The 9-year anniversary of losing my mum is soon approaching, people who know me or knew my mum are probably reading this and thinking wow where has this time gone, it only seems like yesterday. l learned and matured so much when losing my mum at the age of 15. July 2010 the sun was shining as we started our day, eating breakfast while waiting for mum to drop us to school, this was the moment our lives got turned upside down. To say we were shocked would be putting it lightly, something so sudden and unexpected makes things that little more difficult to come to terms with.
I will remember the day that changed mine and my family’s life’s forever, however rather than dwelling on what happened I would like to share a few things I have learned from processing the death of a parent for anyone else that has been or is currently experiencing what I did.
Grief is complicated
Everyone will at some stage of their life have to face the loss of a parent; I just had to face this a lot earlier than most. My mum passed due to a sudden cardiac arrest, however, we later found out she had rare cancer that affects the heart. Grief is complicated and affects everyone is so many different ways. So, if you are grieving in different ways to family members don’t be concerned it affects us all differently.
At the beginning it can all be very overwhelming, you may stay in denial and anger phases for a while as you don’t want to accept and process the grief. I know in the first few weeks I would be fine and strong the next and then be in floods of tears the next. It’s all a bit of a blur until the funeral is over, this is when the true realisation hit me. Grief can be hard to explain, the emotion is overwhelming, numbing and just a little strange if I’m honest.
I am still grieving 9 years on, every anniversary, birthday or Mother’s Day are just as hard each year and these events never get easier but now I have learned to use these days to celebrate my mum just like everyone else does on Mother’s Day.
It never gets better you just learn how to move forward and deal with what’s happened
Your emotions will be all over the place in the first few weeks even months, every emotion you feel is ok to be feeling and don’t feel you need to explain them. Your processing and dealing with a death that will change you forever, don’t feel guilty for being sad.
I remember feeling ok one minute, angry or sad the next. I would say for the first year waves of emotions would hit, sadness, pain, anger all at unexpected moments. You will have good days where you finally feel happy again then the next you won’t want to even get out of bed, this is all normal.
Grieving never gets easier and you will be grieving for the rest of your lives, however, learning to cope and move forward from this does get better. I have gone on to do so much with my life, my sister has had a baby, we have both moved to new places and I know my mum would be prouder than ever of us both. So, if you’re currently suffering the loss of a parent and feeling like you’re never going to be able to move on from this sadness, remember them for the good times and how much they would want you to enjoy life. After all, you now know how short life can be, so make the most of it and make them proud.
It’s ok to have a down day
Being sad and having a down day is ok. If you want to stay in bed and not talk to anyone every once in a while, this is ok. Crying is healthy and helps you heal.
Your friends are there to support you don’t push them away
Grief can change you and make divides between you and others, however, true friends will support you and stick by you in your lowest days. Friends will understand that your emotions are all over the place in the first few months and just be there for a shoulder to cry on. I am forever grateful for the friends I had around me on that day, that came straight to my side once I was home from the hospital to the friends that attended the funeral and got drunk with me at the wake, to the friends that are still supporting me every Mother’s Day, birthday and anniversary that goes by.
You’re going to need your friends more than ever at this time and I know you will be hurting but don’t turn your anger and hurt towards them, if you need space just tell them if you need more support tell them. However, some people are awkward and aren’t sure how to approach you in your time of need. If this is the case from friends and family, let them know you need them, talk to them, if your putting on a brave face they may just assume you don’t want to talk about it.
I’m glad it’s becoming more normal to talk about how your feeling, there’s nothing worse than bottling your emotions up, if you feel you can’t talk to your friends and family remember there’s many charity’s out there supporting young adults that are grieving.
Grief can cause mental strain
Grief can come in many types of ways, but the strain it can put on you as a teen is tough. A few years on after my mum died I started to get anxious about the most stupid things, if a family member wasn’t answering their phone I would think something had happened to them, when my niece was a baby I wouldn’t be able to watch her eat as I was super paranoid she would choke. I still get these feelings once in a while but nowhere near as frequent as they used to be. It makes sense really losing someone so close to you hurts and you’re scared to lose anyone else, I’m lucky I have friends and family to talk to when I’m feeling anxious.
Don’t feel bad if you feel you can’t talk about this experience, death is never the easiest topic of conversation
In the first year I put on a bit of a hard front, I was always fine and making sure everyone else was ok. I didn’t find it easy to talk about her or her death at all but as time went on talking about my mum became so much easier, it actually makes me smile talking about her because she was the best and so many people have great memories of her. Everyone struggles in their own way so don’t feel bad if you feel you can’t talk, it does get easier.
You get to choose how and when you move forward
I am extremely lucky to have my friends and family’s constant support. Especially my auntie, even though she was dealing with the loss of her sister, her main priority was me, my sister and cousins. Having this support made it easier for me to come to terms with losing someone so close at such a young age.
Everyone grieves in different ways and don’t be ashamed of your down days, if your struggling, talk. Remember your parents will always be proud of you and want you to be happy whether they are dead or alive. So, carry on making them proud and smile at the memory’s you made together.
When I got back from traveling I promised myself I would do a bit more for charity, so on the 30th June, me and my housemate who also lost her mum will be running the Race for Life Bristol 5k.
Both of us will be running in memory of our mums so any donations will be greatly appreciated. Please donate by following the link below: