During my period of grief, 2 of the 4 “stages/phases” have stuck out bold and clear as I’ve bounced between them both, bargaining and anger.
One that seemed noticeably absent was denial. I began to wonder if this was something so universal in grief, and if so why wasn’t I experiencing it?
But then it hit me: I’ve been going through denial all along, and still am.
Denial isn’t just when you consciously and overtly believe and express how the one you love can’t possibly be dead, as it’s always portrayed in films and tv shows.
Everyone goes through it, but for most of us it is something so subtle we might not recognise it for what it is.
Ever since I lost my pup, I’ve had moments where I wake up and think the blurry mound of clothes on the floor in the dim morning light is her – sometimes my mind even thinks it sees a tail wagging for a moment.
I quickly come to and realise it’s not, but what my brain is doing is going through that denial stage.
It’s the moments when I’m finishing work and half wait around to find her so we can go home.
It’s the times I don’t want to go home because she won’t be there, as if that will stop it being true – or when I don’t want to leave work without her even when I know that’s impossible now.
It’s the moments I’m walking along and look down to my side expecting to see her, even though I know she’s not going to be there.
It’s the times I fall on my knees by my bed crying uncontrollably and hug my duvet because I just want to hug her.
It’s why I haven’t cleaned my room for a month because I get to come home and still smell something of her, and I have nothing else but that smell – fittingly the scent that meant so much to her – to remember her by.
It’s why even as my home life is collapsing and I need to find somewhere new to live tomorrow, I can’t leave, precisely because that room is the only place I still smell her.
It’s the times I ask the wind “why aren’t you here, my sweetheart?”
It’s also the times I’m putting off dealing with the trauma of her death. Dealing with losing her is taking all my energy, and in response I’m often putting off going through that moment she died in my arms so unexpectedly.
It’s part of her death that my mind is trying to deny at times because dealing with the loss is hard enough, but going back through that one moment will just destroy me.
You may think you’re not experiencing denial while you grieve because you know they’re gone and you’re not pretending they’ll come back.
But you are going through it, every time your brain thinks you see them out of the corner of your eye, or when you’re doing something you used to do together and for just a moment you stop to wait for them.
Denial comes in many different forms. It’s not just someone disbelieving their loved one is dead, or continuing their daily routine as if they’re still alive. It’s often more subtle than that Hollywood trope.
It also underpins a lot of your bargaining and anger, which is why when the “stages” of grief were incorrectly categorised as actual “stages” through a linear process that you go through, it was the first stage.
We now know better about how all those “stages” occur sometimes simultaneously, sometimes out of the original sequence, but that they are features of grief rather than the structure of grief.
We know now that you don’t begin by denying the loss, then bargaining for it not happen, then be angry that it did, and then accepting it. Rather, you do actually go through all of those processes, but in no general order and you don’t magically finish with one “stage” and get to the other.
But back to denial:
You may consciously know they’re gone, but your subconscious hasn’t yet accepted it.
You still want them to be around, and you’ve loved and been with them for so long that your brain isn’t yet able to process the world for you without them being there – it’s why your brain keeps
inserting them in your vision, desperately trying to form them out of abstract images and movements in your periphery.
Your brain is trying to cope with rewriting the inputs from the world around it in which they no longer physically exist.
Even if you think you aren’t living through the denial stage, because it’s not what you were taught it to be, you are. When you lose someone you love it takes time for you to mentally live in a world where they are no longer physically here.
It doesn’t look like what you’re told, but it is something you will go through in some form.
Just remember that denial isn’t always what you think it is, but it’s healthy. It’s part of your brain coming to terms with everything and with the loss.
I’m sat in the beer garden where the appearance of things going wrong began.
That’s so different from where they actually began to go wrong, because that source is something I’ll never know (and what makes the process of grief so difficult).
My phone had officially died on me the night before, and today I bought a laptop (to replace the one that died around a year ago), because I had a replacement phone already ordered and on its way.
At the table, my love whimpers.
I think I’ve just done something stupid like not extinguishing a cigarette butt, and she’s stepped on it.
I check her over.
No sign of anything.
She’s licking her paw but soon stops.
We leave the pub garden and she’s not even limping.
But from this day on, she will begin to lick and bite at her paw sporadically and appear to be distressed.
