What I’ve Learned About Grief

I don’t mean to get all sombre in your grill but we’re fast approaching what would’ve been my Mum’s 63rd birthday and a year from her passing away so I have been grieving quite a bit recently. I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve learned since January, when she passed, and I’ve realised that there are a lot of things grief does to you, that you might not have known about.

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Grief is a funny thing. You’re supposed to work your way through the 5 stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But my grief has been completely different, I think.

I was by my Mum’s side as she peacefully passed so I could hardly be in any denial, could I? I was the one who had to fetch the nurse and say the words, ‘erm I think my Mum has died.’ There was no anger. My Mum had suffered from cancer for 3 years and her passing meant she was no longer fed up or in pain. How could I be angry at that? I’m not spiritual or religious so there was none of me dropping to my knees, screaming WHY GOD WHY, TAKE ME INSTEAD (bargaining). I wouldn’t say I’ve suffered any particular grief related depression – my depression all stems from my hormones, low self esteem, annoying work life and trouble with the maler sex.

There has however been a whole lot of acceptance. In terms of, I KNOW MY MUM IS DEAD. However, my brain still doesn’t let me dwell on that fact for too long. In fact, there are only a few moments where my brain lets itself think of that fact before switching to, ‘my word why haven’t I got more Instagram followers’? It’s highly likely that I’m in some sort of ignorance phase – could it be denial and I have yet to progress through that yet? Who knows. What I do know, is what grief has taught me so far…

Grief gives you ENORMOUS patience. Not everything has to come now. I think it’s to do with going through something so major that you kind of don’t need your life to hurry up and be over. You don’t have to worry about ‘what ifs’ and get anxious over bad things that might happen because you’ve already had one of the worst things ever to happen to you, and you made it through. My grief has meant I am no longer in a rush to settle, have kids and pipe down for a quiet life. I’m quite happy to wait calmly and happily for these things to happen – or not.

Grief tests your patience enormously. Being perfectly honest – I have found that I can find myself lacking in sympathy for a lot of people and their ‘trivial’ problems. My normally logical and unselfish brain tells me that no one’s problems are trivial and everyone is going through their own struggles that are relative to them. My grief stricken, selfish brain that occasionally kicks in, doesn’t want to hear about someone’s fish that died or how they were devastated that they had a shit holiday – because I LOST MY FUCKING MUM, K? That’s not a good place to be in and not one where I try and wallow but occasionally, when I’m having a tough time, my sympathy waivers.

Grief teaches you not to accept any bullshit. Alongside patience, my ‘give a shit’ threshold has lowered to virtually non existent. Want to treat me like shit? BYE FELICIA. Want to not appreciate my work efforts? I can find a new job. Since my Mum’s passing I absolutely REFUSE to accept any treatment than is less than I deserve and I find it a lot less hard to move on from things I would normally hang on to. I think when you’re grieving, life forces you to move on from something completely heartbreaking because life still needs to be lived. This teaches you that other issues are just as easy to move on from and it gives you the strength to do so.

Grief makes you question every purpose in life. My Mum reached the end of her life where her family were her shining light and one of the only happiness’s she had. Other than haggling at car boots and meeting her mates at bingo. But she never achieved the things she desired as a young woman and never reached the potential for joy that she should have had because of various circumstances in her life. That means that I cannot do that too. For her and me, I have to strive for everything I want in life and more. No goal is unachievable and happiness is the only way accepted. I always thought I wanted children, a house and a husband. Now I’m not so sure that’s all I want. What I know I want, is to live my life to the max, because I know how it can be taken away.

Grief makes you sad. Well, I kind of didn’t learn this one. That’s obvious isn’t it? You see it in the movies right? Someone significant dies and the main character falls apart in a puddle of wracking sobs and never ending tears. Except I did learn that the sadness from grief isn’t always life that. My sadness manifests in different ways. Sometimes, when I visit her tree, I’ll shed a tear because I miss her. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I want to remember her and bring her back through memories. Sometimes, and very rarely, I get annoyed. At the world, at my life and at people who still have their Mums. That’s sad isn’t it?

I’m sure there are a million things more that I’ve learned and I’m sure I will come back to this at some point. But what a glorious lesson eh? Something as horrifying as grief can ACTUALLY be very positive. It can make you face reality, strive for a better future and toughen up more than you ever thought possible. And they are great lessons to learn.
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31 Comments

  1. November 21, 2016 / 6:40 am

    Oh Vix, I can relate to so much of this post. I lost my dad four years ago and I can 100% appreciate that whilst grief is different for everyone, living your life to the absolute full and not letting anyone treat you with any less respect than you deserve are some of the few positives you can take from such a shitty situation. It sounds like you’re going to have a tough few months but remember that you’re moving forwards. You’ll never ‘move on’ as why the hell would you want to move away from the memories you have and the lessons she taught you? But you will find your new normal, it just takes baby steps. Xxx

  2. November 21, 2016 / 9:23 am

    I can relate but I have no idea how you personally feel. I find it tricky when people say ‘ I know how you feel…I lost such and such..’ because no one knows how YOU are coping and how you feel, it’s different for everyone and everyone’s situation, immediate support and mentality unique to the person. I have lost both my mum and dad to cancer, more recently my mum which blew the wind out of my life. Like you, I was with her when she died and I was so happy that I could be there next to her at her time of passing as this is what she had wanted. That has always given me some positivity from the strange situation. I have constantly been looking for answers and ways to cope, and like you said, the ‘5 step process’ was not how it happened or is happening for me. I have also learned to take positive aspects out of it when it comes to my decision making, ruthlessness with people and (bad) friends & just the way I live my life, I am constantly asking myself ‘What what she say?’. I don’t think the pain ever goes away you just learn to cope with it and adjust.

