Sunday, 31 July 2011

You know you are loved when...

You get a text that says 'I am boiling spuds in your pan cos it's yours'.
They sleep with an item of your clothing when you are apart.
They smell your perfume bottle when you aren't around.
They order what they know you would order in a restaurant or cafe even though you aren't with them.
They want you to let them know when you have reached a destination safely.
You don't have to speak all the time - silence is comfortable.
They do the household chores they know you don't like.
They leave you little messages in unexpected places, e.g. In your diary, passport.
They say they want to breathe the same air as you.
They will silently interrupt you ironing to dance in the kitchen when one of 'your' songs comes on the radio, then kiss you before carrying on with their task when the song ends.
They listen to your stories from childhood and get a present that reminds you of those times, e.g. A musical box that plays Love Story.

They will kiss the back of your neck when your hands are in the washing up!
They will listen to the same radio station or watch the same tv programme you are watching, when apart to feel together.
They say you look amazing even when you are both scruffy.
They phone you from a pub when a romantic record comes on and tell you to listen because it's for you.
They surprise you with new matching underwear to make you feel special.
They wash your hair for you in the shower (with no ulterior motive!)
Even though you know you haven't a Hollywood face or figure they make you feel like you have.
They cradle your feet when you watch tv together on the settee.
You feel their presence even when physically apart.
You are upstairs whilst they are downstairs and you get a text that says 'I flippin adore you'.
They wink at you or give you eye contact across a room and your heart skips a beat.
They tell you that you walk in a room and you take their breath away.
They kiss you and the rest of the world disappears.

.... Well I was so lucky because these were some of the ways Clive showed me how he felt about me.
Happy times.

What do you do to show someone you love them?

Elaine x

Friday, 29 July 2011

Saying goodbye to baby Kyle Clive

On Tuesday morning I woke with a sense of sadness - that is nothing new currently but today there was an added reason. We were to bury Clive's niece's baby Kyle Clive. Sue miscarried at 16 weeks into her pregnancy.

I had Dominic and his cousin Brendan with me and we decided that it was better that they went into York. I dropped them off by Castle Museum where Clive and I had enjoyed a visit a couple of years ago.

We were asked to wear bright colours and 'the yellow dress' was requested and worn. Our group outside the church were asked 'is it a wedding' ....

Sue and husband Scott had wanted us to be bright. Their daughters Emily and Ruby were with friends so we had a small gathering of adults of close family. Even though Clive died before we were married I have been embraced by two of his brothers and sisters as part of the family. I felt I was there for both of us.

Clive, Ruby and Emily at the christening
The vicar who had taken the service for Ruby's christening a few months ago was there for us today. A shiny black estate car with blackened back windows was parked by the church gateway and a very empathetic young undertaker enquired if Scott or Sue wanted to carry Kyle. They declined so he did so - the white casket was tiny with two yellow roses on the top.

Scott's parents and Auntie had come from 'down South' and I walked up to the church with Sandy. She and Ray had stayed with us a couple of times. As the small procession reached the church doorway I suddenly felt an urge that Ray and Sandy should be together. I am so very conscious of couples being together these days.

I then walked into church by myself. I felt so alone. So lonely. Where was 'my man'? Such thoughts made me feel selfish though - we were here for Sue, Scott and Kyle today. We were seated in the small chapel at the right hand side of the church. The chairs were in 3s so I sat next to nephew Nick and his partner Sharon. There was soothing music playing. These nephews and nieces have had some sorrows this year which is 'heavy' for them in their late 20's and early 30's. It was bad enough seeing the boys carry their uncle's coffin - now we were faced with the smallest one I have ever seen.

The vicar spoke some words of comfort which were very appropriate and sensitive. I felt so sorry for Sue and Scott as they looked at the tiny casket. Was it just me that was thinking of the football that Scott would never play with his son? The vicar was right in that once a 'heart beat' is established a bond, love and expectations build and grow.

Next Grandma Lynn read the following poem:-

"Daddy please don't look so sad, Mummy please don't cry. Cause I'm in the arms of Jesus, and he sings me lullabies.

Please try not to question God, don't think he is unkind. Don't think he sent me to you and then changed his mind.

You see I'm a special child, I am needed up above. I'm the special gift you gave Him, a product of your love.

I'll always be there with you, so watch the sky at night. Look for the brightest star and know that's my halo's brilliant light.

You'll see me in the morning frost that mists your window pane. That's me in the summer showers, I'll be dancing in the rain.

When you feel a gentle breeze from a gentle wind that blows. Know that it's me planting a kiss upon your nose.

When you see a child playing and your heart feels a tug, Don't be sad Mummy, that's just me giving your heart a hug.

So Daddy don't looks so sad and Mummy please don't cry. I'm in the arms of Jesus and he sings me lullabies!"

How she managed to do that, I do not know. I do know how very proud I was of her and also know how Clive would have been so.

Every word applied to Kyle but I also felt it did of Clive too. Such 'touches' of nature are a comfort. The last line really 'got' me because Emily, age 6, had told us that Uncle Clive will be looking after her little brother.

The vicar spoke of Heaven and the time when we'd meet again. Whoa! That hit me hard as the idea of Clive holding his arms out for me is the one wish I would give anything for. I had to grab Nick's hand and he squeezed it tightly as I sobbed.

Kyle was carried out and we filed out. Sue's Dad Tony, who was also on his own, offered me his hand and we walked out together. That felt so much better. As we stepped outside the sun had pierced it's way out for the first time in days. Just as on the pitch at Headingley when I spoke at the side of Clive's coffin.

We then drove to the cemetery nearby where a tiny hole had been dug. The kindly undertaker literally knelt down and lowered Kyle down. Sue had given us all a yellow rose to place on him. The vicar said a few more words and then we all did so. There were more tears and hugs all around. 

I made my excuses that I would be a few minutes before I followed everyone to Lynn and Rod's house. Truth was I needed to cry. I just wanted to be on my own for a few minutes in our home. I miss him Clive so much.

Back at Lynn's the family were all more upbeat. We ate, chatted and were pleased when Sue and Scott arrived with the little girls. I went to York to pick up the boys and returned with them. 

As we drove away later on I played The Eagles in the car. The tears began to fall uncontrollably. There was no thought process behind them - just a building wave of emotion.

We are having a few days near Bridlington at a friend's cottage. I knew where I had to go - to the South Cliff area on the long sandy beach where Clive and I used to walk Peeka and put the world to rights. 

I asked the boys to humour me and said I needed to go on the beach. Dom gave me his jumper to wear over my dress and I wandered down the ramp and onto the sand where I had been with my soul mate.

I walked towards the tide, which was out. The tears were like a torrent down my face. Why oh why had he gone? Why did Kyle go too? All our hopes, dreams, plans, goals, wishes, passion, etc. etc, gone. All the times I had longed for Dom to be on this beach with us and now he is Clive isn't! I closed my eyes tightly and prayed that when I opened them Clive and Peeka would be standing there. in my mind's eye they were but not in reality.

That's when I got angry! Facing the sea I shouted out loudly at Clive and told him I was bloody cross with him! He'd told me he would never break my heart. He had lied to me. I shouted that he had hurt me like no other pain I had ever felt before. Why did he have to do that? I shouted at him for the uncertainlties and challenges I now face and for leaving me 'on my own' (i.e. without him - I have many others around me). I cried. I hurt. I sobbed. I shouted more and more.

Finally when it seemed like I had no breath left in me I asked for his help. I just asked for him.
I turned to look for the boys and a warm and sudden breeze wrapped itself around me, taking what breathe I had with it. In a flash every ounce of anger and pain simply vanished, in two gusts.  I could not believe how calm I had become - and have remained so since. It was as if I had been in an exhausting nightmare and at a click had woken up. 

I spotted the boys running into the cold sea with the same enthusiasm they had as toddlers. They don't see that much of each other but they always have fun when they do. It is a pleasure to see. There is my future. They are 'the here and now'. 

I thought again of Sue and Scott and baby Kyle who won't play on a beach. He would have been a much loved little boy. He always will be.

I wiped my face and asked if the boys fancied a proper paddle. They did and the three of us walked in the stream at the top of the promenade giggling about the many jokes and banter between them.
This was me there last year ..

As we drove back to the cottage I asked a stupid question for two teenage boys 'You two hungry?'
And into the kitchen I went .....
As I served them some sausage rolls a warm smile drifted across my face as I remembered Lynn's words ….

'When you feel a gentle breeze from a gentle wind that blows.
Know that it's me planting a kiss upon your nose.'

Thanks Clive and take care of Kyle too. We love you both.

Elaine x

Thursday, 28 July 2011

More family time!

I think I have drifted into a numb mode. I am neither happy nor really sad. The underlying sadness is like a petticoat that I never take off - no matter what I wear from a smile to a frown, a dress to a coat, the sense of the loss of Clive remains.

Due to family and work we often spent days and nights apart but we were in constant contact via text and emails. I still find it hard there are none from him. My heart skips a beat when I see the red light flash on my Blackberry. For one milli-second I hope it is him. It isn't and it won't ever be.  But it is always lovely to have a message from others just saying they are thinking about me - so please don't stop!

I had a pleasant Monday. We all had slept well at the cottage and Mum, Dad, Dom and I had all got on well - of course! We had breakfast and my parents packed up. I chatted to an old friend of Clive's who had only heard the news of his death last week. We are going to meet up as there is something he wants to discuss with me.

The weather remained overcast so we chose to watch another DVD - this time Waking Ned, about a lottery win. I must be getting easier to handle death and dying on films as this one made me laugh!

I made us a snack for lunch then we went into Bridlington. First we drove to South beach.

I wanted to show them where Clive, Peeka and I had spent some Sunday mornings walking along the sand. We loved those times. We'd often put the world to rights. I loved to see how much he adored Peeka. Equally he'd wrap those big arms around me to protect me from the wind - or was it just an excuse to hold me, cuddle me and kiss me?

They were always 'phone free' times when we'd escape from everything else. I thought I'd cry returning today but I didn't. Perhaps if we'd had time to walk on the sand I would.

Instead we headed for the railway station with its stunning array of flowers.

Brendan, Dom's cousin, had got the train from Bicester to spend some time with us. It was good to see him again. He has just finished his GCSEs. They have grown up together playing in hotels and apartments across the world, mainly thanks to their grandparents. I love to have them together.

We gave him a quick seaview at North Landing. The boys are now so tall!

Back at the cottage Mum, Dad and their grandsons played a favourite game of Rummy whilst I blogged. What a banter went on! 

We had searched for 'best fish and chip' shop in Bridlington online and discovered that the UK's number 1 was five minutes away from us!  Fish and chips at 149.

We ate our supper up by Sewerby picnic area surrounded by seagulls. After a final ice cream Mum and Dad left us - they were looking after Sophie the next few days.

The boys and I watched Hancock - a film I'd seen at the pictures with Clive.

I was stuffed! This last week I have been greedy. As a result I feel bloated and uncomfortable. I had become complacent after losing weight after Clive but it's creeping back.

It seemed strange then without my parents. Life is full of farewells. It was good to share this with them.

Over the years they have shared their holiday accommodation with us - 'giving back' always feels good!

What can you count as 'giving back' to someone?

Elaine x

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Films and fun at the seaside!

After the PSA NE summer BBQ on Saturday I drove home and packed up for a few days away. I did a talk around 18 months ago 'in the spirit of abundance', not expecting anything in return. The outcome of that talk is a support group for postnatally depressed mothers, which should run and run. That was worth it but then I was offered a holiday cottage at Flamborough, near Bridlington, on the east coast by David who had asked me to speak. It is his family's way of 'giving back'. What amazing people I have around me!

Last summer Dom, his friend and myself had a very happy week there, walking, cycling, cooking, etc. The last conversation Dom and I had before Clive died was about making plans for the three of us this time at the cottage this year. It would have been our first holiday together.

I had invited Mum and Dad to join us for the weekend. They had arrived ahead of me. Meanwhile I drove to Bridlington, with memories of Sunday mornings with Peeka and Clive. He would be like an excited child 'taking doggy to the seaside'. We'd be up and out by 7.30 a.m. and on the beach just over an hour later. We'd walk on the long, sandy beach in sun, wind and cloud just talking, playing and being 'loved up'. We would be first in the queue at a cafe for a sausage sandwich 'and one without the bread for Peeka' and eat outside. The journey on Saturday proved a difficult one as the memories and the familiar route lay in front of me, unfolding like a roll of green wallpaper over the Yorkshire landscape.

To ease my pain I spoke to Lynn en route and we chatted about plans for the next few weeks. Both my birthday and what would have been Clive's are on the horizon. People tell me that 'the firsts' are especially poignant so I need to make sure I have something good arranged for them. Talking to Lynn did help immensely and by the time I was driving the final stretch to the cottage I began to feel excited! Family time for me!

Dom, Mum and Dad had settled in well and I followed suit. The four of us went for a walk around a very chilly Flamborough village! Very pretty but not exactly warm. Mum even had gloves on!

Over the years we have played cards as a family. Tonight was no exception and I won at Rummy!

I slept on a top bunk bed - not done that for years! I was happy to be back here. Clive had never actually been here with us but I continue to miss the constant texts from him wherever I am. This time last year he'd have wanted a constant bulletin from me! Sometimes his lip would be out if I was with my family (or others) having fun and he'd gone to bed before I said 'n nite'! 

Next morning 'the big event' was the local car boot sale. Last year Dom and his friend had a ball there! They had got a small skate board, other bits of 'kit' and a pile of out of date food from a white van! Did we really want 48 bags of Nik Naks?! So that was first on the list.

Oh dear! As it was still so cold and windy only a handful of sellers had turned up (who can blame them). Unless you wanted some cassette tapes, a doll with an eye missing and a book of wildlife themed knitting patterns, then it wasn't your lucky day!

We returned for a warm! There isn't a television at the cottage so Dom had brought his laptop and I had my projector that I use for talks. Together we created a 10 foot wide screen on the lounge wall and our own mini-cinema! We both had plenty of DVDs too.

All of us were happy just to relax so the rest of the morning passed watching 'Sherlock Holmes'. Very good film.

We made a snack lunch then decided to get some very fresh air on the beach at North Landing - a cove just a few minutes away. Dom and his friend had spent hours here last year climbing on the rocks and in the caves. Today though the wind and waves were far too strong to risk anything other than safely sitting on the sand. Dom, ever the optimist, kept suggesting that it 'would settle soon' and in the meantime we just wave and people watched. After a while I realised how relaxed I was. If being relaxed is just letting your mind wander, without any focused thoughts, then I was there. I was neither  very sad or happy. I was content just to be, with my dearest family with me.

We gave up on the waves and went back to the cottage for a drink, then set off in an easterly direction to the lighthouse at Flamborough Head. We had a lovely meal at The Headland restaurant there.

Dom at Flamborough Head

From there we walked down the cliff path to the beach.  I soaked up 'the moment' - waves crashing, seagulls squawking, wind on my face and blowing my hair, warm sun on my back, taste of salt in the air, a small selection of families exploring the cove as mine were.

Then wallop! The memories of the same beach this time last year crashed down as me just like the ferocious waves on the rocks. This time last year I had been there with Dom and his friend Sam. If I had known then that Clive and I had only months together I wondered if we would have done anything differently? We would have got married for sure - he had asked me to spend the rest of his life with him when we were in New York just before his 50th birthday. I did. Other than that, probably not. It is probably good that we don't know what is 'round the corner'.