I literally just stubbed my cigarette out whilst typing this and checked she wasn’t under the table at the time, despite her being dead for over a week.
But back to that day….
We go back home and nothing seems wrong beyond her licking her paw occasionally, which I put down to her have an injury that has happened today.
The kicker is, that probably was what happened, or it probably wasn’t and it was a symptom of an underlying issue that needed to be addressed. But I’ll go on to find out that neither truth, nor my response to it, could have saved the one I love.
I’ll then spend every day after she died trying to understand that fact.
Nothing at that point looked life threatening for her.
What killed her may not have even had anything to do with that.
But I love her and at that point she was uncomfortable and I wanted to help her, and the past two months began at that moment.
And also, for any “wannabe vets” reading this: I’ve gone through it all.
I’ve looked at all of her symptoms, and everything I *could* have done to save the one I love, and there’s nothing.
I’ll talk more about this and what it means for the process of grief another day, but suffice to say I’ve killed myself over and again concerning how I could have saved her – and especially concerning identifying what killed her. I’ve even gone through the thought processes of how I might have killed her – and I’ll get to that emotional black hole another day.
Here’s what I’ve found out:
Whatever took her was something that even trained vets wouldn’t have spotted, and even if they had her survival rate would have been 1% or less. In fact, it’s something they DIDN’T spot. If they didn’t, how could I?
I’m not saying any of this to find absolution.
It’s actually comforting to know you could have done something, because you can learn how to save someone next time and you can tell yourself that the fate of the person you love was always in your hands.
That’s what we always want to believe. It just isn’t true, and dealing with that fact is so difficult that I’m still comparing her symptoms online to see if I can understand why she’s gone.
Breaking news: that will never happen.
I still do it, because it is actually a healthy part of the grieving process, as long as it doesn’t become an obsession – and everyone will do it even when we know there is no answer we can find – because that’s exactly what you do when someone you love dies suddenly and unexpectedly (especially in your arms).
You want to know why, because you love them.
And this is one of the hardest parts of grief: you will explore every avenue EVEN IF YOU KNOW YOU WON’T FIND AN ANSWER AND EVEN IF YOU KNOW YOU KNOW THAT.
Being forearmed about this part of grief can’t prevent you going through it. You will put yourself through it, and no amount of people telling you it’s natural and how you don’t need to will stop you from doing it (and don’t listen to people saying you don’t need to, because as well meaning as they’re being, it just makes you feel worse).
It’s not a bug of the grieving process. It’s a feature.
It’s a testament to how much you loved that person and how much losing them affects you.
Remember: you’re grieving for a reason (for the best reason ever, because it is a process all about love – and never forget the fact that grief only exists because of the love you have and have experienced), and that process will and must happen whether you understand the process or not.
And these are the important lessons to learn about grief:
1) Understanding the process doesn’t ever make it easier or faster to go through;
2) This process is about love, and because of that you should always remember that what you’re going through is a healthy process. You may need support to prevent that process becoming unhealthy, and if you do you should feel ok about jumping into that support. But the fact that you are going through this process is a healthy thing.
In fact, what you’re going through is a healing process. And just as not all physical wounds can heal in a healthy manner and may need professional attention, not all emotional wounds can heal in a healthy manner and may need professional attention.
If you cut your hand, it’s natural for it to hurt and for your body to try to heal that wound. But sometimes your body can’t do it correctly, for a variety of reasons way beyond your control.
Likewise, when you lose somebody you love, it’s natural for it to hurt and for your body to try to heal that wound. But sometimes your body can’t do it correctly, for a variety of reasons beyond your control.
It’s not the pain and the process that’s a problem. It’s actually the only path to healing. It’s where that process malfunctions and ends up doing more damage that’s the problem.
But even with that, always feel able to seek help.
After all, who would suffer having an arm cut off without asking someone to stop the bleeding and clean the wound, even when they know their red blood cells are already trying to clot and stop them bleeding out?
A grim picture, but don’t ever think that grief can’t become as grim and fatal as physical pain.
People die from grief.
It’s necessary for you to understand what you’re going through and why, and why it’s always correct and necessary to seek and get help through it.
You’re going through this process because you lost someone you love. Not because you should also be lost to those who love – and will ever in the future get to love – you.
