Second Birthday Without You…What’s changed?

This month marks my Mums second anniversary Birthday. Last year I wrote about a year of firsts, but will this year be any different?

I haven’t written on my blog for quite some time now. What with the demands of family life, an ever increasing destructive toddler to chase and the end of my maternity leave and return to work, it is safe to say that I’ve had my hands pretty full. But that isn’t the only reason I haven’t written anything……

Before Christmas last year I found myself in unfamiliar territory. For the first time I noticed that my mum and her death wasn’t the only topic consuming my waking hours and my heart no longer panged at the thought of her. For so long, the opposite of this had been my reality. I had grown used to the majority of the time being preoccupied with the loss of my mother and the way in which she left this earth. My heart, although full of love for my daughter and continuing to grow with love every day, the painful pangs of grief still rendered me breathless and caused my heart to constrict with sadness.

And yet…here I was. I will be totally honest and say I freaked out. I kept asking myself “what does this mean?” and the conclusion I came to, which was predominantly born out of fear, was that I no longer missed my Mum. The horror that the woman who was the love of my life was now out of sight out of mind as they say, I think destroyed more that her physical loss. What was happening to me?

This shook my foundations and I no longer knew my grief. Once again it was an adversary that I had never met, but the biggest thing was that it made me question who I was a person. I placed a lot of credit on my pain as a symbol of my continued love and memory for my mum, without this pain I felt like i had not only lost my Mum physically but I was losing her from my heart. I was a terrible person.

My heart was the only place that she lived on.

As you can imagine, I needed some time to process this shift before I could begin to share it which is why I have been absent for so long.

But after allowing myself the space to understand my emotions and thoughts and to process them rationally, I have come to understand that this does not mean what I initially thought and the guilt I felt was unjust.

For so long I had lived with the pain and loss that we all experience when we lose a loved one. What I didn’t realise was that I had actually accepted that this was to be my reality for the rest of my life and I became ok with that. I even placed relevance on those feelings in that it meat that she was still part of my everyday reality and for that I was grateful. I needed that pain. What I also didn’t realise was that I not only needed the pain but I expected it. And that is where the problem lay.

Without knowing, I had placed an expectation on what I should feel like now I had lost my mum. This became detrimental because when my grief and feelings inevitably changed, I was unprepared, caught off guard and resorted to fear and panic to “cope”.

I felt that by living my life internally for the first time was the same as abandoning her and committing her to my history, to reside in my past alone.

Of course this is not the case and with hindsight and some rational adjustment I can see that this will never be the case. I believe the reason I came to these conclusions was because I was no longer grieving the way I thought I should. Grief is a journey, it is a path which is completely subjective, it can not be planned, it can not be avoided and it can not be hurried. Grief is a passage which must be travelled and experienced as you find it.

Once I stopped expecting to feel a certain way and I stopped trying to analyse the whys and wherefores, things became a lot easier to manage.

As humans we have to know everything don’t we. We have to know the whys: why do we feel this, or why do we feel that, where does it come from, what is the reason. But for man6y of us, and especially when talking about grief, there is no why. Either that or the why is not really that important. Knowing the reason for something doesn’t always change the outcome and rather than focusing our energies on the whys we should spend abit more time focusing on the feels. Accepting you current emotional state for what it is can sometimes be the antidote you need.

As with everyone and such is life, the ever present pain and overwhelming realisation that my Mum had died began to retreat. i began to feel ‘normal’ again, like my old self . I started to have hope, to look forward to the future and most importantly of all, I actually believed I had a future.

And what did I do to kick off this shift?

NOTHING

I didn’t purposefully do anything. It came out of nowhere, but I do believe my grief changed because of these 3 things:

1) I never tried to avoid, bury or ignore my grief. I embraced it and recognised that it was a part of who I had become.

2) I talked. I talked to my Mum, my husband and my family and friends. Having that safe outlet to pour my head into I believe helped me dramatically for without it I fear I would have been overcrowded by thoughts and feelings and well who knows the alternate future that may have been if I didn’t have this option.

3) Time. As with everything, nothing is permanent. Just like the weather, it won’t always rain but we have to wait it out. We’re unable to sustain one emotional sate indefinitely so it is inevitable that my grief would be no different. And I am sure that it will continue to do so for the rest of my life, sometimes positively and other times not so much.

Now I have allowed myself a period of adjustment I am ok with the change in my thoughts and feelings about my mums death and I can see a future that’s exciting. I am living my life on the inside now as well as the outside.

I still think of her, I still miss her and my gosh do I still love her and would do anything to squish her beautiful face again. She will forever be a part of my life regardless, it’s just now I am ok to keep going without her.

Big loves xxx

Dear Mum

The post I didn’t want to write but knew I would.


Here we are, or rather here I am, one year to the day since you died. It’s taken me a year to say that word. Before I could never say it purely because I didn’t want to. Who wants to say that their mum is dead? So I avoided it for as long as possible but today is the day I can’t ignore it.

For me it’s another day without you. The 365th day without you to be exact and it is the same as every other day without you; lonely, heart gripping and scary.

I never thought I would be sat here writing about living without you for a whole year but at the same time I also knew I would write to you today.

It’s strange because on the one hand it feels like you have been gone so much longer than a year and on the other it feels like no time has passed at all. I think about you everyday and I often wonder what would have happened if I had have been there this day last year. I often wonder whether I could have saved you. If not then I could have been there to hold your hand, comfort you and hold you the way you held me when you brought me into this world. I know you’d be telling me not to think like that and to concentrate on my own life but I will always feel that I let you down, that I wasn’t there at the only time you ever really needed me. I wasn’t there.

