CREATIVE EMOTIONS NEWSLETTER
There is only one guarantee in our lifetime and that is death and subsequently, grief. It will unfortunately affect all of us at one time or another, so why is it that we feel so alone in our grief when we know that we will have to face it one day?
My main hope is for these newsletters to take away the negative stigma and fear of grief and, to teach us all to celebrate the lives of our loved ones when they leave us. This in turn can help us all, no matter what our stage of grief and be of valuable use to those family and friends helping those directly affected.
12 monthly newsletters are being produced and more information can be seen on the Business Offers page.
Please contact me for further information...
Wearing our “happy glasses” which help brighten up any dull day…
What qualifies me to write this?
LIFE! My friend, Sonja and I have experienced different losses and have been in totally different situations, but the one factor that bonds us is the understanding of the pain and emptiness that grief brings about. This is what we can convey to you through these newsletters. You are never alone in your pain... We, that is everyone who has grieved, understand your desperation and believe me, through sharing grief, we can all help each another by taking away those feelings of alienation.
I am truly sorry that you have lost someone dear to you, I hope and pray to whatever higher being is up there, that like us, you can be a victor of love and not the victim of grief…
On 01.08.01, the day after my partner and I had planned our wedding, he was involved in a diving accident and drowned. Within the next 3 weeks, I discovered that I was pregnant and then miscarried the only child that we had been trying for after 6 years together. With Herb's death, I lost my soul mate, my best friend, my mentor, my business partner, my past, present and future… Due to the system in Austria which was where I had lived with him, I lost every security that he had promised me, both materialistic and financial and found myself having to face his loss, the loss of my baby, the loss of the business we'd built up together and move country and leave the familiariaty I had found in my 8 year experience there... At the time, it seemed as though I'd lost everything, including my will to live and I had...
I felt alienated and have had to totally change and rebuild my life which is still a constant on-going process and transformation, hence, one of the reasons for choosing a butterfly as our logo… Just 3 years before Herbie died, his father took his own life at home and only months after both my grandparents died… So, once again, I believe this is enough of an answer to qualify me to write this...
I've unfortunately had enough experience…
Surely, in this day and age of social awareness, the response to such immense pain should be met with an outright emotion of love and togetherness? Unfortunately not! Most of us who have lived through this nightmare have experienced loneliness, pain and anxiety. A desperate state of emotions that push us to the brink of insanity no matter how much support or lack of it we get from those around us. We question the meaning of life itself and the value of our own lives. We are confronted with an awkward embarrassment by colleagues who no longer accept us; We, the ones left behind, destroy this “perfect” reality conveyed by the media… The world is made up of a lot of selfishness and greed, but luckily this is the minority, as are the moments of pure desperation we face. What I sometimes lost sight of were how long the moments of desperation last compared to the lighter moments? It was in one of these moments of desperation that a friend told me about the wave effect.
The Wave Effect
Sit back and picture the sea. Look out onto its horizon and imagine the white crests of a wave crashing onto its surface and disappearing, only to reappear again with more vigour and intensity. A wave never sinks, it always finds the energy to reappear in one way or another, no matter how stormy or calm the sea is… The wave image helped me, it allowed me to put some perspective on life and what I was going through. Try it.
Watching the news also helped me. How many people are reported dead on TV at 6.00 every evening? It's amazing, but until we're in that situation we listen to the news whilst cooking a meal and never think of the widows, the children and the pain of the loved ones left behind. As I've said, death is the only guarantee in life and we never know when it's about to happen. Herb would never have wanted me to take my own life to be with him. I know he's there waiting for me and we'll see each other again… I need my life in this world, to celebrate his life and my own. I was in love and will always love a most amazing man.