Dom spotted I was crying, standing alone by the shoreline. He smiled at me and without saying a word just hugged me for a few moments. We didn't need to say a word. What an intuitive and wonderful young man.

That was all I needed and then focused on 'now'. I watched my Mum and Dad and Dom, as he scampered off again. Appreciate 'now' I told myself. 'Love the ones you're with'. As we climbed the steps back up Dom scampered ahead. A man on his way down told my Mum that her son had just passed him! Made her day!

Back at the cottage I posted Sue's blog on her stay with me the previous days and the 'cinema' was on again - this time 'Keeping Mum'.

The traditional cards were dealt and as we played we listened to Dom's choice of music. I cried at several tracks but what was so lovely was the accepted 'it'll pass' from Mum, Dad and Dom!! That is when you know you are loved so much - I can be 'me' without the need to pretend or 'better not say'. That way my emotions are brought out and hopefully I shall 'heal' quicker. I know they feel helpless though but by just letting me go with the moment it really, really helps. A couple of times Dom said 'oh dear' and suggested he changed the track but I said not! This one reminded me of Clive in his car, roof down, shades on, beating a 'drum' on the dashboard. I so miss being driven by him. I have to drive myself now - and not just in a car.

'Is your heart still beating?' - hmm, a sensitive line in that song!

Clive made my heart beat very fast when he was alive. And I know I did his. That thought made me smile.

Sunday was about 'now' and my family. It was a good day.

How many people will be currently on holiday feeling annoyed with those they are with? How many will be moaning in some way? How many counting the days until it's back to normal'?

My simple message is to appreciate your loved ones. Each day is a gift with them. Concentrate on making happy memories not bitter regrets.

Elaine x

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


When I dropped off Sue at the airport on Saturday my next port of call was to the PSA NE Summer BBQ hosted by President Richard McCann.

It was another 'test' of my new approach to life without Clive - choices, connections and caring.

I could have chosen not to go - being with those who knew us both could be an ordeal. In fact I find it a comfort to be with those who are willing to speak of him and listen to me rabbiting on about him!
As 'recently bereaved' our society can often feel awkward and embarrassed to be with you. That is another stigma I fight these days! If I can show others that I am at ease, then I hope it makes them feel likewise.

I could have chosen not to go because I might get upset. Again being with Clive's contacts makes me miss him even more and could upset me further. I chose to go because if I do get tearful, so be it. It will soon pass and better to go and risk it than become a hermit in fear of showing emotion!

I could have chosen not to go because I would be on my own.

I chose to go because I like company. I chose to go because they are friendly people.

I chose to go because another area that is important to me is to connect to others. Social media is good but you cannot beat one to one contact! If I went I would be renewing existing connections and possibly making more.

Thirdly, caring is another aspect that matters to me. I know I have to care about myself so that I can care about others. Getting out does help. I care about my friends and I like to see them - hopefully if they see me 'in the flesh' they will be relieved and pleased. I also care about the speaking profession - supporting PSA events is part of that.

Clive and I probably would have gone to this together. Going alone hurts. All it needed though was my sat nav and one foot in front of the other when I arrived.

After the wet and cold spell we have had thank goodness it was dry - yet windy. Hmm - Clive said he'd be around 'in the wind'. The afternoon was very pleasant and I chatted to existing friends and met some spouses that I hadn't before and their children. Every conversation had Clive in it! He is genuinely missed by more than just me! I LOVE to hear others speak about him. I felt he was there with us in spirit.

The food was very tasty; the live music relaxing and the ambiance just right. It was lovely to see the garden full of people and children of all ages.

Richard has three small children who are all remarkably like him! His son Ellis is a mini-Richard. At one point I was sitting on my own on the swing seat just breathing in the afternoon. Ellis climbed up beside me, gave me eye contact and a smile which made me melt, and proceeded to climb even more. He then share with me the scratching effects of smooth and rough bits on his Frisbee and we went on to discuss favourite letters and numbers. He was part way through telling me about the frogs legs he intends eating on his holiday to France when his expression changed dramatically. A frown and grimace followed and a little comment before he scurried off - "Oooh! I need a poo!"

Oh the innocence of children! I did ask his Dad's permission for that story by the way!

As the afternoon came to a close I was so pleased I had been.

I had made the right choice to attend and I had made new connections and improved others.

I had shown I cared but the overwhelming feeling was how much others cared for Clive.

That is comforting.

Thank you Richard and team for a wonderful afternoon.

What event are you making excuses not to go to? Why?
Perhaps just give it a go - you have a choice to leave early when you get there, but just sometimes it is worth making the effort - I am pleased I did!

Elaine x

Monday, 25 July 2011

A new product for aspiring speakers?

One of Clive's many passions was to inspire and encourage others who want to join the speaking profession. It was yet another thing we shared. 

A few weeks after he died I continued with a day that had been planned to do just that. It was a tall order so early after losing him but our joint value of integrity pushed me to do it. 

I was very glad I did. Recently I had an uplifting conversation with someone who knew Clive for many years. She told me that one of the first things he had told her about me was that 'the amazing thing is that she doesn't know how good she is'.
Perhaps I did not realise just how much I do know about the speaking business? I will never stop learning!

One result of the Speaker Day I delivered with help from others was the introduction one attendee, Gary Foster, gave me to the IAPH, for whom I spoke in May. 

It was a great opportunity to deliver my new keynote and the testimonials have motivated me further.
During the two days I met some interesting people but was especially taken by a lady I found to be inspiring. Sue Peckham has made an incredible change to her life in recent years and I aspire to her success as a business woman.

After a few conversations and following emails we agreed mutual support.

On Thursday evening I met her and our story began. We spent hours telling each other our respective tales with the highs and lows. In fact we were so engrossed in talking that we were still in dressing gowns by early afternoon!

In telling my stuff the penny began to drop about just how much I do know about the speaking business. As it unfolded we both began to see a new product unfolding before us.

We went to see Clive's sister Lynn at work and the plan was to write up our 'guide' at the cafe next door. It was closed so we continued to a cafe in Boston Spa - where Clive and I had chatted about similar things earlier in the year with our friend Andy McMenemy. He has since run 66 ultra-marathons in 66 days!

The law of persistence and Clive's message to just take baby steps, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, helps us both.

As I typed up areas we had discussed it was exciting to see the shape of a guide forming. Not only was it helping Sue but also myself.

1. My confidence grew with every suggestion I was able to offer.
2. It gave me my own outline to follow as I re-brand, re-new and grow.
3. It opened a possible new way of support I can give others.

Later I took Sue to beautiful York. We had constant amusement at how cold it was as we teased one another about the north/south differences! We had considered going to the races and seeing Blondie - we were too busy and cold!

We ate in the spectacular Assembly Rooms, home to ASK restaurant. Apt name! We'd asked each other for support!

I felt very proud to show her the city and reminisced about Clive's birthday two years ago when I had treated him to 'being a tourist' there. We'd stayed in a hotel and done the sights! Magical memories. I could almost feel him watching us as I showed her the Minster, The Shambles, etc.

We were sorry when we had to sleep because we were both buzzing! It continued next morning as I drove her back to the airport!

We have set ourselves some targets and I am to fly south in a few weeks to stay with her. 

Sue offered to write me a guest blog to share our time - that was posted yesterday. Thanks Sue!

As Sue left I felt invigorated and excited. My pain at losing Clive remains immense but I am seeing the legacies he has left with me. None of it has been handed to me on a plate. I know I have to recognise and develop these relationships, opportunities and possibilities for myself. That way I shall value them more... and myself.

So today I leave you with two questions ..

1. What skills/knowledge do you have that maybe you could exchange with someone else?
2. If you are an aspiring speaker, what would you like to know about the profession?