I’ll talk more later on about how guilt is a part of bargaining in grief, and about how grief is a process that we have evolved in order to retain love for those we lost without feeling we’re betraying them when we finally accept they’re gone – a process we’ve developed in order to deal with losing a loved one whilst keeping them with us always, as we always wanted to, and becoming able to continue living in a world that no longer involves their physical involvement in our lives.
Suffice to say, you can never – even with all the knowledge of the grieving process available to you – not go through it when you lose your love.
It will happen. And for those of you who understand the process, that’s especially difficult to deal with. But knowing psychology doesn’t inoculate you from its affects, just as knowing how pathogens work doesn’t inoculate you from the flu.
It will happen.
You’ll feel shit.
You’ll feel as bad as those without a scientific understanding of what’s going on.
You’ll probably feel worse because that scientific understanding doesn’t make it better.
There isn’t a one glove fits all to any wound, especially grief. Because grief is a very specific process that you have to endure, and is inherently painful to endure no matter how much you understand it, because losing people you love hurts and is meant to hurt. It wouldn’t hurt if you didn’t love them.
Cut my hand and put iodine on it to clean it, and I know what’s happened and how much it will hurt SCIENTIFICALLY. But I’ll still run around and scream and cry no matter how much I understand what’s happening.
Grief is a healing process. Don’t shy from it. Don’t feel bad for going through it. Don’t ever feel that you shouldn’t request help to get through it.
I woke up 2 hours before work. I was still half an hour late.
Dragging myself out of bed isn’t easy when it’s cold at the best of times.
I’ve cried everyday since it happened. And not just a bit of a well-up. I’ve sobbed uncontrollably.
I’ve held the covers of my bed, my knees on the floor, and kissed my duvet as I hold it as if it’s her. Like I used to kneel at the bed and cuddle her and kiss her before I got her up for the day.
It’s nearly a week and I’m still crying uncontrollably for my love.
I stood at the gate of work having to will myself in, like I had to physically force myself back into my bedroom the day she left.
I get hugs from my workmates. It’s a testament to how we’re not just colleagues, but family.
More than that, they all send her their love, which shows how she touched everyone she met.
She wasn’t just a dog. She was part of their family too.
On the board I see I might be driving the van in which she died next to me.
It all comes back, but I don’t want the first thing my friends deal with in the morning to be me collapsing in grief.
It’s the first day I’m back.
I don’t want them to start the day with a breakdown.
It’s not on purpose. It’s just up on the board naturally. It’s the job I’d have been doing if none of this happened.
There’s a note on the calendar to call Phil.
We have a conversation where we talk about what’s going on today, what I need and what I can do and what jobs we need to do.
He coaxed it out of me that I’m not ready for that yet, and rearranged the day.
I know I’ve got to face it soon.
I just can’t now.
I was going to bite it, but he pulls it out of me that I can’t.
It’s not just grieving for a lost dog. It’s not even just grieving for a lost loved one and my kid.
That’s where it happened.
In that vehicle, next to me as I was driving, she dropped dead without warning.
She was ok, apart from being sick. She sat up next to me and looked fine.
And then she wasn’t.
Then she died.
In less time than it takes me to physically say that small sentence.
I have no way of understanding that moment, let alone dealing with it.
It’s the trauma of that moment that’s hitting me, and I’ve had it on loop since it happened.
He doesn’t want me near power tools or driving without supervision. Not just because I could have an accident, but because he doesn’t want to put me in that situation.
We agree on a job that needs doing that I can face – building a set of shelves for the back office.
I’ve been trying to get round to it for months, but other duties have got in the way.
It’s a job that should take half a day, at most.
I barely finish in time to go home.
I’m not to work with cutting tools today, for my own safety.
I need to build some shelves.
My timber manager cuts them to my specifications.
I can’t cut them, but I’m eager to get things done as fast as we can, so I labour as a chippy’s mate like I’ve never done before.
Every moment of the day I’m reminded of her: running around the yard, lying in the canteen floor, sitting in the office, skanking food during lunch (she always tried to tell people I never fed her).
Then I get reminded of her in a different way.
I put some cut pieces of timber on a tarp covered table with a pool of water on it, and the water moves to where the wood lies, and it reminds me of her vomit on the seat as we drove just before she died, and the both of us trying to keep her away from it until I can stop and clean it up.
