Learning to live with grief

In my previous blog posts about my grief following the sudden loss of my son four months ago, I’ve written about how it changed over the first three months. I’ve written openly about my desperate attempt to find a moment’s relief from the crippling pain that fills me all day every day. My last blog post ended with finding a ‘glimmer’ – the tiniest fluttering in the back of my mind that I can be strong enough to survive this for my three boys and that I can somehow live some form of life.

This is what it has been for the past month. Trying, with every last ounce of strength that I have, to live. And it has been hard; exhaustingly so. I started my bereavement counselling at this point and I am so fortunate to have a strong, understanding counsellor. I also have the continuing support from my GP and I am still on a cocktail of strong medication. Some will say the medication simply masks my feelings and is delaying the inevitable. That may be, but I honestly could not get out of bed and face each and every day without it. I couldn’t. One day I might be able to, or maybe I never will. My opinion is, if the medication is doing something to help me get through each day for my boys, then it’s doing its job.

The corner that I have turned means that I have come to accept that the heavy weight that sits in my stomach from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, is now a part of me, just like my beating heart. It’s there, it’s never going to go away, so I have no choice but to learn to live with it. The same goes for the tears I cry – night after night. They’ll never stop, but I have to accept that they’ll come, every night when I sit next to my Ned. And not just then – they come during the day when a memory hits me so hard my legs give beneath me. But they’re a part of me, just as breathing is.

None of this means that the overwhelming urge for a moment’s relief has gone. Most days I have to curl myself into a ball and fight against the urge to cut my skin or to swallow a handful of tablets. It’s a daily battle and it’s hard – bloody horrendous. But I battle it because I know that the moment’s relief on offer is nothing more than that. A moment. And the feelings of guilt and no self-worth that followed these incidents just intensified the pain of grief. I had to realise that myself before I could stop. The professionals told me, but I didn’t listen. You have to realise it for yourself.

Having self-worth has been key, this past month. If I don’t believe that I have a right to live and try to have happy moments, then I’ve lost the battle. I give up. I die. This is something I talk a lot about during my counselling sessions. One thing we’ve set up is that I have one day a week, without the boys, away from home, with my friend. This one day has kept me afloat over the last few weeks. We spend the days chatting, drinking coffee, browsing shops, walking – just being. I have a handful of close friends who have been with me every step of the way and I know, from the bottom of my heart, I wouldn’t be here writing this without them. I will never be able to find the words to thank them for their support and kindness.

This past week has been incredibly hard, with the start of the summer holidays. I have felt Ned’s absence so acutely, it literally takes my breath away. It was almost like I pretended he was at school before, but with the other two at home, I can’t pretend. This has brought with it a new pain, a new part to my grief. The realisation that Ned isn’t here. He never will be. But how do I begin to accept that? How do I begin to accept that I will never hold my little boy again? Never see his beautiful face or hold his little hand? Never hear his infectious laugh? Never feel his warm body cuddled up against me? The answer is that I never will. It’s too big. It’s too incomprehensible. That’s what I accept now. I accept that I’ll never accept Ned’s death because if I did, then my heart would stop beating and I would no longer be. And I can’t allow that to happen because my other two boys need me, and Ned needs me to keep his memory alive.

So this is the new me – the me who lives with my grief. Writing has helped me from the very start. I have written this today because the overwhelming sadness was clinging to me and I was pacing the house trying to breathe through it. Sitting myself down and writing this blog focused my mind, slowed my breathing and stopped my tears. I am in the middle of decorating our office space to be my ‘work’ space, as my job now is being an author. My youngest will be attending nursery school four mornings a week as of September – these will be my work hours. This is when I will get back into writing.

My debut book ‘Grace-Ella: Spells for Beginners’ will publish on the 15th of September with Firefly Press. The first book in a series – a series that I will write in my new office space. A series that will be written because slowly I am beginning to believe and accept that I should and need to be alive, and that I have the right to have happy moments. A series that will be written because Ned would have wanted it to be written. He was the one who inspired me to begin writing and he inspires me to continue to do so.

My eldest son, Tomi, found out that my book was available to pre-order on Amazon and said, ‘Mam, you’re on Amazon. That’s a bit cool.’ I’ll take that with a big smile on my face and I will follow my dream of being a children’s author to make my three sons proud.

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