    I loved reading this, I have never been able to blog about my true feelings about grief because I just don’t think I can still, as it’s so twisted and hard to explain for me, but I loved reading about your positivity and thoughts…and it kinda made me smile.
    The only article I’ve read that I really loved and felt aligned to about grief/losing your mum was this one if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a read: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/03/we-dont-lose-our-mothers-reality-more-violent-that-that

    Thanks for sharing – sending you lots of love & strength xxxxx

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks or sharing that lovely, will give it a read. Sorry for your loses but your attitude to life is similar to mine. We’ve totally got this!

  3. November 21, 2016 / 10:47 am

    Hiya, I’m normally one of those ‘silent readers’ but even I had to comment on this post because in my what, year and so of blogging it has to be the most relate able post I’ve read, don’t get me wrong, I can totally relate to the staying power of the roller lash mascara lol but this was everything.
    I lost my mum to cancer around four months ago and trust me when I say, I can relate to everything written in this post and to how you’re feeling. It’s shit, utterly shit but what we can have, is knowing that our mums are at peace. I know the feeling of wanting someone to give you the option of cutting off your arm and spending the rest of your life without it, just to get that 10 seconds with mum. My family, like yourself were around my mum as she passed and know of the feeling of wanting her to hold on to every last breath, whilst at the same time, just wanting to be in peace already and I also want that stressed feeling of ‘what to buy mum for Christmas’ because you know whatever you get her, will never beat what she got you. It really sucks.
    Christmas will be hard this year, knowing how much my mum loved it, I remember last year, she constantly said how this would be her last Christmas and I’d be like, ‘nope it won’t, the doctor said its an early find, you’ll have your bowel removed, have a few rounds of chemo and you’ll hopefully be back on your feet in no time’. How wrong was I? Not, only myself but the fucktards we called doctors, false hope is possibly one of the worst things they could’ve given us.
    I should probably wrap this up because I’ve got three assignments to write, damn it, but the one thing I also get pissed about is trivial problems, I know you’re a random standing near me whilst we wait for the train but I don’t want to bloody hear you cry to your friend about your chipped £15 manicure nails, nope, just don’t want to here it.
    I’m sorry your mum had to suffer for 3 years and I’m sorry that she passed away, but one thing I do know is that we both have to stay strong, I don’t know how, but it ‘does’ get easier. It’s a shitty period in our lives but at least our mums are now at peace.

    Hopefully my swearing didn’t offend anyone, but its just how I feel! And I probably should’ve warned you about the long arse comment, that’s what I get for being a silent reader lol, but not no more!

    We got this 🙂
    Trishna xx
    tipscapsule.blogspot.com

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:13 pm

      Totally get allllll of this love. Sounds like you’re being super strong! Reach out if you ever want to talk about things. My Mum was bowel cancer too!

  4. Natalie
    November 21, 2016 / 11:17 am

    I love this post I lost my mum in March and grief feels so different then how I expected it to feel. My mum also didn’t do hardly any of the things that she wanted and it’s made me determined to travel the world as much as I can, my first stop is California next week where I’m spending 3 weeks traveling. I booked it with some money she left me and it feels like a very special last gift and I know she would have been so excited for me x

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:12 pm

      Sorry for your loss lovely but really proud to see that you’re not letting it defeat you and you’re off on an adventure. Your Mum would be so pleased!

  5. November 21, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    Such a beautifully brave and honest post xXx

  6. November 21, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    This is a beautiful post Vix, it is a sad thing but I am so happy to read that it also has a silver lining, a motivation for you to just grab life by the short n curly’s and take no shit. Sending my love. Immy x

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      Thank you lovely – I certainly am planning on taking life by the balls. In all sortsa ways.

  7. Sophie
    November 21, 2016 / 1:37 pm

    This post really resonated with me Vix. We lost my little neice over the summer and so much of what you have written rang true for me. Grief is a hard thing to come to terms with, but you should be proud of yourself for having such a positive outlook. Sending love xxx
    Sophie Cliff

  8. November 21, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    I relate to this on so many levels. I was always close with my grannie, and when she died I dealed with my grief so much differently than my mom did. Everyone’s different in dealing with things, and different with feeling better about it in their own ways I think.

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:10 pm

      Definitely and we can learn from each other in these times too.

  9. November 21, 2016 / 4:05 pm

    Vix, I’m sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one is never easy and teaches us that life is too short. We should not take the days the past for granted. I’ve been reflecting on my own life lately, not to make this about me. But my self esteem is low and that has discouraged me from living life. Just from talking to you on Twitter, I’ve learned that you’re great person. Believe it or not, but you’ve made me look at life differently today more than I thought I knew. In a positive way of course!

