Death & Resilience in Wolverhampton

Blink? I'd recommend against it.

Blink? I’d recommend against it.

Warnings: Whinging, alleged morbidness, and a grey squirrel: the most foul-mouthed of North American creatures.

“It is the supple tree which bends in the gale, while the one that is stiff and rigid either snaps or is pulled up by the roots.”

Merridale Cemetery: Wolves

Merridale Cemetery: Wolves

When you don’t get out much, even a brief glimpse at Wolverhampton after a training course is a treat.

Turns out that Wolves is worth a look, especially if, like me, you love sculpture: public, and the kind you only see in galleries.

How cool is this?: Wolverhampton Art Gallery

How cool is this?: Wolverhampton Art Gallery

I also managed to add a few photos to my “ghost sign” collection:

Ghost sign: Wolverhamptom

Ghost sign: Wolverhamptom

Nope, no idea what this says, or what it’s about. Look it up: you’re on the internet. Yes, I am, too, but I’m also writing, making French toast, and keeping an ear out for a blackbird who has probably run out of mealworms, and is rather annoyed about it.

A reasonably chuffed looking blackbird: Doncaster, June 2015

A reasonably chuffed blackbird: Doncaster, June 2015

Speaking of sculpture, and death, I’ve written before about Hyde Park Cemetery, most recently when they added several new carvings.

As a member of the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, I was pleased to find that last week’s training course was next to a cemetery.

A fine and private place: Wolverhampton

A fine and private place: Wolverhampton

An acquaintance recently said they thought my interest in our local Victorian cemetery was “morbid”, given I don’t have any family buried there.

Now, however, I can refer to my “wellbeing” course, which suggests that people suffering from stress should “Spend time in nature”. Which includes cemeteries.


Grey squirrel: Wolverhampton, June 2015

Grey squirrel: Wolverhampton, June 2015

The course talked a lot about “resilience”, and keeping well: two things which, if I received a report card, I’d probably get a C- in, with the comment “Could try harder”. It also covered the question of values.

Given a list, what would you choose as your top 10? We then did a walkabout, looking at each other’s values.

I was a bit perplexed that two out of the 10 people present included “cleanliness”. Oh yes, I’ve done shifts with your partners in anti-grime.

Memories … like the dusty corners of my mind. And house.

The point, the trainer said, is to understand that one person’s values can be quite different from another’s. Eg, “cleanliness” vs “wisdom”: my top value.

The trainer also gave several definitions of resilience. Many used the phrase “bounce back” which, whilst it makes me think of Skippy and his kangaroo friends, I’m okay with. Another, taken from a dictionary, included “quickly”, a word I’m not so okay with.

Because my idea of “quickly” recovering from bad news may be hours, or days, or even weeks, or months. Years, now, in the case of a bereavement I may never “bounce back” from.

Dealing, not bouncing: headstone detail, Wolves

Dealing, not bouncing: headstone detail, Wolves

Looking back, I seem to trip up over the difference between what I think is “quickly”, vs other people’s definitions.

When asked “Why are you reacting this way?”, to me, “Because I’m bloody bipolar” is a perfectly reasonable response.

It seems “reasonable” – like the words “quickly”, and “morbid” – is in the eye of the beholder. And this beholder needs to spend more time in galleries, and graveyards.

In part, because they’re generally pretty quiet. Plus, no one tells you you’re not responding to the sculpture quickly enough, or in an appropriate manner.

Remembering the dead: Wolverhampton, June 2015

Remembering the dead: Wolverhampton, June 2015

About Sheila N

Enough about me. Art by Tom Brown.
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2 Responses to Death & Resilience in Wolverhampton

  1. Nimue Brown says:

    the pressure to ‘get over’ grief, loss, death etc really worries me. Getting over it makes us easier and more convenient for those around us, but grief is not a failure. grief is not a disease to cure, it’s part of the mix, part of life, and there should be more room for it. some things take years, and no one should feel entitled to question how much time another person’s grief requires.

    • Sheila North says:

      Agree, though this blog was actually sparked by receiving some unexpected bad news which was *not* a death.

      There’s a difference between “getting over” losses – including but not only bereavements – and “getting on” with life. Grief does indeed take time. However if, many years on, an individual finds themselves struggling to function, then in my opinion, that individual probably needs to help of one form or another.

      But definitely, grief is neither a “failure” nor a “disease”. Whether that grief is over the death of a person, a pet, a relationship, a job, etc., it’s still grief.

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