Useful things

4 Oct

Just a quick post tonight because I’ve got to go and get Calum from trampolining in a minute. See, I didn’t make up the niddy noddy idea. It’s a device to make skeins of wool from. Julia (as in Julia and Paul who bought Denise the kitten to see Rosie) has one, along with a spinning wheel. Still don’t know whether they should or shouldn’t be waxed though. The niddy noddy. Not the kitten. Who is now safely with the Cats Protection League.

I was talking to someone today who said they didn’t know what was and wasn’t useful to say or do when someone has just died. I think it’s all quite personal stuff, but the things which are helping us are:

People saying there’s nothing to say, rather than trying to come up with something, when they meet us, and showing how sad they are too

People asking us how the last few months have been and sharing things about Rosie

All the letters and cards we’ve had

People sending us photos of Rosie

People turning up with cakes, flowers and anything else they think of

People coming up with offers of help and fundraising ideas

All those thoughts and ideas about grieving

People doing special things for Cal and Sylvie

And all the blog comments

I think people being honest and open helps the most.

Oops – am nearly late. Must go now.




18 Responses to “Useful things”

  1. Deborah Morgenstern October 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    In the Jewish religion, we “Sit Shiva” Shiva means seven, and basically for 7 days after the funeral (which is usually the day after the death) the next of kin stay in the house to “grieve”, This gives all the friends and neighbours a chance to come over, bring them food (making people feel useful), keep them company and generally say all the things that they want to say. Usually there is lots of reminiscing and laughter and a similar volume of crying.

    There is a set thing that you can say if you don’t know what to say (as I often didn’t as a child who went to some neighbour’s house grieving some ancient relative I’d rarely met) which is “I wish you long life”

    I really like this system, because it gets over all the awkward “should I / shouldn’t I say something about the death?” thing that I tend to feel when, for example, a work colleague returns to work after the death of a loved one. You have a set time when you are supposed to go and say something, and you go and say it. Plus there is time set aside for pure grief before the family are expected to “get on with their lives”.

    By the way: I wish you all long life!


    • jill Clayton October 4, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

      Deb’s system seems a good one, certainly better than the way some people cross the street to avoid talking to a bereaved person. Thank-you for talking to us, Jo

      • jill Clayton October 4, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

        My husband has just come in with the current copy of the Rotary magazine. It has a lovely tribute to Rosie in it. There is also a tribute and a picure on the website.
        The website address starts with “w” followed by another “w”, followed by another “w”
        “ribi” is the next bit followed by the first 3 letters of “organisation.”
        (I’ve not gone round the twist. Really. It’s just that whenever I post a web address on here, the whole post disappears.)
        I’m sure we can get you a copy of the magazine in due course.

  2. Kelly October 4, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    Lovely post. I remember when I was in the midst of those very surreal early days/weeks of grief a neighbor I didn’t know very well came round with a cake she’d baked for us, she asked me how I was doing and I just gawped at her and couldn’t think of anything to say, she just gave me a big hug and it was just a really nice gesture and the best thing she could have done at the time.

    Although I never met Rosie I think about her, and the rest, of you a lot sometimes with happiness and often with sadness. Thank you so much for continuing the blog, sometimes you’re writing style and general enthusiasm is so similar to Rosie if I’m half asleep I feel like it’s her writing.

    Sending you all love.

  3. Jane October 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Dear Jo, firstly thank you for continuing with Rosie’s blog we do all appreciate it especially considering how hard it is for you on a daily basis. My Rosie reminder has appeared twice in the last week ‘winner winner chicken dinner’ once on Greg James Radio 1 show and laat night on ‘Made in Chelsea’ very diverse!

    A Dorset group of the charity I work for takes it’s people and carers to The Foxes each year for a holiday. They love it and rate it very highly in all aspects and I am sure Calum will be very happy there.

    Love to all in TK xx

  4. celia butler October 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    We all learn so much from this blog, as intended by Rosie when she started it and now continued by you.
    I think people are always worried that they’ll say the wrong thing (and sometimes they do) but saying nothing is almost certainly worse. It’s good to know what you’re finding helpful, and in turn this is going to help others as well through the sharing process of this blog.
    And thank you for clearing up the niddy noddy issue – it all makes perfect sense now! x

  5. Claire October 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I agree that having a set phrase makes things a bit easier. The american ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ does the same job though I find it a bit tooth grating! The best things to say, I thing, are those which don’t need an answer. ‘How are you doing’, is difficult, but ‘are you feeling better’ risks an honest reply!
    The really difficult thing to remember is that most people DO care, & say the wrong thing, or nothing at all, simply because death doesn’t come with a guide book. My best friend suddenly told me that she’d always regretted , & felt awkward about, what she said when I told her, 18 years ago, that my first baby had died. And do you know, I honestly don’t remember! What I do remember is that she loved me, and that’s what I remember her saying, no matter what words she used.
    How’s the mouse situation?
    I looked at the Foxes website, and it looks amazing, I love all the happy photos.

