Tuesday 14 August 2012

More Than One Way to Grieve

The Olympics has been amazing, and I've really enjoyed it, far more than I thought I would. I adored the bonkers closing ceremony too, but once Brasil had safely taken possession of the Olympic flag I went to bed. I missed the appearance of Take That.

Now I have to say I am not a fan. In the 1990's I was listening to indie on JJJ in Australia and they just weren't on my radar at all. When they reformed I was amazed at my friends going weak at the knees and fighting for tickets to concerts!

When Joseph was in hospital I had a collection of songs on my iPod that I had downloaded. I was expressing one morning and this song came on.

(Note: this footage is NOT from the Olympic Closing ceremony)

Without realising, I had tears streaming down my cheeks and then started to sob, it hit a nerve, and now every time I hear it, its like a Pavlovian response. That song, I know, means a lot to people who have lost babies, or have had premature babies. It resonates.

On Sunday night Take That performed that song. Speculation had been rife that Take That would not appear, as Gary Barlow and his wife Dawn had sadly lost their baby Poppy, stillborn,  in the week prior to the ceremony.

As can be expected there have been some snide comments on the internet and some, that quite frankly if they appeared any other media would be libellous, about how its a contrived performance to help secure Gary's knighthood, how he put money before his family (the fact that the acts weren't paid for their performance seems to have passed the hairy trolls by)

No one has put it better than Jason Manford about these sad bastards with nothing better to do than pour hate onto somoneone's grief. 

But, and here lies the point of this post, there is more than one way to grieve. I've now watched Gary's performance on that night with Take That (with tissues). I think, personally, it's clear he was singing that song for his wife, for Poppy and his children, his mind wasn't on the Olympics, it was on them. What better tribute for Poppy, his beloved daughter, than singing in front of a world audience.

Grieving is an intensely personal experience. Some people need to curl in a corner, stay in bed, hide away. For others getting out there, keeping on going, is helpful and what they need to do to make sense of what has happened.

Like it or not, Gary Barlow and Take That are national treasures. He did what he had to do and did it well, with grace.

My only little nagging concern is that sometimes we have such a "keep calm and carry on" mentality that emotions are suppressed, grieving doesn't take place fully, and then there's pressure, especially on men, that they should just shelve it all and get back to work.

There is, most definitely, more than one way to grieve, and for those supporting those that grieve, our role is to nurture, to understand, to empathise and support.

Haters are going to hate I suppose, but we are seeing too much of this.

And it has to stop.


  1. I feel like I had to comment on this. Your words are so true. There are so many ways of grieving as we as a family are just only starting to find out. It was very difficult for us to hear about what had happened to Gary and his family just days after Harry was stillborn as it has made the topic of stillbirth be on every thing we turn on or read and reminds us constantly of the pain we are going through. It has made me so sad that people have said awful things about Gary performing, my husband and I watched his performance and we both felt the look on his face is exactly the look on our faces. His pain is as clear as ours. Yesterday my husband had to return to work. Does that mean that people will think he is putting his work before our family? Well if they dared say such a thing I know both Kev and I would be heartbroken. To us, yesterday was one of the hardest days we have had so far, not being together and not tackling this together. Harry and Poppy were both born and lost within 3 days of each other, and for us seeing Gary perform on Sunday, knowing he is going through the exact same pain and grief as us gave us strength. Gave us strength to remember we are not the only ones going through this and that for the memory of our son we will get up every day and continue to fight and grieve in our own ways. Just like Gary. Just like every other parent who has been through/going through this nightmare.

  2. Huge hugs to you Louise.

    I have to say, when the news broke about Poppy my first thought was to you, and how you would cope with it being "out there", and I senerely hoped that it would help, that people are talking about baby loss and still birth.

    I think its easy for outsiders to pass judgement, but as the cliche goes, life has to go on in some sort of way.

    Sending you lots of love to you and your family

  3. Samantha Wallace14 August 2012 at 15:01

    Well said! Jason Manford's blog was spot on too. I can't imagine the pain you go through after a miscarriage,stillbirth or loss of a child at any stage and Gary was very brave performing. It was a very moving performance. In how many days or weeks would it be acceptable for the media to see Gary back at work??? It is a personal choice and like you say, people deal with it in different ways. I am sure it was discussed with his wife and nobody elses opinion matters.

    The only thing we can hope can come out of Gary's story being everywhere is awareness. I didn't realise it was so common until recently.

    Louise, so sorry for your loss.No words to make it better, hugs x

  4. Beautiful I have tears running down my cheeks again !

  5. Beautiful I have tears running down my cheeks again !

  6. 'Rule the world' by Take That was the song playing on the radio in the operating theatre just after midnight at the moment Oscar was born at 26+6 wks and 1lb 7oz. It was also the song playing on the radio a couple of months earlier in Greece when my father in law died after the sudden discovery of a brain tumour.
    As the song came on in the operating theatre Danny, my husband, grabbed my shaking hand and said 'Do you hear the song?It's going to be ok - It's a sign - he is going to be all right" Having also never really been a Take That fan, Rule the world suddenly came to mean a lot to us.

    Well written as usual Kylie. Louise - I still have tears from reading your post - my heart goes out to you and your family. Look after each other.

  7. Oh that just sent shivers up my spine. What a special song for you. It broke my heart to see Gary's face as he started to sing, my heart just went out to him.

  8. Well said Kylie. I have no personal comment on the grieving obviously, but I think Gary did amazingly well, and did little Poppy very very proud x

  9. You are so right about the 'keep calm and carry on' mentality. Too much of that in this country. Unfortunately with a lot of us repressed Brits it is so inbuilt it is virtually impossible to ignore.

    Must carry on... my grief is not as bad as that person's grief... don't want to be a drama queen...don't want people to think we can't cope....

    So many things can go through a person's mind before closing it down, putting on a brave smile, and replacing the cork in the bottle. xx