I have been without my mum for ten whole weeks now, can you believe it? It still seems so wrong, it really does. I know it’s to be expected but I just find it so utterly bizarre that you can have someone in your life – someone who’s your absolute world – and then poof, they’re gone. It’s just crazy.
We keep joking: ‘ok, mum. That’s enough, you can come home now.’
Here’s what I’ve learnt about grief in my 10 weeks of utter hell…
1. Grief is different for everyone
I think grief is a really personal thing to go through. My sisters and I all share lots of similarities with how we’re grieving, but there are nuances in how we try and get through the day. We’ve come to realise that if one of us starts to cry, we all do, so we try and reign it back so that the group as a whole stays strong. It depends though, sometimes we all might be in the mood to be upset and then you go for it. Ultimately, grief is quite a lonely journey even if you’re doing it with people you love for the exact same person.
2. I’m always looking for signs
I tell you what, I could get borderline obsessed with signs, I’m always looking out for them. From robins to butterflies, feathers, rainbows, anything. I am constantly looking for signs that my mum is still with me. Just before she passed away I asked her to always send me signs and she said she would – so I’m holding her to it. Hilariously though I have a gorgeous feather-trimmed jacket from River Island so I have to remind myself that the rogue mint green feather I keep finding in mum’s room is in fact… my lovely jacket.
3. The movies lie
Y’know how in the movies when someone dies, the grief-stricken character always smells the person’s clothes? Well, I’ve done this so much since mum passed away, and I tell you what, her smell has gone. Yes I can smell perfume, but mum didn’t wear the same one every day, so it’s not ‘her’ smell. It’s as if mum’s smell left the day she did. If I could have bottled up that scent I would have.
4. I miss the weirdest things
For me, I miss my mum’s hands and her hugs. I have some photographs of her hands and I don’t know why, but that’s a major thing for me. I miss everything really.
5. I’ve become obsessed with photographs
“Do you have any photos of my mum?” is a question I’ve asked SO many times in the past 10 weeks. I’m so lucky my mum actually liked having her photo taken and I’m so lucky I’m the in-house photographer. I think because my mum’s health has been up and down in recent years I’ve probably been so aware of her not being with me one day so I constantly snapped away. We were also lucky to go on lots of holidays together – they’re the memories that make me smile (and cry).
I tell you what… if your loved-one doesn’t like their photo being taken, try a Snapchat ‘funny’ filter instead. They’ll laugh and enjoy them and look really happy. I think my favourite photos of mum and I are my Snapchat pics, yes they might be a bit silly but they’re cute. You can also say “don’t worry, this won’t go anywhere.”
6. Voice notes… ahhh I wish I had more
I don’t do voice messages that much but there was a period in time where I showed mum how to do them and I have a handful of cute ones from mum and I love hearing her voice. I have one that’s in our bayleygirls WhatsApp group where she says “I love you all” and well, my heart could burst when I play it.
7. I’m much more aware of people hurting
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a heartless bitch before, but I definitely didn’t know how hard losing someone was, or how awful someone could feel. I’ve felt a weird sense of guilt for not showing up for friends properly when they’ve lost someone close to them. Was the sympathy card I sent them enough? No, probably not. Did I call or text enough? I don’t even remember. It’s almost like going through this has meant I’m much more aware of others being sad, I guess. Or maybe I was just a heartless bitch. The jury’s out on that one.
8. People really DO show up
Oh man, this is so true. I could do a Gwyneth-style Oscars speech and thank the people who’ve gone above and beyond during my heartbreak. From daily texts to care packages, flowers, voice notes, emails and even the ‘I know we don’t know one another but…’ messages on Instagram. They all mean so much. I even have friends coming to visit me on Saturday… so lovely.
9. Grief is written all over my face
I feel like I need to do something else on this because I find it pretty fascinating… I can see grief written allllll over my face. My eyes are dark and the sparkle has gone. My skin is dull, dry, lack-lustre and keeps breaking out. Grief face is a thing, I’m sure of it. Also, probably TMI but my sisters and I all had the worst taste in our mouths for the first week after she left us. No matter how many times we brushed our teeth, we could still taste grief. So weird.
10. You really do have to take it one day at a time
A lot of people told me to take it one day at a time when mum passed away, and ten weeks later I totally understand why. I can’t talk about next week, next month, next year because I think about my mum not being here and I immediately start to feel overwhelmed. You just have to say the word ‘November’ and you think of the cold, and when you think of the cold you think of Christmas, and when you think of Christmas you think of Christmas Day and then you think CHRISTMAS DAY WITHOUT MY MUM. Cue tears. With everyone excited for the world opening up again I’m sad I can’t join in on the excitement but I’m not ready yet. Maybe I will be, but probably around 19 June.
I actually could write a million more things in this because grief is allllll consuming. I’ve got through a couple of big ‘firsts’ in the past ten weeks; I’ve endured Mother’s Day and my mum’s birthday. And yes, they were both as difficult as I thought they’d be but I did get through them (and tried to do nice things to celebrate how amazing she was). It’s my birthday next week and I’m already feeling emotional about it because she’s not here. We have spent birthdays apart (hello, Coachella!) but this is different. My 2020 lockdown birthday was one of my best birthdays ever because I was with my family, it was a beautiful hot day and we had a really lovely time sat out in the garden. This year, I guess the sun won’t be shining as brightly – in more ways than one.
2 thoughts on “10 weeks of grief: 10 things I’ve learnt”
This is such a great article – full os sadness but tinged with humour. I wish I could have written something so lovely after my mum died
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This is a fantastic post, which hits the nail on the head! MY dad past away just before Christmas and it is still hard to this day. Each day gets a little easier but never fully easy. There is always something in them that reminds me of him. Something I am sure we will become grateful for, even though it hurts now. Thank you for this amazing article!
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