The view from my verandah on Saturday morning

I know I’ve written about this before.
I know I sounds like  broken record.
I don’t cope well with uncertianty.

That change in government I mentioned we’d had?  Well they have decided to get rid of their contract staff.  That means me.

Despite pulling two classes uphill this year, and being recognised for doing a stellar job, I find that I am once again in that place where I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year.

I’ve been in this place before.
I was a scientist for almost 20 years where funding is uncertain and you work on 3-year funding cycles.  I was never without work, but by the same token, I never really worried about it: I knew we could comfortably live on Greg’s wage.

Not that he earned a lot, just that both of us come from farming stock and so we are a very frugal mob.

…..and I find myself getting angry at how things have changed.

(not that it helps).

I am told that I am “lucky” I have the compensation payout.
(I know right?….. but I managed not to slap the person who said that)

But truth be told, money is not top of my list of worries …..
I am not good if I am not busy.
Working, feeling useful, seeing the difference I make, being part of the workforce means that my mental health is OK.

…and the not knowing what will happen is driving me crazy.

But I have to just wait out this storm.
I have to hope that things will work out for the best.
Because hope is currently all I have got that is working for me.

Sunday’s view

Posted by Amanda at 12:00 AM


Can I play my immunity card now?

A repost of today’s Widow’s Voice post.

I don’t quite know why I haven’t worked this out yet, but being a widow does not mean I am protected from Life parking its enormous derrière over my head and emptying its dysenteric bowels.


If life was remotely fair, it should protect me from further heartbreak.

It should also deliver me a million dollars, a permanent job, a full home renovation, an overseas holiday, and after a time, a hot, intelligent man who can look at me and all my baggage and still say “Phwoar, what a woman!”

….and yet none of that has happened.


I find myself back in a place of uncertainty.

The hole that I have been trying to climb out of since Greg died and left me on this shaky, moving earth without a still-point, a protector, a person to say “Everything will be OK.”


So much of my current angst comes from not having job security and having a misguided right-wing State government who is hell-bent on austerity measures that include sacking a whole heap of public servants … and I expect that they will then poke about in the left-wing Federal government’s unemployment figures and decry their terrible management of the country’s economy and jobless rate.


Surely there’s got to be some law of nature that protects widows  from further harm??  Some sort of immunity card that I can play when Life insists on throwing curve-balls.


Except there is not, nor has there ever been.


So I guess it is up to me to rescue myself……  Which I’d gladly do if only I knew how.

I am trying to be my own hero.  I am proactive at looking for work.  I strive to make a better life for my children. Perhaps I have given up on the hot bloke with the big brain … for now …. but I haven’t given up completely.



…and short of finding some armour and a unicorn, I shall just have to keep trying everything I know to get The Universe to shift its great posterior to another location. (In other words- I shall have to suck it up and plod on).


…at least plodding is moving right?


Misconceptions ….

Funny Graduation Ecard: You can't choose the people you are in school with, but you can choose who to put a voodoo curse on. 

I wrote the following on my facebook page after I attended my high school reunion last Saturday night, where it quickly became apparent that the “cool kids” were still trying to tell the rest of us what we “should do”.  A few facebook friends asked to share it, so I’ve reposted it here as I think we all have had days like this, or people who think they know what widowhood is like when they have no way of actually *knowing*.
(I looked awesome and totally HAWT at the reunion BTW, thanks for asking:) Despite the idiots, I did also manage to have a great deal of fun with some truly awesome people (including two other widows) who have always been there for me.


I need to be clear about something before I next feel the urge to scream at someone: grief is not something you can just “get over”.

Grief is NOT the same as depression, although the two can often be found seeping through the neural pathways, hand-in-hand.

Telling me that you know how I feel because your dog /  Great Uncle / axolotl (yes, I know!)  died is NOT helpful.
Neither is comparing widowhood with divorce: they are not the same.

It is OK to still be sad 2.5 years after the death of your spouse.  For that matter, it is OK to be sad 50 years later too.  Grief is like a roller-coaster ride where there are dips and turns in the most unexpected places, but the thing is, you either learn to live alongside it, or you don’t.
(and the latter option is where the depression kicks in).

Telling me to “get help” because I say that I still grieve the loss of my husband is ludicrous. The Actual Professionals (as opposed to armchair psychiatrists) agree that my mental health is worth bottling because I realise one truth: I will never be truly “done” with grief.
But I also realise that for every wave that knocks me to the ground, I will get up after it passes because I am made of strong stuff.  And the surf isn’t as wild as it used to be so I don’t get knocked down as often or for as long.

