Hello everyone! While this might not be the most happy-go-lucky post you have ever read, with it being the time of my 21st Birthday and Christmas, I’ve been feeling the absence of mum more than usual. I wanted to write about grief, how to cope with losing a parent and what it’s like ‘moving on’ in the future in the hopes that it might help some of you. While I’ve been wanting to write about it for a while, when I came across this post, I knew the format I wanted to write it in and so this post is completely inspired by the one from the Beyond website (if the link isn’t showing for you, just click on ‘this post’ and it should take you there). I wish I had this kind of thing to read when I first lost mum to know that things might actually be okay and that grief can hit people in all sorts of ways. There is no right way to deal with the loss of a parent or someone you love and there can be a multitude of things you will have to deal with, but I hope this post can give some comfort for any of you who have lost a parent.
|Mum, Steph and me|
1. At first, you’re not going to know what to do
With this, I think it’s super important to remember that no-one knows what to do in this kind of situation, because (hopefully), you’ve never had to deal with this before. When mum first passed away everything seemed like a blur and I can barely remember what happened for the first month after it happened apart from her funeral (or ‘celebration of her life’ as we called it). It’s completely okay to not know how to handle it. All you can do is just try to not fight what you’re feeling and to do one little positive thing every day if you can, even if that’s just getting out of bed and getting dressed in the morning.
2. You’re going to feel overwhelmed
And this is completely natural. With me, I felt so overwhelmed that my defence mechanisms kicked in and my brain was like ‘nope, you’re not dealing with that’ and so I pushed my feelings down for years. As most of you know, these feelings ended up presenting themselves in different ways such as anxiety, depression and my chronic syndromes. If you feel yourself putting on a front or acting much more positive than you actually feel, please, please stop yourself. I know it is horrible to miss them and to feel the overwhelming sadness but from experience I know that to face it there and then is so much better than bottling it all up. It is going to feel unbelievably crap, but dealing with grief from the get-go is so much better than putting it off for years. Talk to your friends, family and a grief counsellor if you can- I promise it will get better.
3. You will see them everywhere
Even now I still see mum everywhere I go. I see her when I see the car she used to drive, when one of her favourite songs come on the radio, when I see some jewellery or bits and bobs she would’ve loved and even sometimes for a split-second thinking someone in the street is her. It’s hard and at first it’s even harder. I couldn’t listen to 1940’s songs for ages as she used to be in a 1940’s singing group and I couldn’t watch anything that would remind me of her. I tried to avoid every little thing that would remind me of her and to be honest, I think this is completely natural. I think it would be weird if you were completely fine facing these things just after they had passed, so just remember it is completely okay and one day you will be able to remember her fondly through these things. Now, I can smell her perfume and smile, I can wear her jumper and feel protected and I can (most days) look at photos and think of what a wonderful woman she was.
4. Special Occasions will never be the same without them
This is one I still struggle with. It was my 21st birthday a few weeks ago and I missed her terribly. Mum always made birthdays so special and I always felt like some kind of princess but it’s not the same anymore. Dad, Steph, Will and my loved ones do their best which I am so grateful for and I still had a lovely day, but I really wish mum could’ve been there. It’s the same with every other Birthday, Christmas, Easter and Father’s day. One day I’ll also be getting married, graduating from university and having kids and she won’t be around to see. It breaks my heart but all we can hope is that they’re looking down on us and that they are with us in our hearts wherever we go (as cheesy as that may sound, it’s true x).
5. Their Birthday, Mother/Father’s Day and their Anniversary of Passing are going to suck
This is probably a given but it’s important to brace yourself for when they come round. I used to think bracing myself meant that I had to be sad for about two weeks before and two weeks after the date but now I know that I just need to be mindful that the date is coming up and I might not be on top form. Even now, 4 years on, I don’t plan anything for the 27th January (her birthday), Mother’s Day or June 11th (the day she passed away) as I know I might be a mess. I’m also wary that it might hit me the day before or (usually with me) the day after so I just let those I have plans with know I might need to cancel. I think it’s also important to not pretend you’re going to be fine. I used to do this and ended up having an explosion of feels for a whole week after and it just wasn’t good. Be gentle with yourself, spend time with your closest ones and just get through the day the best you can.
