Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Dealing with grief and four year reflections

Dealing with grief
john legge


I know as I write this, it’s going to be one of those posts that is pretty much a brain dump onto the page as it’s something I’ve wanted to write for a long time. As those of you who know me IRL or who have followed my blog for some time will know, I lost my dad four years ago. As you’re reading this in fact, it will be four years to the day. He had primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis for most of my life and when I was 20, he contracted an infection and passed away.

Grief is a tough one to write about as everyone experiences it differently. Some people break down, others try to keep their shit together, many choose to wallow in it and a few try to ignore it completely. Also, it's a time when religion and beliefs of an afterlife come into a sharp reality too and most importantly, it makes you realise that life is really short. 

I'll start with the obvious: grief is seriously shit. I couldn’t even comprehend sitting and writing what my emotional stages of grief were when I lost my dad as in all honesty, I've blocked it out and it’s not a place in my mind I want to go back to. In fact, my stand out memory of the immediate time afterwards was playing Scrabble on the morning of his funeral (what else do you do?). 

Whilst I’m by no means an expert on grief, I thought I’d write about a few things which I think people reading this who are grieving may relate to or be reassured by.

What I would say is that if you’re the one experiencing grief is to ignore every single person who tells you that you will ‘move on’. You won’t. You’ll move forwards, you’ll live your life, but you won’t ‘move on’ as though that person was never there. The stories, the experiences, the advice and the life lessons you experienced with that person will go forwards with you and they’ll live on in you. Whether that’s a parent who taught you about the North Star (my earliest memory of my dad), or driving past a pub and your mum telling you about the time your dad got locked in the toilets and had to climb out the window (true story), they’re the things you’ll take forward and pass on. (I tried to think of a really profound life lesson my dad taught me to share as example but I preferred the pub toilet story.)

Every day afterwards will have little stumbling blocks when it comes down to the practicalities of them not being there. Even years later I walk past a shop and think ‘oh I’ll just get that for dad’ without even thinking and then have to stop myself. It’s hard. Finding your new normal is hard. But every day, it gets a little easier in a practical sense as your routine adapts. You’ll find new traditions too. At Christmas, my mum, sister and I go to the seaside on Christmas morning - something we couldn’t have logistically done with my dad – and it meant that we don’t concentrate on trying to keep things the same when there’s a gaping hole where he should be. 

Also ignore the people who tell you to look after your family in such a difficult time. That’s what everyone else is for and it’s their time to look after you. It was my mum’s friend who took me to one side at my dad’s funeral to tell me this and it’s what I really, really needed to hear. Supporting each other and talking is of course, so important, but it’s not your time to take responsibility. Let other people help you keep going. During grief you will experience every emotion under the sun. There will be sadness, anger, guilt and also perhaps a little relief that they’re no longer suffering too. And whilst the initial stages of grief are very, very tough, it can still hit in a wave of emotion years later. Father’s Day this year? I was an absolute wreck. Previous years? I’ve been absolutely fine. It’s normal, I promise.

I still can’t believe it’s been four years since I lost my dad and one hell of a lot has happened in that time. I wish he could have seen me graduate from university, land my dream job, be a blogger, fall in love (still waiting on that one myself), and the rest, but everything I achieve is to make him proud. Even though he would have 100% been the blogger dad who never quite got what blogging was but would be happy because it led me to getting pissed with my friends. This song pretty much says it all to me.




I’ll end this post, as I did my last post about grief, with these links to support helplines. If you’re grieving and feel as though you need to talk, that’s what they’re there for. For anyone who’s taken the time to read this blog, I’m forever on the end of an email or a tweet if you want a chat, whether it’s because you’re grieving yourself or if it’s a friend and you’re not sure how to help them.


For adults - Cruse Bereavement Care - 0808 808 1677


For children and teens - Grief Encounter - 020 8371 8455


Peace and love x
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2 comments

  1. I fear I'm repeating myself, but I just want you to know that I get it and I know you know that. I know you have family around you to talk too, but as an outsider, but not a complete stranger, I'm here if you do want to.
    It's absolutely mind blowing to lose a parent, at any age. Grief is something that, as you say, is taken differently by everyone. My loses haven't defined me, but they've changed me and made me who I am, and sometimes I feel the need to tell people about it and other times I don't. I actually sometimes feel bad for talking about it to people as it can make people quite awkward and not know how to take you or what to say.
    Lovely post though Lizi. I'm sure he'd be thoroughly proud of you and all you have and will achieve in your life. xxx

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  2. 24 years since Dad died Lizi, l still think of him every day along with Mum & your Dad. Christmas, Mothers Day & Fathers Day are a living nightmare for me. Life goes on but in a different way. XXX

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