Thursday, 24 February 2011

Learning to handle a new loss with my own 'Hanzak' principles

After the love of my life and soulmate Clive Gott  left this world suddenly on Saturday night I have been reeling. I am still in shock and these last few days seem  surreal. How am I doing?

I have said before that life is a rollercoaster, just as in the Ronan Keating song and Clive once gave me a card with that expression on plus the additional question - do you want to ride in the front seat with me?
I guess that is what I am doing now. He'd also say I was up and down like a bride's nightie!!

I am just riding it. Last night I crumbled completely. I had wanted to move his car up the drive so I could put mine in front of it  to make more room on the front. He hated our visitors parking in front of the neighbours - another thoughful way of his. I got in his car and played the CD I had got him last week for Valentine's Day by Eliza Doolittle. We'd heard some of her songs and I decided that it would be a good 'roof down, shades on' sort of album for us to drive along singing our socks off too. Last week he'd sent me a text to say he was listening to track 7 with tears rolling down his cheeks as he thought of us and asked the question, 'Would you walk backwards with me?'  I sat in his seat, held the steering wheel, cranked up the volume and literally howled to :-

Eliza Doolittle Back to Front Lyrics:
If I woke up in the mornin'
And the world was back to front
There was sunshine in the evenin'
And the moon came out for lunch

I wouldn't mind walkin' backwards with you
At least we'd always know where we'd be goin' to
We could talk till we forget how to talk

And we could learn to laugh again
Like when we were children
We could learn to dance again
Like nobody is watchin'

If everyone was gettin' young
There'd be a smile on your face
If all the friends that passed away
Came back to this place

We'd be puttin' down the daisies
Drinkin' milk and feelin' lazy
There's no sense in any senses
What's the use in independence?

We could play of the tears that came
We could walk till we forget how to walk
And cool till we forget anything at all

And we would laugh again
Like when we were children
We could learn to dance again
Like nobody is watchin'

We could learn to look right
Into each others eyes
'Cause we got nothin' to hide

We got nothin' but to laugh again
Like when we were children
Like when we were children

Back to front, front to back
Will you come backwards with me
Backwards with me?

Front to back, back to front
Will you come backwards with me
Backwards with me?

We could learn to laugh again
Like when we were children
We could learn to dance again
Like nobody is watchin'

We could learn to laugh again
Like when we were children
We could learn to smile again
Like nobody is watchin'.

Why? Why? Why? Why did he have to go?

I then came inside and collasped into his hoodie that was still hanging on the bannister, buried my head in it, smelling 'him' and sobbed in the arms of my sister. I spent the next hour curled up with it just staring, with my parents suggesting I take it to bed. My amazing Mum then drew on her strength to remind me again of the positives - he hadn't suffered; I have experienced in the last three years the true heights of love and adoration that many never get; I have a catalogue of amazing memories and with the growing avalanche of stunning messages about how Clive has influenced the world I should be proud ... but still go to bed.

Suddenly as if getting a burst of Clive I got into busy mode! I swapped the contents of bathroom cabinets - my stuff into the en-suite which he used; swapped over a rail of his clothes for mine from the spare bedroom and sorted better places for the flowers which are appearing regularly! I could hear him saying 'if you don't feel like doing anything, just do something ... motion creates emotion'. In doing so I felt much better. I did then go to bed after a quick look at hundreds of emails and texts on both of our Blackberries and, you guessed it, made a list! Sleeping tablets worked until 5.15 am and although I tried to go back to sleep rather than slip into tears again decided to come and write - I always find it therapeutic.

Those of you who are familiar with my talks on helping to recover and support others suffering from poor mental health, especially postnatal depression will be aware of my 'Hanzak' principles. I have decidied that I must practice what I preach and use them to guide me through this new loss. Clive was always emphatic that we had to be authentic speakers and do as we advised others, so here goes:-

Hope and Honesty
I have to get through this. If I decided that my life wasn't worth living now without Clive I have the choice to do so. I won't as I could not put this indescribable pain onto those around me; it would make a mockery of all Clive stood for; why waste two lives; he'd be flipping mad with me!
Instead I have to stay strong and hope that one day the pain will lessen and the smiles will be more. I have to hope that I can see a future continuing my own work on postnatal issues but also I intend to continue Clive's work in some ways.I have to grow with his legacy.
Clive and I had developed a huge importance on honesty. We both have had failed relationships in the past by not being honest with ourselves and others, then in doing so creating problems.  Sometimes the truth can hurt but we had found that it actually was the cement that made our relationship so deep. So I am being honest with myself and others - although I need to be a bit tougher if a visitor stays too long!

