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

A dream is a wish your heart makes.

When having lost a loved one it’s hard to accept their absence in every form. But how do you prepare for their presence in your dreams where it’s a reality to spend time with the dead?

I’ve mentioned in previous posts how close me and my mum were and when you have someone like that in your life their absence is felt profoundly. I didn’t fully accept her death, in fact even now 10 months on I still don’t. The only way I can describe it is this; I know she’s not here at the moment but I’m waiting for the day when she comes back, I just don’t know when that is. So in the meantime I take each day as it comes, I accept she won’t come back on that day but contemplating anything more than this is just insurmountable. I suppose thinking and feeling like this is partly what enables me to continue living my life. If you read about the stages of grief, you’d probably say I was still in denial. I’m not for labelling and I don’t wholly agree with the stages, I find them vague and unhelpful but that’s just my opinion. I wouldn’t say I was in denial, I very much know she has died, visiting her at the funeral home made sure of that and if she wasn’t dead nothing would have kept her away from her granddaughter. It’s just I am able to better understand her absence in these terms, its how I have come to process the void she left behind.

After being without her for several weeks and very slowly developing my own way of understanding , I slept for the first time. Prior to this I hadn’t slept more than 15 minutes at any one time, I wouldn’t even say it was sleep more unconsciousness to which I would suddenly jolt awake and remember what had happened. I used to watch my iPad in bed because I couldn’t stand the silence, I needed noise, I would fall unconscious, jolt awake and have to rewind the film or program back to where I was. I think it took me a whole week to watch Monsters University ( Disney and Pixar films were a safe bet), my husband can’t stand the film now he’s seen it that many times. So I slept and I dreamt, I dreamt of her, my mum. There she was in front of me again, she looked normal, she looked as she always had and like nothing had happened. I’ll never forget this dream.

 

When I woke up the next morning what shocked me most was not reality rushing in, was not that she wasn’t here, but that I felt better for having seen her and spent time with her. Despite it only being a dream, I genuinely felt that I had been with her like always and I didn’t miss her as much because I’d had contact with her. Almost like I’d had a little fix after being without for so long. I’ve read about spirits apparently appearing in our dreams is really them visiting us and I’m sceptible about such things, I’m a girl that needs concrete evidence. I didn’t expect to feel happy because the reality remained the same, but I was in a way. Now this is what gets me about grief, you never know what’s coming next, you never know where it will take you or how you’re going to react. You also never know when but when it hits you got to take it and ride it out. I thought if I ever dreamt about her I would be crippled with despair and it would set me back for days, weeks even ( remember I was pregnant and probably at my most vulnerable). I was actually worried about dreaming about her because I thought this is what I would have to face, like losing her all over again. I’ve had a range of dreams with my mum in them, some of them upsetting, some of them nondescript, but every time I’ve seen her I’ve always felt a little better.

I suppose the point of this post is to show that there’s no right or wrong way to feel when grieving, rather it’s a case of accepting and embracing your feelings for they are yours and yours alone. If you are supporting someone who is grieving for a loved one also accept and acknowledge their feelings, try not to pass comment with your own opinion( unless asked) and approach with empathy not sympathy. Those who are grieving are not looking for sympathy believe me and share you’re own feelings about their loved one. Grieving is a lonely business so it’s nice to know that we’re not in it alone. 

I don’t dream about my mum all the time and I have a variety of dreams including trying to save her, dreams where she has come back as if nothings happened and dreams where she is just there. But despite the type of dream I always feel happy to have been with her even if it is only in my imagination. After all that’s how we live forever isn’t it, in the minds and hearts of loved ones.

pink decor with quote
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