Summer term and the grieving mum

Another summer term is in full swing. Our second without Abi. So, how is it for a bereaved mum at this time of year?

Last year was a fog. We were fumbling through, trying to stay above water, keeping things ‘normal’ for our other children in the sense of their school routines, dragging ourselves along to plays and sports day, everything merged into one long ordeal. Abi had been dead just four months.

Now we’re a year down the road and things are perhaps a bit easier, but only with regard to not having the permanent headache and not feeling so lost and confused in the aftermath of bereavement. My head may be a little clearer (if now foggy from new-baby sleep deprivation), but my heart still feels as heavy as stone.

Admittedly, the sunnier days are preferable to the winter gloom, but they still bring up memories and longings for my daughter. To a grieving mum, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like. I am glad of lighter mornings, but I don’t skip out of bed delighted that the sun is out. I’m just thankful we have all woken up to another day.

As a grieving mum, this time of year is a bit like the emotionally charged build-up to Christmas, except I feel more isolated. At Christmas, most people remember someone they love who is no longer here; grieving together is actually comforting as it helps to know you’re not alone. But, as my grief is for my school-aged child, there are fewer people travelling this particular path with me. Everyone else seems excited, happy that the summer holidays are coming, looking forward to the future.

As with the autumn term, the anxiety starts to gradually develop as the weeks pass and will no doubt reach its peak on the last day of term. I never wish days away now but I would quite happily cancel July and fast-forward straight to the holidays. But I can’t.

This year is even more significant than last year – for my two middle children. My son, you see, is graduating from KS1 to KS2 (juniors) and my daughter will be leaving primary school altogether to start secondary school (year 7) in September! Both are teary times for any parent, but with the all-too-recent memories of Abi’s own end-of-school assemblies and parties, I can’t help but be thrown back time and again into the past. It was only July 2012 that she left primary school, that we went shopping for her secondary school uniform, that we watched how she seemed to change overnight into a young lady…six months later she was gone.

My middle daughter is very different to Abi and I have to give her space to be herself. I’m careful not to blend her special moments with Abi’s, so I will be attending all the fairs, sports days and plays for her benefit and trying to make my memories of her, for her. But it’s impossible not to do so with the gutwrench that is knowing my other daughter died so soon after enjoying all these moments herself. The hopes and promises of a future lost to her.

I can only take each event at a time, but above all I’ll do my best to show a brave face, trying to give my daughter and son a positive memory of Mummy being there for them so that in years from now they won’t look back with resentment that all I did was sit and weep.

How will I cope with the next four weeks of term? I don’t know how, but I know that I will. The days will come and go, and the anxiety surrounding them will always be worse than the moment. I’ll smile, be thankful that I’m here. I’ll set aside some special time for Abi but I’ll also focus on savouring the new memories my children will give me, after all, they are just as precious.

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Putting my ‘brave face’ on for the school summer fair
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8 thoughts on “Summer term and the grieving mum

  1. My heart really goes out to you; I understand so well the pain of putting on a brave face and how hard it is to carry on feeling isolated in one’s grief. The truth is the world does seem to expect the bereaved to just get on with it and so few people seem to remember; it all too quickly becomes yesterday’s news to them. I often think the idea of wearing mourning clothes was a good one providing a reminder to others that you were still feeling acute pain.
    Your children too probably have mixed feelings about many of these events, particularly your daughter who will have very clear memories of Abi walking the same path not so long ago. They will understand that you are, to some extent, going through the motions but they will appreciate your efforts so much and your presence will also give them the courage to face them.
    There will be times when they will resent the fact that Abi’s death will have affected your approach to parenthood – you will be more protective, less ready to see them take chances – but they will understand, particularly when they become parents themselves.
    I can’t offer you any advice to make things easier other than to say that each year things will get just that little bit less painful and you will find one day that you no longer need to use the extra extra waterproof mascara.Stay strong x

    1. Thank you so much, Kate. I relate to all that you say here. I agree too about the clothes. Mourning clothes take on a new significance when you are the mourner! I feel some days I should have a badge which lets people know. I’m always trying to think ahead and create a happy home life for us all, it’s just I have to have this private treacle-wading to get through too. There is no advice, it is what it is as you know, but thank you. Meeting understanding people like you really is a great help! x

    2. For me, with my children, I take way more chances now and I am substantially less protective. Just yesterday my children ran around a very crowded park with no parent in sight. I parked myself in front of the band stand and off they went. My house was the safest place, or so I thought, but now nothing is ‘safe’. It is just life.

      I sometimes wish I had an arm band or something like that so people know that I am mourning. Maybe it is a trend we can bring back… 🙂

      1. That’s so true. People say to me oh the chances of getting this or that happening are so slim. Pah! Abi’s haemhorrage was a million to one so I don’t think much of statistics now.

        Perhaps you could write a post about how you take more chances now and are less protective. It’s a very insightful side to grief. x

  2. This time of year is always poignant as parents reflect on children growing up, the year that has passed and the year ahead. It must be hard to reflect on that time as your younger daughter ‘catches up’ and eventually overtakes Abi. Well done to you for putting on your brave face. And if there’s tears at the leavers’ assembly, you will blend right in and nobody will know which daughter they are for. X

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