Home Grief How mindfulness helped me be the partner I had to be

How mindfulness helped me be the partner I had to be

by admin

Mindfulness. What the fuck does that actually mean anyway? Well I could go and quote someone else so I absolve myself from all challenge, but I won’t. Why? Because if it wasn’t for what mindfulness means to me, and my interpretation, I seriously doubt I would be here to type this article. More likely I’d be locked up in the looney bin or would have long ago joined my sweetheart on the next leg of our journey through this universe.

As the partner, carer, support, husband and best friend to someone who was being ravaged by cancer, it was my job to hold my (and everyone’s) shit together. To be the voice of hope and positivity when inside I was terrified and powerless. To smile and soothe when I just wanted to scream and cry.

It was nothing compared to what Renee had to go through, something I would not wish on my worst enemy, but it was taxing to say the least. We spent 3 years living in a constant state of high anxiety, stress, hope and hopelessness. (most of which remain with me to this day)

With an incurable diagnosis, we were forced, thankfully, to focus on each and every day. To not project a life in an uncertain future. To not dwell on the past. We had no other option.

We really did have some of our best moments as a family after Renee was diagnosed. Plenty of our worst that’s for sure, but when you face the very real possibility that what you are doing right now, may be the last time you will do this, you absorb every minute detail. You remember every feeling, every word, laugh, smell, touch. And that, my friends, is something magical to have. Memories. Something no disease, no event, no person, can ever take from you. A simple picnic in the backyard becomes a treasured moment to remember.

But holding my shit together wasn’t, and still isn’t easy. What I learnt from our forced way of life was to shut my mind off from everything but the moment. No mean feat I can tell you, but utterly necessary.

It was this learned ability, to put all other thoughts aside, to focus on just one thing, that got me through the darkest of days.

So many times that exponential, chest tightening rise of anxiety threatened to overwhelm me. So many times the fear that she wouldn’t wake up would have me holding my breath with every pause of hers. And every time, the only thing I could do was to try to control my mind. Push aside the horrible invasive thoughts and just breathe. I would even repeat over and over “no thoughts, no thoughts”.

And it works.

I still do it now, whenever life gets too much, or the kids are shitting me up the wall, or I can’t sleep. Or just when I need to calm myself.

I have also found that taking time out on a regular basis to just “be” has an amazing knock on effect. I appreciate the beauty in our world. I stop and enjoy the warmth of the sun. I can recognise when a moment is one to remember and make sure I take it all in. I am more aware of my moods and how I interact with people.

In short, being mindful to me means being present in the moment. Feel, see, hear, touch everything of it. Live the moment with a concious mind, not on autopilot.

And this “being present in the moment” is the one lesson I took from losing my beloved. There is no guarantee of tomorrow. There is no chance to go back and relive yesterday. There is only now and what you make of it.

So FFS peeps – don’t waste this one shot you have by being too busy, or waiting and planning for happiness down the track. Enjoy the journey. Be mindful of every moment. Live consciously.

Peace ✌️

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37 comments

Douglas Honeywill August 24, 2017 - 10:33 am

Mindfulness has been a saving grace with my BPD, and is incredibly liberating. A good read is “The Happiness Trap”. The only certainty is this moment. You are not simply coping, you are excelling and embracing life

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Just A Dad August 24, 2017 - 10:36 am

Thanks for the recommendation mate and thank you!

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Suzi Qu August 24, 2017 - 10:36 am

Thank you x

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Nicole Talbot August 24, 2017 - 10:38 am

Wow, beautiful
I am guilty of barely enjoying anything. Too stressed, too busy, too much on my mind. I went to my first meditation yesterday just to try and calm my mind. Thanks for the friendly reminder to just live

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Julie Ledbury August 24, 2017 - 10:38 am

Thankyou for these words and all your others. They really put it all in perspective xxx thankyou I truely mean it!

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Rena Bean August 24, 2017 - 10:44 am

Well said and so true. We are raising our niece who experienced trauma during acceas visits with her mum.mindfulness has helped her and me to keep our shit together and to get through the rough times. I dont use it everyday, but find it helps keeping from being overwhelmed

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Andy Day August 24, 2017 - 10:49 am

Yep hearing you. My wife had brain mets which finally got her. That was tough as completely randomly she would get quite mean and cutting in what she said. Kind of dealt with it by turning emotions off for the majority of the time, think that’s easier to do as a guy. Still only 6 months in but mainly deal with it by not thinking about it most of the time and then setting aside times when I go for a walk at lunch to do a bit of processing which is my mindfulness stuff. After all this it certainly changes your perspective on what’s important in life.

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Just A Dad August 24, 2017 - 8:42 pm

I still push thoughts aside every day. Too much for one brain to handle, even after 2 years.

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Nivek Dunne August 24, 2017 - 11:18 am

Oh Marty, you just have a way. What beautiful words and thank you for sharing and inspiring xx

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Just A Dad August 24, 2017 - 9:25 pm

Thanks lovely x

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Rhonda Daly August 24, 2017 - 11:38 am

❤️❤️❤️

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Rob Martin August 24, 2017 - 11:57 am

I’m at a loss for words Chris after reading this. So I’ll just say I love you. Dad

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Just A Dad August 24, 2017 - 8:43 pm

Thanks Dad. You too 🙂

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Alex Ryan August 24, 2017 - 12:05 pm

So well written Chris! Well done and thanks for the reminder to live in the moment.

