I’m sitting here writing this blog post after having felt a sudden wave of emotion this morning. A wave that hit me like a ton of bricks, completely unexpectedly. Today marks my Mum‘s birthday. She would have been 62 today, and it’s been 12 and a half years since she passed away, so you’d think it’d be a lot easier now. Well, some things get easier as time goes on, but of course there’s also a lot that never really leaves you.
Grief is a strange thing, and a lonely place. You never know when it’s going to creep up on you. What caused it to rise up today? I was feeling perfectly fine this morning when I woke up. I watched an episode of Lucifer with Chris over breakfast, and then my Nan called me, earlier than normal. Earlier than she normally ever would. She seemed okay, and we had a little chat. She asked me how I was, and remembered that I had a day off today, stating that she had a good memory. She asked me what I was doing, and I said to her that I was going to be having a quiet day, a leisurely morning, not sure of what I was going to do for the rest of the day. She then said, “I just wanted to give you a call, to say happy birthday”, at which point I jumped in and said that it’s not my birthday today, but she carried on and said, “I know, I know it’s not your birthday, but it’s your Mum‘s birthday today” and there it hit me. I was aware that it was coming up, and had been for the past couple of weeks. Something that my mind occasionally got drawn to, but I hadn’t once thought about it this morning – it hadn’t clicked yet. I hadn’t acknowledged the date on my phone, so it hadn’t twigged yet that it was Mum‘s birthday today.
My Nan has dementia, and there are days when she gets very confused, but the past couple of days she’s been really good, and it was just so sweet for her for her to ring me like she did. I wasn’t expecting it because she doesn’t usually do that, so it took me quite by surprise. I got off the call and tears started filling my eyes, quite unexpectedly. I just got this huge wave of emotion, and I can feel it as I’m writing this now, the heaviness on my chest. I can’t even pinpoint what it is exactly that’s making me sad, as I haven’t been upset on her birthday in years. It just comes by without any prior knowledge or expectation. Grief creeps up on you from the shadows, you don’t always expect it. You could be having the happiest, greatest day of your life, and suddenly something will trigger that emotion, whether you’re aware of it or not. I’ve been triggered by all sorts of things… Films, music, photos, all sorts. You could be eating a particular food, and out of the blue a sudden rush of emotion suddenly hits you, maybe because that was their favourite food, or a memory came to mind because what you’re eating reminded you of a memorable occasion with your loved one, and all you will want to do is cry.
If you’ve never lost someone close to you, you may have a hard time of understanding this or getting where I’m coming from, but for those who have lost people, especially those closest to them, I would imagine you know how I feel in some way or another, what I’m talking about. Now, we’re talking 12 years on from my mum‘s death, and still it hits me like nothing else does. Not all the time, of course. Only sometimes, every now and again. It’s got better over the years, you know. It’s never easy, but when you lose someone, specifically a parent, who is supposed to be with you for 60 or even 70 years, to lose them so early on at 16, and for their life to be cut so short, it’s really hard to deal with. Maybe it’s because I lost her so young at such a difficult age, and that I’m an only child, that I found it particularly difficult. I don’t know. I mean it’s difficult for everyone, so don’t think that I’m putting any loss down, because I’m really not. However, I lost her at such a poignant time in my life, and of course it made me grow up a hell of a lot. It made me think differently about things.
Along my grieving journey my anxiety grew. Through my teenage years I was going to be experiencing things that I’d never experienced before, and achieve things that would give me such pride, and I didn’t have my mum to talk to about them. She met my first boyfriend once before she died. We hadn’t been going out for very long so it was quite new, and a fleeting visit. I was 16 and had a lot of exploring to do I suppose. A lot of life to find out about, and a lot of experiences to go through which, normally, if the situation was different, I would have talked to her about and asked for advice from her. So of course it was difficult and there are parts of me that probably revert back to my child like state because I experienced such emotion at a young age.
This year will have seen so many people losing family and friends close to them because of Covid, along with all the other ‘normal’ tragic reasons peoples’ lives are cut short. There will be millions of people across the world who are going through grief at the moment… Millions and millions, and we all grieve in different ways. Everyone is different. Some people cry, some people don’t, some people shout and scream, and some people keep quiet, not saying a word about it because it’s too painful. When the time is right you will find your way through the process. Sometimes it takes years, sometimes it takes months, most of the time it never really leaves you fully (sad but true.) They say time heals everything, and I do think that’s true.
If you’re going through the grieving process at the moment please be kind to yourself. Even if it’s a few months or 10 years down the line, if you need to cry then let that out. Don’t bottle it up, share your sadness, because from personal experience I can tell you that it only makes it worse if you don’t. Talk about things with your friends and your family, ask questions about your lost loved one, remind yourself of the happy times you had with that person. Remind yourself of they’re amazing qualities. If you lost a parent, see parts of them in you. I would say don’t let them be forgotten, but they never will be. Don’t push the memory down just so that the pain goes away, because it will resurface. It will eat you up.
Please know that there will be people that are there for you, who will listen. Even if it’s not friends and family, but a supportive organisation who are there to speak to when you’re dealing with grief. There will always be someone to talk to, share your experience with and get the support that you need. For a short time at uni I had counselling. It wasn’t for very long, maybe a year, maybe not. I can’t even remember clearly, but I can’t tell you how much I cried through those sessions. It was needed. As I said, I didn’t do it for long, and in all honesty I think I should’ve done it for longer but we learn as we go, and I didn’t give myself enough time or investment at that point to go through it again. A lot of reasoning for that was to do with the anxiety that came with it as well. I’ve only recently spoken more about the pain that I’ve held over the past 12 years, and I hope that this will be a turning point on my healing journey. Sometimes I can talk about my mum without getting too upset, but sometimes I can’t. Of course it still hurts. I guess the pain is more manageable now, and speaking about it, and speaking about her helps as well. Another time I will share further about my honest pain, but for now I want you to know that you won’t be the only one feeling like you do, and I know how you feel.
Appologies if this has been a ramble, but please know that I genuinely am here if anyone needs to speak to someone, because sometimes speaking to a stranger is actually easier than speaking to people that you know. Especially one that has experienced something similar to you.
I am here for you.
With love and support.
P.s. Here are a few bereavement support organisations:
Cruse Bereavement Care: www.cruse.org.uk | 0808 808 1677 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
The Good Grief Trust: thegoodgrieftrust.org
At A Loss: ataloss.org – the UK’s signposting website for the bereaved.