Elaine x

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Guest Blog - speaking warmly of a chilly Yorkshire!

I arrived at Leeds Bradford airport on Thursday evening to be met in arrivals by a cheery wave from Elaine.

We had only met once before, at a conference run by the IAPH in May.

  At this conference we had chatted over lunch and having explained to Elaine that I would be really interested to find out more about becoming a speaker, she immediately offered to help me.

  We exchanged e-mail addresses and after the conference I returned to Southampton.

When I got home and checked my e-mails, Elaine had already made contact.

  We 'chatted' by e-mail and I was really pleased to be offered the opportunity to go up and stay with her for a couple of days to begin putting together my 'talk'.

 The trip to Yorkshire provided me with the opportunity for a few 'firsts'.

  First internal UK flight on my own, first visit to Yorkshire, first time ever having to put the central heating on in July!!

  (Elaine laughed at my 'soft southerner' reaction to her being in a t-shirt and calf length summer trousers while I was wrapped up from head to toe in jeans, jumper, cardigan and scarf!). We both laughed a lot over the 2 days I was there and the chilly temperature outside was completely negated by the warmth of Elaine's hospitality.

We worked so hard on Friday morning that it was 2 pm before we knew it and we began to realise that almost by accident we had created a new string to Elaine's bow. She has a wealth of experience and information that would be helpful to 'would be speakers' that she really should share.

Elaine has a way of explaining what she does that really inspired me to get on and take action. She's generous with her time, her hospitality and her knowledge and really gets you believing in yourself. I can't wait to get started on my new project, my writing and the new ideas that Elaine and I have excitedly agreed to look at when we meet again.

Thanks again Elaine…and I look forward to welcoming you to sunny Southern England next time we meet up!

Sue Peckham

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Do you know where you are going to?

On Friday morning I bounced out of bed! What a wonderful feeling!

First appointment was with Sammy at Ice Innovation who is helping me with a new brand. Wow! She got me to really create 'my world' in five years time. It is a happy, helpful and successful place. I am very excited about it! Watch this space! If you need a new brand get in touch with Sammy!

Next was with David Paley at Countersales Ltd. He has known Clive for years and it is through David that the idea of linking his church with PND support. The system continues to run well with no problem regarding funding but makes use of services and people already in place. We are to meet again to discuss widening the system. What a joy to see Clive's books and Celebration souvenir in his office!

Next it was lunch in Leeds with my accountant Roy from Virtual FD. We had fun discussing Feel Good factors! Chinese crispy duck pancakes were mentioned. Yummy!

From there it was a chat and tea with Clive's friend Jamie Jones Buchanan. He plays for Leeds Rhinos. They often met to talk about life! I love to spend time with those who loved him. We also spoke about 'feel good' things and when we parted he was off to get some aftershave!

Next I met Andy Kirk who is keen to promote any charity events, e.g Clive's Memorial Golf Day on 10th August.

Finally I went to Leeds/Bradford airport to collect my friend Sue Peckham. We first met at the IAPH conference I had spoken at in May. We had a wonderful meal at The Fleece in Otley and chatted back at home until late.

What a good day! I have lost Clive but am beginning to see a new life unfolding with some existing and new relationships in it. I feel excited and optimistic!

Some of the 'should have' elements of life are gradually easing of where my mind pictures Clive at different things.

It was incredible to think of where I would like to be in five years time. Clive and I had done this exercise together. We knew that no matter where we were that we wanted to be together. I found it hard to do this again now without tears. I have to rewrite the page. Without him. I have a new journey which is just beginning.

Where do you see yourself by summer 2016?

Elaine x

Friday, 22 July 2011

Never give up

I have a calender in the kitchen with a photo of Clive for each month. Currently it is of us on a Nile cruise.

It is exactly at the same height to kiss as Clive's lips were. I have to stand on tip toe in the same way.
Feeling upset on Wednesday night I reached up, kissed his picture and asked him for help. Several times I had sobbed in previous hours. Every now and then I feel overwhelmed by all I have to face in life without him.
I got settled in bed with my notes for my branding appointment on Thursday morning. I had to consider my values amid other questions. I have a file of personal development programmes I have done in the last few years, including Clive's 'how to take life by the throat and say I'm not done yet'! He tested new workbooks on me.

I use my name as an acronym for signs and symptoms of depression and ways to combat it. Clive liked this idea and used it for his values - choice, life-long learning, integrity, vision and enthusiasm. We had done similar for me and I had made a start in a workbook - enthusiasm, life long learning, abundance, integrity ..

I then noticed Clive had written in for 'n' -
Never give up. I adore you. Xx

He admired my tenacity.

I won't let either of us down.

So there was his message to me! After a few tears and a cuddle of his pillow I did my notes and went to sleep smiling!

Elaine x

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Clive was a big fan of using a dictionary. He relished words and had spoken about studying for a degree. Yet another thing he will no longer do.

I have just looked up the word 'Vulnerable'. Wikipedia says:-
Vulnerability refers to the susceptibility of a person, group, society or system to physical or emotional injury or attack. The term can also refer to a person who lets their guard down, leaving themselves open to censure or criticism. Vulnerability refers to a person's state of being liable to succumb to manipulation, persuasion, temptation etc.

Why? Because that's what I feel today. I feel crushed. I feel tearful. I feel ashamed. I feel cross.
Why? Because unknowingly I have upset someone and possibly unknowingly someone else has upset me.

There is a saying 'what goes around comes around' so perhaps this is justification?

I awoke full of enthusiasm for life today. I confess though last night I slept cuddled up to 'Clive' with his pillows down the bed again - I haven't done that in ages. Just before I got up I stroked them, smiled and sighed as I made the bed. I had a full list of things to do at home today - within minutes I had a cup of tea and was cleaning the bathroom, music on and a purpose in mind! I have a friend coming to stay tomorrow for a few days so a great reason to clean the house.

In between I attended to office things and the list was going down well. I went to see Sue and Scott with little Ruby. Sue told me the details of her miscarriage at the hospital and about baby Kyle Clive's funeral arrangements. They want me to wear my bright yellow dress as like Clive's 'Celebration' they want colour and brightness.

I thought it would be nice to take them out for lunch, as a change of scene and not having to cook I know are helpful when you are grieving, so I suggested I'd call back later and we'd go out.

I nipped home to investigate getting the double buggy which was sitting in their hallway, returned for a refund. Then I got the two blows. 

First was a text to cancel my plans for tonight. I had declined two other things in preference. I had been really looking forward to this company tonight and I guess my reply was curt - an earlier message could have allowed me to make other plans. A bit later I was sorry I had done that and suggested an alternative. No response all day. I know people have busy lives and sometimes other things do get in the way. Maybe 'normally' I would have shrugged it off. I admit I am 'roller coastering' and it doesn't take much to put me up or bring me down. I have allowed it to hurt me and I am cross with myself for letting it affect me. My bubble for today began to deflate.

Next was a phone call which completely burst that bubble. With a loud bang. In recent days it would appear that I have unintentionally caused someone great distress. I am glad that I have been told because I take it as a learning situation as well as being given the opportunity to apologise. In my current state of grief perhaps I am not functioning as I normally do. I had been involved in a 'quick' conversation in an inappropriate time and place and between us we had dived in at the deep end, unearthing serious matters, without the proper space and time to make considered replies. I should have been more alert in stopping the conversation but I didn't. I am mortified for causing someone distress. My purpose in life is to help - not stick my foot in.

Between the two scenarios I therefore have questioned my vulnerability today. I even went out to cut the front lawn and the heavens opened on me with pouring rain!  People have been telling me that I am 'still vulnerable'.  I didn't know what it really meant until today.