Many people shy away from me when I talk about my grief because it embarrasses them but why? A celebration of love is shown at a wedding and we talk openly about that, so why not accept the supposed unacceptable. It's a part of life and to love an angel is one of the purest forms of love a person can experience…
I was in a total state of shock when Herbie died. He was my partner and even now, he will always remain so… I talk to him, I ask him things and I know he'll never leave my side… I also know that when the time is right, he'll send me someone who will love me again like he loved me. Those who have passed over will always live on in generations to come in the form of mannerisms, traits, a look, strength, determination and they help create a will within us which will make them proud of the persons we become.
What helped me in the first month
Counselling. I can't describe how important it was to have someone “neutral” to turn to and describe my emotions and feelings.
Yoga. I'd never done it before, but after my first few sessions with a friend I was able to free Herbie from my mind for a few seconds; The first heart-wrenching step of the continual process of letting go.
Belief in yourself, your love for each other and their still being with you.
Music. Forcing sadness helps the healing process.
Know Yourself. Take one step at a time, do not be forced into any situation you feel uncomfortable with. Grief is not only a mental but physical loss, you need time to rebuild yourself.
Know Your Limits. Don't be afraid of turning to others and don't be afraid of what they think of you. You need all the help you can get. Take it… You can repay them at a future date when you've got your strength back…
Find An Outlet. Most people suffering from grief turn to creativity or sport.
Avoid Alcohol And Drugs. Turn to what can help you in the long run. The latter will only destroy.
Acceptance. Do not feel guilty about your own laughter and happiness. Your life will, believe it or not, carry on.
Why? After Herb's father died we promised each other never to ask the question “Why?” This helped me immensely… There are no answers. Some believe that our destiny is pre-programmed, others believe that life is based around being lucky and unlucky.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull b Richard E Bach. If you've already read it, read it again! If you haven't read it, read it!
Pointers for family and friends:
Call, write or drop by as often as possible. Send text messages and take the griever out, at weekends force them... Take them for walks in the country. From our research, the open air is the biggest help. Climb mountains, go to their favourite places, in the beginning, someone grieving tends to feel closer to their loved one when they're outdoors. This fresh air will also help them to sleep at night. Don't organise a schedule, avoid alcohol, and don't force conversation. Just be there and if they need time alone, let them know you're still there for them. Keep this up, grief lasts for a lifetime and the first few months are critical… Our perspectives, priorities and lives change. Even if they don't believe it themselves, they need you…
We never know what's lurking around the corner or what life's going to throw at us next. Both Herbie and Hubert have had an amazing influence on my life and as I'm starting to feel more positive about the future, I'm following their lesson of being creative with my emotions, hence, the title "Creative Emotions".
I kept a diary throughout the first year of my grief which I have subsequently turned into a book. I've summarised the most critical stages from each of the first 12 months of grief.
I hope our words, our belief in you and our advice has been of comfort to you and remember, every minute is another minute you have survived. Although a minute is 60 seconds in reality, during grief, time takes on a new meaning. A minute can be an extraordinarily long time. Don't put pressure on yourself and take every minute / hour / day as they come… You will get through this. Remember the wave. Take care :o)(The extracts below can also be seen on the My Book link, but due to this being the introductory newsletter, I believe it important to give further information about my feelings and situation in this issue.)
All names have been changed although the facts remain.
This is a book I'm writing which looks at the lives of three people, Hubert Bognermayr (I promised to write this for him before he died), his son Martin "Herbie" Bognermayr, the love of my life who passed away in 2001 and a look at my own life so far. There are factual parts about the history of electronic music, it's a love story of my short but very happy life with Herbie and it's a look at my life in Austria . I've been keeping a diary on and off over the years and an intensive one to help with the grieving process and both tragic and humorous extracts will be included from these. It will also be a compilation of all the creative writing I've done over the years. I hope this book brings strength to others as it has to me. The following extracts are from the first chapter and will hopefully make you want to read more, more, more!
All I need to do now is find a publisher! Any offers?
A friendly critic! : This is obviously based on a very sad story, but it's also written with humour. A book with everything; reality, soul searching, thoughts, laughter, tragedy and factual information… *****
On 1st August, 2001 , my life changed like never before. Martin Bognermayr, musician, composer and very special person who was my dream, became my angel.