I stop and begin to breakdown.
I pick up some 8×1 pieces of timber and they weigh as much as she did when I carried her out of the van.
I stop and begin to breakdown.
I put some timber on the woodwork table, and I remember laying her down in the vets.
I stop and begin to breakdown.
I push the timber on the table, and remember my hands rubbing her belly whilst I was on the phone to my sister, telling her “she’s so cold, she’s so cold” over and over again.
I stop and begin to breakdown.
I make my way out for a cigarette.
All I can see is that day.
The last sound she made was a whimper, after she collapsed and I pulled her up whilst driving.
I need to hear her being happy.
I put on a video of her playing in the snow, and one of her running in the park as a puppy, coming back for strokes behind the ear.
I stop and breakdown.
I go back in.
Our life together runs on loop.
The moment I lost her runs on loop.
At around lunchtime I’m asked if I can do a delivery – not in the vehicle it happened in.
I don’t think I can drive safely, but before I even say anything it’s sorted out and somebody else is stepping in.
(I don’t know this and watch someone load the vehicle it happened in, thinking “it’s ok, they don’t know, but shit this will be hard”, to then find out they’ve got it sorted).
Throughout the day I see her.
I’m hyperventilating and I’ve not eaten.
I see her walking next to me, running to have a wee in the yard, waiting for someone to throw a stick or play with a ball.
Every time I go to the yard to get timber, I feel her walking next to me. Playing in the puddles and waiting for me to kick the water so we could play together.
And I see her as a puppy, walking next to me in the woods, always trying to be near me.
And I see her collapsing.
And I see her in my arms as I run her into the vets.
And I see her on the table as I can’t stop caressing her in the way she loved even though she was already gone.
And I see her cradled in my arms as I stand in her grave and lower her down to rest in peace.
And I finish the job.
I’ve only had a total of 30 minutes break, even though my boss said take all the breaks you need.
But it’s a job that took twice as long.
But I’ve finished it.
The shelves are up.
It’s time to go home.
The tree crews are coming back, and I’m getting hugs and handshakes and messages of love for both her and myself.
I get a card from the folks in the office.
I try not to stop and breakdown.
My friend stops me before I go and asks how I am.
She’s been checking on me throughout the day.
I tell her it’s been tough, and that whilst I have to go home I neither want to leave work, stay at work or go back home.
I assure her I’ll be safe.
I drive home and park up, and I get out of the car and walk.
I walk like a zombie, and every moment of the day she died gets replayed in my head, and I stop at a pub and I bawl like a child and I can’t stop.
It feels like yesterday.
I’m still trying to stop it happening.
In my head I’m still trying to stop it happening and I can’t, and I can’t stop crying.
I know I don’t just have grief for a lost loved one. I have ptsd from what happened.
I don’t know how to get through this.
I just know I miss my love.
I recently lost a companion who defined my life.
It happened very suddenly and in a very traumatic way.
Every loss is different, because every relationship is different, but I thought I’d start a blog about dealing with both my loss and the trauma it involved – both to help me deal with it and to help others dealing with something similar.
The blog will start with my first day back at work.
It could have started with the day my love died next to me, but then it could have started with the day we first met.
On neither occasion was I ever in the mind to start this blog, but I thought I’d start this blog talking about the day that I started it.
I’ll always be going back to everything from the day we met to the day she died and beyond – and trying to pretend there is anything linear about the lives we live with our loved ones doesn’t actually fit with how grief works.
Grief is more…. Tralfamadorian.
It makes us paint a landscape where time is just another spatial dimension. And so where we dip into it – or often choose to drown ourselves in it – and even where we choose to begin to talk about it has little to do with chronology in its strictest sense.
We’re reliving the life of the person we lost, and we naturally begin that narrative at the point that we can begin that narrative.
We also naturally don’t dip into the narrative of a lost loved one in any chronological sense. Instead we dip in and out of our lives together, remembering moments of joy and tragedy, in a manner that has little regard with the sequence of events as they happened.
We live, through our grief, those moments in both a sequenced and causal way, but also – and most often – in a completely unsequenced path devoid of causality.
