Guest post: Thoughts of loss and hope at Christmas

I was pacing the landing with my teething baby at 3am last night and all I could think of was you. As anyone who has been bereaved knows, the build up to Christmas is never easy. If you have children you try to retain the excitement, the magic, the wonder of Christmas. Yet behind the smiles, lies an anxiety, a dread, a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach that represents the gaping void left by loss. This Boxing Day marks 20 years since you were cruelly snatched from us that bitterly cold morning. Twenty years! The same length of time that you were married to my mum. I was 14, you were just 45. 

When you experience a traumatic bereavement, whether as a child losing a parent or a parent losing a child, your world is irreversibly changed. The wounds are deep and the scars only partially heal. I was reminded of this only three months ago when we experienced two close family bereavements and the scars were reopened. Old memories were reignited and the full force of raw emotion came crashing down once again. 

Yet there is also the possibility for reflection and growth, heightened empathy and compassion, and a greater understanding of the fragility and precious nature of life.

Continue reading “Guest post: Thoughts of loss and hope at Christmas”

Take me home – a pop song prayer

When trying to rebuild a life that’s been broken – it can feel like you’re grappling in the darkness, utterly alone, tired, afraid. Even the simplest routines go out of sync, the pace of life seems five steps faster than what we can manage. We’re barely breathing.

Fear, grief, faith, hope all mingle into a mess that leaves us feeling lost, numb. How can we go on…? And where do we go on too…?

Whenever I hear this song I can never hold back the tears. It strikes at the heart of the prayers of the weary me, the me that just can’t do it all anymore, the me that’s fed up with the burden I carry, the me that wants answers, that needs reassurance, to feel safe. I suppose, the vulnerable child within.

Songs can bring so much comfort to the grieving, and while I’m in a fairly clear place right now, sometimes I need to pray songs like this – to get me through, and that’s okay because it helps. I’m sharing this for those readers who need to feel a bit of release, who need to allow the tears to fall, to possibly help them move to a clearer mind.

If you need to hear this, watch Take me home, by Jess Glyne

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Wrapped up, so consumed by all this hurt
If you ask me, don’t know where to start
Anger, love, confusion
Roads that go nowhere
I know that somewhere better
‘Cause you always take me there

Came to you with a broken faith
Gave me more than a hand to hold
Caught before I hit the ground
Tell me I’m safe, you’ve got me now

Would you take the wheel
If I lose control?
If I’m lying here
Will you take me home?

Could you take care of a broken soul?
Will you hold me now?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?

Hold the gun to my head, count 1, 2, 3
If it helps me walk away then it’s what I need
Every minute gets easier
The more you talk to me
You rationalize my darkest thoughts
Yeah, you set them free

Came to you with a broken faith
Gave me more than a hand to hold
Caught before I hit the ground
Tell me I’m safe, you’ve got me now

Would you take the wheel
If I lose control?
If I’m lying here
Will you take me home?

Could you take care of a broken soul?
Oh, will you hold me now?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?

[3x]
You say space will make it better
And time will make it heal
I won’t be lost forever
And soon I wouldn’t feel
Like I’m haunted, oh, falling

Would you take the wheel
If I lose control?
If I’m lying here
Will you take me home?

Could you take care of a broken soul?
Oh, will you hold me now?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home, home?
Oh, will you take me home?
Oh, will you take me home?

A picture of health

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This is a picture of Abi and me on holiday in about 2011. I love the health and happiness radiating from BOTH of us in this picture. Of course, there was never any sign that Abi would have a brain haemorrhage two years later but what struck me when I saw this was not Abi particularly, but me. This is how I remember Abi, but it’s not what I think of when I see me.

While I was never overweight, I had worked hard to get myself fit after having three children. I was caring about myself for the first time and it shows. I felt confident, happy in my own skin, mentally calm…

Since Abi died, I feel like a bleak shadow of that former me. My skin appears greyer, my eyes tired, my fingernails are chewed and sore, my body unfit and neglected…

I stopped exercising as it brought on palpations when my anxiety took over. I didn’t see the point in loving myself anymore. I failed my daughter, why should I care about myself?

I am now tied into a pattern of compulsive eating, because food is my only comfort. I’ve gained weight (obviously being pregnant twice in 3 years has something to do with that!). I’m not one to worry about my weight but I know my pattern of behaviour is not healthy, physically or mentally. It’s almost self-destructive. It’s a common trait of the bereaved.

I posted on my faith blog, By His Light, yesterday about how I mourn so much harder when life is tough. When there is illness, overwork, stress and anxiety. When parenting challenges me to my core and being fair or consistent goes out of the window. I feel more tearful as the pressures mount and miss Abi terribly.

I withdraw at times like this… because I need the solace. I want to build a wall around myself where I can just hide under a duvet and wallow… for a while, until it passes. I don’t want others to see this vulnerable me, I want them to see only the me I know… and like.

