Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Five

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  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Call me crazy, but when people are still waiting for their insurance to be settled and the rebirth of the central city is on hold because central government can’t make work the grand plan it imposed, and when the earth is still shaking, I think we’re well within acceptable parameters for grieving.

    Glad you said that Russell, or else I might have told the the old nun to get fucked.

    Beloved and I went to Queensland for a week to meet our first grandchild and it was a revelation: people living lives, being happy and sad, and going to the beach. The first day we were there, we went for a paddle at Kirra, and it was glorious.

    We literally stepped off the sand and the phone went: son in Christchurch saying there had been a 5.7 two minutes ago and the earth and our house (5-8km away) was still shaking, scarily. After talking him down for 10-15 minutes, we sat stunned in the foreshore shelter and I wept from the bottom of my being.

    There is no easy escape: 2500km away and it’s as raw as being there. The cortisol surge is back, unbidden, a cellular memory that I don’t know if I can ever undo.

    While spending an amazing time with our son’s new family, we were on the phone or Facebook every few hours checking on the teenagers (thank goodness – despite the derision – I insisted both had the contacts and cash on their phones, much food, and back-up adults around).

    How can you stop that SMG? It doesn’t end, no matter where we live right now.

    If we left, our kids would stay for their final year at school. Greg’s widowed-last-week mother would have few people to visit in the rest home. Our insurance claims – still with minor cosmetic damage assessed – would be paid out in a tiny amount of cash and our house would be unsaleable because it is in fact colossally damaged and the land is poked.

    We have choices and we are not totally powerless. But waking up two nights ago at 3.30am to the house shaking like a dog killing a rabbit from another severe shake 2.5km away is not easy and reinforces the complexity of most people’s situations.

    That’s not grieving. That’s real life, right-now situations.

    I can only assume, SMG, that you never have had to run for your life from your home with your children. I hope you never have to.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2896 posts Report Reply

  • Minnie Ball,

    Thanks Emma. Great article. I moved away from CHCH over a year ago because I could and because I couldn't take any more of my house dramas and flooding. Everything about my life changed on Feb 22 and it still is rolling in. The thing is, even if you move away from CHCH the effects of Feb 22 are embedded in ones psyche. My marriage is hanging on by a thread as we have reacted to the earthquakes in almost opposite ways. Ive buried two people close to me who seemed the healthiest people before the Earthquakes and who completely changed afterwards. Co -incidence? Maybe health studies in years to come will tell me whether this is so. I go back to CHCH regularly to visit my best friend of 50 years who has Stage 4 Cancer. She hated each earthquake with a terrible fear and each earthquake made her drink more and tense up and surely that must have an impact. I was back for Feb 22 and felt so much for the families who had lost loved ones and for those who had become disabled or sad because of the quakes. Now when I go to CHCH I avoid looking at or going into the centre of the city. And thats rather a large avoidance, Instead I prefer to go into the Gardens and be amazed at how all the beautiful plants and trees seemed to survive and Im so pleased they did. This visit I noticed a lot more woman and men biking with groceries and baskets and a determined bloody look on their faces. I know they are CHCH's legacy...they will make it home. As for Joe Bennet on Feb 22nd on National Radio....He didn't represent the people that I know and talk to about how they feel living there. So it was a shame he was the person representing CHCH on that day. And I still love CHCH. You can't leave that. You can't forget about that and move on. and it is right to grieve something that you loved and lost.

    CHCH • Since May 2014 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I prefer to go into the Gardens and be amazed at how all the beautiful plants and trees seemed to survive and Im so pleased they did.

    The gardens were planned and planted by people who knew that they'd never live to see their vision come to fruition. That spirit seems very much alive among the ground-level activists shown in The Art Of Recovery documentary. Not much evidence of it among the comfortably-remunerated central planners, whose vision rarely seems to extend beyond ensuring their second pension.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Not much evidence of it among the comfortably-remunerated central planners, whose vision rarely seems to extend beyond ensuring their second pension.