He lost his life in a tragic diving accident the night after we'd confirmed our wedding plans. After the four days spent searching for his body in lake Attersee , Upper Austria and after planning his funeral in the way he'd have liked it, we celebrated his life on 14th August with his music; he wouldn't have wanted it any other way. After trying to come to terms with his sudden death, I then faced the unexpected, but wished for news of finding out I was pregnant, which, like the news of his death, I couldn't fully accept. I was in a permanent state of shock and everything was happening too quickly. One week later I lost our child and at least after the operation, I was able to stay a bit longer in the hospital to collect my thoughts and try and find some sanity in this world which had before treated me so well. I was given the chance to seek counselling and guidance and it is there that I decided to start writing this book.
A book about destiny, our intensive love, the tragic accident, the time that followed, my constant soul searching and the strength from others together with my own which has helped get me through what I hope will be the most difficult phase in my life. This is also a story about two of the most special and talented men who should be known by everyone and never forgotten. They are Herbie himself and his father, Hubert Bognermayr, who was never properly accredited for his work and worldwide success in electronic music. I promised his father before his death in 1999 that I'd write a book about his life and may both he and Herbie have peace for eternity and may they continue to bless our hearts and strengthen and guide us as they did when they were on this earth.
It's also a book for me. Since Herbie's death, I've read numerous books about coping with death and about grief, but haven't as yet found an honest account of the day to day feelings you go through, about the unbearable heartache, about the loneliness, the suicidal thoughts, the extreme changes of priorities and difficulties in communicating in "normal" conversation. This book also looks at the intense relationships and love which grows with those friends and family who live through these emotions with you and the heart wrenching disappointments from some friends. Writing is the best therapy I can find and I hope this book will encourage others who go through such traumatic times to get through them.
If there was one thing for certain as to why I was born, it was for our love. He was my soul partner, best friend, lover, partner for life and father to our unborn child. My coming to Austria had been a dream since the age of 12 and I believe, for whatever reason, we were meant to find each other. Both Martin and his father were so very special. It's a tragedy that their lives were taken so early and this is a tribute to them and a look at the most intensive 6 years of my life which can only play a positive role in my future. Not only is writing this giving me the goal I so badly need to keep going, it's also going to fulfil the wishes of two of my angels.
I hope that when this book goes to print, Martin Bognermayr will already be living through his music and I know that he will carry on to live in my heart forever. I will never fully believe that Herbie died, I'll never believe that my soul partner has gone, I'll never believe that two such huge talents have been wasted and I'll never believe that I've lost his child which we so desperately wanted.
As one of Herbie's songs is entitled "The Spirit Lives Forever."
EXTRACTS ABOUT THE ACCIDENT TAKEN FROM CHAPTER 1
I got in from shopping at about 4.30 in the afternoon and there was still no SMS from Herb to tell me that he'd had a safe dive and he'd never forgotten before, I texted him just to remind him that he should get in touch so I knew that he was OK. There was no reply, but then one of his sister's called to be picked up from down the road and I guessed he'd write by the time I got back. She lives in a flat not far away, so I went to fetch her and came back to hear my mobile ringing up in our flat. I ran up the endless number of stairs again, thinking it was Herb - instead his diving partner was on the line.
"Nikki, is that you. There's been an accident." A normally, very recognisable voice sounded like a stranger's. I thought I'd understood, but that couldn't be true. I started to breathe very heavily, my heart was pounding, it was about to explode. I began to shake, feel nervous, feel scared, more scared than I have ever been in my life.
"Wer spricht, bitte? Who's speaking?"
"It's me. Are you by yourself?"
"No, Anna's here (the sister)."
"There's been an accident and they can't find Bogi. They're still looking for him. Don't worry. It's going to be OK!"
"Are you OK? Are the others hurt?" How could I have asked about the others in that situation? I can't remember much more about the words which were spoken. I can only feel the shivers which ran up and down my spine and continue to do so when I think of that phone call. Although his words were swimming around in my head like an echo "It's going to be OK, it's going to be OK," the sheer terror and panic in his voice had said everything that needed to be said.
