They say grief is always harder when significant events hit. Festivals, holidays, birthdays, babies…weddings. With 14 years of navigating grief experience I’ve had a mixed experience of this. Some anniversaries of deaths have hit hard and some birthdays have been blissful. Guilt seeps in and then dissipates back out.
As we grow, our grief grows too. Not necessarily in mass, but in learning. Development. Without making its process sound like a job specification, grief has its journey too. Does it have a life span? That’s individual. Does it have a destination? I’d say the same for that, too.
In my personal experience I’ve ranged from calling it ‘beautiful’ to ‘drowning and all consuming’ to ‘enlightening’ to ‘sickening’. It often plays tricks on you. Or perhaps they’re not tricks but just small spells of soothing stages. For example, there’s been many time’s I’ve felt I’d made peace with my grief, only to be struck down by it in a lightening strike shortly after. This doesn’t mean I didn’t have any peace with it. I need to cherish and hold on to that. I guess it’s all part of the human experience to dip in and out, go up and down, circle and swirl and not have a fixed state as such. Something I’m learning in my job from others around me, their wisdom and differing views on the definition of mental health and life experience.
Recently I felt like you only just died. I had the same sensations of devastation, anger, sadness and pain. I thought, how can this be happening when it’s over 14 years old. Until I reflected on the above. Those who haven’t been bereaved by someone so close (and even us who judge ourselves myself included) may not be able to identify. They may assume you should be ‘moved on’ to a specific point by now…or with hope, they have an open mind.
My mum is my guiding light and sadly, with every second that passes, memories begin to fade. Sometimes the opposite happens and new ones materialise from nowhere or derived from subtle triggers. In one way and in one positive, it means I get to reinvent my mum. However I want her. Wherever and whenever I need her. Imagining her reaction and advice. Pretending she’d have all the answers. Recently I was reminded this wouldn’t necessarily be the case. I don’t mind. I have that luxury of imagination to use. If my heart is broken from the reality, the least I can embrace is that much.
I’m very lucky I have a handful of people around me who encourage me to be open, to share, who want to know about mum. Who will say her name. Who will keep her alive. Who won’t mind the tears and accept them as a normal emotion.
Many won’t want to talk about their grief and that’s okay. It’s individual and we all have the right to ours.