    But they do seem to have the concept of healthy 'bedding' in their repertoire - shame it is only 'featherbedding'...
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/77283257/cera-spends-100000-on-melbourne-business-school-training

    Since July 2015, Cera has sent five managers on residential-based programmes at the school's Mt Eliza campus, despite the organisation disbanding in April.
    The courses cost between $5000 and $11,000, excluding flights.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Sister Mary Gearchange, in reply to Russell Brown,

    >>Call me crazy, but when people are still waiting for their insurance to be settled and the rebirth of the central city is on hold because central government can’t make work the grand plan it imposed, and when the earth is still shaking, I think we’re well within acceptable parameters for grieving.<<

    You seem to have missed the context that I was replying to someone talking about the West Coast mine collapse and the recovery of bodies from it.

    “Grief”, in the context of what is going on in CHC with earthquakes is a mixed emotional response – by which I mean it is a secondary response to ongoing stress.

    Being stressed by on going earthquakes, insurance and rebuild problems, etc. is perfectly normal But, as in the case of the mine, if all those things were to stop/resolve: how long should grief be a healthy or appropriate response afterwards? The other writer was saying, in effect, that “forever, if we want” is perfectly appropriate. I disagree with that.

    Would you defend their position? Would you be supportive of someone saying they still feel grief from the Napier earthquakes? Consequent effects from stress, yes, can last decades. Grief? No. Grief is a phase, not an occupation or vocation.

    Since Oct 2015 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Sister Mary Gearchange, in reply to Hebe,

    >>I can only assume, SMG, that you never have had to run for your life from your home with your children. I hope you never have to.<<

    And *I* get accused of being sanctimonious?! Nice mention of "with your children", by the way. Very John Key-esque in the irrelevance of it, but at least Someone is Thinking of the Children!!1!

    But to answer your question, yes, I've had to leave buildings rapidly due to various events. Earthquakes. Fire. Small arms and artillery fire.

    I'm sorry I wasn't clearer in my initial post about the detail of the exact point I was replying to. But hey, you got to feel morally superior (with your children!) for a moment, so that's got to be good for your stress and grief, right?

    Since Oct 2015 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Sister Mary Gearchange,

    And *I* get accused of being sanctimonious?! Nice mention of “with your children”, by the way. Very John Key-esque in the irrelevance of it, but at least Someone is Thinking of the Children!!1!

    It's not irrelevant at all. Hebe has had to run from her home with her children. That was part of the point.

    Would you defend their position? Would you be supportive of someone saying they still feel grief from the Napier earthquakes? Consequent effects from stress, yes, can last decades. Grief? No. Grief is a phase, not an occupation or vocation.

    I wouldn't police someone else's emotions, because that would be a Dick Move. Funny, when we were discussing my mother's death here, nobody told me what the expiry date on grief was. Instead, we talked about how it actually never really goes away, you just learn how to carry it.

    Certainly, I would not criticise someone's grieving during a memorial.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Sister Mary Gearchange, in reply to Emma Hart,

    >>It’s not irrelevant at all. Hebe has had to run from her home with her children. That was part of the point.<<

    It is a fact, but trivial to the point. People only mention it for one of two reasons: habit (which is not a strong point) or for emotional impact while hoping the cliche won't be noticed.

    >>I wouldn’t police someone else’s emotions, because that would be a Dick Move. Funny, when we were discussing my mother’s death here, nobody told me what the expiry date on grief was. Instead, we talked about how it actually never really goes away, you just learn how to carry it.

    Certainly, I would not criticise someone’s grieving during a memorial.<<

    No one is policing anyone's emotions. Just as no one has said there is an expiry date on grief. I will say, however, that the expiry date is not "never" and certainly not "never, until I get what I want". When someone persists in paddling about in their grief and uses it to shut down discussion then they should be told to GTFOI. IMO. I'll say it again: grief is a phase, not a state of being.

    Since Oct 2015 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sister Mary Gearchange,

    When someone persists in paddling about in their grief and uses it to shut down discussion then they should be told to GTFOI. IMO. I’ll say it again: grief is a phase, not a state of being.

    Listen Dick - Get The F**k Over Yourself - we already know your opinion (seriously flawed IMO) Don't be so utterly offensive by persisting in repeating it - or repeat it under your real name if you are so convinced of your omniscience.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Yeah, we've had a wee chat about this, and I'm going to close the thread. As Ian says, the point has been made, and made, and it seems there's nothing constructive to add to the discussion, and genuine pain being caused, so hopefully people will understand why I'm making the call.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

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