    -Ashley

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:10 pm

      Aw thank you and I’m so happy I’ve been able to write something that has provoked that in you. Always around if you need me. x

  10. November 21, 2016 / 5:32 pm

    <3
    i love this and how you're seeing the positive impacts grief can have. xx

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:09 pm

      Thank you! I think that’s what life is all about – rising from the flames.

  11. Beth
    November 21, 2016 / 8:12 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I was worried I wasnt doing grief right because I haven’t done the stages, and because I haven’t done the Hollywood level breakdowns. But this makes me feel way better.

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:08 pm

      It’s so different for everyone isn’t it? Even my twin sister is handling it differently than me.

  12. November 21, 2016 / 9:06 pm

    This is such a beautiful, honest post. I passed it onto a friend who recently lost a parent and she said you had summed up her thoughts exactly, so thank you for writing something so brave so that others don’t feel so alone. X

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:07 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing. Let your friend know, I’m always about for a chat x

  13. Bethany
    November 21, 2016 / 9:12 pm

    You are so strong & brave being so open and honest with this. I almost lost my mum to a brain haemorrhage and aneurysm and I can’t even imagine what it is like, but I honestly think you are amazing. You are going to help so many people. Xxx

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:16 pm

      Oh love, how scary! Thank you x

  14. November 21, 2016 / 9:50 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. My best friend’s mum died last year and I have no experience of death at all (I’m almost 28 with all grandparents intact, so I’m the luckiest girl in the world). I try to read as much as possible about grief and these personal accounts from bloggers are always the most insightful. Her tolerance for bullshit has also evaporated, she graduated, got an amazing job and is moving to Australia next year so she seems to be following the same pattern as you when it comes to living life to the full. Love you millions. x

    • vixmeldrew
      November 21, 2016 / 9:51 pm

      It’s amazing, in a way, that something like this can completely transform people’s lives. All the love to your mate. And you, because you’re aces.

  15. Katie
    November 21, 2016 / 11:25 pm

    I’ve read all of your posts related to your mum and felt a certain kinderence and appreciation for your ability to open up about it. I lost my mum in January too and I have just suffered through the first birthday without her. She deserved a better life than she had and I’m left with a lot of regret. As you say, I will love to regret no more.

    I have friends that care but none that understand so I tend to keep my bad days to myself as nobody knows what to say. Reading your posts and the comments helps enormously.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, how proud I’m sure she’d be that your words are resonating and helping others through the struggle.

  16. Katie
    November 21, 2016 / 11:27 pm

    I’ve read all of your posts related to your mum and felt a certain kinderence and appreciation for your ability to open up about it. I lost my mum in January too and I have just suffered through the first birthday without her. She deserved a better life than she had and I’m left with a lot of regret. As you say, I will live to regret no more.

    I have friends that care but none that understand so I tend to keep my bad days to myself as nobody knows what to say. Reading your posts and the comments helps enormously.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, how proud I’m sure she’d be that your words are resonating and helping others through the struggle.

  17. November 22, 2016 / 11:25 am

    Beautifully written post as always, I read your previous post but I wasn’t really sure how to comment or what to say, and I’m still not if I’m honest. I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re feeling or going through right now. All I can say is I’m sorry for your loss, and echo what the other commenters have already said <3

  18. November 28, 2016 / 8:04 am

    Gosh, you really hit the nail on the head. A year ago, I had a major loss and it still sits with me today in a big way. I too don’t let myself wallow in it for very long, shifting gears to Instagram or whatever. Perhaps that’s a mistake. I can just hear a therapist saying to feel the emotions and allow yourself to grieve…but then, I’ve never been much for therapy. Also, I entered the stages of grieving at acceptance…so who knows where that puts me? Acceptance is the final stage, but just because you accept a death doesn’t mean it can’t cause you agony and change you and a multitude of ways.

    Anywho, I feel like I could ramble on for a while. I’ll just say I’m very sorry for your loss and I relate to everything you said about processing it and moving on.

    xo – Kelly
    http://www.dreaminlace.com

  19. December 1, 2016 / 8:06 am

    I’m so sorry for you loss and I thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I lost my Dad 1 month ago today and I have been going through many of those “stages” but what happens most is that I burst into tears out of nowhere because I see something I know he would have liked or I’m reminded of something and want to talk to him but I can’t.

    I agree with what you said towards the end of the post about striving to do your best and living your life to the max because you one day our time will come as well. I have been doing a lot of soul searching and I am ready to do better. I am inspired in a way to just really get my sh*t together so that I can do the things I only dream about.

    Thank you again for this. xo

  20. December 6, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    Although grief is such painfully agonising, if it wasn’t for the soul destroying, heart wrenching such as a loved passing,we wouldn’t be the people we are today

    That’s what I think any ways. I like to think postively when it comes to death of my dad. And although at the time I couldn’t really process how one minute we were talking and laughing and the next he was just gone. I like to think that after nearly 7 years, I have finally accepted that some things are just meant to be. And we can let them either break or make us