Friday, 25 April 2008

When the river disappears

It’s been a difficult week.

I could blame exhaustion from four weeks preparing for and rushing around the country – two conferences in London and Coventry, followed by presenting four bereavement workshops in Birmingham, Grimsby, Brigg and Goole, a training session on NHS complaints in London then a meeting with my boss in Sheffield. Out of work has been just as busy with three healer teaching/supervision/demonstration sessions, a weekend digging my herb garden in the Cotswolds followed by a family party in Surrey last weekend.

I could also blame my hormones, which were supposed to have settled into their new, lower levels, but my body decided otherwise, leaving me weeping in the toilets yesterday morning wondering if tears were a good enough excuse to go home and sleep for the rest of the day!

At times like these I think back to the lyrics of The Squonk by Genesis
I have always identified with the creature, wondering if one day I shall be the one tied up in the sack leaving only a pool of tears as a legacy!

Thinking rationally, I know how much I have to be grateful for, especially when I hear other people’s stories either first hand or on the news. The recent deaths in Redditch must be touching every parent of an adult child with learning disabilities who wonder if they, too, might find themselves in a similar situation one day if their capacity for caring reaches a place of no return.

One of my tasks this week is to put together a list of support organisations for a young mum who had a stillbirth and is now pregnant again. I was very heartened to see the discussion forums now available online which were not around when my children were born or when my mother suffered her miscarriages. Knowing you are not alone in your suffering and fears is often half the battle.

Being alone was something mentioned by a gentleman I met last night at my local cancer support group. I’d been contacted a week ago by the booked speaker who could not attend because her mother, who suffers with Alzheimers, had fallen and needed 24 hour care until she was back on her feet again.

As a group, we have been wanting to offer healing to people with cancer for many years, but the opportunity hasn’t materialised. It was a wonderful evening. I spoke for fifteen minutes or so and then we broke into groups and everyone who wanted healing was able to receive it. Each healer had four “patients” – around 20 people. Everyone said what a different evening it had been and how much they enjoyed it.

While I was waiting to begin, I dropped into conversation with someone who had been given a 12-month prognosis. He looked very frail, talking about losing his confidence, not being able to work and generally not knowing what to do. There was a flipchart in the corner of the room, so I drew him a picture of the river of life model of loss and bereavement. I first came across this at a Brake training day on understanding bereavement and have been using it in my workshops ever since. People love it because it describes the process so simply and they are able to recognise where they are in relation to the whirlpool of emotions and moving backwards and forwards into the new river of life.

When he saw the diagram, the gentleman mentioned how he had been trying to climb back up the waterfall to regain his original river, which is something many people do before they accept it is not possible. I suggested he try to concentrate on thinking only of one day at a time, or if that were too difficult, just the current hour and forget about the timescale he had been given.

I never know whether the words I offer people are helpful. It only seems important that I say them rather than leaving them unsaid and wishing afterwards I had done so.

Another good thing from last night was meeting some of the Reiki healers who offer regular healing to the group. One of them expressed an interest in herbs, so maybe I shall have another healer at my herb workshops!

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