It’s taken me a few months to find the courage and strength to write this post. The subject of it – is also the reason I’ve not written a blog post for a while.
I lost my beautiful mum a few months ago and the finality of her death (she had been sick for some time, but nothing prepares you for the end) and the day of her funeral shook me beyond belief.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about being ‘public’ with my experience of grief … and honestly, up until now I wasn’t even capable of expressing how I felt. I was the opposite of numb – everything felt heightened, personal, raw and painful.
But hopefully my honesty and openness will help someone else who reads this and is in need of some reassurance.
” The death of any loved parent is an incalculable, lasting blow. Because no one ever loves you again like that” (Brenda Ueland).
I have felt a range of emotions (sometimes all in one day) that, have at times, been so overwhelming, I have barely been able to breathe.
Pain, anger (sooooo much anger), anxiety, unbearable sadness, fear (my mum died of Alzheimers AND a brain tumour), aching, nausea, screaming, sobbing, exhaustion and fatigue… to name a few.
When I got the phone call to say mum had passed, I was in the house alone and I let out a scream so primal – like no noise I had ever heard or made. This was my mother, my beautiful mother, who was so special, there are barely words created to describe how wonderful she was. Any of my friends who read this and knew her, understand what I mean. Her energy was extraordinary and her kindness unparalleled. This is no exaggeration. I have never met anyone else like her in my life. She put everyone before herself.
My mum was an extraordinary woman who lived an ordinary life.
Having been through the personal pain of being told you have a brain tumour, need surgery and the fear (and guilt) of leaving my daughter behind was very different to losing my mum. Because it was me who was ill, I felt more in control and acceptance came with tools I developed and strategies I created. This was different. I had no control.
The day of my mum’s funeral will haunt me forever. I have to be very honest. There was no peace for me – even though I knew mum was in a better place as her suffering was awful and her quality of life eroded to nothing. I wanted peace for her more than anything – but her service and burial just made me feel empty.
For the next two months my body just fell to pieces. The shockwaves the emotional pain sent through to my physical body were immense. Pain became normal. I lost my ‘mojo’ completely and felt really lost. Because I am normally such an upbeat person, I became quite scared to go out and encounter people on bad days.
Not many people in my life will have known how bad this was. I hide it well and I’m an expert at putting on a brave face. I know people ‘expect this from me’. My threshold for pain is extremely high (constantly told this by doctors and surgeons !) and I’m very resilient as a result of my lived experience. Of course this is good, (and why it is my passion to help others find ways to be more resilient) but I’ve had days on end of feeling broken, hurt and in constant, severe physical pain.
Being one of those ‘strong’ people can also be a little soul destroying at times. People often assume you don’t need the compassion that those with less resilience need. Thats pretty heart-breaking really and I’ve cried alone a lot about that over the last 10 years.
Statements like ‘be strong’, ‘you’ll be fine cos you’re the strongest person I know’, ‘be brave for everyone around you’, ‘you need to stay in control’ – I just have to mention how much these sting… and hurt.
My best friend and soul sister, Jenny was my guiding light through this. Having lost her own mum she gave me the best advice. ” You deal with this the way you need to darling. Scream, cry, sob, ignore everyone, be on your own, don’t be on your own, be angry, be sad, be numb, run 20 miles, curl up in a ball – do whatever you need to do”. This gave me that “safe space’ to escape to.
I’ve felt so much love and support from friends (even strangers!) and from my beautiful daughter – I’m so very lucky and supported like this. I’ve also encountered some incredibly hurtful comments from family and people associated with my family – which were so difficult to cope with in those first few weeks. I’m learning (through my wonderful friend and business partner Noelle) to approach these situations better now – and give these comments and these people NO energy.
Chinese acupuncture has been an amazing healer for me. The GP on the other hand an absolute disgrace!
Serious digestive problems, unbearable gut pain, hormone issues, joint pain, terrible lower back problems, headaches, constant insomnia – just a few of the issues I’ve had. But I’m feeling so much better now and my mojo is back.
Grief doesn’t come with a cure – with a magic pill, a 6 week transformation programme or any kind of charted journey for that matter. It is different for everyone and everyone’s journey is theirs to chart.
I’m still working my way through these stages of grief – some days I just cry and my best advice is just to let those happen. Whilst the sadness will never subside, the anger has and I’m very pleased for this, as that was causing my body an enormous amount of physical pain and stress I think. I am much stronger now and more in control of my emotions, so sharing this now felt like it would have more resonance.
I surround myself with good people and I’ve engaged in some important self-care tools – walks by the ocean, guided meditation, reading and cooking nourishing, warm food that feeds the soul.
I am trying to focus on beautiful memories of mum and talk about her with people that loved and cherished her … which is pretty much everyone that ever met her. But some days those memories make me want to sob – and thats ok too. I’m just letting the emotions be real and honest and not suppressing them in any way. If someone says something hurtful I’m not ready to deal with – I walk away and keep them out of my life. If they cannot accept my terms for grieving, I don’t need them in my life.
I know this is a very ‘serious’ post , without the humour I normally attach to my writing – but I am a very, very long way from ever applying humour to this particular event in my life. I hope you understand this.
My reason for sharing is just that. I know that sharing is a tool that has helped me cope.
So if I can help one other person – going through something similar to me when they read this – then it has been worthwhile.