04 Dec Grief, at 32
When is there a right time to talk about grief?
Never really. At least that’s the conclusion I have found considering I have let this post sit on the back burner of my brain for quite sometime
Every time I think I will give it a whirl someone I know loses a parent, another friend miscarries a baby or , terminal illness hits a young adult close to mine or my husband’s heart.
Death is everywhere.
Great uplifting start to this post, eh?
So what qualifies me to write about such a topic?
I actually think all and any of us could put thoughts about death and grief on a page.
The position I come from is the fact that I “lost” my daddy the week before my eighth birthday. He was terminally ill and needed a heart transplant.
Added to those cupboards of grief in my complicated and diverse brain is the baby I miscarried the night before my thirteen week scan, the uncle who died suddenly around the time of my A level exams, and the list goes on …
Each of us know of,
in some capacity, whether deeply rooted or on the surface perhaps when a work colleague suffers a loss, how grief feels.
How those questions of why? What if? What the frig is this all about? roam our train of thought when we realise that someone has gone forever.
It’s a process we face and it’s OK to talk about it
Below are some of the common questions and truths I have found and am exploring in my own grief journey
“It gets easier, the pain becomes less”
Now there’s a line you hear often enough.
I do believe it though. And my incredible mother is living proof of it. The pain she said she felt the days and nights after dad passed were grim. She tells of how getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night during the summer of 1991 she would wonder how on earth she would make it through.
My aunty said she thought she would never smile or laugh again.
I thought I would never happily look at someone else’s pregnant belly again.
But somehow, we do. I did, She did and, it can be done.
Nothing, I repeat NOTHING takes the pain of loss away fully. I am testimont to the fact that my grief is more apparent now when I see my brothers business success, or my own children’s characteristics, that I feel grief harder and stronger than ever before. Longing and wishing Dad were here to witness it all and tell us his opinion on the roast dinner cooked by mum.
But if you are in the midst of or right at the start of your own grief journey now, some day you will smile unknowingly again. And the hurt become bearable and days right themselves.
When my uncle died I remember being so sad that the radio still played and the people down the road rode their horses and penned in the sheep. I was eighteen and it dawned on me that the world sadly doesn’t stop when someone in your life dies. That was a bitter pill to swallow in my teenage years. But it seems it’s not out of the ordinary.
It’s a big old world and, sadly death is a huge part of our daily life.
Whether it be our own lives affected or those around us.
It’s ok to cry
Heavens above it sure is! Perhaps it’s that I’m now a mother, or indeed that I’m twenty weeks pregnant. But I cry. I cry for my dad at least three times a week.
I see his favourite loaf of bread at the supermarket and I cry when my mum agrees that he would have loved to see the mayhem of my children wrestling on the carpet.
I cry at Kate Winslet in the movie ‘The Holiday’ ( that was last Friday actually).
Let it out.
Crying is not only therapeutic it is a ritual known to us to physically cope when the body can’t do anything else to deal with hurt.
Cry like you’ve never cried before and embrace those memories of that loved one who your heart is yearning to have beside you right now. You’re allowed to.
Sometimes I think we worry about crying as it maybe shows weakness. No it flipping doesn’t.
You are a warrior championing every day of your grief ridden life tackling the sadness from twenty years ago, or the death of a partner two months ago, and you are Perfectly entitled to let those beautiful tears flow.
There’s no hierarchy in grief
My husband said this to me recently.
Sometimes, embarrassingly and shamefully I get jealous of friends I know who are suffering grief at age 32.
I am not proud of it but from time to time I respond to their sadness with stupid words (into myself ) like “well at least your dad walked you down the aisle”, or, “but no body lives forever, do they?. What do you expect?”
My wise husband ( who writes over here in a slightly more uplifting post about fatherhood) used the above line when I shared my unkind thoughts with him and it stuck with me.
It doesn’t matter when we suffer grief, it doesn’t matter how long we knew the person – our grief is our own.
Our sadness is OUR sadness and we deal with it how we should.
In saying that my mum constantly reminded us (my brother and I ) growing up that it was in some ways easier to process that our daddy died of natural causes and not in a freak accident or a murder scenario. I agree with this. There may not be hierarchy but there are ways in which death is more tragic and complicated and people are left wondering and damaged by the extreme mass of events.
In a nutshell. Live and let live.
In the same way you will torture yourself by thinking how life could have been, you will also torture yourself in comparing your personal grief to that of an others.
You wouldn’t want to be in someone else’s shoes during a school exam if you knew they would flunk it, would you?
Stay out of it. Focus on your own exam.
Grief will shape your life.
Grief will play a role in every decision you make there after the event. And that is to be praised and acknowledged!
I know my life is determined by goal setting and business success and family abundance because of the gap I felt growing up without a father from a very young age.
And I now feel thankful for that.
Perhaps there are times (like my degree show) where I really felt, despite being twenty three years old, that I was on a blind search amidst my grief, yet it still needed to be done. And it’s because of that search and journey that I went on to complete my masters and have my two beautiful boys alongside a loving husband.
You will find people who “get it’
Right now you may feel like no one understands. Nobody gives a Toss about your 3 pm slump after visiting a loved one with Alzheimer’s and, nobody knows what to say to you when they bump into you in the street.
But the more you talk openly the more chances there are of you meeting someone or being introduced to a person who has suffered a similar grief.
And what an Angel they will be.
Understanding, listening, sharing, rooting for you because they feel that deep deep anguish eating your soul. And you will know you are not alone.
Grief puts life into perspective
Again, to drag my husband into this, he would often comment that I am pretty spontaneous and don’t dwell on silly matters too long.
I find that disputable ( especially when you think of that time in 2006 where he didn’t get me a fourth drink from the bar because he felt It was home time… I dwell on that from time to time!!).
However I take his point about me as flattery.
I read an article recently giving advice to young kids who had a lost a parent and one of the things it noted was how kids who have lost a parent don’t overthink and dwell on the fickle things. They know it’s the big stuff that matters like family, living life, travelling and feeling and showing love.
I agree with this.
Although our worlds shatter from the top floor to the very foundations when we suffer at the hands of grief, it serves as a constant steadfast reminder that life is to be lived. It’s short and we keep going.
There are a ton of things I could ramble on and say but all I want is for you to know that it is ok to live in this grief while it lasts.
It is ok to feel lonely and out of your depth. It is ok to get emotional and to seek blame.
But it is equally ok to start to surface for a little while on the other side.
You are not alone although you may feel it and, talking does help. So keep talking and hoping.