15 April 2011

The universality of grief.

"It's easy enough to plan jobs, to plan a lot of work. That's effective. But that's the weird thing about grief. You can't prepare for it. You think you're gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work. "It hits you in the middle of the night -- well, it hits me in the middle of the night. I'm out walking. I'm feeling quite content. And it's like suddenly, boom. It's like you've just done that in your chest."

I came across an interview recently where Liam Neeson was talking about the loss of his wife, the feelings that come from grief, and the quote above expresses it so well.  For those who have lost someone close, a loved one, a relative or friend, I am sure that they will relate to those feelings.  The fact that you cannot prepare for grief. 

The fact that so many think you can just "get over it", but it is so far from the reality.  But the one thing I related to most is how it hits, often in the middle of the night and even though you can be feeling quite content, that these feelings of grief, of loss and of pain can hit you so unexpectedly and with such a force it can really knock you sideways.  There are so many things that are universal with grief.

It has been like this for me the past couple of weeks, it is approaching the two year anniversary of the death of my Mum. Someone who was a huge, HUGE part of my life, of my mini man's life.  And whose passing has left such an incredible void, and one that is felt in so many ways, in simple ways.  But definitely one that is felt all of the time, of course in different ways, different strengths, but felt just the same.

Growing up, I don't think you ever think about losing your parents, about how it may feel. You seem to have this vision that they will go on forever.  I know I felt that way, I never for a second thought that we would lose my Mum so early, I never even imagined losing her.

She was 61.

Things happened oh so quickly, all during a space of a couple of months of the diagnosis of lung cancer, to it being terminal, to her having just two weeks to live, to not even making it to those 2 weeks.

Her last words to us echo in my mind. 

She knew that the day was going to be her last.  Those looking after her knew.  But even though you know that time is coming, it  still isn't enough time, you never want that time to come and there seems so many things to say and do and yet there isn't enough time to do all of those things.  I am glad that I ws able to tell her how much I love her.  I am glad that she was able to tell me the same.  But so many things left unsaid, but saying them seemed to make it a reality that we weren't quite ready, able or willing to accept or face. 

The words that we did share will remain with me forever. The times that we shared, the things that we did, the wonderful memories that I have, will remain with me forever.

Seeing her take her last breath before she finally left this earth stays with me as if it were yesterday, and while it may be 2 years it all does feel so very recent. 

And this is where grief is one of those strange things, that you can be fine at times, but others it knocks you for six.  Yet there is so much about grief which is universal, so much of losing someone which many people will relate, and this is why when I read the article about Liam Neeson and the loss of his wife, I related to those words, those feelings.

It has been a difficult couple of weeks, Mothers Day (in the UK) a couple of weeks ago, is one of those days which brings mixed feelings, those that come with being a Mum myself, of my mini man wanting it to be a special day, mixed with those feelings of loss and grief, that someone who was a very big part of my life is no longer here.  Placing flowers on her grave just brings it home even more.

I will always be thankful of the things that we shared, the incredible moments in life which I am thankful that she was there.  She brought us up as a single parent, she made so many sacrifices (and as a parent I understand exactly how that works!), she was there at my graduation, she was there the day my mini man was bought into the world.  So many special times in life and she was there by my side. 

Grief can be so difficult at times, things can sail along peacefully and gently and then it hits you out of nowhere, kind of like a freak storm.  For me, it is the reason I haven't been able to really "blog" or write, it is one of the reasons why I have hit a bit of a block recently.  Although, writing can be something that can help a person work through feelings of grief, that it can be a place to share thoughts, feelings, struggles and pain, memories and anything else that may come our way.  To me, this time. It has stopped me from writing.

And in the words of Voltaire.

 "Tears are the silent language of grief."

And it is a language so many people will understand, a language which many people will relate, a language which will be shared by those who have suffered a loss, who have mourned, who have grieved, who feel the strengths of grief that at times can just make us stop.

Make us think.

Make us reflect. 

I am thankful that I have so many special memories, so many things that we have shared.  I have a letter written by my Mum before she died which said things that she still didn't get chance to say before she died.  Even though we knew the time was pending, that there was so much to say, some things still left unsaid because saying them bought about a finality to it all.

People say "time heals", and you can get so fed up of the cliche's that people come out with at such times, I don't believe time does heal.  It is what we do with that time that allows us heal, to grieve.  If we do not do anything with passing time, if we do not allow ourselves to grieve, to mourn, then we do not release those feelings, we do not heal. 

I know that I am allowing the time to heal. The things that I do enable that grieving and healing.  While we may heal or grieve, it doesn't take away the feelings of loss, there isn't anything that can fill the void that someone's passing leaves.  Instead the memories of the times shared fill that void, and while we have those memories, we will always have the person with us.

It just never is, nor can it ever be the same.  I'm glad I have the memories. I just wish that I didn't need to. I just wish that the memories were still in the making.

My Mum. My best friend.
How lucky I am to have known a love so deep
that it will leave a scar on my heart forever.
My heart is your home ~ you will live there forever.


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