For Julian

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I wrote this goodbye to my brother’s farmhouse, when his family moved back into town in June 2016, a few years after his death. Glad to say, his brood have all moved forward and are building strong lives – guided, I’m guessing, by a strong sense of him. Happy Christmas dear Julian! Thinking of you now.

Julian was in the sentinel trees which mark the spot of entry, where he first invited me to his country, his place, on the Old Winton Road.

He was at the corner of Jenner’s Lane where his widow Marie and I walked, before we turned towards the Baiada poultry yards and the chooks called out to us, beseeching us not to be angry with God for taking him too soon.

He is no longer lurking in the audacious ‘Hay for Sale’ sign, that sits beside long spears of grass and sight-blocking trees, ready to taunt us as we pass – too close to that dreaded and ambiguous intersection of private and public roads.  

He is no longer in the proud but dishevelled country cottage, with its path of red bricks and the heater disassembled on the living room floor. Nor is he in the garage where firewood is now being dispersed and chopped by Wayne, and where bits of old motorbike lay hidden.

Today, for a matter of only hours, he was in the mournful Leonard Cohen melodies that sang out as I criss-crossed the Oxley Highway and drove down the Wallamore Rd, taking a hodgepodge of belongings, bric-a-brac and boxes of Christmas trinkets, marked ‘green tinsel’ to his family’s new place at the northern end of town.

As his spirit dispersed this morning, it latched on for a minute to my aching belief that if only they’d moved to this trim little cottage, so close to the school where he worked, but still with echoes of the old Australia he was chasing, we would never have had to say that permanent goodbye.

And then he left.

My brother Julian now resides in his widow’s subconscious twist of the neck, in his eldest son’s shy smile, his daughter’s sassy tattoo; in his youngest son’s long foot with its bony toes. If chaos comes and mayhem rules it will no longer be his gentle, goofy, smiling sort. It will be something else, entirely new.

But I will still see him in windmills, scattered about the countryside, those lumbering ageless souls, who suck in air to make blades rotate as they pump the water below, their life-force, like my dear brother’s, drawn unseen yet purposeful across the landscape.

Have your say…for a few more weeks

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Leslie Williams

You’ve got a (small) opportunity to fill in a survey about palliative care in NSW, until December 15, this year (2017).

The NSW government has promised to spend an extra $100 million over the next four years for community-based palliative care services, on top of the money it already spends.

“We are listening carefully to the community’s views on where and how palliative care services can be improved so that we have a strong plan for the future,” said Port Macquarie MP and NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Health, Leslie Williams.

Mrs Williams has promised answers from the survey and feedback from community consultation done earlier this year will inform a new palliative and end-of-life care policy in NSW.

“Getting the public’s feedback on palliative care priorities is vital if we are to produce better outcomes for everyone when the inevitable occurs. The survey will only take about 10 minutes so I strongly urge everyone to take this opportunity to have their say,” Mrs Williams said.

To add your two bob’s worth, go to www.health.nsw.gov.au/palliativecare

 

Now that the funeral is over

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Margaret Rice Good Grief and Doris Zagdanski My Grief Assist

Introducing Doris Zagdanski, who works with one of the largest funeral providers in Australia. She is also the author of many books about grief.

Doris is currently giving a lot of thought to that most difficult of times – when the funeral is over.

“After the funeral we shut the door and everyone’s life is supposed to go back to normal. But it often doesn’t. That’s when grieving people often need the most support, when the busyness of the funeral is over and they’re left on their own.

“How can we make that better? It’s a challenge for all of us.”

Doris has started a webpage called My Grief Assist.  https://www.mygriefassist.com.au/

She is also author of the book “Now that the Funeral is Over – the common sense guide for grieving people.” (First published in 1993, to be reprinted in 2018)

Doris’s other books are:

Something I’ve Never Felt Before

Stuck for Words: What to say to someone who is grieving

What’s Dead Mean? How to help children cope with death

When Pets Die: It’s alright to grieve

Teenagers and Grief.

 

The Kiwi Coffin Club

Love the way these baby-boomers are rethinking the end, turning old ideas on their head, the way they always have – while making friends and tap-dancing.

Thanks to my dear friend, writer Katie Delaney, for sharing this.

The Grief Kaleidoscope

A book by Su-Rose McIntyre

Su-Rose  says:

“I began my grief journey eight years ago with the unexpected death of my only child and son, Carl – a beautiful young man, loved by many. His loss left me feeling bereft and fearful about what lay ahead…No day was ever the same. One thing became very clear to me, grief kept changing its form. It was kaleidoscopic in nature, unpredictably variable. During my reflections, metaphors came to me often. I wanted to share many of these – hard-won as they were.

“It could be used as a grief self-help book, as well as a resource for grief and loss counsellors to stimulate discussion and raise grief themes to assist struggling clients. “

Su-Rose’s book is published by Morning Star Publishing. 

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Wow! Would you dare host one of these dinners?

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Photo by Amanda Ringstad

I’m wondering: would I be game enough to host one of these dinners? My family are coming over for dinner tonight…..

Thanks Susie P. for letting me know about this fascinating conversation starter.

http://deathoverdinner.org.au/

 

 

 

The grey cat

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Image courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rts9yiN0NQE 

Had coffee with social commentator Andrew Denton on the weekend to discuss the good death. We disagree on a lot of things – quite fiercely – and at times the argument got very heated. But he said something beautiful, which I do agree with.

“If depression is a black dog, then grief is a grey cat.”

Thank you Andrew!