It has been nearly four months since my Ma took her last breath. I haven’t written about it at all but then I thought why not? Why is our culture so scared and silent on death and grief? When I was caring for Ma I was reassured by many that sharing our journey really helped others so I kept blogging about it. But, I’m still on this journey, which of course means others are as well, or one day will be.
So in the hope that sharing will help others not to feel alone, here is what I have learnt so far. This isn’t going to be warm and fuzzy, and I don’t want it to be a Debbie Downer either, but a honest account.
It gets harder, not easier. You will hear lots of times that ‘it gets easier’ and ‘time heals all wounds’, but this isn’t the truth. The pain and longing remains. I have spoken to some dear friends who have lost loved ones and after ten years tears still fill their eyes when they miss them. This isn’t to say that the initial painful stages of grief last forever. Time does heal this so you are able to function. Flashbacks of unpleasant realities of passing will be fewer. But I’m told some days will be just as fresh as the first. This is kind of weirdly comforting, as it takes the pressure off to ‘get over it’.
Friends will blow you away with their love. Practical and emotional love. They will keep you afloat and in a state of eternal gratitude. They will also be super forgiving when you go underground and get slack with texting back.
Family gatherings will feel weird and incomplete. Your family will become unstuck without the glue and will take a while to stick back together in a new shape. This includes aunties, uncles and cousins. Not that you will stop being close, but there is no denying the lack of mum magic in the air.
Babies and children are the best healers. They keep you busy and create lots of heart melt moments.
You won’t be that fun to be around for a bit. I went through a real bitchy, negative stage. Here is my public apology for putting up with this! I don’t like this side of me but it is a way for the anger to seep out. You will also be jealous of every single person that has a mum helping them out with the kids. Not jealous in a malicious way, just envious because you know how good it is and wish it still was.
You will go and see a psychic. Well I did anyway. It was quite comforting.
Kids see dead people. Hopefully not in The Sixth Sense way, but in a comforting way. My son kept saying he saw my mum, especially in his bedroom. He didn’t seem scared, just happy and very matter of fact about it. Smiling, pointing and saying ‘Jilli there’.
Your sleep will be affected. Panadol helps. You will also feel really tired even if you have rested. My therapist (yep I see one, no shame in my game) assures this is a natural part of grief and to keep the basics up – eat well, exercise and don’t be too hard on yourself.
You will be happy. You will laugh, the great memories will make you smile. I know I have a really, really, really great life, it just sucks that a big part of it isn’t around.
You will get busy living. Nothing like watching your best friend die to give perspective. It is a gift in the loss, and you will start to go for what you really want in life, and focus on what really matters.
What have you learnt through the loss of a loved one? Why do you think our culture shuns death while others seem more comfortable with it?