When a loved one is lost and no longer present, how do you keep their memory alive?
If you’d have said to me before I got pregnant that my mum wouldn’t be there to meet my daughter there’s no way I would have believed you. Nothing was going to stop that woman from being with her granddaughter, she would have torn every brick down of my house to be with her.
I can say my mum loved my daughter before me.
Except she would be stopped from being with her by the only thing that could and that is the hardest part of losing her.
Losing my mum at the time when I probably needed her the most has been the worst experience of my life, but what torments me is not about me ,it’s about her and my daughter.
I know how devastated my mum would be to have left me at this time. She would have been so angry not to have been here to look after me and help me navigate motherhood but more so, to not meet her granddaughter and watch her grow up would have destroyed her. Family was everything to her. It is this which has caused me the most anguish. I hurt more for her and what she has lost rather than what I have lost. I hurt more for the fact that my daughter had already lost a significant figure in her life before she was even born and didn’t even get to love her the way I know she would have. They say you can’t miss something you never had- I miss the future my mum and daughter never got to have.
That we didn’t get to say goodbye and that they didn’t even get to say hello is excruciating.
So now we have a job that I never thought we would have. It is our job to make sure that my daughter knows her nanny and here are some of the ways we’re doing that.
Wish upon a star.
My cousins bought my daughter the most amazing gift, they named a star after my mum. Now we have a physical point in which we can look to and talk to together and every night we look up and say goodnight to nanny. It’s hard with not having a specific place to visit to be able to spend time with my mum, but having a star provides us with this and what better way to make sure she is always with us than being the brightest star in the sky.
You are here with us.
We didn’t know that my mum was going to die, there was no warning, no inclining, no ‘feeling’ that something was wrong,nothing. She was 59, plenty of time to be had to talk about funerals and what she would have wanted, or so we thought. Obviously it didn’t work out that way and we were left with not a clue as to what she would have wanted. I know she never wanted to die that’s for sure. We as a family did what we thought she would want but there was one thing I absolutely knew with certainty she would want and that was to be at home with us. And so she was cremated and now sits pride of place in the centre of my living room, spending everyday with us just as she had spent most of her life with us.
You are everywhere.
We have a feature wall in our house and it reaches to the top of the stairs. It is filled with pictures of our family and friends as well as few special pieces that hold a place in our heart. We have included pictures of my mum of course because I don’t want to keep her in a photo album, I want her face where I can see it everyday just as I used to, I want to look up and be able to see her smile., I want my daughter to be as familiar with her face as she is mine. Just because she is no longer here physically doesn’t mean that my daughter will not know her. I show her the pictures now and tell her who she is and how much she loved her and couldn’t wait to meet her. And when she gets older I will show her the videos I have on my phone of me and my mum having fun because my daughter has the right to know her nanny whichever way she can.
This was a tough one for me. We hadn’t really started the nursery before my mum died, in fact we hadn’t really started buying much for my daughter at that point and the day before my died she had bought my daughter some bits. These were to be the only things she would buy her but they were the first things she had been bought, that my mum had been the one to do this makes it so special. After she died I was unable to even contemplate the idea of having a baby and I shut myself of from the practicalities of preparing for her birth. My husband was absolutely amazing, he took care of everything, he even packed the hospital bag with what me and the baby would need and he got it spot on. He decorated and furnished the nursery but it broke my heart that my mum wouldn’t get to see it finished. So what my husband did was he put bits from my mums house in my daughters room. He used the curtains from my mums bedroom and used plaques from her house as curtain tie backs. This was a way in which my mum could be a part in finishing the nursery and my daughter has parts of my mums finishing touches with her.
There will be many more ways as my daughter gets older that we as a family will include and remember my mum, making sure she remains a part of daily family life as she would have been were she still here and celebrating the special occasions. For me having reminders of her and parts of her around the house allows me to feel like she is still here, that she has in some way got to be a part of our new family life and to be with my daughter. I completely understand those who choose not to do this and that’s ok. With grief you have to do what feels right for you and not what you think you should do. I openly talk about my mum and encourage anyone who didn’t know her to ask me about her. Those who did know her I ask them to share their memories of her as I get to know more about the woman I love more than life.
This way and through some of the things I’ve mentioned, is how I keep my mum in the present and how my daughter will know her nanny.