There are some excellent resources out there for struggling to come to terms with a loss. I want to say that up front, but what you’re about to read isn’t that. Rather, it’s a blurry compilation of thoughts, and quite raw ones. But I’m hoping that what follows is of use to some of you out there.
Because I want to talk about grief. Gutteral, ripping your heart out grief, and trying to find a way through it.
As I think a few of you know, I lost my mum recently. It’s all still very raw for me. Even writing this piece, I can feel my insides lurching, and I know another good ugly cry isn’t too far away. I’m good with that. I don’t think ugly crying is a bad thing. If you were behind me on the M5 as I bawled my eyes out the other day, with no catalyst whatsoever, now you know why.
What I’ve been taken aback by, though, has been the kindness of people around me. In particular, those sharing their thoughts and support on losing a parent. I’ve found it one of those surreal points in life where there’s not a single piece of advice I’ve been given that I’ve not taken something from. Not that I’ve followed it necessarily, more it’s set me thinking.
Here are a few of the things that people have said to me, and I want to pass them onto you. Hopefully, some of this is of use.
Be nice to yourself
With grief, I’ve found, comes a shortening of temper, and an increase in self-criticism. Of wishing I was better (I’m not fishing here, just trying to be utterly candid). But as someone wrote to me the other day, when she was told to be nice to herself in the aftermath of a sudden death, she thought it odd. Months later, she sees it as an amazing piece of advice that really helped her.
Obvious, really, but some of us tend to bottle things up. We’ve covered crying a lot in Geeks Vs Loneliness, and we remain resolute that it’s a Very Good Thing. Human beings are absolutely supposed to cry. Our bodies have this function for a reason. Cry as much as you need to cry. Cry randomly. Let it out. It’s absolutely okay to be sad.
Things Will Change
An obvious, perhaps, but something to accept. The way I reconcile this is that life changes around us a lot. Nothing stays the same. Things have to change. It’s no fun sometimes, but change isn’t something that can be fought. If we didn’t change, we’d all still be trying to wag off school to play computer games. Oh, hang on…
I’m terrible at this, but I have to acknowledge it, as I know the advice is right. People around you want to help you. People want to support you. As best as you can, let them. This is what human beings generally do, and the chances are, you’ve done it for someone else.
Everybody does things differently
On the day I lost my mum, I expected to be screaming the place down all day, and beating the floor. I wasn’t like that, and I felt awful for not being like that. The time just before had made me wish her a peaceful end, and it was a relief that she got something close to that. I was and am hurting, and in many ways I’m broken. But I’m aware that my grief isn’t manifesting itself in a templated way. As I’ve discovered from talking to people around me, that’s because there isn’t a template. Things hit at different times. People get upset and grieve in different ways. Some cry. Some go silent. Some hit things head on. Some try and find space. There’s no right answer to this. Grief is a very personal thing, and different people do things in different ways. Absolutely right, too. The only thing I’d add is that at some point, you have to move forward. But that can take time.
This is surmountable
This is one of the earliest things I read, on a post from a friend of mine earlier this year, who’d just lost his mum. I knew of my own mum’s illness and where that was going to lead at this time, and those words really hit me. That grief is surmountable. That however hard, however brutal it may feel and is, the world is surrounded by people who have found some way through it. Sure, damage is taken. But it is surmountable.
I hope so. I’m at the stage where it doesn’t always feel so. But I’ve learned these past weeks that human beings – contrary to what you may read around the internet – are fundamentally good.
Huge hugs to you all. And I do recommend reading the resources at the brilliant Cruse.