I think it’s fair to say that I’ve dealt with a good percentage of loss and grief over the last five years. However, it’s not something that I publicise on a regular basis. Only friends on Facebook are subjected to reminiscing photos and heartfelt words when certain birthdays/days and holidays come round. My loses are something that defines who I am as a woman/mother/wife. They’ve made me who I am today. On a deeper level – I came out of the other side when some might not have.
It’s a subject I touched upon in this post at the beginning of the year, however, I’ll explain a little deeper now, in a hope that it may help anyone else with loss and grief.
My Loss and Grief. The Beginning.
I lost my mum to lung cancer two days after her birthday in April 2012. She’s fought a good fight for three years. it was three years longer than what the doctor had originally given her, so I’m forever grateful for that. That being said, the last six months were tough. Those last few days of her existence were beyond pretty and brain snapshots of her have taken a few years to be banked/locked and sealed. Seeing someone you love, that gave birth to you, that loved you unconditionally, that has been there through everything with you dying in front of you is utterly heart and life-shattering. There’s no pretty way to put it. She passed away during the night, with my dad waking me to say she’d ‘gone’. We cried a lot. But in all honesty, I was glad it was over. That she wasn’t in pain anymore. She’d fought a good battle, however, there was never going to be a happy ending. Only the ending of her life and the happiness that she was free.
My dad, having had heart issues for years, passed away on Christmas Day 2012. Although heart issues being common knowledge to him, me and the family, it was a shock, to say the least. A phone call at 11 pm, having left him and his brother who was staying at the house only four hours previously, I was not expecting. I remember arriving at the house and running up the drive into the house just shouting and wailing no. How and why was this happening to me again? I’m no doctor, so I cannot medically comment, however I know my mums/his wife passing was her don him. My dad was also pretty ‘old school’ and a tad lost and behind with some of the world around him. Having angina, he was also poor on his feet, not really moving further than around the house. Though up until this year, he had been perfectly able to make his way to the pub round the corner each evening at 10 pm for a few beers! I feel the stress over those six months may of contributed to his passing.
In March 2013 I gave birth to my first son. It wasn’t an easy labour, resulting in an emergency c-section, but our little boy was fine and healthy. As any new mother will know, those first few weeks/months/year can be tough. You’re dealing with a change to your lifestyle – less/lack of sleep/new routine/no work/sofa bund due to c-section, a change to you – your body/self-perception and also the realisation that you have a mini human. That they’re relying on you to feed and nurture them. To guide them. No matter where you go – bed/the toilet/to the shops they’re there. Watching. That alone is a lot to take in and accept. Added to that that I had lost my dad three months previously and my mum nearly a year ago. That we had just moved back into my family home to take it over and had been getting work done to it before the baby arrived. That we were still dealing with and tying up loose ends to sorting dad’s estate and paperwork out. I didn’t stop.
More recently, late last year, I lost my uncle/godparent and second closest thing to a dad I had, to a heart attack. He was and will always be a major part of my life. Being a close friend of my parents, he’s been with me since day one and I have many fond childhood memories growing up and until this point of staying with him and my auntie at their home in the Lake District. He was such a kind man. Always with a smile on his face. No one had a bad word to say about him. He’ll be forever loved and missed by us all. This was again, completely out of the blue. Not living close, I made the three-hour journey to be with my auntie immediately after she called me. The drive was long and not one I really remember. I was in a state of shock. Especially having only heard from him the previous day. I spent a few days with my auntie, consuming myself in tasks and things that needed to be done, as I had done with my mum and dad. It wasn’t until the drive home, an hour away to be exact, that it all hit me. I got home, quite emotional and had my first panic attack.
My thoughts and self help.
I took myself to the doctors in late 2013, being sure I had depression down to my loss and grief. Knowing that I just wasn’t right. I was told it sounded like I did, along with PND and was given a prescription for antidepressants. I remember getting in the car and tearing it up. I hate taking tablets at the best of times, but there was no way that I was going to get drugged up. I’d do this myself – I signed myself up to a newly formed Buggy Bootcamp, with 7 new mums like me and the rest is history, as they say. I did a full year of Bootcamps and have remained friends with the ladies, with our group growing as second babies have arrived for a few of them. They’ve been a great support over the years, with all our new baby woes, plus supporting each other through other things too. Not having ay family, parents or brothers or sisters, I’ve relied a lot on them to spend time with.
It’s obviously not been plain sailing for the last four years. There are and will continue to be moments, even daily, where the loss and grief raises its head. Where I wish I had my mum around. Even just to call her and hear her voice. I think with having our boy or a child it can be harder as I hear myself saying ‘grandma used to say..’ or ‘that was grandma’s favourite’ ‘grandma would of loved that’. It also hits me when I see how close and involved friends mums are. A tad of jealously waves through me at times. But this is the way my/our life is now.
I remember always thinking or even saying when I was younger ‘I hope I don’t turn into my mother’. However now, through not trying, it can be uncanny how much I am and more so, how happy it makes me. My mum had so many fantastic traits, many I could only dream of being – however, I don’t need to dream or try and COPY – I am my mums’ daughter and she lives son within me. My mum was a much loved local journalist. Something I knew I’d never be as a child/teenager/young adult as words/English was never my strong subject – but look at me now. This is not something I got into to replicate/please my late mother, this came a year before her passing.
After losing my uncle last year, a little lightbulb went off in my head. Regardless of my past loss and grief – I realised we are not immune. What I’ve been through is serious. It could of and can have a serious effect on my mental and physical (heart) health. I need to accept/learn and change how I live. Live to be aware of possible stresses and situations and how to deal with them. To know when to step away. To always know that regardless of what I’ve lost, I have people that love me. I need to love myself.
People say they don’t know how I got through it all and I agree. I really don’t either. However, maybe I’m selfish for a good reason, not bad. Maybe my thoughts that the isn’t going to get me down, that I have a small human that needs me kept me afloat. I don’t know.
Loss and grief, and depression, especially the loss of anyone within your life, however close, can have an effect on you. Like me, you may not feel it at the time, but it’ll catch up with you, but also, more importantly, to remember is that it’ll always be within you. There’ll always be a life moment/a song/a car/a place that takes you back to them. That’s OK. Your loss and grief, depression may define who you are now – but it doesn’t need to consume your life. This is your life and you have to live it for you. Not for them, or how you think they’d want you to live it – surely they’d want you to be healthy and happy. As a mother, that’s all I’d ask.
I hope another thing that can be taken from this is the common misconception that everyone has a perfect life. I’ve seen a saying recently that is along the lines of that you have no idea about someone’s past/what they’re going through now/or their future, so be kind.