I’ve just read some beautiful words around releasing the guilt of not saying goodbye or not telling someone you love them before they pass and it inspired me to write this post. At the moment, many are losing loved ones to COVID-19 without the opportunity to say goodbyes or that they love them. There will be many grieving and will grieve for years to come. That is ok. This situation is not normal. I grieve with you.
First let me start by saying, there is no one way or right way to grieve. Ok? I’m 35 years old and I still grieve; my mother, grandad and white nan, (I’m mixed race, we had a white nan and have a black nan) I lost at 11 years old. I still grieve my first dog Iverson, older ones in my congregation I lost over the years. Grief doesn’t have to have an end date, a specific subject or manner. I will say this, grief can be damaging when it is not understood or identified. “What is she on about?” I hear you say. Ok, stick with me…
Get rid of the stigma.
You’ve seen my blog post ‘ok to cry’? If not, go read it then come back here. Crying is an amazing, beautiful and varied release of love, joy, happiness, pain, anger and grief. So firstly, I would say it is ok to cry when we lose someone or something. Crying is a symbol that a person, pet or thing was loved, will be missed, was a cherished part of our lives. Or it could represent relief they are gone…my point is crying is natural. So as the Bloodstones sang in 1982, “go and cryyyy my son, (or daughter), cry til’ your tears are done…”
But I wasn’t there
Pamela Dawn Young died of a brain tumor caused by breast cancer in 1996. A few years ago, I realised I was holding on to alot of guilt when it came to my mother which explained why, through the years, I have gone above the call of duty many times when it came to being there for others and putting them first. I felt I had failed my mum by not being there when she died and not going to dress her body with my siblings. Yes, I was only 11, but this childish guilt did not become apparent until an epiphany in a bubble bath years later in my 30s. One night recently, during this lockdown when I have oodles of time for reflection, I had a moment of guilt and hardcore tears when remembering the situation and timing around the death of my mum. I realised I was still holding on to another element of guilt I had. I said to my husband I hoped my mum knew I loved and appreciated her. He lovingly assured me that she did, and what I should think about are positive memories I have of her time with us.
I share my story to say, taking time to fully grieve is important and time you owe to yourself. It is important to recognise and address feelings of guilt, to accept your limitations, especially now with Government and hospital restrictions, forgive yourself for blaming yourself and let yourself love your person in memory, in word and in spirit. I love to talk about my mother, love to brag about her, I find it therapeutic. I tell my family and friends I love them regularly to ensure they know it. I try to be passionate with anything I choose to do in life, and do it to the full. I work on drawing up positive, loving memories of these ones so my tears become tears of joy and happiness.
If you have children, do talk about your lost loved ones. Encourage your children to talk about how they feel about the death of a loved one, about the situation the world is facing right now. That kind of support wasn’t emphasised enough when I was a child, and my darling father was trying to protect us. I wish I could have processed all of this in my childish way to get the reassurance I needed. Now, I am thankful for understanding and knowledge of my grief. I can live on without guilt and laugh and cry with a smile on my face. You can live on too in love and with love.