So why should I start this blog at any point other than the day I chose to start this blog? No other moment holds greater merit. No other moment claims proprietary in terms of narrative as I recall our life together. No other moment can be said to be more important to begin with. Because it’s not about grading moments by their importance. It’s about how we build our stories of those we loved throughout our process of grieving their loss.
No matter where I begin this story it probably won’t begin at the beginning, and nor will it continue linearly from there. It will begin where I begin it, and it will flutter around our lives together weaving the tapestry of a life that once made me whole.
So this blog starts at a certain point after my loved one has died. It doesn’t start at her death, nor does it start at her birth. But it will contain both points and everything in between.
Like a Tralfamadorian, both you and I shall experience her life and death and my dealing with the aftermath in a nonlinear way.
I lived with the love of my life, and she has been lost to me. So it goes.
Just set up a patreon page.
Go to https://www.patreon.com/MahraiZiller to become a patreon and support the rebirth of the channel.
New videos getting scripted now.
The Complex geometry behind the curvature of the Horizon
The Cavendish experiment and the gravitational constant explained
Homeless and transient issues and rights
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The arguments against integrating sports seem to come from the idea that all or some sports are solely strength based, and male physiology typically overpowers female physiology.
Now, there’s a lot to unpack in that latter argument itself, but I’m yet to find any sport that is SOLELY strength based anyway.
Literally all sports involve an amount of skill and innovation.
We’ve seen many times how somebody less strong than someone else still manages to beat them by using skill and creative techniques.
I mean, the only reason the high jump got to the record breaking feats we see today is because someone had the mental acuity to watch other high jumpers and creatively come up with a method that beat them.
And anybody else recall the “super bike” incident of 1996, where Chris Boardman won by a margin beyond the accepted difference between male and female cyclists? Literally any of the top flight female cyclists at the time would have won the men’s gold medal on that bike.
Perhaps that method is now fixed physiologically, somehow (because one thing I’ve learned from looking at the human race is that physiology and morphology is completely fixed and doesn’t change at all and everyone is the exact same as everyone else down gender or sex lines despite that not being the case in biology at all), such that brute strength really is all that matters.
But very few sports are like that at all.
When anybody watches football, they talk about individual skill and group tactics – often marvelling at a weaker team or individual besting an opponent.
But for some reason we think that only works down gendered lines, without any evidence to demonstrate it.
We’re also assuming that a status quo for humanity now will forever be true, despite that not being how evolution works and how our attempt to enforce it might actually be what perpetuates it.
Nature is full of animals whose females can outperform the males in every way.
They weren’t created like that.
They didn’t poof into existence like that.
They evolved like that.
Environmental pressures made them like that.
It’s not “natural” that females will always be weaker than men – in many species they are bigger and stronger.
So I just don’t get the arguments against integrating sports.
They mostly come from misogynistic interpretations of both physiology and mental capacity.
To be fair, I get the argument for certain sports at the top flight of those sports, given our current “typical” physiology, being segregated in order to allow top flight female athletes to shine.
Segregated runners, weightlifters, high jumpers, etc, fine…. ish (because I don’t think you can really identify physiology into a clean binary based on gender or sex, neither of which is a true binary. Seriously get over yourselves and learn the basic facts that nature isn’t as clean as you want, unless you intend to ban hermaphrodites from sports because their existence makes your tiny heads explode. Like for fucks sake how fragile does your worldview have to be to base it on pretending actual living people don’t exist in order to perpetuate it? IT’S 2019 you remedial biologically illiterate dipsh…..)
But I don’t agree with even this being set in stone in a manner that either accidentally or actively seeks to make this a permanent feature of humanity.
TL;DR maybe people should stay awake during biology classes ffs 🤦♂️
I’d love to say why I think the EU is fucked, but it would be taken the wrong way by everyone – bigots would pretend that my story justifies their bullshit, and middle-class remainer-zealots would pretend that I’m just being a bigot by strawmanning my experience.
None of what I experienced as a street-homeless person in Europe ever told me we should leave the EU.
It told me that the EU – as it currently stands – doesn’t give a shit about homeless people beyond us being a political football among the member states and the EU as a whole (and the far right parties desperate to eradicate us. I lived on the streets in Nuremberg when Neo-Nazi groups were killing homeless people, and I saw it PERSONALLY. So yeah, fuck you, I’ve lived on the streets in Europe and experienced people targeting me for death.)
