August 2015 onwards was the start of my annus horribilis, or rather my horrendum mensibus and I am happy to see the back of it. Coping with death is bad enough without three key people in your life checking out in a very short space of time. Two in two days was just the pits.
The above paragraph kicked off my Blogger’s Log on 27th January 2016. Today I read about Helen Bailey whose life was turned around on On the 27th February 2011. Whilst enjoying a holiday in Barbados, her husband went for a swim. Tragically he was caught in a rip tide and drowned as Helen watched helplessly from the beach. How do you get over something like that?
At the age of 46, I crash-landed on Planet Grief, a place where nothing, not even my own reflection in the mirror, felt familiar. Helen Bailey
So true. Grief manifests itself in so many ways to the point you don’t even recognise yourself. There are plenty of books under the Self-Help section to help you cope, but grieving is such an individual process. What helped Helen Bailey was writing a blog @ www.planetgrief.com and if you are struggling with bereavement, I strongly recommend that you go there. You will find her blog helpful. Her writing is soothing reading, with an element of humour which we all need to get us through these dark times.
My own horrendum mensibus started towards the end of August, I lost someone who had become like a second Mother to me. She had been ill for a long time, so her death was not entirely unexpected, but it is always a shock when it happens. As a blogger and at a loss to know what else to do, like Helen Bailey, I too blogged short tribute.
I have just bought a bunch of sunflowers. I was in a trance whilst shopping at the supermarket, my mind was everywhere; totally unfocussed, well nothing to do with the supermarket anyway. Then I saw them. A flash of yellow. They jumped out at me catching my eye and focusing my mind. So I bought them.
Sunflowers always make me happy and today I woke up sad. I know that you would enjoy them and if you were here, you would tell me not to be sad. I love Sunflowers because they are not only my favourite colour, yellow, but they are bight, vibrant with an all encompassing joie de vivre. A bit like you really. They are calming and warm; very like you. They positively ooze fun and laughter; a lot like you.
If you were here you would say, “You don’t forget the fun times. You store them in your heart forever and you revisit them whenever you are feeling sad”. So I know I can never lose those times. I will never forget what a bright and colourful ray of sunshine you were in my life and you will stay with the fun times in my heart, as well as every time I look at sunflowers.
Two days later, my brother died. Completely out of the blue. Coincidentally, his favourite flowers were Sunflowers. One day after he died and still in shock I blogged again.
I wore my heart on my sleeve for Tuesday’s blog, Sunflowers. After I wrote it, I looked back at my year to date and considered it to be my annus horribilis. Then with gritted teeth, I started the grieving process.
In some ways I could, just about, get my head around losing such an important figure in my life, given that illness had blighted her last few years. Life so often has a tendency to turn around to bite individuals who have lived good and honest lives, when they are hit with some ghastly disease. So, in this case, I knew it was coming, it was just a question of when. It wouldn’t make it any less painful when the inevitable happened, but I knew this ray of sunshine in my life would finally cease to shine.
Bad things happen in threes don’t they? So that would be it for it for me. Three bad things for 2015. A health issue, a kick in the teeth and now coping with the loss of a key person in my life. My bad karma. Bad things happen in threes? Do they? Do they bullshit! Less than 48 hours later, history repeated itself and all too close to home again. This time, out of the blue. Totally unexpected. Totally unreal. Devastating. Another key person in my life, taken, but without warning.
Grief makes you angry. Grief makes you numb. Grief makes you feel nauseous. Grief makes you eyeball life and demand answers. So yesterday, like Tuesday, happened in slow motion, in a fog, my mind everywhere; totally unfocussed. My heart raw and devoid of feeling but you need to grieve, it is part of the healing process.
Since then, the way I have been coping about grief is writing about it. Whether or not you have done any writing before, I can assure you it is immensely therapeutic. I had started writing a book earlier in 2015 and from September 2015, I started throwing everything I had at it. An emotionally charged outpouring. A purple patch and just as I was getting my characters and chapters in some semblance of order. My Mother was taken into a nursing home at the end of November 2015 after a couple of falls and died on 13th December 2015.
I was with her, leading up to and when she died, but she still caught me on the hop. She died at 3.30a.m., ironically on the day I was going home to sort a few things out, before returning to be with her for Christmas. So it was still a shock but, I think, being with her, holding her hand at the end made a huge difference to how I coped with the situation. It was still surreal. It was still painful. It still is and always will be. I feel I have had an emotional pummeling overload and I am in the process of writing my way out of it. It is the only way I know how. If people ask me how I am. I say “I am fine. I am just very sad.” That is true, but how you really feel inside when somebody dies is very hard to communicate and I do think bottling up your emotions is bad for you. I should know, I am a great bottler upper.
Sharing grief, with people you don’t know via a blog or in book form is just to let other people know that they are not alone. It is not for everyone, but you could keep a diary and read it back to yourself at a later date so you will realise just how far you have come.
I didn’t blog about my Mother after she died, satire is my thing really, but I had blogged about her before. Four years ago I started writing The Crisis Blogs following my Mother’s Stroke in January 2012 from the day I first heard about it, until she came home from hospital the following April. A tongue in cheek account of how it affected both our lives.
After my Mother died, I actually stopped blogging. Blogging for me is like a cup of coffee and caffeine. I can’t start my day without it. My book characters were left dangling until, I finally got it together on 27th January 2016 with my Blogger’s Log and I haven’t looked back since.
Mustn’t forget to put the dustbin out tomorrow and with it I will dump all traces of 2015.
So, here endeth 2015. Good riddance is what I say. August 2015 onwards really became my annus horribilis, or rather my horrendum mensibus and I am happy to see the back of it. Coping with death is bad enough without three key people in your life checking out in a very short space of time. Two in two days was just the pits.
So .. hey! 2016 … yes, I am talking to you. I hope you are going to treat me better, during this time when to get my head together and move on. Surely you have no more curved balls to sling at me? Your predecessor had more than its fair share.
The characters in my book are calling for me. They keep me awake at night.
“Hello! I know your there … you’ve left me stranded … my life is on hold … what am I supposed to be doing next?”
That is a very good question and excellent place for me to start to put the lives of my dramatis personae in order, as well as my own.
Bring it on!
Photo Credit: Griefandsympathy.com