I hate that I don’t know where you are. That was one thing I could always guarantee was that you were always by my side or at least a phone call away. Now there is just silence. Now I’m not so sure where you are.

When you left you took a lot of me with you. I didn’t just lose a Mum, I lost a best friend, a true love, security, belonging, identity, my home and above all my trust. I don’t trust life anymore Mum. For a long time I struggled to find purpose to life.

Things have changed though Mum. I can smile and laugh again and actually feel it. A lot of that is down to Lady P, who you would just absolutely adore. I will never understand why it is you both could not meet and I know how devastated you would have been to have left before meeting her. But she has brought me back to life.

Everybody has been amazing this last year. I am so blessed to have the family and friends I do. You have no idea how loved and missed you are. You always thought that you weren’t that important, well I’ve got news for you gorgeous, you were and you still are. The only reason they are so good to me is because of you.

I suppose if this was to be a real conversation between us the one thing I would say to you is thank you. We never got to say goodbye. Our last conversation was the day before on my way home from work about everyday things. I didn’t get the opportunity to tell you some home truths so I’m telling you now and hope that you somehow know.

Thank you for always being selfless. You always put me first and gave me the opportunities in life that you didn’t have. I never realised just how much you sacrificed for me and I am eternally grateful to you.

I get it. Being a Mum now I completely understand your love for me and see your love in a new light. I get how I made you feel, why you did the things you did and said the things you did, I get it all. As you would say “welcome to my world”.

You got it right. Everything you did as a Mum was right and you did it well. Doubting myself as a Mum has shown me that every Mum experiences this and I realised I never told you that you were a great parent and you didn’t ever need to doubt yourself.

I’m also sorry, for so many things:

Sorry for not being there.

Sorry for not coming to see you at home when you died to say goodbye.

Sorry for all the times I put myself first.

Sorry for not noticing that you weren’t yourself.

Sorry for not knowing you had gone.

Sorry for not making the most of the time we had together.

And my biggest sorry is not holding you that bit longer the last time we saw each other and telling you that I loved you.

I didn’t want this to be a letter of apology but I am so sorry for a lot things. Your death has taught me about what truly matters in life; love and family.

So I love my daughter as a reflection of the love I had from you. I laugh with a heart born of a woman who was always laughing.

You are my Mum and that is something not even death can take away from me.

First Birthday Without You

Another first has come around after the passing of a loved one. How do you celebrate a loved ones birthday when they are no longer here?

Happy Birthday Mum

Yesterday was my mums first birthday without her, another first reached, and she would have been 60 years old this year, a big one! One thing that struck me most when I first lost her was why could other people have their mums until they were 60 but my mum couldn’t even make it to 60?I felt such intense jealousy of those women and as awful as this sounds ,I would look at people older than my mum and ask why are you still here and she’s not?

Yesterday was a strange day. Friends and family had been asking me all week whether I wanted to do anything to mark the occasion, whether I wanted to be around people or left alone or whether I wanted to just let the day pass. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I certainly didn’t know how I should celebrate or mourn the day, I couldn’t make a decision. I actually felt quite pressured to do something and was worried if I didn’t that people would think I didn’t care. I tried to channel my mum and ask “ what would she want me to do” but I came up blank. I don’t know what she would have wanted me to do because we never ever talked about the prospect that one day we would be permanently separated. I suppose we did what we all do and surpress our own mortality believeing that we will live forever and it will never happen to us. My mum dying had always been my biggest fear and yet at the same time I never really believed it would happen, that was in part what was so shocking of her passing.

I decided that the best way for me to celebrate the day was to spend the day with my husband and daughter and take it as it came. I never know how I’m going to feel on these anniversary days and rather than put pressure on myself to act a certain way, I would rather just see how I felt and act accordingly. I am so lucky in that I have the most amazing husband to love and support me, if I’d have said “on my mums birthday I want to sit and scream” he’d have said “ok whatever you need”. I didn’t want to sit and scream thankfully, I just wanted to do as we do on any Sunday; walk our first baby ( our fur baby), have lunch at a pub and sit on the couch for the afternoon eating chocolate and playing with our second daughter (human baby). And that’s exactly what we did. We also bought some flowers to plant if I was feeling up to it as my mum loved her garden but the weather had other ideas for us on this one. My mum passing taught me more than anything to love those who you have now while you can and that’s what I chose to do on her birthday.

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die”-Thomas Campbell

There were a couple of points in the day were the tears fell but that’s ok it was to be expected. I’ve learned to embrace my grief because where there is grief there is love. At the end of the day I sat with my husband and openly cried, I felt so guilty for having not made a big fuss of her birthday. I started to think I should have done a big party or I should have done some huge commemorative gesture and that the fact that I didn’t do those things must mean that I’ve forgotten her. I have days like these were I panic grieve I call it, were I get it into my head that I should be doing things a certain way or feeling a certain way and that if I’m not means I’ve forgotten her and I don’t love her. My husband always brings me back to the earth and helps me realise that there is no right or wrong way to grieving, there’s no right or wrong way to celebrating any anniversary firsts and that the fact I remember my mum everyday is what really matters. I am my mum in so many ways and as I long as I live she does to.

So Mum Happy Birthday wherever you are.

Xxx

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