There aren't very many days when a thought about Kevin doesn't cross my mind. It’s not really surprising that there are still so many associations that trigger these, after all, we were together for most of my adult life. Familiar objects, tunes, posts from his family on Facebook, even certain foods will trigger fond memories or more rarely a remembered aggravation. The thoughts are not painful they are merely there. A fact of life after a death.Each year it is different, because each year I am different but I still notice the anniversaries – of the day we got married, of his birthday and of his death. 
Father’s day isn’t something I’ve given much thought to for many years – my Dad always forgot about it, he really didn’t see the point so quite often we didn’t bother. Somehow this year it’s different, so I’ve been pondering why. 
 
Timing is all – we’ve just had our first wedding anniversary – marking an event that Dad wasn’t around for because he sadly passed away quite some years ago which meant that he wasn’t there to give me away. In the run up to the wedding I’d noticed that I was thinking about Dad a lot and it took me a while to work out why I was suddenly missing him so much more than I had been. Then I realised. This was my first wedding without Dad there to give me away. 
 
Fred Hewson, father of Carole Henderson and subject of the blog
Yesterday I popped into the supermarket to get a few essentials and there it was – the massive display of flowers, pot plants & baskets and so on reminding shoppers “Not to forget Mum on Mother’s day.” I was hardly going to forget! Today is the first Mothering Sunday since Mum died last Spring so I’ve probably never been more aware that this weekend is the traditional time to say “thank you”. 
 
My Mum was a very pragmatic woman who didn’t expect to be taken out to lunch on this day “it will be too busy, expensive and service will probably be slow – better to go on a different day” she did have some expectations though – a bunch of daffs and a card and she was happy. 
All grief is unique. It’s something we say a lot around here. It seems obvious at one level, after all every relationship is unique. The statement sounds true when we hear it because no matter what our life experience is, by the time we are adults we have all experienced loss of various kinds. Even if we've never given it much conscious thought we know that we experience loss differently each time. There may well be common features of course. Reduced ability to concentrate or the urge to eat a bar of chocolate the size of Belgium, but no matter how hard some theorists try and push our messy human emotions into little boxes or “stages” it doesn't work. Grief IS unique. 
 
I don’t tend to have the radio on during the day. Some people find it helps them work, for me I get too easily distracted but at the moment there’s a radio on in the kitchen to help the guy building my new cupboards work and one tuned to a different station that the builder working outside has to help him through his day. 
 
This afternoon I experienced a bigger loss than my concentration. The news came over on the kitchen radio that Rik Mayall has died and there were audible reactions from all of us. The classics all made an appearance – disbelief, shock and immediate exclamations of “but he was our sort of age wasn’t he!” 
The last few weeks have been stressful. Having moved into our first joint home 6 months ago, Ian & I have embarked on a major refurbishment programme to turn Corner Cottage into our dream home. At first it’s fun, deciding what to have, then come the headaches of making the budget stretch to everything we want to achieve now there is the noise. Power tools, diggers, tinny radios, men in heavy boots tramping through my personal space is it any wonder I’m feeling a bit frazzled? To make it even more intense I work from home – there’s no let up. Yesterday I’m sat at my desk with bits of breeze block flying at me as a plumber is chasing some pipe into the wall. As I said – stressful! 
I have a bear called Boss. Not a real bear of course, he’s a teddy bear, somewhat unusual in colour as he is black & orange. He came into my life about 7 years ago after my husband Kevin died and I wanted something to help me think of him when I went to sleep and cuddling a photo just didn’t do it for me. A family friend offered to make me a bear from one of Kevin’s favourite shirts and Boss was born. 
As I write this my feet are getting warm. Barney my Labrador likes to sleep on them while I work. I really enjoy this physical connection especially at this time of year when it’s a bit chilly. But a few years ago I would never have dreamt I would be a dog owner I was always a cat person. Tiger the tabby kitten arrived in the house when I was 4. I don’t remember life without him – we grew up together. He was a very special cat. He walked us to school – going as far as the crossing on the main road before sitting and watching us safely into the gates before going home. When I was poorly he would come and curl up quietly on the bed for company and he was my confident. I told him everything. All the secrets, hopes, dreams & hurts that I couldn’t tell Mum & Dad I whispered to his beautiful striped face. 
Back from a fascinating weekend at the National Funeral Exhibition. We went along to introduce the Grief Recovery Method to those who are at the sharp end dealing with grief and I’m pleased to say we were made very welcome. The most fascinating about the weekend actually wasn’t the stands or the people wandering around. It was the reaction of friends and family to the fact we were going. 
 
Bear in mind this is the 21st century. Also that I’ve been working with grievers for over 5 years now so this concept isn’t new. Yet for some reason there is this view of the funeral industry that seems to be stuck in the Victorian era. 
Many of us struggle to know what to say when someone has been bereaved, but at least with the card you’ve time to think about it so it’s easier right? Wrong! If you’ve ever sat with a blank card in front of you then you’ll know that actually the sight of that little white space can be quite daunting. 
 
Here’s my mini guide for How to write a sympathy card or similar. This article has now been turned into a leaflet - you can get free copies here 
 
Do 
 
Write it out on rough paper first. Even if you think you know what to say putting it down on paper first will help you realise if it looks OK written down and if it will fit in the space available. If it doesn’t fit include a note with the card as well. 
 
Read it aloud from your rough draft – sometimes what seems good in your head doesn’t work when read by another. Hearing it aloud can help you work out why not. 
 
Write from the heart. If you tell the truth about how you feel this will come across. 

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