I’m sometimes a bit wary of talking about and writing about my grief because I don’t want anyone to assume I am a miserable, weeping, obsessed grieving mother who can’t function. I am a happy person and I love to laugh but grief has been tough, it has been life changing.
It has been 10 years since my baby son died and those early days were as tough as it could get – raw, desperate and emotional but there was still love and some laughter. I worked and looked after my other children but I struggled to plan and look ahead because life was very much day to day. For me, raw grief was about not being in control, it was about not being able to control my emotions, it was about being desperate to cling on to something, for it to end. Grief is lonely and isolating, it is scary and painful and overwhelming, it is about yearning and sadness. Part of me died the day my son died and that will never heal but learning to live with it has been crucial.
Everyone’s experience of loss and grief is different, for me it led to depression and anxiety and It lasted so much longer than I ever expected it to. Grief is a constant companion, just sitting in the background because I will always miss my child but it is rarely raw now, it is something I live with. Anniversaries are hard, Christmas is painful, sometimes I can talk about him without tears, at other times, tears will fall and any other times of raw grief are fairly fleeting. But it has taken me years and some good therapy to learn to live well with the trauma and grief – and that’s the thing, it is about accepting it and living with it rather than getting over it. There is no getting over such a huge loss but it is possible to live life again.
When we are grieving, life can look and feel different – what once mattered, no longer does, which is why we can feel lonely, even when surrounded by people who care. And we don’t do loss and grief well in our culture – no one knows what to say, we are avoided and there is an expectation that we will get over it. All of that can just make it worse.
- I have kept busy – I have kept myself focused on my other children, especially when they were younger and I also focused on work, which has been a life saver now that I have teenagers who don’t need me as much.
- Letting myself grieve
- Writing to get my feelings out, to feel less alone and to make sense of how I am feeling
- Therapy to talk through my grief, my trauma and my anxiety. This gave me skills to deal with my grief when it felt overwhelming and crippling
- Being able to talk about and mention Jamie – it means he was here and that he mattered and it validates my feelings of loss, making me feel less alone
- Asking me how I am
What didn’t help…
- Being told about someone else’s loss
- Being told it happened for a reason
- Being told I would get over it
- Being told to stop crying
- Being avoided
- Expecting my grief to be over quickly
- Trying to ignore it
Grief demands that we are kind to ourselves and it demands to be heard. The intensity of grief lessens with time but parts of it will last for a lifetime so finding how you live with it can be crucial to living life again.