Letting go: 1. Loss
Grief is not only for the dead. It for the loss of anything of importance that you value in your life. We may grieve for the things we haven’t done or for friends that have moved on, for anything that leaves us with nothing but the memories…
“I have learned that many people are not good for me. No matter how hard I love them.”
So where do I begin?
Maybe I should start with questions. “Why is it that at the end of every year, I always end up feeling so miserable and unhappy? Why do I still feelings of such utter sadness, loneliness, and still feel that I have felt no real love in my life?”.
There is a void in my life that has been filled with sad memories, disappointments and unhappy moments. These moments of feeling such loss, have choked me up so much. So. much so, there has been no room to let real life in.
I have often said, “I have had no time to grieve for the loss of my brother, my mother and my sister…”, and this now more recently includes my beloved dog. But in truth, I have done nothing but mourn, and grieve, and ache for them. As well as many other losses or things that have happened that I cannot change. No amount of tears, anguish or darkness will bring about a better resolution or a change in circumstance.
I have allowed grief to completely envelop me, thereby imprisoning me with demons of my own making.
Of course, I miss them dearly, they left at a time when I needed them most. Not that there could be a more convenient time…
The emptiness they left behind has been a part of me ever since. Gone were the many daily conversations, the sharing of woes; and the laughter that inevitably followed as we saw the funny side of each dilemma. Gone were the feelings of love I accessed through a telephone line, when sickness on both parts prevented travel. Just gone. No second chances, no more time and no more opportunities.
Not many people actually appreciated what Christmas was really like for me 8 years ago, but it was an extremely difficult time. Two days before Christmas, I had sat with my mum in hospital while we received the news that cancer had spread into her liver, and that there was nothing more that could be done. The next day I was driving up to Kent, to be with my sister for Christmas, for what we knew would inevitably be her last.
During this time, my mum and sister were able to have bedside chats, by using video calls. So they could speak with each other from their respective beds. Two days later I was back with my mum at the hospital, and so it continued, until she passed away on the 29thJanuary. Little did I know that 2 months later, after sitting at my sister’s bedside for nearly a week, that I would say goodbye to her too. And my brother also passed just after the new year, but many moons before.
So I guess it’s not surprising that Christmas has never been the same since…
At the time, I struggled with keeping my mums’ wishes by downplaying it to everyone, instead of speaking the truth, so that they were fully in the picture. But I did my best to honour both sides. At times it felt like they needed my permission to stay away, to not have to face it, as if their busy lives were more important. At times, it felt like they didn’t want to take the responsibility of their choices. But my mum definitely did not want or need anyone weeping at her bedside.
Trying to be rational while others around you are falling apart is by no means easy, and I felt the full force of that from every direction as people looked to me for answers. Endless phone calls, endless questions, endless explanations, endless tears and endless sorrows. Not one of them even thought about how the same loss, was affectively silently killing me inside, and they were making me bear the weight of their grief too.
Many wished them back, saying it was too soon, but I had to remind them what they were really wishing for… more cancer, more pain… when their bodies had already been violated by illness and/or surgery.
Naturally, I bore feelings of resentments, and I probably have never forgiven some of my family for their behaviour back then; while they took a back seat to participate in the grieving process. I have often sensed that somehow, they resented me, as I was the only one with my mum when she died. As though I had left it to the last minute to tell them of her downward turn, which meant they had to rush to get to the hospital in time. It’s a horrible thought, but it’s one that crosses my mind at times, but I didn’t choose her moment to slip away…
When my sister took her final breath I was with her. On that day and the days that preceded it, I felt there was no other place for me to be. For me, I had done the right thing for both myself my darling sister, making sure she had company throughout all her waking hours. I did not want her to slip away unnoticed, and by being there gave me some kind of peace.
After so many years of feeling this way, I am exhausted. I have been trapped inside this darkness of loss and grief, for so long that I am nearly blinded by it. The memories and the sadness still overwhelms me, because only memories have taken their place, nothing real.
Getting my little dog was the best thing I could have done, unconditional love was mutual, and she had my heart in every single way. Sadly a month ago she too was taken early, at just 7 years old I had to let her go. It broke my heart all over again, but in a different way. I guess the attachment you form with an animal, is on a different level to that you’d form with a person. I suppose the sadness I felt at her premature death, was unlike any other loss, and the grief was different too. She’d emotionally and physically seen me through times where my sister and mum could not, she was so very precious to me.
But, it is now time to put those painful memories somewhere for safekeeping. It is time for me to say goodbye, to release the burden of this grief. The weight is far too heavy, and I have been wearing it like a mantel for too long… It is time for me to take a deep breath and move on.
It is time for me to let them go.
(31st December 2016)
Having read this again, I can see why it was so important for me to write 2 years ago.
Writing this, did not give me closure and I didn’t expect it to. That is not the reason why I wrote it. What it did do was to enable me to put my sadness in it’s rightful place. Thereby, allowing me to view Christmas in particular, with fresh eyes, hope and to have love in my heart again.
The worst day of the year for me is still Mother’s Day. Even though I don’t really give in to all the commercialism, it still tugs something inside.
There is not a day goes by when they do not come to mind. Almost daily I have a conversation with them, whether it be in my head or out load. They are a still very much a part of me, and I like it that way.
More and more, I am reminded of the many ways that I am just like my mother. I am grateful for that her kindness, generosity, humour and attitude to other people in need, has rubbed off on me. I can still hear the things she used to say, and her wonderful quotes about getting on in life. There are still many moments, when I smile at something knowing my sister would have found it funny too. So in that way, they have never gone, they are still very much a part of me
I so strongly believe that grief cannot be rushed. Even when you think you’re over it, it will strike again. The pain may be less, but it will happen… Most likely at an unexpected time, place and probably triggered by a complete stranger or something utterly unrelated.
I am in a good place with death.
Strange as it may sound, I’m used to it, and I accept it as being a natural part of life itself. Now, I appreciate and dwell on the joy they gave me, rather than the sadness they left behind. Sx ❤️
(Updated Tues 22nd January 2019)