“A Mum’s hug lasts long after she lets go”
I lost my Mum quite suddenly six months ago today and suffice to say that we’re all struggling quite a lot. It’s hard to describe just how incredible my Mum was – a bundle of energy, confidence and love. She had so many friends because of her way of being able to talk to anyone and everyone. There are so many things that I wish I had asked her or learnt from her but I thought I had all the time in the world.
Grief is a funny thing. When I first returned to work after a couple of weeks off, when people asked how I was, I would reply “surviving but not coping”. I don’t feel I’ve moved on from that really. My sleep was starting to improve in December but then took a step back in January so I feel that I have been running on no sleep for six months. I can’t begin to count the number of nights that I have lain in bed sobbing silently so that I don’t worry anyone.
I’m constantly a ball of mixed emotions. I deliberately haven’t looked up the stages of grief – I didn’t think it would be helpful for me. I have had many moments of anger (quickly flaring) but overall, my main emotion is disbelief. Mum and Dad had been walking 8-10 miles every day right up until mid July. She seemed perfectly fit and healthy, so how could she possibly be taken from us just a month later?
I really don’t think it’s hit me yet. Nor do I want it ever to. How could I possibly cope? Logically, I know that I have lost her but I can’t possibly believe that in my heart. My Dad and sister have both started counselling – I’m not sure that I’m ready yet but it’s certainly something that I am considering. I want to be prepared for when I do have to accept facts.
I think the hardest thing is that absolutely noone knows exactly what I am going through. For my siblings it is different to how it is for me and we will all be feeling different things at times. My parents had been happily married for just shy of 40 years – Mum had been planning what the family would do to celebrate in just a few months time. My Dad is absolutely lost without her. They had both retired early, so for the last year had spent every single day together. I’m grateful for that at least. But it is hard to know how best to be there for him. He recently scattered some of Mum’s ashes but told us that he needed to do that on his own as he had promised Mum that he would. We are a close family so are all here for each other and hope that Dad will continue to be honest with us as to how he is faring. I am so pleased that Dad and I are going travelling soon.
When I try to picture Mum, the two memories that most commonly come to mind are my Mum throwing her head back and laughing or dancing around- she was always the first on the dancefloor at weddings etc. When you’re young, I think everyone just assumes that their Mum is the same as everyone else’s. It is only when you become an adult yourself that you see your Mum for who she really is – her strength, compassion, humour. During London 2012, I took Mum along to watch the volleyball with me and then we went for tea and cakes afterwards. I was a little offended afterwards when Dad told me that she had commented on what good company I was. Now I think that she was appreciating me as the women as I have grown up to become, rather than as her little girl. It has taken me longer to realise how much I admire and love my Mum for who she was rather than just as a mother.
Mum and I were always close. I am the oldest of three and we would all call Mum our best friend. We could tell her absolutely anything. My friends find it hilarious that I phoned Mum before I lost my virginity but that was just the relationship we had. I was chatting away on the phone to her whilst I was at Uni, filling her in on all the gossip, and when I hung up, my housemates couldn’t believe that I would be so open and honest with my Mum. I knew she would always be there for me, even if she didn’t approve of or understand everything that I wanted to do. I hope I made her proud.
For our 21st birthdays, Mum made us all a personalised photo album filled with photos of each of us throughout our lives until then. This is one of my most treasured possessions and has been since I first received it. Now it is so lovely to see the thought that went into it and read her handwriting. Of course there are tears everytime.
You many have noticed that I have not once used the ‘d’ word – I just can’t. For me it sounds too harsh and final.
Things that have helped me to cope are writing a notebook of letters to Mum. I have never gone back and read what I have written and don’t think I ever will. So far, I have written when I have had a bad day or there has been an occasion that Mum would have been at. Hopefully, I will soon be writing to share good times with her. I still have my moments of going about my daily business, seeing something and thinking ‘I must remember to tell Mum that’, then it hits me all over again.
I’m afraid I can’t offer any tips. I think it is about not being too hard on yourself and giving yourself however much time you need, There are times you can predict will be difficult, such as Christmas and birthdays but then things take you by surprise. I couldn’t wait for 2017 to be over but then really struggled with the start of the new year – whatever happens this year, I won’t be seeing Mum.
Today I am in Senegal, on my own. I didn’t think about the date when I booked, then contemplated cancelling when I realised. Perhaps it will be good to be on my own… To have time to think and remember good times. I’ll let you know.
Love always Mum