  6. Pip Armstrong October 5, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Deborah, I do like the sound of ‘Sit Shiva’ a very civilised and organised way of giving support to recently bereaved people but can imagine that you should never ever try to say it if you’ve had a few drinks πŸ™‚

  7. miriammcclay October 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Dear Jo,
    I have been thinking much of the same. I have been reading all the recent posts and trying to think of things to say when, in person, a touch on the arm or a smile might have said so much more. But I am sad for and with you and wanted you to know I am thinking about you all still very much. xx

    • jill Clayton October 5, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

      I agree with Miriam

  8. Michelle October 5, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    It’s oh so difficult isn’t it. We’re British, stiff upper lip and so on. We’re supposed to not speak about death but that’s oh so wrong.
    Why can’t we talk about it. By not talking it’s like the person who died hadn’t existed (this happened to a schoolfriend of mine, her sister died and people wouldn’t mention her. Me, being me, mentioned her one day and that was it. We ended up laughing, crying, falling over but it helped. We decided we’d talk about her sister and then others did too!).
    So I tend to say something, sometimes it’s not the right thing but I always try to talk about the person who has died, to ask those left how they are, ask if I can help.
    So Jo, I do hope that you will continue to let us know how things are going on. And if there is anything I can do, though I’m pretty useless and quite far away, please yell. I’ll do my best.
    Off now, need to put the nuts out for the pine martens πŸ™‚
    Mic x

  9. Andrea Clarke October 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    10 years ago my parents died within four months of each other. It was weird, it was like other people could cope when my Dad died, but when Mum died 4 months later it was like it was too much for them and a lot of people shied away. because of that experience i’ve always tried to say something, even if it’s just i’m so sorry, or i don’t know what to say, it just doesn’t seem right to pretend nothing has happened.

    beware though Jo, if i should bump into you, i won’t know what to say, (i do think of Rosie a lot, and also of all of team kilburn and wonder how you’re doing), so i’ll probably have to resort to my standard fallback position and give you a hug. that’s one of the things i’ve discovered – hugs are marvellous!

    if i was better at this technology stuff i would be able to type out the emoticon for a hug, but i have no idea, so you’ll just have to take it as read that i’m sending a big hug to team kilburn (whether you like it or not πŸ™‚ )


  10. Di (Ms Harrill) October 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Hi Jo – when I was in the early stages of grief and bereavement – after my mum died – I remember walking around in a daze. Feeling like I wasn’t really there! Such a strange feeling – I remember feeling sort of home sick as well?
    I also really appreciated the letters and cards and memories people shared.
    – it’s great you’re continuing with the blog – I read it regularly.

    Nicky and I will be over to see you after half term – either for coffee or a drink – whatever suites you…

    back to marking…


  11. Chloe Taylor-Jones October 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Sending my love to you all. Xxx

  12. celia butler October 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Those Hope votes are going up rather slowly (129 at the moment) – where is everyone?
    If you follow Jill’s steps as posted before it will only take a couple of minutes -honestly- and it could make all the difference.
    How about a target of 100 more votes in the next 24 hours?
    Thanks in advance….x
    PS If you registered during the voting process (rather than registering first) your vote might not have been added – worth checking. You’ll get an acknowledgement of your vote once it’s successful.

    • Michelle October 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

      I will endeavour to make sure people vote at work when I’m back next week.

  13. Anne Taylor October 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Hi Jo

    Was ready to disown my eldest after a phone conversation earlier this week, but thought of you and what it would be like not to have him at all, and changed my mind (Sorry if that sounds really cheesy).

    Mention of cheese leads me to hope you sorted out the mouse situation. There are those who say you should get a cat when they hear you have mice! Why don’t they understand that it is nearly always the cats who bring the mice in in the first place?


  14. Janet Harper (Jan, Silas' mum!) October 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Just think its brilliant that you are carrying on with the blog Jo. I read it every day and think about you all several times a day.

    Its a strange thing this not knowing what to say or how to be with one another when things are difficult or painful. It seems we have created so many rules and we’re all frightened of breaking them which just sort of stifles speaking straight from the heart.

    It reminds me of how tricky it can be in social situations when I am asked what I do for a living and I say I havent worked for a while because I havent been well. When its established that its anxiety related, as in that it’s in my head and not something physical, its amazing how people sometimes metaphorically try to cross over the road!!

    I used to try to deflect the question or something so that myself and the other person wouldnt have to deal with…well, the truth!! Completely bonkers isnt it really. Life isnt always neat and tidy. Often its messy, frightening and incredibly painful. I try to be more authentic these days….. and I often get it wrong!!! And sometimes there aren’t any “right” words to say but I think we all just want other people not to dump us emotionally when things are difficult because they are scared. That’s what I think anyway!!!

    That list was also a brilliant idea Jo.

    Love Janxxx

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