Tag: grieving

Awesome Advice Central goes a little buggy

Dear Awesome Advice Central,

Help! I’m so depressed I can barely drag myself out of my bed to write this letter.


I loved him, yeah, yeah, yeah….RIP, little Ringo!

You see, my pet beetle, Ringo (my fave, he was so dreamy and ca-yute!), got sick a few weeks ago.

He began displaying flu-like systems, and I worked around the clock to nurse him back to health, feeding him tidbits of teriyaki turkey and morsels of Mars bars, his favourite foods in the whole world. It was a slow recovery but we persevered together, and I thought he was getting better.

Night after night, I soaked his little feet in thimbles of hot water, put mustard presses on his wee little chest and blew his adorable little proboscis with aloe-infused tissues.

He seemed to be perking up and actually looked pretty chipper, when suddenly, he went kaputski and popped his tiny clogs last night while we were watching Oprah together.

I sprang immediately into action: I administered CPR and gave Ringo the Kiss of Life but he just would. Not. Wake. Up.

To say I am devastated would be an understatement. I am crying constantly, wringing my hands over Ringo’s fate; I keep remembering all the special moments we shared together, and wondering at the cruel fate that has separated us forever. I’m in such emotional pain, I spend most of my time in the fetal position.

Except when I’m writing long, heartfelt odes to my wee beetle on my Facebook page, that is.

To honour Ringo’s life, I put up a picture of him on Facebook, with a little black band to signify my deep mourning. And I’ve dedicated a poem to him, entitled “My Brave Little Beetle.”

I wrote it myself, while watching his 6 little legs twitch their death dance during the commercial break on Oprah:

My Brave little Ringo
Death has got you beat;
You’ll get to heaven quickly
Because you have 6 tiny feet.

I miss Ringo so much. To add to my emotional torment, I’m getting rude comments from evil so-called Facebook friends, who insist they never knew about Ringo, and cannot understand why I’m making such a fuss now. They act like I’m lying or something.

But seriously: I wouldn’t write a poem for an imaginary animal, would I? No, I would not.

Should I keep these friends or dump them? I feel like they’re not sympathetic to my loss, and I hate to think what they’ll say when my pet flea Fred finally hops along to his giant Sheepdog in the Sky.

To help me overcome my grief, I’m also thinking of writing condolence cards for those whose entomological offspring have gone over the Rainbow Bridge. Would you like to invest in this? You’d be coming in on the ground floor. I really think there’s a market for this, don’t you?

I remain, with utmost sincerity,

Campbell Firetong-Smythe

Dear Campbell,

Well. This is really a new one on us. We’re at a bit of a loss, in fact.

Because honestly, we cannot think of a single occasion on which someone’s Facebook friends have ever doubted the depth or sincerity of their grief following the loss of a beloved pet. It really does lead us to ask what kind of “friends” you have.

In our experience, Facebook friends are far more likely to pile on the sympathy whenever they suspect that a fellow-traveller might be in any sort of emotional distress.

Comments usually range from “so sorry for your loss” to “you’re such a strong fellow, we’re sure you’ll get through this, because God never gives us more than we can handle, and this is actually just His way of testing your devotion, so chin up, old chap, and keep a song in your heart, because when He slams a door in your face it’s usually because he’s about to pry open a sixth-story window and toss you out, but that’s just part of His grand plan for your life.” Or some such.

We suspect your unfeeling so-called friends must have a screw or three loose, if they’re not offering you this kind of useful condolence in your time of need. We say “ditch the lot and start over.”

As for your business proposition, we’re intrigued. Let us know once you’ve got a business plan in place, and we’ll have our respective lawyers do lunch, all right?

Oh, and our condolences re your beetle. Life’s a bitch.

Awesome Advice Central




All joking aside – Our mother would have been 80

Dear Karen,

October is such a busy month for birthdays in our family.  Last week, it was Mum‘s.  She would have been 80 this year, which just blows my mind.

I’ve got friends 10, 15 years older than I, who still have their mothers.  It’s sad to think how our parents, but for alcoholism, could have lived full, productive lives.  They’d still be around for our children’s graduations, holidays, birthdays, weddings, and, starting next year, grandchildren.

Glass of beer MONGO

Full to the brim (Image: Wikipedia)

We write about them with a lot of humour and a degree of sympathy, probably because a) humour has been a protective armour for us since childhood and b) we’re pretty compassionate people.

Every time we’d nominate Mum for Worst Mother of the Year, she’d do something sweet or funny or clever, and we’d instantly re-think our harsh take on her.  Once we’d decide, “ah hell, she’s difficult, but at least she’s funny!”, she’d do something truly awful and send us on a roller coaster of cold anger and boiling, volcanic shame, counting the days until we could finally move out.

We was robbed, Karen.  We was robbed.

Mum was tough.  I can count the number of hugs she gave me through the years on one hand.  I can’t count how many times she said she loved me because she never did.  Words and phrases like “I’m so proud” or “well done!” never passed her lips, unless they were delivered with a side-order of sarcasm.

How much of this was Mum and how much was the beer?  Ah, the eternal question.  She was a hard nut to crack  from the moment I met her and I think that alcohol exacerbated her battle-toughened temperament.

English: A photo shop render of a glass of beer

Half way there (Image: Wikipedia Commons-xjara69)

What would she be like if she were alive today?

Before Dad died, she was drinking like a school of very thirsty, pissed-off fish.  One summer, we paid them a visit, with a young teen in tow, who’d never experienced The Shaint Shirley the Shit-faced Show before.

Noticing how incoherent Mum was the day we arrived, the girl quietly asked that evening, “Does your mother have Alzheimer’s?”.

Awkward, but I understood why she’d asked.

What I wish for is my mother, the one I used to imagine had been kidnapped and replaced with the one which was currently taking care of us, had lived till 80 and beyond.  The mother we were actually faced with day in and day out?  It was obvious there was no way she could carry on as she was.  Dad dying ahead of her was a huge shock to all of us, and she handled it the only way she could, by drinking every minute of every day, until 14 months later, she finally died of it.  All those empty bottles we found in her house, Karen.  The neighbours’ reports of police cars showing up in her driveway.  The fact that she still had her driving license and used the car at least once a week to weave her way to the liquor store.

All scary, worrying things.  All pointing to the determination of our mother to drink, avoid and forget.  I should throw in a joke about how successful she was in her mission, but I can’t.

All our lives, we’ve been Mum’s spin doctors.  In the right company, we can turn her into an acerbic, wise, independent woman with a take-no-prisoners attitude.  She was that, but to be fair to us, we need to remember she was also sarcastic, biting, narcissistic and manipulative.

Sadly, alcoholism helped her develop the darker side of her character, to our family’s detriment.



We managed to survive living with Mum, Dad and alcoholism, but at what price?  We’re still standing, but there’s no denying we suffered our share of wounds over the years.

Some say living well is the best revenge.

I don’t think I want revenge.  What I want is a day in the life of someone who had a warm, loving and caring childhood.  Luckily, we need look no further than our children for that.




(Photo: Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann, FlickrCC)

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