I shouted for Anna in a tone of voice very similar to the one on the phone and she came running up the stairs. "There's been an accident and they can't find Herbie." I sat down, I stood up, I sat down again and lit a cigarette. "This can't be true, this can't be happening," I repeated over and over again. "Not to Herb, not to my babe." "My babe." I had started calling him my babe in the last few months and that was what he was. I started to breathe so quickly that I couldn't get any oxygen. Was this how Herb had felt under water? The tears started streaming down my face, but there was no sound; just the erratic breathing of Anna and I inhaling on our cigarettes. My legs were like jelly, my mind was spinning and then we heard the downstairs door open as the mother and the other sister came home. I waited until they reached the middle floor and went down, telling them to take a seat before I said anymore. "Mary, there's been an accident. I've just had a phone call and they can't find Herbie..."
1st August, 2001 . Herbie lost his life. I lost the most wonderful man I'd ever met and a part of my heart. Mary lost a son she depended on, especially after her husband's death. The sisters, the rest of the family and his friends lost a very special person. The world lost a musical and creative talent which was already developing into something so great. Herb had left us and I can only think of a gleaming white soul up there in the universe starting his new life.
As soon as I'd got the call, I SMS'd my sister in England . "There's been a diving accident and they can't find Herb. Will keep you informed."
One of Herbie's Aunts called and she had bought an afternoon edition of a local newspaper. She'd read an article "Diving Accident at Attersee" which went something like this. "Four divers from Linz were injured today in an accident in the lake of Attersee . One is still reported missing." She'd thought about the possibility of it being Herb, but it couldn't have been, things like this don't happen to "normal" people and she'd brushed the idea aside; Reality began to sink in. Then a police car turned up in front of the house. This nightmare was actually starting to be real. We went outside and two officers stepped out, I howled; Mary and the two girls were also outside and the police officers repeated what we already knew. There'd been an accident. The possibilities of finding him were slim and he would be running dangerously low on oxygen if still conscious. I then told Mary and the others about our conversation from the night before and that we'd finally planned our wedding. Less than 24 hours later we were talking about his death.
I walked away and went inside the house. I called a friend to get the mobile numbers of two of the other guys who were also diving, I then called them, leaving desperate messages on their answer machines. Why were all of their mobiles turned off? Why wasn't anyone telling us anything? How deep had Herb and the others been diving? How much oxygen had he had? There were so many questions and no answers; No one could give us any answers at that time, so we had to wait... It was as though his family and I were about to step out on to the green mile; the walk of death. I SMS'd Herbie in a desperate plea not to leave me. "Please don't leave me. Not yet. I love you so much…" It didn't help. I respectfully went back outside to say thank you to the officers and goodbye. They left.
I've never passed out in my life before, but I was close now. I went back inside and stood in the dining room leaning against the door with my head spinning, still breathing heavily and then wrote back to my sister. "They're still looking for him and it doesn't look good..."
I don't know what order things happened in next. I called a friend who immediately offered to come around. It wasn't necessary I told her. This can't be true… I was still trying to desperately get in touch with the other three who had been diving with Herb but there was no reply. The police came back about an hour later to say that they were calling off the search due to the lack of light and would commence again on the following day.
Herb was classified dead.
Thoughts of Hubert's death came flooding back into my mind. I remember immediately after he'd died my sister called me and asked if there was anything she could do, hysterically, I answered "Bring him back, just bring him back." They were the only words I could think of now, "Bring him back. PLEASE GOD, bring him back."
I called my friend Rose back and asked her to come around and I lay on the sofa in our lounge upstairs, clutching onto one of Herbie's most recently worn T-shirt's, smelling it and frantically praying that none of this could be true. "My babe..." The babe I wanted to wrap up in cotton wool and protect for the rest of my life was dead. The babe who had protected me was gone. The babe who promised he would never leave me alone had left me totally alone. He'd gone to what I can only hope is a better place.. My heart aches writing this, but my heart broke on 1st August, 2001 .
Herb's mother came up to try to speak to me; I had shut myself away in a mental dream. A dream of disbelief, a dream of our wedding, with eyes blindly focussed on nothing I couldn't answer her. I couldn't reply to anyone. I'd shut myself off and was with Herb. How could I live without him? We'd so often talked about his death. I'd so often cried about his death. Whether it was to do with his Dad dying, too much love or a kind of premonition, I don't know. All I knew then was that I was hurting like I'd never hurt before and pray will never have to in the future.
My friend turned up and arrived at the same time as one of Herb's cousin's. She'd driven here in such a hurried state; she'd nearly knocked him off his bike as they'd turned into the driveway. She sat with me and comforted me for a while. I called my sister and she arranged to go to my parents and break the news to them so I wouldn't have to tell them directly on the phone. I didn't have the strength anyway. I tried to sob, for a few minutes I could, but then why should I? It was tragic, but I couldn't really cry over something which couldn't be true and over someone I had so much love for. This had to be a dream. Then, like others had told me before and others have told me since it happened, my friend said how jealous she had been of our relationship. How seldom it is to find your true love. Why was I only allowed six years of it? I now feel blessed to have been able to have had those 6 years, but at other times, I feel so angry that we weren't given any more time together. Whatever the small problems were in our relationship, we always had each other. In the six years we were together, we had had such an intense relationship and experienced so many positive and negative things which never had any affect on "us". "Nikki and Herb" were simply "Nikki and Herb." The only thing that could have come between us was death.
Rose and I went to sit with the others on the second floor and the mother was alone in the studio downstairs. I had to be practical and Herbie and I had often talked about me having his sperm if he died. I went down to see if she had any problems with it. I had no rights now because we weren't married and had to ask for her permission. She was thankfully fine about it. We sat there stroking the dog, stunned and numb. The youngest sister started crying bitterly, asking what this family had done to have both her Dad, her big brother and her two idols taken away. It was too much for me and I went back up to sit with the others, to try and let what had happened sink in. I don't think it ever will though.
I spent the night on the telephone, too scared to go to sleep because I was too scared to wake up and find out this wasn't a dream. What was the importance of sleep? What was the importance of food? What was the importance of being alive? My babe was gone. My sister arranged a flight to come out on the following day.
I went and had a shower at about 5.30 in the morning just as the sun was rising. I knew then that the most dangerous times for falling asleep had passed and I could start the new day feeling a numb tired which helped me to cope with things. The mother came up crying, tears of acceptance rolling down her cheeks and I remember feeling jealous that she was able to cry. From that moment on, the youngest sister became my permanent shadow over the next few weeks and although she sometimes drove me insane, she showed so much strength and courage for her just turned 20 years of age.
I needed to go to see where it had happened, I needed to get away from the endless telephone calls of repeating the same sentences again and again which were driving me insane and I needed to go to Herb. To be with him until they found his body. We'd never had any secrets or been apart before, so why start now? He'd have been there for me if it had been the other way round.
We drove down to where the accident had taken place to see it sectioned off and Herb's car still parked there. It was literally a two minute drive from his second home at his oldest friend's house in Attersee. The lake looked so peaceful and had given Herbie so many beautiful memories, it was difficult to imagine that his body was lying somewhere down there. I walked down to the water's edge and played with the surface of the water, tickling it gently to send ripples of hope travelling off into the distance; I said a prayer and looked towards the centre of the lake in pure disbelief. It must have only been a little after midday by then, the heat was poisonous on the back of the neck and we were all walking around in a dream-like state.
I took the keys to Herb's car and unlocked it. He'd bizarrely been given a parking ticket over night and I sat in the driver's seat, in Herb's seat. Everything was as it should have been except for his not being there. I picked up the papers and maps we'd left in the side of the door from our last holiday in Italy and I found his prized Quentin Tarantino T-shirt in the boot which still had his smell on it, together with all of his diving equipment. That T-shirt never left my side for the next few days.