I took Sue, Scott and Ruby out for lunch and told myself off! They are suffering the loss of their baby and here's me upset because some one rightly reprimanded me and another cancelled a cinema trip! It was a comfort to have Ruby on my lap tucking into ice cream! At least the company are going to give them a full refund and free return on the double buggy - thank you Kiddicare.

I have completed everything on my list today and more besides. I didn't allow self pity to stop me. But it has all been done with a heavy heart and several tears. 

I have 5 meetings tomorrow so I am going to have a pamper and an early night so I will be ready for them, brighter and less vulnerable. I didn't want to go out anyway ......!!! 

In some ways Clive would say 'what right do they have to ruin my day'? But as I ruined someone's perhaps it's fair?

If you have 20 minutes to share watch this ..

I know it's early  - but n nite,

Elaine x

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The euphoria of breaking up for school summer holidays - every day!

This morning I began the day at my parents concerned about a friend. It was good to share some of my 'survival' techniques with someone else who is suffering - different problems but suffering nonetheless. It isn't pleasant to hear pain in someone's voice and you just wish you could click your fingers and take it away for them. Maybe that is how some of you have felt about me? I know my parents do.

I listened, offered advice and some 'small steps' but he hasn't been out of my thoughts all day.

Meanwhile we had the pleasure of baby Sophie! She is now walking and is as adorable as ever. My Mum and Dad are truly amazing with her and she worships them!

My niece Sophie!
I love my Grandma!
I love my Grandpa!
I didn't want to leave but I had to!

I headed back along the M62 to Table Table at Aspley in Huddersfield. I met up with fellow Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation trustee Dinah. We can recommend the Table Table sharing plate. Yummy!

We both went on to present to managers from local Children's Centres to tell them about the charity and to offer our workshops to them. Hopefully some will follow in the autumn. Poor Dinah barely got chance to say her name before I launched in! And didn't stop! Ooops - sorry!

Next stop was round to see Chris who was putting together an impressive 'Call to Action' document around services for postnatal depression - watch this space.

We went to pick up Emily from nursery who was teething and not happy! Fish and chips helped for tea. Is it any wonder that my white jeans are going tight on me again? No - they haven't shrunk! It is some of the stone in weight I had lost since Clive died that is creeping back!

From there I had a taste of peace and serenity! At the Rock the Rectory event last week for Joe's charity, Dinah had been approached by the owner, Stephanie, of a local spa, Eastthorpe Hall, who expressed interest in helping us. She suggested we went along to their Open Evening tonight. Dinah was unable to go so I was happy to. I am so pleased I did! Wow! What a fantastic place. The sense of tranquillity embraces you. Stunning decor, lighting, wallpaper - everything. As I was given a guided tour I must admit I felt quite tearful in a treatment room - it felt such a supreme haven and one I want to experience fully.

I have been invited back in a few weeks - something that I shall utterly look forward to. I was asked yesterday what I would like for my birthday which is coming up. I suggested a new nightie and the Downton Abbey DVDs. I reckon vouchers for Eastthorpe Hall are on the list now!

I have driven home invigorated and excited about the autumn. I no longer have our cruise to look forward to in September but other things are turning up to make me smile.

However, my biggest smile was for a message from my friend with whom the day had begun. He was thanking me and saying that he felt better. We have arranged lunch on Thursday. I am delighted.

I have been away from home for several days. Today I returned happily and no tears - I did make sure I was talking to Clive's sister Lynn (hands-free) though as I arrived back on the drive. That helped! Also that one of my neighbours have cut the front lawn for me again. Whoo hoo!

Life has felt easier today. Why?

  • being with family and friends, or speaking to them
  • helping others
  • arranging events and experiences to look forward to
Can you do any of these things tomorrow?

When I was a teacher I remember the euphoria of breaking up for summer (except there was the dilemma to do the next term's planning the first few days off even though you are exhausted - or leave it until the last week). 

With my new job I am almost sorry to be taking a break! I love my purpose and 'career' now. However, even though I feel much stronger I know I have much healing still to do. I also have our birthdays in early August. 

The strength I feel tonight is very comforting but I cannot wait to sink into our bed!

N nite,

Elaine x

Monday, 18 July 2011

Looking after yourself so that you can help others ...

Last week regular blog readers will know wasn't a good one for me! Grief hit big time along with other things.
On Friday I made an attempt to climb out of it and continued over the weekend.

Today I am happy to report that by taking responsibility for myself and accepting the support around me I was back in a position to help others again. In doing so I have had a much better day!

Last night Ann and I went to the Travelodge at Sutton in Ashfield. Patrick checked us in with a smile and efficiently. (I always notice the names and use them of those who give me good service - a tip from Clive - it makes them feel valued and in turn they respond well back). Ann was impressed with the size of her room complete with a sofa!

Within minutes we used a fast and efficient taxi firm, A line, who whisked us off to Il Rosso. What an excellent restaurant! The setting, music, ambiance, prices, service, etc were all faultless. Louise our waitress was charming and the evening passed quickly and enjoyably. We have to go back to this area for the food if nothing else!

Once back at the Travelodge we put our packs for the workshop together. We have a resource CD for our delegates plus extra information on our charity, Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation and our work as Greatvine Experts.

Before I knew it morning had arrived (so good to have slept well!) then off to our venue for the day at Rufford Mill. It is a popular venue for weddings and I was pleased that didn't upset me today with thoughts of 'we would have been getting married'.

I found this quote the other day:-

You can't have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time
(Charles F. Kettering).

Perhaps that is becoming more my new mantra? I am trying to think of the future more and more. I cannot control further than the next few days and weeks but I will do those with optimism.

We had 37 delegates from the Nottingham/Mansfield areas of council staff and health professionals and delivered our workshop around postnatal depression.

It was a beautiful room and the day just flowed and passed quickly. I was so pleased not to have cried all day! Looking back to the previous one in Doncaster I feel far stronger than then. At the end of the day we ask for comments on the key thing they will take with them.

These included:-
  • the importance of looking after yourself so that you can help others 
  • increased confidence around postnatal illness and loss 
  • the need to allow people time to express their feelings and concerns 
  • not to judge on face value 
  • to be aware of how the parent and family are affected and need support and guidance 
  • that small acts of kindness can result in big, positive differences.
It is always so rewarding to check that the desired outcomes which were outlined initially had all been achieved. Ann and I were also being assessed today - we got ticks in every box!

They were a very responsive group of ladies and we look forward to working with more of their colleagues.

I felt very satisfied with our delivery and thought of how pleased I was with myself for making the effort to live and not to allow depression to bring me down again. It isn't easy but far more rewarding than simply giving up and letting grief ruin me too. Clive would be very cross if I did that.

Back in the car I did have a cry - no Clive to report back to and also due to a beautiful email sent by a friend of his who has only just found out he had died. Being reminded of the huge inspiration Clive gave others I know I want to continue it in my way. So far it appears that I am.

I admit to feeling extremely drained tonight. I give my all in those workshops but Ann and I are hungry for more! They are so rewarding and we do not know how fully the ripple effects will go.

I am glad that I have looked after myself (with support) so that I could help others today!

So my questions to you tonight -
  • what can you do for yourself tonight? 
  • what can you do to help someone else? 
I lived my purpose today - did you?

N nite,

Elaine x

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Does bereavement have different levels I wonder?

I know I have said this before but I am sorry. What for? For never understanding the real pain of bereavement until these last few months. If my ignorance has meant I have been inpatient or intolerant to others in the past then I ask their forgiveness. Clive would say that you should only feel guilty if you had done something intentionally wrong. It wasn't intentional so I won't take on guilt however I chose to learn from this experience.
I simply did not know how much it hurts.

When I come across those around me who have lost a loved one, even if years ago, I will now be happy to listen to their story and memories. I know I appreciate the opportunity to talk about Clive (bet that surprised you!!). Just for a little while it brings them back to us.