It taught me that the EU needs to be opened up to give a shit about its poor and homeless, in the exact same way that none of its member states do individually, including the UK.
It taught me that those member states need to be FORCED to give a shit about us, but instead their indifference, negligence and even animosity has been encouraged.
The fact is that my experience requires nuance at a level beyond what I’d have been able to deal with without going through it, and at a level that few in the discussion have ever demonstrated.
I’m so sorry about that. About the fact that most people’s privilege has protected them from the experiences that I’ve had. About the fact that most people are sheltered from the things I’ve seen and the choices I’ve had to make, and the agonising nuance of reality you never ever get to understand without that experience.
I’m so sorry about that.
And there’s a reason why I always ask what people think the knock-on effect of any decision will be regarding homeless people.
It’s because I LIVED IT.
You never have.
To you, speeches and words are absolute and sincere (as long as they come from people you vaguely agree with).
To me they aren’t.
I lived it.
I’ve seen that they aren’t.
Trying to persuade me that they will be this time is disingenuous.
Especially when you try to use such rhetoric in order to pretend you shouldn’t take the only action that will produce change.
I lived sleeping with my hand grasped around a knife under my pillow as I slept under a bridge in Strasbourg because I couldn’t get a job or a home, because nobody I turned to ever gave me the option to be anywhere else.
But NONE of you on either side are answering this.
The right wing don’t give a shit, but to the left: has anybody in labour stated that the right to habitable shelter trumps all other rights?
None of Corbyn or anyone else has.
Why do I keep asking how homeless and transient people will be affected by your party’s policies?
It’s because your party (all parties) have never comprised of people with my experience and have never addressed anything us homeless have experienced.
If your policy doesn’t include – or , to be honest, have as a FUNDAMENTAL TENET – “ensuring nobody sleeps on the street”, in the way we demonstrably can prove will make that a reality, I don’t care.
And as a remainer who actually lived as a street homeless person in the EU:
CAN WE STOP FUCKING PRETENDING NOBODY HAS ANY POSSIBLE REASON BEYOND RACISM TO HATE HOW IT WORKS?
If you can’t accept that, I welcome you to try to live street homeless in the EU outside Britain.
Someone mass produces a shitty kinder egg toy, pays their workers crap and earns millions from the profit.
Someone goes out to feed and clothe people in destitution, gets paid nothing because it’s what they do to volunteer their services to humanity.
According to capitalism everything here is ok, because it only values one thing – and it’s not humanity.
Every pro-homeless thing I post gets support from my friends, and I love you for it.
Even 10 year’s ago it would be almost unthinkable to post pro-homeless things with any real support, and mostly just abuse would result.
I still get the indifference, still the abuse. I still have people use my status as an ex-homeless person against me.
I still have people pretend that the moment my homelessness comes up in a discussion or debate automatically means my voice no longer counts.
And it still hurts every time.
But I always knew that was how the world worked. It’s what I grew up knowing, and so as frustrating as it is, it’s just something I know to expect.
What’s amazing is to see how that’s becoming less normal, or at least less accepted as normal. To see how I find myself surrounded by people throughout the world who reject anti-homeless prejudice as being “normal”, and who reject homelessness as “normal” as well as the narratives that perpetuate it.
It’s not an easy issue, because we live in a system that not only exacerbates it, but which normalises the victimisation of homeless people – and even worse, commodifies us in order to profit from our perpetual stigma.
But every time I tackle the deep and disturbing issues, I find people who feel the same about the injustice and about what it means to be human.
I can’t ever truly put into words what it means.
Does aggressive begging exist?
Is aggressive begging the problem of homelessness?
It’s a cause of a shit system that values property rights over those who should have right to shelter.
The person who you encounter who aggressively begs you isn’t the problem.
It’s the landlords who profit from keeping 200,000 long term empty properties, which could House even our hidden homeless 2-3 times over, in order to inflate the housing market who are the problem.
Aggressive begging exists.
It’s not the problem.
It’s a symptom of the problem.
Get your heads around that.
The numbers speak for themselves.
We can House everyone tonight.
We can then pay for their support tonight.
Aggressive beggars are a problem for our economic system.
They aren’t a problem to humanity.