, I took more than my wing mirror off ruining the whole front bumper and side panel.

Once I was over the shock of the whole thing and had bustled my kids off to their football I ran around half the country calling every garage possible for a new bonnet.

Around ten mechanics and opinions later I was frazzled and didn’t know what to do. I felt annoyed but relatively fine about the situation until I spoke to my friend whose voice made me crumble.

She has also lost a parent so I knew she would understand that so much of my frustration and sadness over shadowed the embarrassment of the event.

In the end, when it all boiled down, I just wanted my Daddy.

My Daddy the mechanic to come and magically fix my problem.

Having grown up the majority of my life without a father figure I had day dreams.

From him plaiting my hair for Primary School just like my friend Felicity’s daddy did for her to the more obvious- walking my three boys around the fields at home. There would be one boy hanging onto his right arm, another in his arms and one scrambling for their Papa’s shoulders.

So, if I ever crashed my car I would call Dad. My daydream showed it to be so.

He would roll his eyes as he stood with oil on his hands holding the phone. Then he’d take it. He’d take my responsibility for me.

But the reality is that he isn’t here. I had to choke up my grief which surfaced like a cannonball as soon as I heard that crunch at the front right wheel.

Grief is funny isn’t it? It rides in waves and peaks at the craziest times. I have written before about anniversaries and how these often aren’t the trigger points, it’s the everyday where our sadness can lie.
The absence in an armchair at eleven o clock tea time or, one less seat at the Christmas table.

Grief stings.

For the most part I can distinguish the little nuggets of grief, see sense and push on through the permanent blob of emptiness in my daily life.

I can recognise the triggers for what they are – fleeting moments reminding me that it’s ok to cry and to remember the lack of hugs and warmth given from someone we ‘lost’.

Equally, I can dwell and let them write me off like the rest of the cars at the repair garage. I don’t think wallowing is healthy in the long run.

However, sometimes its nice to let the triggers punch us.

To allow tears a chance to surface and to feel connected to the person we miss.

I’d like to think if/when I pass that a lack of kitchen roll in our house ( I have an unhealthy obsession with kitchen roll!) would set my husband off. Or, more serious than that– if my kids saw colour and art and thought of Mummy.

The circle of life and a little car crash can really tug at all the heart strings!!

Please share your grief triggers with me and know that you are not alone. We are in this pit of the unknown and the emotional together.

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  • Reply Denise Atwood December 11, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Aly, that is a beautiful story. Saturday was he anniversary of my Mom’s passing, 26 years ago but every year I still feel it in a physical way I can’t explain. It hits me every year so I try to embrace it though it still hurts. I believe those we love surround us in ways we can’t know. So I look for the moments in life that that make me smile as I remember what they loved, my garden, a violet or a cardinal, a well made meatloaf or a well tuned car and the smiles of your boys.. Merry Christmas!.

    • Reply Aly December 19, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Denise sorry for the delay and thank you for so much for sharing this with me. There is something nice about the fact that I was with Grace during the anniversary of your Mum’s passing, and then for you to read my post about grief triggers. I feel a closeness with you, if that makes sense! I love the notion of the moments in your garden and kitchen which bring back vivid memories for you. It is those we treasure. Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment. Much love to you all in the cape this Christmas xx

  • Reply jenifer Swan December 11, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    This is beautifully written Aly i especially love that idea of the connection that occurs when we let sadness surface.
    I think for me its often when I see fathers present in their grown up kids lives , acting proud or even slagging them off that it causes an ache in my own heart. I also lost my dad when i was younger, at 13 and I have lots of moments wondering what it would have been like at my wedding, graduation etc if he was there.
    My more pressing grief at present though is recurrent miscarriages all with significant dates around the Christmas season. I am trying this year to find joy in the day to day things, amidst the sorrow.
    Thanks for your reflection

    • Reply Aly December 19, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Jenifer thank you for taking the time to read my blogpost and to message me with such beautiful honest words. I am totally with you as you watch the grown up kids and fathers, that banterful joy that you just wonder “what would they sound like?” ” how would they stand or hug me?”. I spoke today with a friend about that grief gap and how it will always be there, sometimes huge and other times less significant. I am so sorry that you are going through miscarriages. Jenifer, I can only imagine the pain and deep darkness that descends with each occurrence. Having miscarried and experienced a d&c I feel that i have small insight into the heaviness of this all, but I am so sad that you have that brick wall and can’t fathom the pain you must feel. I have hope though ! And you are worthy! I remember feeling so angry at my body but it is not it’s fault. I will pray you get through the dates this Christmas season and can bounce forward into the new year. Thank you again for sharing. Sending so much love. ps: I had just started another post on the sadness of christmas but had to abort as i was just too teary!!

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