My experiences of loss by Lily-Jo
I grew up in a family of four. Mum, Dad, my brother, and me. We lived in a three-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac in Cheshire. Growing up we attended church regularly, socialised lots, music was a huge part of our lives,
Following in my parent’s footsteps I too found love at eighteen and married at twenty-three. At this point, my parents had just celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Pretty good innings I’d say!
Two weeks after my honeymoon my world shattered all around me. I don’t want to go into all the details, but the news was…my parents were getting divorced…
Like the whirlpool of grief above, I felt SHOCK….NUMBNESS….and DENIAL.
My world fell apart. How could this be? Surely not? Why can’t they work it out? I felt cheated like I had made a decision to marry, following their example to marry, yet, they were not going to continue to be married. Selfishly I began to count all the future losses and how their separation would affect me. My future children would have two sets of grandparents on my side. What if my parents had more children with new partners, could I love and accept them? Would I ever forgive my parents? How would we do Christmas and birthdays? Everything was thrown into question. Life as I knew it was over.
I began to live in the whirlpool of grief. For quite some time actually. I was having a massive grief reaction to their ending. Our family ending. I cried a lot, I was angry, irritable, I suffered from low mood, I had time off work, I lost my sense of humour. My heart ached like it was broken into lots of little pieces.
Everyone had their own opinion about how I should be processing the news. What was most unhelpful, were the people who thought it beneficial to say things to me like ‘well you’re lucky, at least it didn’t happen when you were a child.’ At any age, a broken family is a very difficult scenario to find yourself in. Other comments were ‘just focus on your own marriage now’ but how could I, poor hubby, my foundations had been
The good news is, that ten years on, I do feel like I/we have rebuilt our lives again. It’s been long and it’s been slow. It’s been painful and extremely hard. I am in a good relationship with both of my parents now and their new other halves. I chose to learn to forgive. I had to decide daily to let go of the anger, the hurt, and the pain. As a Christian, I turned my focus to God, who I believe really helped me walk out the forgiveness journey. I looked
I was reluctant to share this story, however I felt I couldnt create a resource, ask everyone else to be honest and then for me to shy away. I write this to help anyone out there who may be grieving today, because I understand your pain. I understand your suffering. I understand the emptiness and the heaviness all at the same time. I understand the disoriented feeling of change, and the anxiety for what lies ahead. ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’ wasn’t a phrase that I heard, because nobody actually died. However loss comes in many different forms and we experience loss more often than we realise. If you are grieving today can I encourage you to be kind to yourself and to know that time is a really great healer, but sometimes we also have to play our part in assisting the process. For me it was forgiveness that I had to learn and exercise.
Top Tips For Grief
1. Give yourself time. The closer you have been to the person or thing you have lost, the longer the grief process may be. Allow yourself at least the first year to grieve. Try to keep stressful activities to a minimum around significant dates including birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas time.
2. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to rest, relax, and do things you enjoy.
3. Be honest about how you are feeling with people you are close to.
4. Carve out time to grieve. Allow time in your day, week, or month to actually grieve for the person who has gone. When my father-in-law died we spent a week abroad where we grieved. We talked about him, we shared stories, we cried, we laughed, we thought about what he would want for us now.
5. Write a letter or card to the person who has died and take it to the place they have been laid to rest.
6. Create a memory box and fill it with special things that remind you of the person.
7. Frame a precious photograph of the person and put it somewhere important.
8. Express your feelings. If there are any leftover feelings of anger or trauma surrounding the death, why not express that anger in a letter? Perhaps you may want to write to the health professional concerned. Do not actually SEND this letter to the person, rather use the letter as an expression of your own feelings. If you feel guilt or shame, you may want to write the letter to yourself. Make sure you end the letter, with a line like: ‘”However, I now choose to…(let go of the guilt, move on, forgive myself, leave this with God “etc)
9. Create a space dedicated to the person who died, whether that’s a patch in the garden, or planting a tree in their memory. When my grandad died I took one of his plants and kept it alive for a couple of years. My grandad loved his plants and we talked about them often. When the plant eventually died I was further along in my grief cycle which meant I was able to let the responsibility go.
10. Remember that time heals. Your grief will get easier with time. Time is a great healer. You will never forget the person, but the pain should subside if the grief is allowed to be expressed fully.
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