Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category


In 1971, when I was four years old, my brother died of a congenital heart condition. Writing about this experience has prompted more responses than anything else I’ve ever written or spoken about. Untold and unheard stories appear in comments sections, strangers tell me cross-culturally consistent tales in the soft corners of conference rooms and speak about the siblings they’ve lost and how present the memories of them still are in their minds and hearts.

These stories all have one thing in common: a sense of being forgotten, left out of conversations about the dead, of rituals of mourning, and excluded from the respectful circle that is drawn around the bereaved.

You can read the rest of this article in theconversation here


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In a sea of recovery memoirs, each one more determined than the next to provide a blueprint for how to recover from the unspeakable, Meera Atkinson’s recently released Traumata stands out like a welcome sore thumb.

Meera Atkinson's TraumataIn tight evocative prose, it lays bare the mutually sustaining relationship between trauma and patriarchy and asks us to look at the ways in which patriarchy creates, sustains and feeds voraciously off the pains of those most impacted by misogyny, racism, and capitalism.

you can read the rest of this review here at Eureka Street.

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In one of my early roles as a newly minted Australian helper, I worked as a counsellor with people in law enforcement. On my first day in the job, I set the room up with lights garnered from the store of unused furnishings on the witness-protection floor and waited to see who might come through the door. The biggest part of my job turned out to be talking about such things as: it isn’t dangerous to cry; and accepting death doesn’t mean being happy about it. The people I spoke to were generally receptive to these ideas, they valued knowledge highly, and they knew that when it came to death, there was quite a bit they didn’t know. But it was hard for them to put this learning into practice, because when they took these ideas outside the counselling room, almost no-one else believed in them.

you can read the rest of this article herein Meanjin

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IT’S beginning to look a lot like that time of year when couples fight about their families. The festive season is upon us, with all the high expectations for fun times and sacks of raised hopes of family togetherness. If the prospect of spending holiday time with your partner’s family is about as attractive as shingles, take heart, there are ways to thrive in their difficult territory. I asked one of the best family relationship specialists around, psychologist and best-selling author Harriet Lerner, to help with some tips on how to be your best self under trying festive circumstances.

You can read the rest of the article at news.com.au right here

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d8678d2b3c65270e38531cec24739141Selfish, damaged, cold-hearted, shallow, overeducated and greedy. Women who choose not to have children are often labelled in these ways by everyone from the Pope to their co-workers.

Australian women experience marked social exclusion if they choose to remain childless – and it’s the choice part of the equation that leads to their deviant status. While all childless women experience some exclusion, women who have rejected the traditional ideal of motherhood are at the greatest risk of social disconnection. It is the very act of making a conscious and public choice to reject the role of mother that is overtly or tacitly criticised.


you can read the rest of this article here at the conversation.


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I am in the business of listening. Two days a week I settle into my chair in an act of mundane surrender. For the most part I am here to listen. But sitting like a slowly softening pat of butter will not do nicely. Like trying to meditate, listening is fraught with trivial and pressing distractions. I get carried off by my own concerns, the day-to-day detritus, things I’ve forgotten to do, mistakes it’s too late to repair, my knee that’s hurting again, the flash of the iPad on the desk with a message from my daughter.

Today as you talk, I feel your desperate need for an answer. Can you really leave your ageing mother, your autistic sister, and finally live on your own? I leave you as I weigh up the options on your behalf. Moving into territory that can be none of my business, waylaid from paying you attention by my own fear of your seemingly impossible situation. I must come back to you, to what you’re saying, come back to hearing you. And just as I do, your tongue slips, and instead of saying you’ll finally be able to leave when it’s your wedding day, a tired old family story, you say funeral. And we’re jolted awake, conscious, our eyes meeting, yours large and dark, mine smaller and light, that you’re dying there in that crumbling house caring for ingrates. And your decision comes closer to taking care of itself, finally fuelled by fires that have so far been hidden, unheard.

you can read the rest of this piece here John_William_Waterhouse_-_Thisbe_1909 at Meanjin.

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One of the more common pieces of advice given to new dads is to “learn by doing”. Think too much – as several comments to a recent Guardian piece on fatherhood argued – and you risk prejudicing the father-child relationship with ideology, psychological projections or other cerebral mess.

It’s not terrible advice but it rests on a key assumption: that parents emerge into their role the same way behavioural psychologists see their children, tabula rasa. But parents are not blank slates (nor, arguably, are kids). They inherit ideas, techniques and philosophies of parenting well before any “on the job” training starts.

you can read the rest of this article here at the guardian.

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