A wonderful woman who I will only refer to as A has written of the loss of her mum – despite it coming when she was an adult, it still affected her hugely. Grief is scary and confusing at any age, and you don’t need to have it all figured out. The emotions you might be feeling are normal and okay. If you appreciate A’s story, maybe you want to share your own? We’d love to hear it.
It’s March 8th, and I feel today is an appropriate day to write about my loss. Today would have been my mum’s 71st birthday, last week she would have celebrated her golden wedding anniversary. Next week is the anniversary of her death.
My legs completely gave way
Eleven years ago today my mum was 60. She didn’t want to be 60, and I never really understood why until I became aware her mum had died at 63. A week later I was on my way up the M6 on a dark, cold and rainy night to get to the hospital she had been rushed into. In films when people get bad news they collapse and it’s all very dramatic – this is what happened when I received that phone call. My legs completely gave way. I had to drive myself as my husband had to stay with our young daughter who was in bed fast asleep, I tried to tell her mummy wouldn’t be at home in the morning. For me this was hard enough as I’d never been apart from her before. I don’t remember much of the journey apart from the music I was playing, it has taken years before I could listen to it again, thinking back I should have played something I didn’t like!
I arrived at the hospital to find my dad – understandably – in a mess and my mum lay helpless, she thought she was at home as she hadn’t opened her eyes. She was talking, shouting in fact, at my dad which was actually quite funny and lightened the mood a little. At this point we were quite optimistic she would recover from the stroke that had caused this.
I just wanted to escape
I sat with her for what seemed like days but was actually just hours. She kept asking why I was there, as I now lived over 100 miles away. When she eventually opened her eyes she was crying, I felt so helpless and to see her so frightened was one of the worst things I have experienced and something I will never forget. When she was made comfortable and stable I made the trip back home, I wasn’t well and was exhausted and needed to desperately to see my husband and daughter. I just wanted to escape.
I called my dad as soon as I got home, the hospital had asked him about resuscitating my mum, which they had needed to do as soon as I’d left; did he want it to happen again? He was crying down the phone, he couldn’t make that decision, so I did. Mum was a very independent, strong minded (stubborn really) woman and she had once told me that if she couldn’t live her life I was to shoot her! I had no intentions of carrying that out but it made the decision not to resuscitate easier for all of us.
The early morning phone call
The phone call came at 4am in the morning, as they always seem too. Looking back I was glad I hadn’t been there. It was strange as I wanted to remember her as she was before but I was also glad I had gone to the chapel the day after to see her: she looked like my mum again instead of a woman who had suffered many strokes. They had done a fabulous job. I gave her my cross to take with her; I thought it might help.
I don’t forget but it isn’t as frightening
Even though I lived away and had my own family I don’t think the loss is any less or more. We are all affected differently. I had and still have times where it’s unbearable. It creeps up and I don’t realise: standing in the card shop full of Mother’s Day cards crying uncontrollably, a Barry Manilow (mum’s favourite) song on the radio, which I would normally have switched straight off. I’m not sure if any of that will ever stop happening. As each day, week, month and year goes by I don’t forget but it isn’t as frightening, I can’t explain why. It definitely helps to talk, to let it out, to share; all of sudden you don’t feel so alone. I don’t feel as aggrieved when someone loses a parent who has reached a ripe old age: it’s not fair but you can’t change it. I may still have work to do on those feelings. There are always people worse off but grief is individual and unique.
At the end of the day, despite the pain, I do believe that things happen for a reason and I think God spared my mum from maybe living the life she didn’t want to have to live. Holding to that hope makes everything a little bit easier.
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