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Clint Brooker August 24, 2017 - 2:18 pm

Brilliant! Thx mate. Keep doing what you do.

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Melissa Hobbs August 24, 2017 - 8:21 pm

Love the way you write and cut straight to the point. Great post. Great reminder. Thanks for sharing x

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Glenn Scotland August 24, 2017 - 8:31 pm

You certainly can write my friend. You don’t waste a single word. Wordfullness?

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Just A Dad August 24, 2017 - 9:24 pm

I like!

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Amanda Moor August 24, 2017 - 9:11 pm

❤️

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Nic McGovern August 24, 2017 - 9:56 pm

Beautiful!!!! It definitely works but can be hard to used to. I used it throughout breast cancer treatment and it was so bloody helpful. I now tap which I absolutely love!!!

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Just A Dad August 24, 2017 - 10:04 pm

What’s tap Nic?

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Nic McGovern August 25, 2017 - 12:32 am

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Nic McGovern August 25, 2017 - 12:32 am Reply
Just A Dad August 25, 2017 - 12:33 am

Oooh interesting! Thanks, will check it out x

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Nic McGovern August 25, 2017 - 12:34 am

Just A Dad it is AMAZING!! Brad Yates is awesome. He has hundreds if not thousands of tapping exercises for different things. It feels a bit weird to start with and my kids think I’m bonkers when they see me do it but I swear it really works so I don’t care if they laugh at me!!!

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Nic McGovern August 25, 2017 - 12:34 am

I’d love to hear what you think of it after you’ve given it a go x

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Nic McGovern August 25, 2017 - 12:36 am

Oh and I should have said that your post about mindfulness made me cry. I’m so glad you found something to help you get through such a f****d up time. I’m going to make my husband read it tonight as he will be able to relate to some of it 😍. Don’t know you but you’re doing an awesome job!

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Just A Dad August 25, 2017 - 1:31 am

Thanks Nic x

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Tori Martin August 24, 2017 - 10:50 pm

Great read Chris! How easy one forgets… I remember when we had to live day by day and live every moment (not knowing if it would be the last) but now that we’re out the other side I just realised we no longer do it…. life is for living!!!

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Just A Dad August 25, 2017 - 12:31 am

Easy to slot back into the rhythm and routine of everyday life hey. X

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Billy Scott August 24, 2017 - 11:23 pm

Wow mate, I’m starting the day with a bacon & egg wrap, coffee, two nutty kids, misty eyes and a large amount of fresh perspective! Sometimes a sense is triggered too strongly and it’d be a crime not to give it a bit of recognition.
Thanks for the insights into your day to day mate. I suspect it’s helpful for you to make some sense of things, but I know it is helpful to a lot more people, in many different circumstances. Cheers mate.

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Just A Dad August 25, 2017 - 12:32 am

Thanks for the vote if confidence mate. That’s my hope, to reach as many people as possible 🙂

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Lachi Smith August 24, 2017 - 11:39 pm

Well said mate. Thankyou

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Sean Penny August 25, 2017 - 11:12 pm

Gratitude is the one thing that has allowed me to get to where I am now. I am so grateful for the years that I spent with my Kylie. It has eased my grieving as I try not to reflect & grieve for my loss, but to reflect on how lucky I was and think of those times with gratitude.
My biggest issue has come from the way that I got through each day.
It was 9 days after our first child was born and a month after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, that my darling was also diagnosed with breast cancer. The only way I could focus on the immediate needs of my family without completely losing it over the thoughts of what may happen, was to “emotionally disconnect”. This was my way of staying in the moment and getting done what needed to get done.
Unfortunately I feel that emotional disconnection during Kylie’s 2 year battle cost me some special moments with my beloved that I dearly wish I had.
Unfortunately my emotional disconnection has continued as my coping mechanism and I know it is restricting my full engagement with my now 5 year old daughter. It’s something that I am aware of, so that’s a positive, and I am slowly working towards reconnecting with the world around me.
My point being, that gratitude alone won’t allow me to be truly mindful or present in the moment, I need to remove the walls that I have built to contain my emotions. By removing those walls I may experience emotions that I have repressed, but it will also allow me to fully appreciate all of the special times that lay ahead, just as it had allowed me to in the past.
I hope that waffle made sense at some point & thanks for the opportunity to discuss.
Cheers, Sean

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Just A Dad August 26, 2017 - 2:42 am

Sean I hear you loud and clear mate. It really is simply more than your mind can handle and you need to do what ever it takes to get through. The fact that you are aware of your emotions and mindset is the most important thing. Anything can be worked on as long as there is awareness. Kudos to you for penning your thoughts and reaching out. Keep doing so, a problem shared is a problem halved. Let me know if you ever want a chat 🙂

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Kendra McKindley August 26, 2017 - 8:11 am

People can’t work out michael and I and our impulsive behaviour but after losing my eldest brother when I was 18, he just 23, i took from such a devastating situation to not waste time making decisions and make sure you live your life. We have shown our children how valuable family time is and have made she we have created so many magical moments together!
Life is short, make the most of it xx

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Just A Dad August 26, 2017 - 8:16 am

That is bloody awesome Kendra! Love everything about your comment x

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