The process of grief

It’s been a while since I last wrote. To be truthful, which I nearly always am, things haven’t been too great for me. At least in terms of my mental health.

On the surface things have been going well. I took the plunge at Christmas to move jobs and take the next step by applying for a counselling course. Work wise, things have been going okay. Usual doubts of feeling like I’m not good enough and things are not going smoothly but those are feelings that I’ve lived with for most of my life and I’ve learnt how to cope and manage those feelings. Going home and not thinking constantly about work is a new and welcome feeling. Surrounding myself with positive encouraging people is also a welcome experience. Picking my next (and hopefully final!) career has been both scary and exhilarating.

The trouble is grief and the fact it isn’t constant or consistent. Normally I experience a down dip around July/August time. July because of my nan/grandma and August because of the anniversary of my mum’s death. I dread that approach into summer but luckily it is usually counteracted with sunny weather which always improves my mood (although not too sunny!).

This year grief crept up on me about the beginning of March. Mothers Day seemed to be literally everywhere. Social media has been the worst with photos of people together with their mums on the day. I expect it but dread it. People should celebrate their mums and celebrate being a mum. Yet I have neither experience and the feelings still hurt. Although it’s lovely people post that they are thinking of those without a mum, it doesn’t help. Partially because I don’t think anybody could understand anything remotely about what it is like until they have been through something similar. I gravitate at Mothers Day to those who don’t have mums around or who knew my mum.

Grief is a funny thing. There is no process, people process in different ways and, contrary to what people sometimes say, I don’t feel the process is easier in that the feelings of sadness are still there, you just add in positive happy feelings about the person you’re missing.

To me, grief is that constant state of flux. You fear that you are forgetting people if you don’t think of them every day. You feel angry that life is going on around you so you feel obligated to try to ‘move on’ and not think of the person everyday. There is so much emphasis to be happy in society when in reality, how do you know happiness if you don’t know sadness?

My first experience of death was my guinea pig. I think I was about 8. He died of pneumonia and I remember crying for days. Then getting a mouse.

My second experience was my mum aged 9. I cried for one day and then intermittently without any pattern or even an identified trigger since then.

Then followed by my two granddads within 3 years and then one of my closest childhood friends who died in a car accident aged 16.

Other deaths have happened since then. Yet each death has provoked a different process of grief and it’s made me realise. Grief has no process. It just is.

This feeling will go or be hidden, crushed between all the other happy memories that come along. Until something else triggers and then I’ll be writing this again.

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