Grief is love.
Losing someone you love whatever their relationship to you is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things to ever go through.
It’s not the easiest of subjects to ever write about but there seems to have been a lot of people around me experiencing this right now and so I thought I’d share with you the loss that I’ve been through, how I dealt with it and how it’s shaped me.
I always think losing someone around Christmas and New Year must be exceptionally hard as usually the beginning of the year is filled with promise of new and positive things but often life just doesn’t unfold like that and we need suddenly to find a way forward in a situation that seems impossible to cope with.
Losing someone whether it be a family member or friend is an incredibly difficult thing to process and can often feel very surreal. The first few weeks can be especially daunting as you can’t imagine surviving until the end of the day let alone the month.
Grieving is a very personal thing and different for everyone it seems. My first real encounter with grief was when I was sixteen years’ old, we lived in a fairly big house and rented out a room to a young girl, she was eighteen years old at the time and went to our local university. Her name was Sue, she was a twin and her sister was at another university only a few miles away. We became very close and I remember thinking she was the coolest thing ever. She introduced me to football (which I loved for many years afterwards and can still be persuaded when in the right mood…) and we used to sit and talk for hours on her bed about nothing in particular. After living with us for nearly a year, Sue died suddenly within twenty four hours of getting ill, of meningitis. She was admitted to hospital during the night whilst I was in bed sleeping, my mum and dad accompanying her whilst neighbours sat with us and her own parents were on their way to her, although I don’t recall much of this.
Looking back now I think as this was the first time I had ever had to confront mortality, I was in utter shock for probably months afterwards. As a teenager, I struggled to comprehend it all and became very withdrawn, low and scared of my own mortality. I couldn’t talk about it or cry about it. It took two years, a house move, lots of tlc from my family and a few brilliant sessions with a grief counsellor much further down the line, to sort me out. I got there in the end and promised myself I would never hold tears in again. If I needed to cry I bloody well would. No matter where I was or who I was with, it was better out than in.
As much as this time in my life was very difficult, if I hadn’t been through it then I don’t know how I would have survived the death of my mum that was to follow some years later, when I reached the age of thirty.
I was incredibly close to my mum, she was the most wonderful, beautiful and caring woman. We laughed, we shared stories, so many things that I can’t put into words, we were the best of friends. I never thought I would survive without her in my life.
After mum died from her battle with cancer, I did temporarily lose faith in everything. Grief for me was feeling utter heartbreak and trying to make sense of the world again without her in it. As it turns out, it really is only time that can help with this. I made it my mission to cry whenever I needed to, whether that be at home or at work, or in the supermarket I would often disappear to the loo to have a good cry. This alone I think helped me immensely.
I never wanted people to feel sorry for me as I have always felt utterly privileged to have had her as my mum until the age of thirty. I will always be eternally grateful that I reached adulthood with her by my side. She had a huge influence on my life and who I have become today. There will always be a little piece of me that holds onto the feeling that she let me (and my sisters) go, so we could fly.
Loss has made me a life crammer
Undoubtedly. Losing mum has most certainly made me a life crammer. I want to do everything!
Well, maybe not jump out of an aeroplane but I just don’t think my life ‘to do list’ will ever get any shorter! I’ve always tended to want to have a go at it all and being highly conscious of the fact we don’t have forever isn’t a bad thing I don’t think. I am keen to put arguments to bed quickly and am generally good at moving forwards if something doesn’t go to plan. I embrace change and am excited by new opportunities and meeting new people.
When you lose someone, after time, whether that be weeks or months or even years, you can feel like you’re suddenly not allowed to grieve anymore. It's like you should be ‘over it’ and that people just don’t want to listen to your woes anymore.
Well here’s the thing , the real people in your life that care about you will only want you to do what you need to do to make yourself feel better. If that’s cry and scream over a cup of tea with a good friend then that’s what you need to do. My mum died nine years ago now and I still have days when I wail like a banshee with friends and family about the fact she’s not here to see her grandchildren or pop around for a chat and a hug.
I seem to gravitate towards women especially that have lost their mothers. I have two or three very close friends that have lost their mothers early on in life. It’s a great thing to be able to have some solidarity in that. Firstly, you don’t feel so hard done by that you’re the only one, secondly you have people that absolutely understand how you feel.
The reason I wrote this post
I guess ultimately my reason for writing this post is that I wanted to reassure for those in doubt, that there will be a break in the clouds. Nine years down the line and even though the loss is still hugely felt, time allows you to manage your feelings in a different way and you are able to be positive and strong again. Be kind to yourself and put in place whatever you are able to get you through the most difficult days. Surround yourself with people that care about you and want the best for you.
As this very famous lady said
‘Grief is the price we pay for love’- Queen Elizabeth II.
And none of us wants to go through life not loving.