It’s been a year since I lost my mum. I still find that turn of phrase a bit odd. It sounds like I’ve casually misplaced her or lost her in the supermarket aisles. My boys use more direct language when they talk about it. You’ve got to love their matter of fact interpretation of the world and its events. Free from social expectations.
Anyway, since my loss the past twelve months have been dominated by looming clouds and swelling seas. Mum was an expert at calming such storms and I miss our chats of guidance every single day. Unfortunately, grief doesn’t come with a navigation system. We have to make our own muddled way through the thick fog.
Here are some of things I’ve learned on my particular way…
Time, so far, is not a healer
Whoever coined this phrase should have quantified that time! After 2 years, maybe 5, or is it 10? Over recent months it’s felt harder than those first days when I was in a haze of disbelief. Now it feels real. The boys’ birthdays hit hard last month then there’s been the challenge of moving, new schools and job searches. Mum was always there to council me and ease my anxiety. Without that I find myself drifting and not able to make decisions. I know she’d be just telling me to pull myself together, get a job and stop twittering. Oh, and the kids will be just fine. I have to remember to channel that and pull from her past advice. So no, so far I feel let down by time but maybe I just need to be more patient.
The world moves on
You may feel like you’re still out there treading water while everyone else is swimming by, with a confident stroke. And rightly so. Life should go on. It just feels unfair at times. People stop asking as much about how things are. That’s fine too. Friends don’t want to upset you by bringing up memories. But losing someone can leave you feeling very lonely. As Sheryl Sandberg writes in her book, Option B, ‘Lots of people tried to assure me “You will get through this,” but what helped me more was when they said they were in this with me’.
You get angry
Sometimes I feel like joining my toddler on the floor, thrashing my limbs about and crying big tears at the unfairness of it all. I expected to feel sad, but I have been more snappy and impatient with family and friends. Resenting the fact that nothing has changed for them. Recently though I’ve started running and have discovered that helps to cool my hotheadedness (much to the relief of the other half).
It’s good to laugh
In order to plough through tricky times laughter is essential. It can make you feel guilty and awkward, but you shouldn’t. Life is about finding humour and moments of joy even in the darkness. When we took mum’s ashes to Ireland, walking through the airport carrying THE bag felt like a sketch from Only Fools And Horses. It was bloomin’ heavy for a start. Then we kept teasing dad about making sure he checked which way the wind was blowing, knowing how clumsy he is. We laughed that day. And drank Guinness and gin. And reminisced. It was bittersweet. Yes, laughter is always a good thing.
A light can shine through
I started this blog almost a year ago. It was something I had been thinking about for ages, but it was one of the many things I never got around to doing. But knowing mum had also wanted to write spurred me on. It’s never going to make me millions but it’s something for me. Difficult times can force us to assess where we are today and make the moves to change or finally do the things we’ve been putting off. That can only be a positive.