Moving on

I moved to the house I live in now 14 years ago. I was so excited about getting away from the old house I really didn’t think for a moment that I would spend the next three month after moving day being utterly miserable and regretting my decision.

I know that statistics tell us that moving house is one of the most stressful things to have to to go through and it’s up there with divorce and bereavement. Being naive to this at the time, the move was extremely stressful as the looney that was buying the house that I owed demanded all sorts of work be carried out at my expense before she moved in. She dictated the process all along. She knew I was in love with the house that I wanted to move to and kept making pretty unreasonable demands.

When moving day finally arrived I really questioned whether all the stress, time and money was worth it. I was now in a house that I hated and was desperate to have the life I had back in the in the old place. I had moved on quite literally and I felt it was unnecessary and ultimately the worst decision of my life.

Sometimes you look at the past and you are desperate to go back to what you had. You want that final conversation or just time to say goodbye and know that the person you have lost knows that you loved them. Grief can do strange things to people and I what I have learned so far is not to punish yourself. Taking each day at a time is important and making small steps at a time when you know you cannot run.

Some people try and keep themselves busy almost to shield themselves from the pain but there will be a time when that grief will manifest itself in whatever form it takes. It can creep up on you when you are least expecting it. If you are one of those people who say ‘I am not going to cry or let it affect me’ you might be doing more harm to yourself in the long term.

I know people who we all have lost wouldn’t want to see us upset with pain but sometimes we need to let go of what the person we think would want and allow ourselves to mourn. In allowing ourselves moments we are releasing the pain. It’s not that we are releasing them or loving them any less we are allowing ourselves to heal. It’s not moving from the love but moving on with our lives.

Grieving

I have never been able to be sad for the things I haven’t had. It’s like sad that you haven’t had a sister. Well I have never had a sister and don’t know what it’s like so to me that is said. It what you have known and lost that makes sad

I didn’t even meet or know dad’s side of the family. He never told us that the had relations living in the south. I didn’t know them so not know what you haven’t had doesn’t make you upset.

Today, well to be exact this evening has been this worst. I am dreaming that she is still with me and that I am saying to her in the dream that it is impossible as you are not around. It the subconscious mind trying to patch things together in your memory and make some sort of resemblance of order in your life.

And then somehow dad appears and he has been dead over 21 year and things get very confusing and muddle because I know in the dreams that they had passed away and I am stilling coming to turns with.

Today I found a diary of mine of late 2012 which I asked: “What will it be like when she is no longer around”. It was interesting theories and emotions about mum and certain people were so true. Yes, it is scathing in some parts but I said that I have spent quality time with mum which is the main thing that mattered. Even in 2012, I knew I had done the right thing.

As I had said before losing my father happened so quickly before I started my teacher training so I really didn’t have the time to grieve which screwed me up a few years later.

The mental torture of losing a loved one cannot be cured. Emotions can be suppressed with booze and medication but there is a lot of screwed up people out there who haven’t properly grieved for a loved one. A numbed pain only goes away for a few hours while you are stoned or pissed. This is the equivalent of trying to put on a plaster on a major wound after surgery you might think it will go away and ignoring it does make things difficult in the long run.

Grieving is a natural process. At the moment I cannot be bothered with small things in life. This is a process that mentally you have to go through. Great speech Philip, but doesn’t make anything better,  different and easier to handle. It only gets easier to handle things less painful each year. Especially around mothers days and other occasions things that connect with mum and myself like Christmas’.

I have good friends and loads of people who I can fall back on and that makes a difference. I have been for them when they have needed help and when I am feeling like crap they help as well. I just take each day as it comes and not try to suppress the tears and emotion.

Mum – saying goodbye

I wanted to say thank you to those people who came to mums funeral. I think the worst aspect of it was seeing other people upset. I don’t know why? I was helped to walk into the crematorium by my cousins wife Sue. She was wonderful and held me very tight when I felt I was “welling up” again. What a marvellous person she is. I am thankful for her as it wasn’t planned that she would walk with me.

The flowers we ordered were beautiful; mum would have been overawed to have seen them. There are still roses that grow in mums garden that my grandfather planted there over thirty years ago and somehow they still flower each year. She always loved looking at them.