6. You’re going to want people to fill their place
I didn’t realise I was doing this until I had grief counselling. Mum was such a big part of my life and when she passed I became a lot closer to my wonderful dad who I think to a certain extent I expected to fill her place. I also began dating Will about one or two years after and so I think subconsciously I thought that the pair of them would be able to fill that void I felt. This left me feeling disappointed and getting angry which was not a healthy route to go down. My grief counsellor helped me realise that no-one will ever be able to feel that space. They were so important to you and unique in their own right and no combination of people will ever be able to make up for them not being here, as hard as that is to admit. I think the most important thing to do is to just appreciate those around you for who they are. They might not be your mum/dad/loved one, but they are still amazing in their own way and they’ll be the ones who are there for you when you need them the most. Hold them close and talk to them if you ever feel lost or lonely- they might even be feeling the same way
7. You might feel guilty for some reason
This is one I felt for a very long time. During mum’s final days I was doing my GCSE’s and because I was so scared of the situation, I spent a lot of time in my room revising as a way of escaping the situation. After she was gone I felt this guilt that I had let her down and that I should’ve spent more time with her than I did. I was so scared to talk about this to anyone in case they thought I was a awful person but during my grief counselling this year it came out and I was told that this was completely normal. I ended up talking to my dad about it and he said that mum knew I was terrified and that was why I was in my room. He said (and I remembered) that she had told me to go and do my work so I could do as well as I could and set myself in good steed for sixth form, and that she didn’t want me to fail my GCSE’s because of her. She was such a selfless woman like that. Once I had talked about my guilt and thought about it for a few weeks, it slowly went away and now I can confidently say that mum wouldn’t have been and isn’t upset with me. She would be proud that I got my A’s and B’s and that I was able to move to a sixth form where I really thrived Whatever it is you may feel guilty about, I really encourage you to talk about it. It’s going to be hard but shame likes to be kept buried and as soon as you expose it, it somehow kind of dies. Talk to those around you who love you and talk to them about your guilt- they will want to help you and as my mumma always said, ‘things are better out than in’.
8. You might need some professional help
Another one which you should feel no shame about. I was convinced when mum passed away that I would need no professional help and that I would somehow be able to muddle through life with the support of those around me. While those around me are completely amazing, they aren’t a professional psychotherapist, counsellor or doctor and as I didn’t talk to anyone really, this is when my anxiety and depression reared their ugly heads and things got bad. I was so against grief counselling (again, probably as a defence mechanism and just not wanting to deal with the pain) that I figured out once I had dealt with my anxiety and depression, I would be fine. After 3 rounds of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and starting on antidepressants, things still didn’t seem to be getting any better and I ended up dropping out of uni as things got so bad. As I had tried every option and I had quite a bit of free time, my dad finally was able to persuade me to start grief counselling and what a life-changing difference it has made. I feel like myself before we even knew mum was ill and while life definitely isn’t perfect, my anxiety and depression is so so much better. So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you feel like you need to talk someone who is away from the situation or you feel your mental health is suffering, visit your doctor or get in touch with a grief counsellor because it may just save you a lot of negative feelings and experiences in the future. You’re not alone in this and there is help out there x
9. It’s going to be hard if/when the other parent moves on
This is one I’ve experienced recently and is why my fibromyalgia has been worse than usual. Dad met up with his very first girlfriend up in Scotland after around 25 years for the first time a few months back and after another trip to Scotland to stay with her, a week or so later he sat me down and told me that they had started a relationship. At first I pretended (and even kid myself) that I was completely fine but around a week later I had the worst fibro pain I’ve ever experienced and it became apparent to both dad and I that I wasn’t fine. I felt so guilty because I wanted to be 100% happy for him but I was just so angry and upset at the situation. So, I got back in touch with my grief counsellor and had a couple fo sessions just to get my head straight and say everything I was feeling out loud. She really helped and said it is completely natural. I now know that I just need to take things at my own pace and meet her when I’m ready. Dad had put no pressure on me to meet her which is amazing of him and hopefully in a few months I’ll be in a better place with the idea and be able to completely support him. If/when this happens to you, it’s totally okay to be upset and angry. Even if the person coming into your family doesn’t want to replace your lost loved one in any way, it might still feel like they are and to be angry about this is okay. Give yourself time and meet them only when you’re ready.
10. Life in general will be different
To think that life will be the same after they’re gone is just not realistic, as much as you wish it could be. They won’t be there to give the support they once did, to do things for you or to go out with you and accepting this is really really hard. I used to absolutely love shopping days with my mum and at first I tried to do this with friends but of course it isn’t the same. When you lose a parent you do grow up maybe a little quicker than you intended and you might have to be a bit more independent all of sudden. For me, my dad’s a pilot and so he was away and I was in the house by myself a lot more than I ever had been before. I found it really tough and life was definitely different, so whatever situation you’re in I think it’s important to note that things will be different. It doesn’t all have to be negative change though, I had grown into a much more understanding and compassionate person from losing mum and I really hope that one day I can help people on the daily. Things will be different but I can promise you that time really is the best healer and that things do get better.
I hope this helped a couple of you in some way, and if you ever need to chat, you know where to find me.
All my love to all of you as always,
|love you always mum x|