Written by Michelle Robinson
This month I’m sharing my thoughts on a topic that is close to home – the value of communication.
My grandfather, Christopher Ashcroft, served in World War One. With his brother David, he enlisted in the Second Light Horse Regiment in 1915. My grandfather was sent to Egypt to participate in the Gallipoli campaign, but soon afterwards his regiment was reassigned to various theatres of war in Europe. Being from a farming family, Christopher was assigned the role of munitions bearer, driving the wagons loaded with guns and reinforcements to the front lines. He was gassed in the trenches, lost an eye, and spent time in hospitals in England and France. In addition to various injuries, he also endured dysentery, mumps, and measles.
My grandfather suffered chronic lung problems from the mustard gas on his return from the war. However, he continued farming, got married, and had four children.
One of my childhood memories from ‘Grandpa’ is that he would disappear, sometimes for months at a time. This was not considered unusual. As I grew older, I realized that he withdrew from his family and society regularly, taking himself to isolated places in order to spend time on his own. He had a tiny, rough hut he would camp in, and with the aid of his rifle, lived off the land. Often, he panned for gold, fossicked for sapphires, or just camped in the Australian bush.
Grandpa never talked much to his family about his experiences during World War One. Certainly, his own children knew little of what he suffered, and Australian War Memorial records form the basis of my understanding. I am convinced that Grandpa experienced life-long trauma as a result of his years in World War One. However, rather than seek help for this distress or share his burdens, he remained stoically silent. He removed himself from the people who cared about him and sought solace alone. Perhaps, he felt his absence was better for everyone. Afterall, how could they possibly understand what he had been through? His choices took a toll on his family, who found it difficult to run their small, subsistence farm during his absences.
I have also wondered what help there might have been, in 1918, for a shell-shocked, half blind country man who returned to rural Queensland and tried to resume a normal life.
I suspect, the answer is very little help was available at all. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Grandpa to feel so disconnected from a life that once seemed comfortable and safe.
That’s one reason I am a passionate advocate for talking about our experiences and feelings. No matter the reason for distress, stress or depression, connection with others in friendship and support offers a lifeline that can be more healing than is imagined.
I love seeing men talking together, just doing ‘boy-stuff’ and hanging out. I love hearing their relaxed laughter. I love watching women catching up for a coffee and a chat as they animatedly share the stories of their lives. This communication opens hearts, heals minds and keeps us connected to our humanity. Being a listener who doesn’t judge or try to fix a problem, might be the very best gift you can offer someone in need.
I hope that the Easter holiday period finds you well in every way – if not, please reach out to someone who cares, or contact a professional who can assist you.
If you would like to stay connected with me to receive positive tips for life each morning, feel welcome to join my free Facebook group “Your Intuitive Gifts At Work.” Here is a direct link where you can join my group https://www.facebook.com/groups/yourintuitivegiftsatwork
Until next time.