ONE WAY TO COPE WITH BEREAVEMENT

Photo from A Passion for Perfume by Jo Glanville-Blackburn (Ryland Peters & Small)

Photo from A Passion for Perfume by Jo Glanville-Blackburn (Ryland Peters & Small)

My biggest stress in life…was suddenly losing my father.

The long lost alluring smell of a pipe… oh how I miss it! It was simply my father’s smell: colourful wool waistcoats comfy for a hug, scented with pipe tobacco, cigars and Everton mints. Pure nostalgia, right there.

He passed away 32 years ago, suddenly (and literally in my arms) - yet I still keep two of his favourite pipes safely tucked away in an old bureau: and even now, a lingering hint of tobacco just about conjures up this image of him in my mind’s eye. Memory and scent being so inextricably linked.

It took me so many years - decades really - to cope with the grief of his loss. I was 22, had just walked home from the station, up a couple of hills in the first snow of Jan 1987. On my way I stopped in at a neighbours who were friends with my parents and had a warm drink before heading round the corner to my own house. Weirdly as I sat there I even said ‘I must get home now'…

Ten minutes after I got home my father come in after walking up the hill in the snow. He was a fit man, only 57. We said a couple of words, I like to think they were kind - I don’t really remember. Five minutes later, reaching for his gin and tonic, he collapsed from a heart attack, in front of my mother and me.

I had learned CPR at school (they don’t teach that much anymore), I gave it my best…I didn’t succeed. I can honestly say I spent the following 26 years berating myself, consumed with immense guilt that I never helped him recover. Grief and guilt are cruel tormentors.

Then I read The Healing Code by Alex Loyd, PhD and Ben Johnson; a ‘very American’ handbook written to inspire us all to let go of past hurts and negative beliefs, something I intrinsically believe is at the core of our emotional wellbeing. It was recommended to me by a friend who is also a nurse, and it teaches you a self-help meditation-style mantra that you use to infuse your mind and body with positivity and feelings of unconditional love. You can take from it what you need (it’s quite religious in places) - but no other person is involved (unlike therapy) in making you think your own thoughts - it’s all you, and it’s very empowering.

With a bit of practice and quite a few tears later, my mindset about father is now very different. I now know that I was very lucky to be there in his last moments, and be there for my mother and that I did my best. Guilt is such a negative emotion, and often we don’t appreciate how deep-seated it can be, and sometimes even over a minor upset. Now, I say, get it out… trust your instincts about the things that flow into your mind in a flash - these are the things that are potentially hurting deep down, unresolved. Deal with them - then move on.

Now, I do ‘The Healing Code’ when ever I feel the need for positivity, clarity and a solid sense of self. Often at night, before falling asleep…it’s a comforting tool if anyone out there needs one…

What do you do to pause and destress?

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