Does bereavement have different levels I wonder? Is there a score sheet that determines it? For example, the deeper you loved the person the higher the score? Living together, extra points? Younger? Etc. Perhaps grief is as unique as we all are? Our reactions are just as unique.

Perhaps because we were still in the 'honeymoon' period maybe my grief is so huge? I know I loved and adored my grandparents. I still think of them and miss them, yet the level was nowhere near as deep as this.

I have been asked to write some happier posts as this week I have struggled! I am only being honest. This week has been a tough one. Very tough. Yet when I look back in the months ahead I hope I shall reflect on it as simply part of my journey. A few people have been saying that 'it will hit me' as I have bounced along the last few months. I can assure you that it has! From it I will learn that I will be ready to support and prepare others in the future.

Friday was a better day. Ann and I are delivering our workshop for Children's centre staff next week so I was busy preparing for that. I had an exciting meeting about my future and the help around my business is as a direct result of my blog! Apparently the levels of emotion, feelings and love that I express about Clive and I have influenced others to look at their relationships and make changes to improve their happiness! That felt very good to know!

I then drove to Headingley to watch Leeds Rhinos take on Hull FC. Chris was my guest. He too has had a tough week missing Joe. What a pair! However as soon as I entered the ground the buzz of the event excited me. The staff as usual were so kind, asking me how I was. Pete Evans shared the table with his guests and the banter was uplifting. The meal was excellent as usual in the Premier Suite.
Once in our usual seats the emotion flowed over me. The ground was packed. The atmosphere electric. My heart broken. As the sounds of  'we're Leeds Rhinos' erupted from the stands the pain began to rise. Chris offered a welcome hand to squeeze and and understanding smile as I thought of how Clive would have been loving this moment.

Then I chose to change. I chose to smile at his memory. I felt him with us. I felt his pride that I have continued to carry on his love, support and interest in the game. Dom had wanted to come with me but he couldn't get away from Work Experience in time. Knowing he wanted to be there with me was wonderful for many reasons. I thought of niece Sue going through her miscarriage but pleased to have given her something to look forward to, even if just one night (I have booked for us to see Bruno Mars).

The funniest thing was that I spent much of the match explaining the rules to a guy next to me! Chris was highly amused! My 'friend' was part of a corporate group who had come from Doncaster and had not been to a rugby league match before. They weren't sober but were pleasantly merry! Having to attempt explanations added to my enjoyment!
At half time the banter over coffee with Pete and guests was fun and the final score of Leeds 20 Hull FC 0 was excellent! A really good evening - thanks guys. I even managed to drive away singing along to Shayne Ward tear free! Progress!

Yesterday I was with my parents and we have arranged some good things the next few weeks. I caught up with a good friend in Cheshire who was stunned at all my news!
Then Dom and I had a really good afternoon in Liverpool. He loves Hollister clothes and as he has done well at school again I said I'd treat him. We seem to gel well shopping together for a 15 year old young man and Mum!

Dom is a talented photographer and has set up his own photography business. He wants to focus on events. He will be our photographer for Clive's Memorial Golf Day in August.  He needs people to 'like' his Facebook page please! Click here please!

However as we were in Liverpool, Sue rang to say she had given birth to 'sleeping' baby Kyle Clive at 2.20 p.m. I couldn't speak for the upset at every possible level. I know miscarriage is nature's way of showing that something wasn't right but it still hurts. His big sister Emily, age 6, has helped us all by saying that 'Uncle Clive will be looking after baby Kyle in his big, strong arms. They will be huggle buddies'.

Emily and Dom
HMV! Bless him. I have so much to be grateful for. I had to fight the tears as he hugged me knowing Sue and Scott had just lost a son.

We had our supper together and he went home to work on a mystery film (sworn to secrecy!). I watched John Bishop and managed to laugh out loud at some of his jokes. Clive broadened my sense of humour widely!

Today I feel more positive. I have also been asked to write a blog on 'What things can you do to make a difference to others and in turn give your own life meaning?'

It is work in progress!

Meanwhile look who I will be seeing soon ...


Thank you so much for all your messages about Kyle. We all appreciate it.
I was also delighted to hear that Clive was mentioned at the Success Day at Forever Living Products in Cheltenham yesterday as he inspired many there.

And he continues to .....

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Elaine x

Friday, 15 July 2011

When the world says, "Give up," ....

Blimey! What a misery I have been this week! I am delighted to report that I can tell I have re-emerged with a smile on the inside as well as out today! I checked my camera for the photo of me on Wednesday night at The Sidings.

Still smiling!
I am amazed at myself how a smile can mask how upset you feel inside. But at least when you try the outside world smiles back and that helps.

So why the change around?

Last night I made the effort to get myself smartened up and drove over to Huddersfield to Chris's house. Boy was I in misery mode though! If anyone had said I looked nice I would have probably snapped 'what's the point'!!

We had tea with his parents, Clair and her nearly two year old son plus one year old Emily - and Polly dog wandering around. It was mayhem with tractors, fire engines and helicopter toys in the mix. Wonderful!! I feel so grateful that I am accepted as part of the family in a few homes now. Of course my own remains the most important but my healing needs all the help it can get.

Chris, Clair and I then went to Scholes Cricket Club for an evening to raise funds for .
One of our trustees and my dear friend Dinah's father was giving a talk on his life in the entertainment business. Graham is an incredible man who lights up a room in an instance. No wonder he has been a great children's entertainer (amongst other roles) over the years. It was good that Martin and Mary, other trustees also came along. I was so tired though. I could have fallen asleep where I was. But Graham's enthusiasm and charm kept me awake! He also writes pantomime scripts. Have a look here 
No wonder Dinah is such a loving and delightful lady with parents like she has!

I was pleased I had made the effort to go but I drove back home feeling so incredibly unhappy and about the lowest I have in months. I have much to be settled still regarding Clive's death, so much is uncertain. That is unsettling. As a self-employed speaker there is the constant need for marketing and the uncertainty of income. All the hopes, plans, goals, plans that Clive and I had have been wiped away in an instant so I have to create new ones amid all the uncertainties. But the biggest hurt is not having Clive any more. This week has smacked me down to a level I honestly thought had passed. Apparently not.

I know that all the advice on bereavement is 'no rules' but it still is awful to have sunk so low. I wandered around the house aimlessly for a while - so very, very tired but scared to go to bed. Drugs? Alcohol? Don't be silly Elaine. This week I acknowledge how easy it would be to sink into clinical depression. I have been there before and there is no way I wish to go back.

I knew I needed help last night. I text a friend with the words 'you awake?' He was and within seconds by text I was giggling away! We had half an hour of banter by text after which my sides were hurting from laughing so much! The next I knew my phone was ringing - it was 9.30 a.m! I had literally slept like the proverbial log. In an instant I knew the low had lifted. After a chat with another lovely friend I bounced out of bed and have been busy since!

The next few days are filled with family, friends and a workshop so I shall be busy again.

On reflection what have I learnt this week?

  • I am still very vulnerable and the loss of Clive hurts like nothing I have ever felt before
  • I need to let myself grieve, hurt, cry, wallow, etc. as I have this week - it's okay and I feel better to allow myself to do it than keep on at 100 miles an hour to shut it out
  • I have to let others know how I feel so they can help if they wish to
  • Helpful sometimes means a gentle kick! Or a big one!
  • No matter how much support, love and concern I have around me I know my life is MY responsibility
  • I am in control - I can chose to let Clive's death suck the life and purpose out of me.
  • I chose though to let it enrich me and strengthen my purpose to make life happier for others (including me)
  • I need help and have to ask others for it and allow them to do so.
I have booked some tickets this morning to see my favourite Bruno Mars in concert. Clive's niece has to face giving birth to her dead baby tomorrow, bless her. I cannot even begin to imagine that. I have told her to put the concert date in her diary.

