It’s nearly eight years since my mum died and yet it’s only now that I’m really exploring my grief and opening up to the possibility of talking about how I feel. After a short bout of counselling towards the end of last year following traumatic events linked to my job, it was suggested to me that I had not grieved for the loss of my mum and I was holding on to the trauma.
At first it was difficult for me to accept that I hadn’t grieved, it’s been so long and I’m ‘absolutely fine’, I believed that I had processed it. However, the counsellor highlighted that rationalising what had happened and acknowledging that death is a part of life is not enough. I had to feel, talk and release some of the emotion locked inside me.
One thing that I often hear from people is that I am strong and resilient. The dictionary definition of resilient is ‘the ability to recover quickly from difficult conditions’, I’m not sure that you really recover from losing someone so suddenly. As my best friend will tell you, I changed overnight and I’ve since being trying to understand my new self and keep moving forward.
The first couple of years following my mums death were a bit of a whirl wind, I started 2 new jobs, moved house twice and went through a break-up. Life as someone in their mid-twenties was moving quickly as I started my career and got settled into the city that I’d go on to call home. During that time I can recall the occasional melt down, nights spent sobbing and probably drinking a little too much. I kept it pretty hidden, largely I just got on with things, welcoming the distraction.
Once I was settled in my new flat, relaxed into single life and was enjoying my job I definitely felt like the light switched back on inside me. I think I used to use all my energy just to stay afloat and now I actually had energy to do other things. I got caught up in the excitement of new friends and lifestyle, however I see now that it was all still just a mask to hide away feeling anything remotely saddening. I threw myself into having fun and partying and a wall went up high around me, sadness masked by hedonism.
The partying has long since stopped and as I said, I thought I was absolutely fine. However I appreciate that perhaps there’s still more of my grief to navigate so it starts now. I recently discovered the website Modern Loss where people share in the “unspeakably taboo, unbelievably hilarious, and unexpectedly beautiful terrain of navigating your life after a death”. Reading from others has help to dispel some of my own fears of opening up and inspired me to start talking about my own experience.