I could wallow in all the negatives of this situation - why did he go when we had so much to look forward to and share with others? I could crawl in a hole and not come out, blaming everyone, including me and screaming negativity. He had actually said to me last week as we snuggled up 'If all this stopped right now, we've had a ball, haven't we'? I cannot deny that. So my attitude has to be one of his  - 'it's happened, deal with it'. But also with a positive air. We have both overcome obstacles and challenges in the past from which we have grown and passed on  the lessons learnt to others. Guess this is another one of those. 'Another seminar story' he'd say.

What do I need to get me through this? These are key so I break it down
Nurture - I need to feel special and also to make others feel so. I guess this was the basis for the thank you cards and flowers idea. Wow! And has that taken off! I am blown away by it. I am gaining such strength from all the stunning cards, emails, messages from across the world about both of us. Thank you seems an inadequate word but I feel bathed and caressed in a sea of love, good wishes and yes, I will say the word, sympathy. I appreciate every one of them but at the moment cannot reply! I will in time.

Education - one of Clive's values was lifelong learning. I also believe that to survive, you need to do this. I have never had to deal with death before like this. I was devastated when some of my pupils died as a teacher for children with severe and profound learning difficulties. I was so upset to lose my grandparents. But nothing compares to this. I simply don't know what to do, how to do it and what needs doing. So I am asking relevant people for help; got a book and a leaflet! I also have to acknowledge that I can't do it all now! So I am approaching it on a daily basis.

Exercise - I am trying to have a little walk each day. We had just begun a new health regime and my bike had been dusted off, the home gym tidied (in fact the weekend before last Clive was telling our neighbour Michelle that he had to clear it up so I could use it), so no excuses!

Diet - As some of you may know Clive had lost weight since Christmas using the Forever Living Aloe Vera products.  He was buzzing with enthusiasm for it and was so proud of the loss of his tummy! he felt so well and healthy. He'd previously slipped into Homer Simpson mode but kept telling me I deserved better plus he wanted to get his golf handicap down. He'd just had his knees replaced to aid this too. We also wanted to dance more - a pleasure that his knees simply could not do. When he'd told the consultant this was one of his reasons for having the operations the consultant asked why it was such a big deal - 'It puts love into pure motion', was his reply. Quite frankly I really don't want to eat at the moment. Everything tastes like cardboard. But I know I must. Mum, Claire and baby Sophie and I went out for tea last night - I had egg and chips, one of my favourite things. I didn't want to but I know I must. One positive thing is that I have now hit below the 10 stone mark - an aim I have had for over a year! Last week I'd suggested that in a couple of weeks we'd go on a 'new jeans' trip together. He'd agreed that would be nice.

Sleep - one of the biggest reasons I developed Puerperal psychosis (extreme postnatal depression) was due to sleep deprivation. My mind is like a whirlwind at the moment, so I knew to get through I do need sleep. So I decided to take sleeping tablets for the time being to help switch me off! okay I have only had 5 hours but maybe after this epic I might go back to bed!

Clive had a HUGE sense of humour. He often used to ask me what it was I loved so much about him. Fun was always the top of the list. In every area of our life we had fun. We even made challenges into fun. So I am finding humour in this. Our undertaker is wonderful! When I rang to ask if he'd collected my Clive from the hospital, his reply was ..

'Eeee love, give us chance! The coroner only rang an hour ago. I've 'ad a tipple of whisky, two cups of tea and what's that cake wi' currants in it? Oh ay, spotted dick!!!!'

When he came round yesterday he was chuffed to bits when my sister asked if he wanted crumpets! Tony you are a star!

Part of having fun revolves around the senses. I will share with you another time how we used this in our romance, but appealing to the senses really does make you feel good. So what have I done?
Touch - I sleep with pillows down the bed so I can snuggle up to Clive. I wrap the sleeves of his duvet jackets around me.
Taste - my favourite foods. Clive had just begun to enjoy herbal teas so I am learning to love them now.
Smell - his Leeds Rhino T-shirt he wore last Friday night when we went to the pub to watch the match is hanging right by my side of the bed. I keep smelling his bottles of aftershave.
Sight - it's all around me. Photographs of happy times. Our vision board - all of which I am attempting to do. Where possible I shall keep every diary date we had planned. Got some nice treats to share with others ahead! What's my alternative? Cancel them and sit sobbing or go with Clive's blessing and spirit of abundance and sharing? I know what he'd want.
Sounds - I have been listening to his music. I drove everyone mad on Sunday by having Gold radio station blasting out all day as Clive used to have it on! That day it helped. I haven't done it since! On Saturday we got the DVD from one of Clive's last talks. It was fantastic and afterwards he'd told me that that had been the highlight of his speaking career, as if everything he had ever done before had been building to his 'finest hour'. I have yet to watch it. I will know when the time is right.