As my Mum advises me - always have something to look forward to. It doesn't solve the hurt but just maybe it helps with another 'h' word - hope.

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~Author Unknown

Have a good weekend everyone and thank you for all your warm messages of comfort and support. They are much appreciated.

'Life may not be the party we hoped for but whilst we are here we should dance' - Author unknown.

I intend to. I know that's what Clive would want and I won't let either of us down.

This is for you my lovely Sue and Scott ..... from Uncle Clive and me. Turn it up loudly and dance with Ruby and Emily. And we shall dance to Bruno xxx

Elaine x

Thursday, 14 July 2011

And another loss for the Gott family ...

After another horrible night I awoke still with that feeling of sadness and heaviness. Yet again I could easily have stayed in bed and let the world pass me by. However I had a conference call to come and an event to attend. I thought I'd give myself a kick so put on music - loudly whilst I showered. The track playing was Take That's Greatest Day.

Thus inspired I told myself that today I chose to be happier. Enough tears.

Next I settled to the conference call and just as we started I got an SOS from Clive's sister Lynn to say that her daughter Sue, who was 16 weeks pregnant, had seen the midwife. They could not find a heartbeat - could I go and see her? I dropped everything! Sue was very calm considering and explained she'd had a similar problem when carrying Emily, now 6.

Once her husband Scott came back from work (Lynn could not get away) I left them to it.

I still had time to attend the Yorkshire Expo event at York Racecourse so put on my 'feel good' bright yellow dress. Sadly there weren't many people there but I did see a few friendly faces. I had a good chat to Paul French from the Mackenzie Partnership. We sat in for a seminar but I just felt it showed how brilliant Clive had been! The subject matter was similar to this presenter but without the humour and spirit Clive put into it. I felt flat. I was completely out of sorts.

Then the text came - bad news. The baby had died. When Sue and Scott had told me that they were expecting they had asked if I would mind if the baby was a boy if they called him Clive. This therefore felt like a double whammy.

I set off to meet them. The last time I'd been in this hospital was for Clive to have an X-ray on his knee - in true form he'd left giving the receptionist a hug! He made people happy wherever he went.

I parked, took a deep breath and went to the hospital to sit with them whilst they had to wait for information about medication. I was appalled to find them left waiting in a ward managers office. No comfy chairs, surrounded by files and having to sit and wait whilst staff were chatting in the corridor about a barbeque at the weekend! I wanted to smack people!!! Bless them - they are only in their 20's. They needed compassion, empathy and a pretty environment to take in this bombshell - not left in no more than a cupboard. A doctor appeared to explain that Sue would need medication and to return in a few days to give birth to her dead baby. He offered no words of comfort but just that 'the procedure would now be medicalised'.

The staff nurse at least offered the required manner and skills. We all left the hospital. They were so brave.

I felt lost. I wanted to howl; to scream; to hit something. I wanted Clive more than ever. Why, why oh why?

Instead I checked Ellie was at home and after a hug, tea and a chat I felt a bit better. My upset couldn't be anything compared to what the rest of the family were feeling.

I chose to continue with my dinner arrangement. If I stayed in alone I would feel even worse. So I was delighted to be collected and taken to an amazing restaurant - a railway carriage, owned by Greek Cypriots serving Italian fare! See details here

The company was good, food brilliant and staff very attentive. Our waitress Amy was worried about her dentist trip today - I couldn't resist offering suggestions to ease her worry, such as taking in her iPod with favourite music on!

I tried to shake my sadness but it remains, lurking, just beneath the surface. It was really nice to be complimented and treated, yet memories and yearning for Clive are still so strong. I did enjoy the evening though and would certainly go back to The Sidings.

Sleep totally evaded me last night. I was buzzing as if I'd had three cups of Expresso coffee. It was daylight before I did!

Ann shared with me this positive link to her daughter's blog:-

Today had certainly had NOT been the greatest. We all have to live in hope as difficult as it is.

Elaine x

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Trying my best ..

Somehow tonight I feel I am back several months. I have really tried my very best today but I cannot shake the huge sadness that eats away at me.

I did my list of things to do today and was up by 9 a.m. to tackle it. My concentration has slipped again and I had to cajoule myself from one task to another. I spoke to my Mum who always says the right things and I carried on at my desk in between household things.

It seems ages since I have had a slump like this. I don't like it. By late afternoon I decided I needed to get out so went into Tadcaster to the bank and to the doctors for yet another form to be completed for claiming against holiday insurance. It is so annoying! Why would we have booked a cruise knowing that Clive could have had a heart attack at any time?!

I was still wallowing and thought I'd better buck up! Food! Instead of surviving on rubbish I felt I should practice what I preach and stock up with some healthy but tasty food. I did so but every step I took I wanted to cry.

En route home I passed the local pub and a friend was sitting outside! Hooray! I fell into Paula's arms just sobbing how much I miss him. We had a drink and a chat I I left feeling so much better.

Last on my list today was to cut the back lawn, so I set to. I have the knack of it now. The fresh air and exercise lifted my spirits but as I then carried on weeding the emotions continued to be all over the place - one minute happy to be keeping Clive's garden looking good, the next bemoaning was it all just torture to be here when he isn't?

I was proud of the end result but also angry and sad that Clive isn't here to share it. I looked in my diary and have another busy week coming up so told myself to appreciate an evening to myself. An email inviting me out for an evening lifted me a little. I sorted myself a tasty salad and a glass of wine. I caught up with 'Relocation, Relocation' but got cross at the 'nice' couples who not only had each other but a wonderful family life and a gorgeous home! Where did it all go wrong for me? Where did the Enid Blyton vision go?

A phone call from another friend came just at the right self-pitiful moment!

I feel cross with myself tonight for lots of reasons. I know I have much to be grateful for. I have plenty of things to look forward to.

In bereavement I am learning that simply some days (and nights) are tougher than others. This is one of them.

The best thing is to go to bed where hopefully I shall sleep. Maybe tomorrow will be less tough?

Why did he have to go?

N nite,

Elaine x

Go and see 'Bridesmaids'!

Thank you so much for all the supportive private messages I got after my post yesterday. If the BBC Breakfast interview comes off one huge advantage I can say about bereavement blogging is the encouragement you get from others. It is so much appreciated.

As a way of rising back out of my 'down' I did as Dinah and my Mum suggested and went to see 'Bridesmaids' with friend Sharon and niece Sue. We stocked up with popcorn, chocs and jelly sweets. It is the first time I have been to that cinema since Clive died. Vue at Clifton Moor, York is where we went to our first film together - Mamma Mia. Clive had been such an entertainment! I reminisced with Sue and Sharon about his cinema routines, including his noise intolerance and constant popcorn eating!

En route I realised this was another 'first' and a big step. I am glad we were seeing a comedy. And laugh out loud we did - several times.
The plot:-
Annie (Kristen Wiig), is a maid of honor whose life unravels as she leads her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and a group of colorful bridesmaids (Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper) on a wild ride down the road to matrimony. Annie's life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian's maid of honor. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she'll show Lillian and her bridesmaids just how far you'll go for someone you love.

It was a good lesson too in having to take personal responsibility. Theme of today? Your friends can help you and give you the kicks and kindness that you need, but you have to meet them at least half way. There were several 'me too' moments that I could relate to (NOT the sink bit!!!). The only bit that tugged at me was the song at the end which had memories to another tough time in my life.

I have already decided that today will be a better day.

I have made a list that is realistic of work, home and 'me' things - so far I am rattling through them!

Elaine x

Monday, 11 July 2011

I should have know by now ...

On Saturday  morning I wrote my previous blog and was feeling strong and positive. Then for some reason I decided to Google Clive's You Tube videos. I wanted to hear his voice. I found this and played it.

