We all handle grief in our own way, and dealing with losing a loved one is not the same for everyone.
I’ve written previously about how mum and I shared a wonderful connection in her later years, once I’d moved out of home. It was very hard to imagine life without her in it on a daily basis.
I want to share with you a few ways in which I was able to get through losing the most important woman in my life. If you’re experiencing the loss of a significant person in your life, I hope these suggestions help to bring you comfort.
- Take each day as it comes.
I remember coming home from the funeral thinking I need to call Mum and tell her what a great day it was celebrating her life. Well I couldn’t call her, but I did think of her nearly every day for quite a long time. Fortunately, life keeps you busy but you do have those moments that the emotions overwhelm you. Lean into those times and release those emotions. No point suppressing them.
- A wonderfully supportive friend (or friends) can also assist during these times.
One of my best friends was always there for me, checking on me while Mum was sick and after she died, seeing how I was each day. That’s a great support knowing someone is keeping their eyes on you making sure you don’t fall. Be honest with them, don’t hide your emotions.
- If you have a friend going through something, be this person for them.
Check on them daily even if it’s a little SMS to make sure they’re ok. Speaking from someone on the receiving end this was a god send.
- The help of a good counsellor can also help.
I thought I was okay at the time of my Mum’s death but over the years at different times, I have found different counsellors have helped me. Years after mum passed, I found myself seeking help with a holistic counsellor. I had some unresolved “mother-daughter” issues that I needed to work through that finally raised their head. What I found most amazing with these sessions was some role playing. So, I’d sit on a chair & talk to my Mum… raising some issue and then I’d swap seats and answer as her. It was really powerful and emotional but in the end, it’s no surprise that you can actually answer from their perspective as your parents are part of you!
- It’s amazing that grief can span years so don’t be surprised if you think you’re okay and years later it strikes again.
Be prepared that it might hit you at some future time. I felt a tremendous amount of grief and sadness on my first birthday after my Dad had passed away as neither of my parents were around. I was on holiday and was in a funk. I couldn’t explain it but I just wanted to be on my own. Whilst walking on the beach and reflecting and thinking of my parents I realised what it was. No one that had known me my whole life, except my brother, was around any longer. I was able to work through this and take comfort in the family I still had. I thought about what I had, not what I was missing. Being grateful and positive helped turn this around but I had to work through this funk!
- The other thing that helped me was at times releasing the emotions in a journal.
Any way that works for you to release your emotions is what is right for you. I’ve found also writing a letter to the person that’s passed can help with any unresolved issues. I am a natural writer, maybe you’d prefer to talk to them out loud. I talk to my Mum at the cemetery out loud (when no one is around) or alternatively I talk to her in my head at times too, not just at the cemetery. I like to keep her up to date with my life’s happenings.
- Talk about the person that’s gone.
It’s amazing how wonderful it is to talk about them even though they’re not here. Remember all the amazing times and funny stories that made them who they were. For us, Mum would always somehow take things home from various places, a coaster, ashtray, napkin so we used to refer to her as “light fingers Barb”, so whenever we were out after she passed we would joke about what Mum would take home if she was here. It’s good to keep their memory and their personality alive. Makes you feel good having that memory.
- I believe that people’s spirits are around us at different times and in different forms after they’ve gone.
Everyone has different beliefs but this works for me. For some reason, when I see butterflies I think of my Mum. I don’t remember when this came about or how it came to be, but I feel happy when I see butterflies and I think of Mum. I now share this with my 4-year-old daughter who never got to meet her beautiful grandma, but when she sees butterflies she thinks of her grandma. How special is that for her? And to think that my mum knows she’s being thought of whenever Hannah or I see a butterfly is kind of mystical and magical.
- Finally, tread slowly and be kind and gentle to yourself.
You will always miss your Mum (or other loved one) but know she’s with you every step of the way as she is part of you.
Fortunately, I have been able to use the strategies above to get through almost 14 years without Mum. I have been through a lot of significant things over those years; a separation, divorce, finding love again, getting remarried, getting pregnant and having my daughter amongst a number of other things.
All of those times I would have given anything to share them with Mum. I guess I’ve been able to accept that she’s no longer here in person, but in other ways she was with me every step of the way. I know her and what she would do or say, so I know in some ways she’s guiding me on this journey called life.
Each day comes and goes, and you deny yourself joy and happiness if you can’t let a little light into your days. Your loved one would want you to be happy.
That was always my Mum’s wish for me.
Don’t let the shadows of yesterday spoil the sunshine of tomorrow – Nandina Morris