After a round of Herb's favourite nut schnapps which I had always shared with him, (so I tipped half of mine on to the floor in the hope that he could taste it!), and considering the strength of the sun and not eating, I started to feel a bit dizzy, I went for a walk to find James who was on his way back to the pub and we sat down on the steps leading into a bank. People were coming and going and we were sitting there watching everything in slow motion. Me begging to be pregnant with Herb's child, but also laughing about Herb who could always make anyone smile and he was still able to do it even after his own death. We must have been there for about half an hour or so when Mark turned up (his best friend from Kindergarten). We carried on intensively talking about what we had liked and loved about him, funny stories, how he'd affected our lives, etc, but time was pushing on and they were due to start the search at 3.30; So, we went back to the others at the table, had one last drink and paid.
At the site of the search, the others were trying to be protective and hide me away so I wouldn't get upset, but I really didn't want that. As I've said, Herb would have been there for me and I was going to be there for him. As the 30 or so divers came to begin the search, they were given a prep by their instructor and I wanted to hear every word to find out what they were going to do. I stood at the back of the group of divers and listened whilst the others who had turned up were waiting higher up on the roadside. Herb would have been fascinated and would have been so proud to have been part of that group of rescuers and standing there, I felt stronger than I ever had in my life and so close to Herb that I thought my heart would explode with love. One of the other divers came to stand next to me, protect me and take me away, but I couldn't move. Tears fell from his eyes, but he had the choice to stay or go. How could I have gone when I knew in my heart that it was the right thing for me to do? The search began with the divers in formation holding on to a rope and it soon became clear that they weren't going to find him on that day... I felt so disappointed. It was such a waste of a life. I still couldn't cry, it was all turning into a farce. Herbie was dead and there was all this commotion about finding his body; Granted, it was better that they found him, as most corpses left in water will float back to the surface at some time in the future, but I just wanted it all to be over and then I could go home and wake up from this nightmare.
I was going through two main emotions, the one of total desperation where I couldn't relate to anyone, no one could understand what I was going through; he was my everything and I'd just lost our world and then, the other reaction of pure shock with thoughts like he's dead, that's that; We might as well drive home and get on with our lives. If only life was that easy… I couldn't understand what I was doing there, I was an on-looker and my emotions were totally numb. The others were obviously in shock too, they stood around hugging each other, giving each other strength and I still really felt as though this whole scenario was some kind of dream. I walked away to be by myself. They'd all go home afterwards to their partners or children and who would I go home to? A few hugs in a situation like this don't make things any better. We'd just arranged our wedding on the previous night before his death, he was the main reason for my being in Austria , he was my best friend, he even knew what I was thinking before I'd had the thought. They'd never forget him, but "normality" would return to their lives a lot sooner than it would to mine. Will I ever be the same again? Will I ever have "normality" again? The answer to the two questions is already clear. NO. I'm still Nikki and I'm still the same person, but I'll never be exactly the same again.
We stayed in Attersee until about 11.00 at night when the moon rose over the mountains behind us and then with a stomping headache, we were driven home. I dozed off in the car which felt like I was sitting next to Herb coming back from one of our visits to Attersee and I started to feel safe again and at ease.
On Friday, my emotions were released; my tear ducts were opened and it was like emptying a bottle of water into the sink or rather draining a canal into the sea. From the sunny days that we'd had, the weather had become oppressive and a storm was brewing. As the heavens began to open, I sat outside in the torrential rain and almost gale force winds; I sat there and could only believe they were Herbie's tears. He hadn't wanted to die. He wasn't ready to die. It was all just a terrible mistake. He was sad up there and he wanted us to know it.
An extract from some lyrics I wrote a few weeks later
"They say that time heals the pain,
but this ache will never go;
The tears from heaven as I stand in the rain
pour down and with them you.
Although your fire has been blown out
your life will never die;
Be it through me, your spirit or these words of love
you'll always be nearby."