Some weeks are just all wrong. You know, one thing goes wrong and then a whole string of heartbreak follows.
This week was one of them.
First, a friend of mine died suddenly (Rob Rees, 58, brain bleed). His life support was turned off only after three of his organs first gave life to three other people. I spoke at Rob’s funeral…well, that’s debatable because I could hardly talk for crying! My heart ached for his wife. How will she cope with her greatest love gone? How would I cope if my darling Mr Paul died suddenly?
Then our old dog became so sick that he had to be put to sleep: yesterday, euthanised while my husband and I stroked him and cried over his sick little body.
We loved our Blue Dog. We saved he and his sister from death row many years ago. Picked up by the local Pound, Blue and his sister had to be rehomed together because Blue Boy fretted something dreadful when separated from Misty. Nobody wanted two dogs….except us.
But now, in this horrible week of death, I don’t want to be nice and save or look after anyone. I want to scream. I want to shake my fist at God and stomp my foot and carry-on like a total victim.
Instead, I’ll manage any behavioural outbursts and just cry: I did actually, at both deaths, and in public both times (I’m so not good at crying in public but sometimes it just happens).
As happens, I lost my voice: I couldn’t talk while I was crying…but I could still think and feel.
When you are a speaker, it’s not so good to lose your voice…while trying to speak! But, that got me thinking: I wonder how many times we overlook or don’t listen to what somebody is thinking/saying because they are upset and can’t talk? How many times do we make decisions for others when they can’t talk due to raw emotion? What if those decisions we make for them are just plain wrong and make matters worse? What if their displays of grief are the words: the data, the story, the required experience that makes the difference?
Brene Brown (love that woman; she’s a social worker like me) has a wonderful body of work on the power of vulnerability. In a nutshell her thesis is that there is strength in vulnerability (watch her TEDx and TED talk – I am going to marry that woman when I grow up!). Strength in vulnerability? Interesting thought when Western society has traditionally frowned upon people of influence showing “negative’ emotions (you know, REAL emotions like displays of grief).
Certainly, I feel drawn toward real people who display real emotion. I find them engaging and unforgettable. I love and study other speakers who can talk through their tears and raw emotion when they are telling painful stories. Why can’t I be like them?
I couldn’t be like those story tellers because it was so raw. There was no buffer of time or objectivity. There was just me, death, tears and dripping snot. The “talking” speakers I admire were telling their stories post-trauma. They probably wouldn’t have wanted an audience at the point of trauma either.
Apart from the joy of having known Rob Rees, and spending eight delightful years with our beloved Blue Dog, I will now record each death experience in my ‘Story spreadsheet’ to draw upon for illustrating future talks: Talks when I can talk without my throat seizing up, snot dripping like a leaking hose, and salty tears filling my mouth with something other than words.
Vale Rob and vale Blue Dog. Gone but never ever forgotten. Your legacies live on in my future speaking engagements. Thank you, both, for your contributions to my story bag. Mxxxxxxxxxxxxx