The service at the crematory in Birtley was just right. Although a lot of us commented that we thought we were going to lose the roof as it was really windy. Rev Liz Kent who is new to the area provided a lovely and fitting tribute to mum. She read Psalm 121 which was mums favourite piece of the Bible which I thought was very fitting for the service.

   “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121)

It was lovely to see some of mums friends that had known her since she was a child and had been life long friends. Some friends that had come from the Methodist Church. Particularly a chap called Bill who is a kind and gentle man. His wife died 2007 and he had also looked in on mum just as as his wife did for years before her passing. Always delivered the church news letter which I used to read to mum. It was lovely that even when she couldn’t leave the house that people would come to see how she was.

We had a collection for the Multiple Sclerosis society at the end and it was great as I sent them a gift of £145 for them in memory of mum. I think it was wonderful that people gave so generously.

We then met at Chester-le-Street Cricket ground which was wonderful we were treated with respect and dignity. The food was typically northern. Real slices of ham and peas pudding. The mince (meat) pies were wonderful. I think Anne enjoy her peach melba a little too much!

Thank you all for those attended and those who couldn’t attend I know you were all thinking (and some of you praying) for us all on the day.

 

Mum – the response

When my father died in 1994 a lot of people were on tenterhooks. I remember travelling down to Ellesmere for a CYFA youth camp in the summer and people were looking at me and were terrified of saying the wrong things.

When people respond to those have lost a loved one it can be a difficult time. You are desperate not to say the wrong things or think you might upset them even if you mention the person’s name who has died.

I wrote a few letters to the people who mum had in her address book and who she used to send Christmas cards to each year. I used to have to do it all in the last few years because of the deterioration in mum’s health.

I got phone calls, letters and even texts back from people who had know mum either when she was at school with her or had been in nurse training years ago. They were very touching and lovely responses. They said that they were pleased that I had written and taken the time to notify them of mums death.

Responses from people closer to home were amazing. My friends have been better than I could ever expect. My aunt (mums sister) and my uncle have both been strong for me and saw the last few months of mums life. They too have had to come to terms with losing someone very close to them as well.

Add on my depression and emotional side I have been astounded at the number of people who have said “you must have looked after her very well” or  “she was really lucky to have a son like you”. I never saw it as that. I saw it as the next part of my life and that I knew it would be better for me to look after mum. I knew that I could keep a close eye on her and the people who helped me during that time could also give me advice on how to look after someone with advanced dementia.

My friends (who I won’t name as I don’t want to embarrass them) have been like a rock. A foundation that I didn’t appreciate until something like this happens. They have asked if there is anything they can do etc.

The professional people like nurses and doctors again have been wonderful. Maybe it’s the bags under my eyes that reminds them to tell me that I should be looking after myself at this time now. This is my time to recover and relax. Easier said than done as you can understand.

I am sitting here writing this in my living room and listening to some music. The snow is falling and things seem a little more Christmassy. I know I have a few days that I can relax before the funeral but I wanted to say thank you to all the kind people who have phoned, texted, email, Facebook messages, twitter messages, twitter replies, sent cards, letters and spoken to me in person and said such kind things.

Yesterday I said to a dear friend that “Only when you experience the darkness around you do appreciate the light”.

Loss

Friends who have known me a long time would know what it was like when my father passed away in 1994. It doesn’t seem like it was twenty years ago this year. A mixture of disbelief and confusion was emotions that I can remember feeling at the time.

His death was a shock. He wasn’t suffering from an illness that was terminal. He had been to work the day before and nothing seemed to be untoward. His asthma though had been troubling him for years and really taken hold on the year that he passed.

He died of an asthma attack in the kitchen of the family home. It was early morning and he had been struggling to breathe. I called an ambulance as six month previously he had suffered an attack that had left him in intensive care for some time and then his continued recuperation in hospital.

This time no such period happened. He died within a matter of minutes in front of mum and myself. A stark and appalling thing to witness. Paramedics had laid him out on the bed ready for collection by the undertaker.

He would have been 77 today had he survived. Time is a healer of grief. It took years for me to talk about it without bursting into tears. But here I am twenty years later and I often ask myself what he would have thought about the world and things going on around him. He would have been miserable and cantankerous that I am sure. He wouldn’t have wanted anyone to make a fuss over him and would have hated any ceremony that had been dedicated solely for him.

A gentle remembrance now and again. A nod to his existence in the world is what I give him.

the barefoot tree

Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!