Blimey. Suddenly I felt as if I had been hit by an avalanche. Wallop! The relative highs of the last few weeks evaporated in an instance and my whole body was hurting. Boy did I cry. The ache for his voice, touch, mannerisms, our life together, our laughter, our love, our plans,  EVERYTHING about him crashed down on me. Is this what grief is? Just as you think you are 'okay' it sneaks up and floors you?

I wanted to go to sleep, wake up and find these last few months have actually been a nightmare and that Clive is still with us. Why, why, why? I asked myself. A little part of me feels that maybe this was my punishment for  another broken marriage. Yet those who believe in God tell me that he does not operate in that way.

I had a few awful hours but the fact I was seeing Dominic was the reason I carried on my plans. My friends and colleagues from were all going to an event in Murfield called Rock the Rectory. The group that played at Joe's charity launch where Clive had been MC would be playing.  See that evening's details here.

I packed, as Dom and I were going to stop over at Chris's and drove to Huddersfield in tears. I got even more upset with thinking that Clive would have been going tonight. I would have been so pleased to have him, Dom and my dearest friends from the Foundation together. Ann and her husband Iain were bringing Dom over as they were literally passing the end of the road.

I arrived at Chris's but he wasn't there. However, his parents were and Carol, his Mum, just held me as I sobbed in her arms. With some tea, sympathy and empathy I began to feel a little better so at least when Dom, Ann and Iain arrived I wasn't quite as pathetic!

Chris and his lovely girlfriend Clair arrived and after a drink and chat we headed off to the Rectory.
Dom had been invited to be the photographer for the event. Luckily the weather was kind to us and the grounds of the B and B were filled with families enjoying food, company and music.

The turn out was incredible. Dom set to taking plenty of pictures. Dinah and her family joined us and she was a whirlwind all evening selling things in aid of Joe's Foundation. Her Dad entertained children with arty balloons. We all ate and drank and relaxed. Yet I was only a breath away from tears the whole time. I was 'putting on' a brave face but really my heart was breaking.

I chatted to Clair and beamed with pride at how Dom efficiently and confidently took some amazing pictures.
I was doing okay until the band started - with Summer of '69!! Clive's chosen record for his Celebration!
The sobs came from my toes and shook all of me! Dinah just held me and eventually I recovered enough. Dom hugged me too. Ann and Iain were also fab. Dinah's Dad said I'd feel better when they played Showaddywaddy!

I felt disappointed in myself for being so upset and spoiling the night. Yet I was with some of my closest friends and my darling son, so I was just being 'me'. I kept thinking of Clive's film (above) and his discussion about having 'enough'. We weren't being greedy in life - quite the opposite as we shared a theory of abundance. We didn't want to be mega-rich. We didn't want to work and work. We had 'enough'. Little did we know last year that we didn't have enough of something vital - time.

I still smiled though on Saturday night!

Me and Dinah

Me, Chris and Clair

Me and my boy
More photos are here

As the evening wore on we had the opportunity to buy lanterns which were set off as it went dark. This was another emotional moment for me. The first time I had seen these was two years ago. Clive took me to the Firework Championships at Stanford Hall. We had an incredibly romantic evening with a picnic followed by watching the fireworks, set to music. They set off these lanterns that evening too. For the final set of fireworks we got back into the car, put the roof down, drove to the empty end of the car park field, and snuggled up, watched the lights in the still, dark night. It was another event we had wanted to take Dom to.

Candy floss at Fireworks night
The tears flowed again as I thought of that night and being snuggled up. Dinah made sure I had a lantern and after an unsuccessful first attempt, the second one stuck in tree before finally floating off into the sky.

The evening ended and we went back to Chris's. Clair, he and I enjoyed a night-cap in the hot tub and I finally got some sleep. Next morning we all had a bacon butty and looked at Dom's photos. Hopefully the evening raised some funds for the charity.

Dinah text to say that her village had a 'scarecrow trail' on so Dom and I drove over to Totties and had lunch in the excellent Olive Tree. The afternoon passed very pleasantly wandering around the village looking at the scarecrows with Dinah and her family.

I took Dom to Huddersfield station and as were were comfortably on time the train was delayed!

I drove home feeling drained and sad. I never like saying good bye to Dom. He is on work experience at the moment. However, I did my 'coping strategy' for leaving him by making our plans for next weekend. It makes parting so much easier.

Once home I accepted how tired I was so just put my dressing gown on and slobbed in front of the television. I didn't want to put my computer on or speak to anyone. I wanted a wallow!

I also wanted to 'opt out'. I wanted to sleep and let the world pass me by for a while. I turned my phone to silent and closed the office door so I could not hear the main phone. 'Marley and Me' was on television but I could not watch it. Clive and I had done so last year and as a dog lover he was devastated by it! He would fill- up if you even mentioned the name of the film! Being so low I knew it would be a bad move to watch it. Instead I could see on Facebook the comments of others. I wanted to post a 'rant' along the lines of 'get a grip! It's a bloody film! Loss? Try losing your soul mate! That'll give you something to cry about. Upset? You don't know the meaning of the word. How about trying to breath life back into your darling who is blue and cold in your bed?' ... etc. etc. etc.

I am sooo glad I didn't! I guess that was the anger side of grief. I did think of drowning my sorrows but I knew I would feel even worse when I was sober. I did text a friend but I was just prickly. I was very pleased when sleep happened and I hoped today would be better.

I stayed in bed all morning. My mood was no better. I dosed off every now and then but each time I woke reality was still there. I stroked and hugged Clive's pillows. I got myself deeper and deeper into grief and distress.

I knew I should get up and do something but I didn't want to. I physically felt 'too heavy' to move. I didn't even make myself a drink. I debated if I was right to wallow like this. Is it better to do this and hope that my overall healing would be quicker than pretending I am okay? I don't know. I do know that by holding in emotion that in the end it can be more detrimental.

Dinah text to say she was having a tooth out and asked how I was. I replied that I was still in bed (it was 1 o'clock!) and that I couldn't be bothered with anything. I got a prompt text back telling me that I HAD to get up, showered, etc. and to get myself sorted to see 'Bridesmaids'. Tonight. No excuses. She also said that although Clive may be dead his love and legacies ARE NOT. He has left me surrounded with people who when I have a slump will remind me of him and his messages. Mum has been telling me for weeks to go and see it! 'Clive would not allow it and neither will I' was the message. Flip! Better get up then!

Just as I got out of the shower Dinah rang me and played me this down the phone ..

Next Chris phoned me to confirm my suspicions ... having lost his wonderful wife last year he knows the 'ups and downs' well. I have had a very busy couple of weeks. Physically and mentally I am tired. There have been many 'ups', such as Portugal, and they cannot be maintained just yet. When I was in London last week after my photos and fun afternoon I must admit that the thought crossed my mind that sometime I would 'pay' for it by having a 'down'. I just didn't think it would be so far.

By the way, see Ann's blog for Wednesday's shoot here.

I also tried some 'Clive talk' by asking myself the question 'what do you want to happen and what small steps can you make to help it?'
There were three things I could think of that would help.

  • I am still waiting to hear when I am on BBC Breakfast. I haven't made plans this week 'just in case'. That is unsettling.
  • I would like a new speaking engagement in place.
  • I needed to plan some social things in this week as my diary is blank. I need my friends.
So I text the BBC journalist. It is still on the cards but probably not this week - that's fine so I can make plans.
I have another workshop next week in a new area. I shall sort out the preparation for that which is then likely to lead to more.
I have sent some texts and some fun and company is sussed.

I also have given myself permission to take it easier today. I have pampered myself. 

I have a good evening to look forward to and as the saying goes, tomorrow is another day.

My main lessons today?
  • Clive may have gone but his spirit and influence remains
  • I have amazing friends if I allow them to be
  • Although I have so much support I still have to take responsibility and do something myself.
And you know what? When you do life seems happier.

Elaine x