So – how do widows deal with grief?
We talk.
We cry.
We laugh.
We joke.
We hug.
We compare notes.
We laugh at daaaarrrk humour.
We roll our eyes at each at ill-informed comments.
But above all, we talk.

Because by talking, we realise that we are not alone and we can draw strength from this realisation

The Tough Days

This is a repost from last week’s Widow’s Voice post…..

Birthday Candles
Birthday Candles (Photo credit: Chealion)

Tomorrow is Miss K’s birthday.
She will turn 10 years old.
I can’t believe she is already in double digits as I swear I only gave birth to her two years ago.

Except I didn’t.

Two years ago was when I became both mother and father to Miss K and her younger brother.

Of all the wounds of widowhood, grieving for my father-less children has been the hardest.

Miss K was 7 and a half when Greg died.  Mr H was 5 and a half. 
Too young to have lost their father.

For the most part, they cope OK – much better than I could have dreamt of two years ago.

But that may be due to them being oblivious to the loss which is blindingly obvious to me: they simply don’t know any different whereas I know what Should Have Been.

Recently, H asked me: “Did my Daddy like riding his bike as much as I do?” 
“Of course he did – don’t you remember him riding along beside you on the bike track?”
“Not really Mum.  I don’t remember him that well.”

That kills me.
This beautiful baby boy of mine does not remember the tower of love that was his father.

His memories come from photographs and half-remembered dream-like moments from his first 5.5 years of life.

This is despite me talking about Greg All The Time.
Making and reading memory books All The Time.
Telling them stories about their Dad All The Time (you get the picture).

But nothing replaces having a Dad who is right there with you.

Miss K remembers more about her Dad, but then, she was older when he died. 
Certain things are etched in her memory.
Most of them are good, but some of them are for the times she was “naughty”….. she was cranky that last morning and she has that memory burnt into her brain. 

….and I feel sad for all the things that he is missing.
Does he know that our beautiful nearly-10-year-old girl is growing up? 
Does he know how clever she is? 
How beautiful?

Does he see that our boy has his engineering brain? 
Does he know how proud his son is of his perfect hero of a father? (in H’s mind, his father is the greatest superhero ever).
Does he hear him tell anyone who will listen that he will grow up “Just Like My Dad”?

I’m guessing that he does….. after all, what  is heaven if not to be able to see your loved ones …. at least that’s my idea of heaven.

But this coming week of birthdays (H’s is the following Monday) is tough …. for me more than them I think… they are young enough to only dream of presents and cake and not dwell on Who Is Missing. 
But me – I’ve lost the person who can remember the moments after they were born and who loved them as much as I do.
The memories are now only mine.
There is no eye I can catch and know that we are sharing the same memory of birthdays past, or the perfect pinkness of their newborn faces.  Nobody to remember the exact tone of their one-year-old voices stringing sentences together.  Nobody to marvel with at just how amazing they are….

….and it hurts.

But I smile and wrap presents and make preparations to make this a happy birthday for each of them. 
….and I hope that when I tell them that their Daddy is here too, looking over their shoulders and giving them big birthday hugs that they can feel the certainty in my words and know he is really there.

Sharing both pain and joy…


This is a repost from this week’s post at Widow’s Voice.…..


A friend posted this picture on facebook today.

I agree with the premise of it – I do think we need to  share the everyday joys in our lives.

The things we are grateful for.

The people we love.


I tend to do this in pictures: photography is my therapy, and my camera lens my rose-coloured glasses.

I post photos of the things and the people I am grateful for – my children, my surroundings, a flower, sunlight and warmth.




I do think it is also important to share our pain.

Our dark days.

Our black moments.

Our little niggles and our enormous problems.


Sometimes, having a good whinge is therapeutic in its own right.


Posting facebook statuses commanding people to “stop being so negative” gags those who want …. or rather need… to reach out to someone else and say “Life is not good right now.  I need support”.


It gags the sad and it gags the desperate.

…and it gags the suicidal.


Sometimes it takes real courage to say “I’m having a really hard time right now.  Please send me some love”.




I don’t know about you, but those early days of grief spent reading the ups and downs of widows and widowers like Michele, Matt, Dan, Kim, Janine, Taryn, Jackie, Michelle and others like Megan and Supa helped me see that what I was experiencing was REAL.


Not sugar-coated.


