Bipolar Me- Grief

Normally I will blog once or twice a week but for one reason or another I have put it off… Until today.

This week we, my wife’s family lost a special woman in their and our lives. Sarah, my wife, lost her grandmother, Bess. The matriarch of the family. She slipped unexpectedly and suddenly away peacefully in her sleep this Wednesday just gone.

Sarah was very close to her Grandma Bess so she is feeling the loss greatly. All I can do is stand by and be there for her through the grieving process. It has also affected our two sons, Kieran who is autistic and Brendan, who is not, in different ways.

Sarah will be “fine” one moment then she will be sobbing and sobbing hard. Luckily, she visited Grandma Bess the day before she passed. Spent time with her, even making Bess her favourite ham and beetroot sandwiches washed down with a cup of tea. Sarah has been deep in sorrow. Going over and over the things she didn’t say and should of said to her Grandma. Saying to me that she never said to her three small words- “I love you.”  

However Bess and Sarah’s relationship was so close I know that it was something that did not need to be said. Love, I believe anyway, is not just something you say but it is an act of something you do and something you show. Love can be the act of sharing time with someone, spending time listening and being listened to. Love is making someone their favourite sandwich and a cup of tea. Love is making someone you care for laugh and smile. Love is a gentle kiss on the forehead before you walk out the door. It does not necessarily mean saying, but in doing.

Brendan has been a slow burner with his grief. When we told him he got red eyed, shed a tear or two then half an hour later said he was fine. Which I took with a pinch of salt. Now with grief it is expressed and affects each of us in the world differently. Yesterday I decided to take Sarah, Kieran, Brendan and Sarah’s mother, Sheila, out for a drive to the coast. I hoped this would prompt the boys to talk about the loss in a safe and carefree environment. They played on the beach and shared fish & chips with their Grandma Sheila. Despite the undercurrent of sadness, it was a happy time.

On the way home in the car the boys spoke about Great Grandma Bess, asking questions about what happens when you die, if there was a heaven and other difficult questions which Sheila, Sarah and I did our level best to answer.

It wasn’t until Sheila mentioned that Grandma Bess would get Jaffa cakes in especially for Brendan to eat that the dam was breached with Brendan. He was in floods of tears in the back of the car cuddling up to his mum, who planted gentle comforting kisses on his head, Sarah was fighting tears too.

Kieran, who I’ve mentioned is autistic,seems to have taken the passing in his stride. He asks more questions than anything about death, heaven and other things. Kieran unfortunately has difficulty with empathy towards others, a common trait in those on the autistic spectrum. Which can make it hard to predict how he will react and more importantly on what he will say. Sometimes what he says can seem cold and unsympathetic to these who do not know Kieran.  

Sarah has scolded him for some of the things he has said. However with Kieran not understanding how others feel and will react in times like this it is hard.

As for me. I am sad for Sarah, Kieran, Brendan and Sheila’s families loss. I was closer to Bess than my own grandmothers having spent more time with Bess and Bess being in my life longer. However I have not cried. I don’t know if this makes me a cold, heartless individual or if the medication has subdued me of emotions, especially strong emotions. With Bipolar it is an all or nothing situation. You cry buckets or you don’t- it’s that simple.

Thing is I never cried or showed any emotion when my own Grandmother Brenda (for who Brendan is named) passed away. This concerns me, as it makes me think that I am potentially a sociopath. My relationship with my own feelings and emotions is a complex one. Sometimes I feel happy, angry or sad in the usual spectrum of emotions, other times I feel nothing, absolutely nothing. Isn’t that cold?

The last time I cried was many years ago. So seeing Brendan cry, and this is going to sound selfish because it is, has made me a little envious of him. Yes I am envious of an 8 year old boy who can cry and express his grief. I want to cry, seriously I do. Myself not crying is not me being macho or a masculine thing going on but one of damaged emotions and a wounded psyche.

I will come to terms with that in time.

Well I think I’ve written enough. Follow me on Twitter @lash1978.


About martinupfold

Hi I am Martin Upfold and I am a father, husband, army veteran, student of photography and citizen journalist. Dealing with bipolar and depression, tackling it head on. I am sustained by my lovely wife Sarah and we have two beautiful sons Brendan, our youngest and Kieran, our eldest who has Aspergers Syndrome which is on the Autistic Spectrum. What I do to cope with my situation is to do photography and occasionally blog about it.
This entry was posted in Autism, Autistic Spectrum, Bipolar, Bipolar disorder, Mental health, mental health issues, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bipolar Me- Grief

  1. steelcityman says:

    Writing like that Martin, you can’t be cold and heartless … you are a warm and generous person … who writes well.

  2. Sharon Dixon says:

    That is so beautiful, Martin. No, of course you are not a sociopath. I’v lost people very dear to me, and never cried. I for strangers’ losses, i cry over ‘little’ things. I think that sometimes the grief is too intense for teas. X

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