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Of course, I can’t do that. I have three children to look after, a home and business to run. A husband who needs his wife to keep it together. A baby growing inside me who needs to be nurtured.

So I turn to food as my pick-me-up, several times a day. It helps for the briefest moment so I’m back again in an hour or so. I feel excited by food. Yet I’m starting to feel the discomfort of the weight (not least the baby pressing on my lungs)… I suppose it represents, physically, the emotional weight of grief.

Continue reading “A picture of health”

Before and after our grief

My husband’s car is on its last legs. We need to start thinking about replacing it before we spend too much more on it. He’s put it off for far too long and spent too much money keeping it going, but I know he loves the car mostly because of the times he spent with Abi in it.

The chats they’d had on the way home from a club, the trips they took together. It’s hardly been cleaned since she died (and it’s grim inside!), but I don’t push it. I know the sweet wrappers are hers. I know the hair clips are hers. I know he doesn’t want to lose even the dust that might be hers. It’s his space so I leave it to him (like a man shed on wheels!). We’ve changed my car and transformed our home. Abi hasn’t been erased by any means, and I’m always finding her hair clips around even now, but I know his car is the last big reminder.

When talking about replacing it, we were trying to remember when we bought it. Our marker… how long before Abi died.

You see, we’ve reached a point in our grief journey where life has become about ‘before’ and ‘after’ Abi. Continue reading “Before and after our grief”

As the sun sets on New Year’s Eve, I see hope for tomorrow

As per my post earlier this month, most people will understand that this time of year is very difficult for me and trying to cope with Christmas festivities without Abi is something I (and my family) have again had to bear and get through.

New Year’s Eve is equally painful. I don’t even want to wish others a happy New Year as it feels so hard to say when I feel such grief that Abi isn’t here with us. I want to turn off all the social media updates. But I do wish us all not just a happy new year but a joyful one. One where we can all, despite our various problems and sorrows, see some joy in our lives this year.
Continue reading “As the sun sets on New Year’s Eve, I see hope for tomorrow”

Good grief! I had a facial

I used to enjoy booking myself in for an occasional massage or facial, it was always a nice treat, but since Abi died I’ve not been able to allow myself to do it.

To relax is to let emotions come to the surface, to be able to meditate on the thoughts going through your mind, to think about how nice the touch is on your skin and enjoy the moment. But you see, when your entire being is held together by invisible ropes of tension attached to a large stone of grief where your heart used to be, encouraging the body to relax is met with quite some resistance.

Continue reading “Good grief! I had a facial”

Celebration blues

I’ve not been blogging or networking much lately. I’ve been feeling run down, very low about Abi and generally snowed under with work and family life. I feel flat and pretty much overwhelmed as again we face more special occasions without our girl.

It’s particularly busy this weekend as it was my hubby’s 40th birthday yesterday and we are also having our children baptised… all three together … on Sunday. It should be a wonderful time of celebration and excitement, but when you’re living with loss, times like this turn into the bleakest of winter days.

Continue reading “Celebration blues”

The heartache of decluttering after Abi died 

Ever since I had children, I’ve been bagging up clothes and toys for either car boot sales or charity shops, although it always seems the more I ‘recycle’ the more ‘stuff’ comes back into the house!

It’s been a long time since we did a car boot…  I say ‘we’ as normally Abi and I would get up at dawn to go and do one together, she really helped with setting up, tidying and selling – it was fun.

Continue reading “The heartache of decluttering after Abi died “

Our joy and sorrow this Father’s Day

My heart can’t help but ache for my darling hubby as yet another Father’s Day arrives, his second without Abi.

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When we met, in 1996, I was dating his rather unsavory friend. It wasn’t serious and a bit of an experiment for me, which naturally didn’t work out. But what did work is that through him, I met the man with whom I would share my life.

I’d been single a short while when we met again by chance and, as we chatted, for the first time I noticed his kind, sparkling blue eyes. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul and I realized that for a long time I’d been looking for ‘love’ in the wrong places.

I saw him and something clicked in me. It was as though I knew the man before I’d even got to know him. It wasn’t the usual feeling of being swept away with supposed desire, or being tempted by swagger or materialism. It wasn’t even love at first sight. It was simply that I saw him and knew.

Continue reading “Our joy and sorrow this Father’s Day”

Shared article: We should not be isolated in mourning

To those who are grieving (and those trying to understand grief) please read this incredibly insightful article. I found myself saying yes throughout reading it. It speaks for so many.

‘…the first year is supposed to be the worst. It’s all still raw. …in some ways, the second year is harder. That’s when you realise they really aren’t coming back. It’s a horrible epiphany that can coincide with everyone else imagining you’re over the worst. But as someone once said: “Grief lasts longer than sympathy, which is one of the tragedies of the grieving.’

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/news-opinion/carolyn-hitt-should-not-isolated-6894754