In loving memory

In loving memory of Sue


It is three years ago today since the death of Sue, my closest friend.

Sue and I met in September 1989. We had both just arrived in Australia from England to work as newly recruited, registered nurses. Sue was a Yorkshire lass, and I was from Liverpool. It was the first day of our orientation course, at the Austin Hospital, in Heidelberg. We gravitated to one another, having spotted the other, across the room. We were both dressed in our typical English attire and had strong, northern accents. We shared a tendency, to see the absurd, or simultaneously, crack up laughing at some silly thing, such as noticing someone’s bung elastic undies, or a boogie peeping from a nasal passage.

Sue was four years younger than me, and she was ravishing. We had both enjoyed our teenage years during the mid seventies, and growing up in Northern England.



Our nurse training had been very much the old hospital based system, and as a young, third year student nurse, it was expected that, we would assume a fair degree of responsibility, the term, ‘being thrown in, at the deep end’ was often appropriately used, however we thrived on the challenges.

We loved to talk about our memories of, ‘the good auld days and, how we had performed our nurse duties, in the typical old-fashioned Nightingale wards, the type featured, in post war cinema, and where the hospital beds were aligned in long rows on either side of the huge, high ceilinged ward. We wore starched linen caps, buckled belts, and adhered to the rank and file system, and were required to address our seniors, as ‘Nurse Short, or Sister Whatever ya name was…’

As friends, we shared so much. We were both married within the same week, during the summer of 1991. We had our babies; breastfed together, babysat for each other, celebrated good times, and supported one another through the difficult times, particularly Sue’s marriage breakdown to the father of her two young children.

Sue and I had many wonderful, frivolous weekends at The Langham Hotel, in Southbank and shared a twin room with all the luxurious benefits of fine Belgian chocolates, and pink champagne. We adored lolling about in fluffy white dressing gowns, placing a room service order at 1am, and chatting and giggling in the dark, while marvelling at the magnificent,vistas of the city. As we drifted off to sleep, we held hands, and like the Brady Bunch, we’d whisper into the darkness, ‘night – night.’

I will miss you sweetie. xo

At The Langham

Cheers hon!

During the summer of 2007, and while I was away on holiday with my family, I had a dream about Sue. In the dream, Sue told me that she was dying. Upon waking from this dream, I felt understandably unsettled. The following day, Sue rang me to tell me that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and had developed metastatic spread to her peritoneum. She was forty-two.

For five years, Sue fought a hard battle. She married Bob, her teenage sweetheart on the week prior to undergoing a hysterectomy, and subsequently endured many rounds of chemotherapy while also, continuing to work as a nurse in a busy accident and emergency unit.



During this time, I celebrated my fiftieth birthday with one hundred very special guests, at the Paris Cat Jazz Club, a bohemian little underground boudoir bar, tucked away, in a narrow lane-way in the city. Sue honoured me that night, by delivering a moving speech. It was indeed a tribute to our special friendship, but, the resolute tone and strength in her voice belied her own private agony. The previous day, Sue had had a procedure to have an IV pic line inserted to facilitate the next aggressive chemotherapy treatment. As my friend stood on the stage in front of the lectern, hidden from sight and beneath her silk top, she wore a dressing to cover the intravenous cannula insertion site, that was snaking into the large, deep veins of her heart.

Her cancer had spread into her lungs, liver and bones.



With Sue

With Sue

Three years ago today, in a dimmed, private room of a palliative care hospice, in Melbourne, I sat, at three am, with the lifeless body of my dear friend, Sue.

Tonight, I am remembering. I miss you sweetie. May you rest in peace.

Rest in peace

Rest in peace



Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss

To weep


I am prompted to write today about grief and loss.

When someone we love is taken away from us or, that love is somehow severed, either by rejection, abandonment, injury, illness or, through death – we experience a reaction to this loss, this is called grief. The crippling pain of grief is as much a part of the journey through the passage of life, as the thrill and joy of love. It is, perhaps the ultimate price we pay for love, and the cost of attachment and commitment.

Grief creeps up insidiously, like a thief in the night. Grief threatens when we least expect, shaking our very foundations, and dislocating us from the secure, familiar safety of every day life. The journey through the convoluted labyrinth of grief is lonely. Often the traveller treads uneven ground, braving dangerous unmarked territory and sometimes may becomes bogged down and overwhelmed with anger and guilt. It is a struggle to negotiate this difficult terrain – pockmarked with sadness and depression.

We can be uncomfortable and uneasy with the subject of grief, perhaps because it forces us to address our own mortality and that of those dear to us. Yet grief will touch us all in some way within the course of our lives. If we can endeavour to understand this most painful of human emotions, we may ourselves be more adequately prepared for loss, and be able to provide compassion, kindness, support and empathy to those around us who are grieving.

Loss and grief have been shadowy companions throughout my own life, and I often wonder if, in bearing the surname Grieveson, she who grieves… I might have a predetermined propensity to experience grief.

A couple of weeks ago – on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, my family received the tragic news that Molly, the young mother of Sue, my youngest teenage daughter’s close friend, had passed away suddenly.

As the afternoon rolled on and Aussie Rules football matches were broadcast live to air – my family struggled to absorb and assimilate the circumstances surrounding Molly’s untimely death.

My daughter Amelia had forged a strong friendship with Sue who was Molly and Peter’s only child. When Sue and her family moved to Tucson, Arizona, Amelia was invited at the age of fourteen to holiday with them twice within a three year period and likewise Sue also spent her vacation with us, here in Australia.

Amelia had a wonderful time with Sue, they camped at Grand Canyon, sailing down the grand Mississippi, cruising the coast of Mexico and The Bahamas. One of the coolest parts of the adventure was in LA where the girls hung out with the cast and crew of a Nickelodeon production where Molly’s brother was the scriptwriter.

Molly and Peter led a charmed life. Peter worked long hours in finance for a multinational company and his work took him overseas for extended periods of time. Molly and Sue were naturally close; Molly had chosen to give up her highly specialized work as a research chemist making DNA for a cutting edge, high tech bio company, to be a full time mother to Sue.

Two weeks ago Molly and her almost eighteen-year-old daughter were halfway into an amazing trip to Alaska when Molly developed a severe headache and displayed signs of confusion. Sue took her mother to the nearest hospital where an MRI scan revealed that she had a glioblastoma brain tumour. This type of cancer is malignant and spreads rapidly.

Two days later, Molly passed away during neurosurgery, she was forty-four.

We mourn for Molly from the other side of the world and send our thoughts and love to Peter and Sue.

I lost my own mother suddenly when I was just twenty-one. My mum had a massive cerebral aneurysm and just like Molly, she was beautiful and young. I have never really healed from this profound loss at an age when I was only just beginning to understand what is to be a woman.

Mother loss at any age is difficult – but as a young woman, to lose your anchor, the linchpin of the family, your female template at the tender age of seventeen is heartbreaking.

My thoughts are with you dearest Sue.


Names have been changed to protect privacy