Grief is debilitating and energy zapping. I find that I’m tired and brain fogged by midday. Is it more of this menopausal lark, am I having blood pressure issues or is it just grief? It is probably a bit of all three, but more likely to be profound sadness. I try to get beyond it. All of us are missing Dad and Grandad in different ways.

When you lose someone you love, life is different and changed. The changes are final and real. There is a new path forward without the senior figurehead of the family. Adjustments have to be made and life goes on. It takes time, which is both our saviour and our enemy. As Dad used to say: “Time and tide wait for no man.”

I looked up the phrase to see if I should credit it to someone to find that it dates back to 1225, even before the modern English language. Obviously the words were different and tide did not mean the sea as it does today, but a period of time as in a season.

Time stood still for me and I was allowed to be in the space of waiting, caring, loving and losing, but only because Tim and my children took up the slack. My family is amazing in times of sorrow – in rallying around, protecting and supporting me. Things got organised and done. I took that part for granted and that was my privilege.

Business as usual

The life of our farm and household went on despite our loss. There was an amazing response from the young part-time lads who help us out on the farm: Jack Hennessy, Jack Desmond, Stephen Murphy and Luke Walsh.

They stepped up and displayed maturity and understanding beyond their years. I often talk about communication of everyday activities on the farm. Everything that was going on with the calves was on the whiteboard in the shed. Details of fresh milk, milk replacer rates and amounts were all up to date.

When I fell out of the system, Stephen understood it and got on with our tried and tested methods of calf rearing. I really appreciate how well these lads carried on the farm business. To be able to be really present and not have to worry about other things was special for us all. In the grand scheme of things, the tide was not going to wait, the season rolled on. The cows are at a critical time in their lactations, building up to peak production and getting ready for the next farm season of breeding.

Mistakes with grass management, in terms of rotation and allocation, could cause serious damage. It is no harm to ask ourselves regularly if someone can come in and take our place easily on the farm. That focuses the mind on maintenance of equipment, having forward feed supplies on hand, good communication methods and simplified management systems. Is the farm map on display where people can see the paddocks clearly? It is a good idea to have the paddock number on the pole at paddock entry. That is on my “to-do” list for the summer. Every family suffers bereavement or illness. People have to drop out of the system. It is important to plan for it.

Plan to celebrate

It isn’t always about sadness either. Luckily, we also enjoy weddings, graduations and other celebrations. As the breeding season gets under way, it is time to be thinking to the quieter season when it might be possible to take a break or a holiday. A day or two put aside to catch up with an elderly relative is time well spent. We never know when the door will shut on our questions about our ancestors.

Each person who dies leaves a legacy of example and a particular way of living and loving. Unfortunately, when someone dies, a wealth of memories, experiences and connections go with them. It is now my turn to preserve the legacy of my parents and grandparents, to pass on their traditions and history.

The photograph is definitely the best way of preserving history. They are reminders of times past, the way we dressed and celebrated. It is soothing to delve into family history and to see each of us as a continuation of the people that have gone before us. As the eldest in the family, I feel a certain responsibility to ensure we all have the memories. You never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory to cherish. CL

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