Empty

Emptiness I think is the hardest feeling to understand and get through. It leaves you not caring and unable to sympathise. It left me ruthless and unable to deal with friendship dramas in a mature way. I struggled to consider how my words may affect others and after hearing “I don’t get why everyone is going to the funeral, it’s not important” from my so called friend I had a cause to aim my anger and hurt. At a time where bitchiness was an everyday occurrence and other people stirring made problems a million times worse I had my time to reflect what was going on in my life taken from me only to focus it on something else. In the long term I would be thankful for that, thankful that it was such a distraction.

This distraction was only temporary though, with something else to focus on I didn’t process the harsh reality of what was happening, turning my emotions off and only letting them seep through occasionally. This led to me, on the day my mum passed away, comforting my friends who amazingly showed up on my doorstep, poured into my house and engulfed me in a mass hug of tears. I felt overwhelmed with love and happiness the opposite of what I thought was right. I was in a constant state of pushing my emotions away thinking they were wrong, not letting myself grieve the way my body wanted. After they left I decided I wanted to prevent any feelings of sadness or hurt so I focused on organising and helping my dad with all the arrangements. I went with to the undertakers to decide what coffin and helped pick the outfit for my mum to wear. We sat and planned funeral times, the date, music and I made tea while my dad called old friends to tell them what had happened. Constantly distracting myself and giving my mind something better to focus on.  The first week was busy and nonstop meaning I was only alone when in bed. I was coping and proud of myself for all I was doing. It was only at night I’d allow myself to cry, I’d sob till I was exhausted hoping to prevent the nightmares I knew were to come. People deal with difficulties in the life in different ways, my body decides to create dreams that are more real than life itself. Every night they would come and when the morning came I’d wake and for half a minute I’d be ok, thinking she really had just been away on holiday and walked back through the door, big smile on her face. Every morning I’d wake still feeling the way she trapped me in her hugs, protecting me from the harsh reality. The problem with such happiness is that it can’t last and the fall brings you so low it takes the air out your lungs, crushing and bruising your insides, a black hole of grief sucking away the life and hope inside you. I thought I was fine, I thought I was coping and honestly I was, I was just coping in my own way.

People always say just get through the funeral and you will be fine. They have no clue. The funeral is the easy part, you’re allowed to be suffering, people surround you and support you, showing their love and helping celebrate the life of such a wonderful person. Everyone is aware of what is going on, they are saying their own goodbye. The hardest part is the day and weeks after. The build up and planning is done, the hype ended. The reality that this is your new life is so scary. People believe this is their time to give you space, they carry on with their lives the way they were, suddenly expecting you to go back to normal. I felt like reality really hit at this stage, when I felt most alone and struggled to come to terms with what happened. People began to forget and I felt it was not ok to be upset anymore. I had comforted them when they were hurting and now when I needed it I was too late, I had waited too long to realise what was really going on.

Fortunately I never felt alone. I had my dad who was my rock and a friend who had lost her mother to cancer made me feel it was ok to talk about it and hearing her stories and feelings made me realise I was not stupid for being jealous I got less time with my mum than other people because I was so much younger. She taught me that big life events are daunting to go into without your mum by your side but the times you would really struggle are ‘normal’ days. Loneliness would come at random, one day waking up and just wishing when you came downstairs my mum would be sat there reading her book. My friend was right and I am so grateful to her for all she did. We both still suffer and always will but we can talk and share happy memories without the awkwardness that often comes with others who don’t know how to act. Sometimes I feel more sorry for people who haven’t had to deal with major loss, they struggle to understand that talking about the people doesn’t mean we are going to break down, it means that we are sharing the memory of them and helping them live on. I hope I can relate to people who have lost ones they love but I also hope through reading this I can help people who don’t understand to get an idea of how it can sometimes feel. Grief is different for everyone and therefore it is so important to be accepting of the way that person is feeling, no matter how many years it had been, to always make them feel they can come to you and talk about how they feel, memories they have or photos that make them smile. Grief is forever but so is love and that love is so much more powerful and fulfilling.

Advertisements

The C Word

Cancer.

A word that brings shivers to anyone. Everyone has been affected in some way by this dreadful disease. I say ‘disease’ but the word just doesn’t seem to fit, to me that seems that someone has put themselves at risk or tried chance at getting it, when in truth it can capture anyone at anytime, transforming their own world and everyone they know.

Every year I run the race for life and each year I am more overwhelmed with the vast number of women there supporting each other and trying to fight back. I must confess I am not a fan of running (that’s putting it a little lightly!) but what spurs me on is every time I pass someone I get to read another persons sign on their back. I get a glimpse at the harsh reality that cancer brings. It affects grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and children. No one is safe. However, what surprises me most is that it brings me new purpose and sense of happiness. In the last 40 years cancer survival has doubled in the UK, people are more aware and educated on what symptoms to look for and strangers are coming together and showing their support and love for those suffering and those caring for them.

When I was 7 years old my mum was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. At the time I thought my little world was crumpling down around me too fast for me to ever pick up the pieces or hold them in place. I had only heard the word cancer related to death and so automatically assumed my mum had been given the card of death. My parents decided it was important for both my brother and me to understand fully what was going on and the reality of how it would affect us. We were taught the basic science of it and what different treatments did but we were never fooled into thinking that it would one day just disappear. Ovarian cancer is one of the hardest to detect and so unfortunately we did not find it early enough and my mother was told she had 3 months. She spent a week in hospital after her operation and started chemo.  I was always aware of when she was going to hospital or even for a check up and when I was having a bad day my mum would hold me close and explain every worry I had multiple times till I understood. We dealt with her illness as a family, supporting one another and preparing for what life may throw at us. That is the main thing I believe that helped me through it. I was not treated as a kid who couldn’t understand, I was an equal and my feelings mattered just as much. The 3 months past and she was still with us, as many friends said ‘still fighting on’ but my mum never saw it as a fight, she once told my dad that it was not her battle with cancer, it was her journey.  That truly represented who my mum was, a selfless woman who accepted life as it came and was determined to help. She did this by participating in many drug trials to help find a cure and some of those drugs are now being used today and saving lives.

Sadly, 3 days before my 13th birthday my mum passed away. However, this was after many loving, happy years supporting us through every day life. I wanted to write this blog to explain the little things I never fully understood as a child and share my journey of acceptance and finding peace. I wanted to keep the memories alive as they are what I treasure and feel blessed to have. There has not been a day in the last 4 years after her death that I have not thought of her and there never will be a day that I do not, but now when I think of her I am filled with happiness and warmth. Grief never leaves you but it is how you deal with it that makes you a stronger person, never expect it to go but use it to make the most of life.

Where to start…

I have to admit that I have never read a blog or ever thought about starting one but today I decided that in a few years I’ll want to look back and see how my life had changed, how I’d grown as a person and how my opinions of events evolved and changed the more I understood. I am writing this for myself but in the hope that if anyone reads it they’ll learn more about who I am and possibly relate to situations or feelings experienced. It aims to be something that I wish I found years ago, when I was struggling with such a mix of emotions, something that shows it is ok to feel sad, angry, lost or empty, but most importantly it is ok to be happy.