Coping with Grief

Its different for everyone

I'm sitting outside on the deck in my "was meant to be Mom-only chair but has ended up being a communal chair when Mom's not in it" chair. This chair was either a brilliant idea or the end of all my ambition, as I find it almost impossible to leave.

On my third cup of coffee and the sun beaming, with a light breeze cooling me down in the already warm 8am temperatures, I feel like shit. Physically and mentally. Any other time in life I'd be running around chopping up veggies and fruit and making sandwiches for the kids to take to sport; I would have been at boot camp and back already, and probably 2-3 loads of laundry washed and hung up. But this time in life? All I can think of is how little I want to do today, and already dreading having to use my brain again on Monday.

This is what life is like for someone who is suffering from grief.

At least, it is for me. I know everyone experiences it differently.

Various Coping Methods

Some people drink themselves into an oblivion. I fully admit I've consumed more alcohol in the past 4 months than probably my entire adult life. No, not ridiculous alcoholic on the bathroom floor vomiting and crying drunk. But a few gins after work and a few more on the weekends, just to dull the sadness. Oscar told me the other night in bed (one of his coping mechanisms, he's slept with me each night since Duncan died) that he didn't like life as much with Dad not in it. He also said he didn't want to hurt my feelings because he loves me too, but Dad not here makes him feel like there is a big hole in his life. His words. My poor babies.

Some people go completely opposite. A friend of mine told me about a friend of his who lost her partner, and being a fitness freak she embraced using exercise as her way of mentally and physically coping with her loss. All of her physically active challenges were use to promote awareness of what took her husband from her (like 85 push ups a day for the number of men that will die from that particular illness). She sounds like an amazing human.

My coping has taken form in distraction. Anything I can do to distract myself from being sad. Not necessarily from reality, I have three little ones that depend on me to face reality for them, so I have to stay on top of that. They're the only reason I do anything I do now, so facing reality is a must. But to keep that reality from drowning in tears daily, I've needed distractions. Its really so clear actually.


Camping - beautiful, wonderful, very time-consuming distraction. In so many ways. Not only planning, packing, going, coming back, unpacking - those are the obvious aspects. Here are the other distractive advantages that have helped the grieving and coping process:

Online shopping - new cool stuff comes out all the time. So when I'm wide awake at 245am and can't fall back asleep, Tent World, Anaconda, Freddy's Sports, and sometimes BCF have kept me distracted for hours. I'm sure Tent World has been restocking nightly in anticipation for my buying rampages. Latest purchases: mosquito zapper lamp for inside the camper, rechargeable fan for summer camping, and jaffle irons for the campfire. Side note: Dan Murphy's, First Choice, and BWS also offer great online shopping.

This is a jaffle iron (for the non-Aussies)

Blogging - this blog started out as a camping blog but has turned into something so much more for me. It gives me a place to focus my emotion and sadness, and in a way turn them into something productive. I find talking exhausting. I find telling people the same story over and over exhausting. Grief in general is exhausting. I avoid phone calls like the plague. I can't be bothered writing lengthy emails telling everyone how I am and how shitty life is for us right now. My closest friends know I'm at my best sitting with them drinking and talking about anything other than how I am, and that I can text shit anytime day or night, as long as you don't ask me how I'm doing. This blog lets me tell everyone how I am all at once. And it is as therapeutic for myself as it is for others. Those who know and love Duncan, those who want to know how we are without asking, and for those who don't know us at all but have their own grief. Its nice to know you're not alone.

Conversation - nothing inspires conversation like a good camping analogy. Like forgetting a whole bag of clothes, or "losing" tent pegs and guy ropes. And the best part is, everyone has one, and I don't have to talk (refer above: I find it exhausting). I get to listen. I had a cup of tea with a friend of mine the other day, and at the end, she apologised for talking more than listening. In all honesty, it was absolutely the best conversation for me, because I didn't have to do all the talking. I was so grateful she has as much going on in her life as I do, and I could be someone for her to vent to and get it all out.

New places to go - when I've bought out all of Tent World after a quick online shop in the middle of the night, the next best thing to do is search online for where to go to next. The bookmarks list grows daily, especially when you have friends recommending all the time! So many more options now, too, with the borders set to reopen (except for Greater Sydney, where of course Uncle Marty lives). FFS.


Duncan and I have always been animal lovers. We had Colin the Cockatiel in Korea (gotta love unintentional alliteration), and Gough the Galah when we moved to Brissy. We also had Robin and Olaf, other cockatiels. We had to get rid of the birds because the kids were just too young, and I was studying too much, and we couldn't give them the attention they deserved. We also got Maeby, our gorgeous fat cat who's only ever hissed at one person (what did you do to her, Miranda??) and she's worth more than her weight in gold (and anyone who's ever seen Maebs knows that's a fucking fortune).

Duncan and Colin the Cockatiel

Max and Maebs

Duncan and I had talked about getting a dog but he wanted to wait until the house was finished, which was fair enough. That and the fact that life's busy enough as it is, why take on more? Agreed.

Until he was no long here and taking on more was the only thing I could think of to help heal the emptiness.

Goose - she's awesome. Licks a fucking lot and still thinks soft biting is affection but otherwise, the ideal dog. She fits in the family like she was always meant to be with us. And when over 500 people applied for her and her brother, getting her clearly shows she was.

Gerald, Giles, Gingy, Amy, and Rory - Max and I went out for lunch one day when Alex had futsal training. I don't know where Oscar was (obviously I did at the time, I just can't remember now). The place we ate at had a fish and aquarium store next to it, so we went in and had a look around. Max fell in love with the fish immediately and said how much he'd love to have some (but didn't ask because he's the only considerate kid here that doesn't continually ask for things). So me being the sucker mom I am for my beautiful kids said "let's get some". Not that day though. We spent some time finding the right aquarium, and waited until we got back from our last camping trip to get them. We got the first three, mini mollies, the kids named one each. Then I got the next two. For non-Doctor Who fans, we have a TARDIS in the tank, and Amy and Rory are two of our favourite companions. Those two are weird fish though. Amy doesn't leave the TARDIS. And Rory hovers vertically next to the filter most of the time. Seriously WTF?

I bought a birdcage online last week. At about 3am. We're still looking for the right bird or birds for us, but I applied for two lorikeets on the RSPCA website last week. Fingers crossed.

I'm close to catching up to Carol in the pet department. She has the guinea pigs and chickens (which by default means she's got snakes, too) and we have the cat, but together I figure we could start charging admission for our small petting zoo.

The things I should actually focus on but struggle to

I find a lot of things hard. They're not. Not physically but to make myself do. Maybe its because I know I need to. Maybe because I can't be on auto-pilot and coast through but actually have to apply thought. Something things were Duncan's domain. Some things I just don't fucking like doing and will avoid at all cost. Some things I want to do so badly but know it takes time and I don't have the spare energy to invest.

Some things that fall into the above categories include:

  • spraying Roundup on the jacaranda tree that's starting to grow back. I walk past it every time I hang up or take down laundry but still always seem to forget to do it.

  • putting together some of the flat-packed purchases I've made at 2am - they always seem like such a good idea at the time

  • cooking. This one pisses me off. I used to love to cook. And bake. Now, UberEats makes about as much off of me as Tent World does.

  • exercise - I've started back once a week with my wonderful Mike. Thank god he exists. Its the only exercise I've been able to make myself do. I want to, all the time, but usually can't get myself motivated. Being tired all the time makes it so hard.

But I did clean out the garage last weekend with the kids. Wait, I rephrase. I re-cleaned out the garage that Marty had already cleaned out when he was here but I let get messy again. Its now back to Marty-level organisation.

The rest of my day today is also exhausting and full of distraction.

Two waterpolo games that I don't get to watch (Covid regulations) but chauffeur to/from. Drop off to a birthday party in between. Hallowe'en costumes for my two that want to go trick or treating. And the Wallabies game on TV tonight. Pretty sure the boys will be waking me at the end of it saying "Mom, did you see that??" while I pretend to have been awake for the whole thing.

This post was not meant to be a sob story, or have anyone feeling sorry for me or bad for us. Quite the opposite. Its to answer all those questions you want to ask but can't and don't. And I understand. I wouldn't either. But I'm happy to answer.

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