I have had messages saying I am not alone from every direction. I feel that and deeply appreciate it.  My wonderful parents have been here with me since the early hours of Sunday morning; my sister and her baby when they can; Clive's sister Lynn and her family; Michelle from next door - the list could go on and on. But I am truly overwhelmed by the MASSIVE support and love I seem to have out there. Clive used to tell me several times a day how much he adored me; that 'love' wasn't a strong enough word to describe how he felt about me. He often said, and told others, as I have now learnt, that if what we had was love then he had never been in love before. We all know Clive had many relationships before me but he also said I was his 'last first kiss', that I completed him. I have seen on the emails that he'd said 2010 was the happiest year of his life. Some may say that he said such things to every woman he was with. I know that isn't true.
I am also open to accepting and appreciating help. I made myself more ill with postnatal depression with an 'I'm fine, I can do it myself' attitude.' In retrospect I was also selfish as by pushing away help I denied people from the pleasure you get from giving. So yes please - bring on the help and support for me!!! I promise I will ask when I need anything and I know in doing so 'being helpful' pleases others.
I can't get through this alone and I really, really appreciate all the calls and messages. Please know I am reading them but just cannot reply or respond at the moment.

Clive always said that you have to look after yourself first SO THAT you can help others. It isn't about being selfish. So I am trying to be so to myself. I have to tell myself that I have had an incredible few years with Clive. There isn't a single shred of regret of remorse. I know it is a cliche but it IS better to have loved and lost than not at all. Clive really was a very, very kind man. In time I will share examples. My idea about buying flowers was created from his desire to be kind and spread happiness. I was told yesterday that a 4 year old handed a daffodil to someone saying simply 'it's from Clive'. How warm did that make me feel?

So they are my Hanzak principles. Clive told me I should do a postcard with them on as they remind us all how to keep our heads up. I will do at some point. perhaps it may become another keynote on 'survival'. if it helps me, maybe it will help others? That way all this pain will have a purpose to it. Perhaps people would be inspired by our story even if Clive has gone? What do you think?

Thank you for wading through this. I needed to write for me, if no-one else. If it has helped, then it's a bonus.

My next task is to decide what to dress my Clive in for his celebration next week as Tony will be popping round for his clothes this morning. I will go and see him this afternoon and spike his hair the way he liked it and put his aftershave on for him.

I wonder if Tony will have any Spotted Dick left?

N.B I will continue to add to this blog daily so if you are here via Clive's website please come back here if you'd like to for updates!


N.B. Clive's products can be ordered via here.


Angelita said...

Elaine, I didn't know Clive but I saw the effect he had on you when we met last year! You are a brave, beautiful lady and I know you will "handle" this as you say. I lost my sister very suddenly just over 2 years ago in a similar fashion so I have experience of the "one minute they're here, next they're gone" but all I can offer you, as others will, is that it takes time. I still come across things that remind me of her and I still feel sad that she's not here and we didn't even get on that well!! I love Clive's attitude of "it's happened, deal with it" and it is positive. Take care and let others take care of you too. Love in a big hug, Angelita xx

Julie C said...

Hi Elaine
I just wanted to say what an amazing piece you have written here. I am totally taken aback by your courage. I have no idea how you are feeling as I never been through anything like you in the past few days, but I send all my love, support and strength to help get you through this time. Your words and passion have actually helped me this morning, so I would like to thank you too for that.
Clive will be so so proud of you for carry on his fabulous attitude to life.
Keep going forward

Angi Egan said...

Elaine, please know I hold you in my thoughts & send you strength and love. I can hardly begin to conceive how overwhelmed you might be feeling, not only with the lost of your beautiful partner but also with the avalanche of love & support from his many, many friends.
I saw this verse at a funeral on Tuesday and thought it may provide a little solace, perhaps like balm for a bruised heart .....

He is gone....

You can shed tears that he has gone; Or you can smile that he lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left you.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him, or your heart can be full of the love you have shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow, because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he has gone, or you can cherish his memory and let him live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he'd want, smile, open your eyes, love and carry on.....

Keep shining

Angi x

Pennie said...

Hey Elaine,

You're fantastic and truly keeping Clive's spirit alive.

Valerian tea is the herbal tea you want before bed.

Huge love,



Kerri said...

Elaine. I came across this which I feel fits perfectly for you. I know I never met Clive but I know how happy he made you feel. And always keep these words below close to you, as they ring so true.

"Love is stronger than death, even though it can't stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love. It can't take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death."

Brian Wallace said...


After hearing about the loss of Clive, my Elaine took 9 bunches of floweres to work, and before her colleagues arrived, she placed them on their desks with an e-mail for each saying "these are for a friend from Clive"

They were all so touched by this and it made my Elaine feel so much pleasure inside. Once again an idea from the truly inspiring Clive Gott has a touching outcome!

We saw Clive at all the FLP Success Days and he always made us laugh, but also inspired us.

Although we did not know him closely, we were big fans of his and for us he will be really missed.

Our hearts go out to you Elaine

Brian & Elaine xxx