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.
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.