Not all happy-happy-joy-joy that other people want to see….. the “happy” that friends and family want so badly for us because they are kind and can’t fathom the depth of grief we are experiencing.


But in sharing the ups and downs of their grief, these bloggers showed me that life goes on.

Not all good, but by the same token, not all bad, but life in all its multi-coloured glory.


I hope I am able to do the same.


Each week I strive to “blog my now”.

….  the sinking pain and the intense joy.

….  the furious, fierce love.



So while I commend anyone who takes the time to look for the joy in life, wherever it can be found, I stress the equal need to voice those fears and troubles that can become unbearable if borne alone.


To paraphrase a woman who is amongst the strongest I know, a woman who voices her ups and downs in equal measure: “by sharing the sad days in life with friends, there’s one less miserable person in the world because they’ve found support and love to get them through it.”


Amen to that sister!


I have always been highly strung.

I give the impression of being laid back, but I’m like the proveribial swan, paddling furiously under the surface.


When I first studied at university, I made sure I got first class honours and a scholarship to finish my PhD.

When I went back to do my Diploma of Education the year before Greg died, I went a step further, getting straight 7s (highest score) and graduating with high distinction at the very top of my class, winning the prize for my year (which turned out to be a fancy dinner and a certificate).

It wasn’t that I was driven to succeed, it was that I was anxious that anything less than my best would spell failure.


….and that was what I was like when Greg was ALIVE and using his calming, grounding influence to keep me from shooting through the roof at every little thing that even mildly rocked my plan for world domination world.


Now, I find myself unable to calm down when things become a little stressful.

There is no voice of reason there to remind me that nobody is going to spontaneously combust unless I run around like a chook with its head cut off to hose out the myriad of little and big fires in my life.


I am currently stressed …. my job is under threat.  It’s a long story that involves a new government cutting jobs which will result in those eager young beavers on contracts (like me) being pushed aside as the old guard who have been working in policy for the past few years, dust off their rusty skills to return to the classroom, pushing us out in their wake.


I’ve been quite anxious about how I will support us next year (when my contract ends).


I’ve been quite shouty and didn’t I sleep for two nights:  I get more shouty when I am tired.


To put it mildly, I’ve been barrels of fun to be around….


I am trying very hard to keep some perspective…… but it’s been hard without my human security blanket here to calm me down.


Today, instead of flying into a rage or crying or rocking in the corner, I’ve tried to remind myself that possibly the worst thing to ever happen to me has already happened (Note to Universe – this is not a challenge to see if you can up the ante).


I have other options for work: we will not starve to death.


…and I’ve been spending as much time as I can outside: in the garden; walking through the bushland across the road from my house; strolling along the waterfront.


Trying to channel Greg’s calming influence…..

Trying to hear his voice through the whir of my mind.


…and so far, I’m succeeding ….. it’s …… OK.


…and maybe that’s all I can ask for just now.


This is a repost of my post on Widow’s Voice



…and this is why blogs and social media are necessary in the media world


(It is worth clicking through – message from the horse’s mouth).

As far as a I am aware, Lord Monckton is NOT in fact a climate scientist.  From what I can make out on google, he is a somewhat inbred, rich British aristocrat with a background in journalism (a noted profession where facts can be masterfully distorted to skew the truth) who values monetary wealth over the over human rights. …. or the survival of the planet. 
….and by virtue of like-minded individuals with a lion’s share of our news media (Hi Gina), he (and his cronies) have the power to sway the truth within the media.

I am a scientist.  Albeit not a climate scientist.  I am an ecologist with a speciality in Australian ecosystems and native flora.  I am aware that we scientists rarely produce definitive facts and argue quite strongly amongst ourselves …. but while we may debate the particulars, it seems over 98% of scientists that matter (ie climate change scientists with credible and valued scientific backgrounds) agree that climate change is real and has a human cause (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107).

Why then, do journalists and capitalists like Monckton persist in skewing the view of most experts?  The obvious reason is to make money.  Why does Gina Rinehart (Hi Gina) want control of Fairfax?  To control the truth and by doing so, to control the way the masses vote …. which leads to voting for a party whose leader’s view on science seems to be similar to Monckton’s …. that it can be ignored or skewed to fit their purpose. … which ultimately leads to people like Monckton and Rinehart making more money.

To me, this is why blogs, twitter, facebook and other social media sites are of paramount importance:  the truth can filter through to the masses and bypass media spin doctors. 

Perhaps I have a simplistic view, but if I have learned nothing else in life, its that its often the simplistic view which holds true.