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Bridges: Good Mourning
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Pass it on
I'm reading
Bridges: Good Mourning
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Bridges: Good Mourning
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
22 November 2022

Bridges: Good Mourning

Amid the 2020 lockdowns in Sydney, two women born on opposite sides of the world were brought together through the passing of their mothers. They helped each other through the hardest days and turned their pain into a chart-topping podcast and resource for those dealing with grief – Good Mourning. Two friends share their story of healing together through community and laughter, and what that’s taught them about life.

This story originally ran in issue #71 of Dumbo Feather

Sally Douglas

My mum died suddenly in November 2019. It was a couple of months later that we went into lockdown, and I craved a connection with somebody who understood what I was going through. That led me to a support group called Motherless Daughters Australia, and [as the first lockdown eased in May 2020] Imogen and I ended up going to the same lunch one Sunday arvo at a pub. That’s how we met.

The first thing was, we genuinely got on well and were quite similar. We were both complete tearaways as teenagers, both rebels at school, we both got tattoos on our hips when we were 14 and we both met our partners at a similar time. I think we both craved that person we could talk to. We’d sit there for hours and bounce off each other like, “Oh my god, yes, I have that too!”

I’ve learned a lot from Im. She’s a really brave person, and she feels the feels – whereas I’m a typical Brit and tend to channel my grief by being practical and doing things. She isn’t afraid to go there and sit with her feelings, and that’s taught me to be more open and to not push it aside. She also knows I have a tendency to overdo it and burn myself out, and she’s really encouraging. She’ll be like, “You need to stop. You need to prioritise you.”

Having a friend like Im has taught me the kind of support that I want and deserve, and since my mum died, I’ve focused on building that support network here in Australia. Because it makes you realise you need those connections to carry you through – it doesn’t have to be loads, just a few, but it’s so important.

Imogen Carn

I’ve never met anyone as thoughtful as Sally. She has an incredible gift for listening to people, and she picks up on the smallest things. An example is, my mum loved op shopping, and Sally does too, and on one of my mum’s anniversaries she went op shopping on behalf of my mum and picked out things she thought my mum would buy me – like, who thinks of that?

One amazing thing I got from the relationship initially was having someone who was willing to listen. My mum took her own life in February 2020, and I was really traumatised. I just needed to talk about what I was going through, and Sal gave me the space to do that. She would listen to me for hours and not try to fix the situation, but just be there and acknowledge it.

We’ve helped each other a lot, but we’ve definitely had our moments, and I feel like when relationships have those moments – when you’re disagreeing, or not getting along – it actually strengthens the bond. We’ve always said to each other, “Our friendship is what matters most – we’ve built this amazing community out of our pain, but at the end of the day, our friendship is the most important thing,” and that’s helped us through it all.

I feel like we’ve grown together as people as well. She’s taught me that it’s okay to have a break from the intense emotions, because even though we’re similar, we’re also very opposite. I’m quite an emotional person, whereas Sal isn’t. So, I’ve taken from Sal it’s okay to put my grief aside some days and embrace life.

One of my favourite stories of Sal’s she told me when we first met. She told me because I haven’t scattered my mum’s ashes yet. She said, “It’s not what you think it is. It’s not this beautiful moment …”

She went to the Botanic Gardens to scatter her mum’s ashes, and she was pouring it onto the flowers, and she said it was this thick, chalky, bath salt stuff, and that it was just sitting on top of the flowers. She was trying to push it in with her foot and people were walking past looking at her like, “What are you doing?” And she’s like, “I’m just scattering my dead mum on the flower bed.” We had a really good laugh at that, and I thought, at least we can laugh about this stuff, because if we can’t laugh at it, what’s the point?

It’s been really important for me to understand it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Grief and joy can co-exist. Life can be a mixture of things. And if we can look at the lighter and funnier moments in those darker times, I think it can help.

Our friendship is what matters most – we've built this amazing community out of our pain, but at the end of the day, our friendship is the most important thing.

This story appears in Issue 71 of Dumbo Feather, Beyond Ego, pick up a copy online or find us at your local independent retailer. 

Good Mourning is available wherever you get your podcasts.

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