4 Surprising Things I’ve learnt During The Loss Of Someone I Loved Deeply

Significant loss runs deep, and the loneliness can become overwhelming.

I didn’t want to write about loneliness – because it is quite a painful word that brings up many memories. As I sit here and type out these sentences, I feel the emptiness muddled up with grief that never leaves my side. I once experienced the grief of losing my father when I was 23, but this is quite different and more painful. It’s easy to get all caught up in the clutches of being alone with your pain, loss and sorrow. But, unfortunately, it’s also easy to allow it to overwhelm every aspect of your life and ignore those around you. Grief happened to me in many stages, and I’ve only come to realise the rubble left behind now that my mum has passed away. The grief I felt initially when the doctors informed us of her prognosis. I knew nothing of pancreatic cancer, yet when I saw the doctors eyes sink, I knew we didn’t have long with her. It’s been a very bumpy road, one in which I usually walked alone – In fact, I think I’ve walked these whole six months alone in my pain & suffering, with flickers of love from friends and family members. That allowed some light in amongst my darkest hours. Now that she’s gone, I feel the void inside my heart which is much like an ache in the soul. I’m not a grief expert, but it’s a longing, yearning and constant tugging of my heart-stings. It comes in waves, and at times, the tears start falling down my cheeks without any control. People I love, family and friends, always tell me that I’m not alone – but none of them can fill the emptiness that the loss of your beloved mother leaves behind when they depart. Perhaps it’s happened to you as well, but with a child, maybe a partner or a loving friend. It’s a pain that we all feel, in our way. That pain increases our loneliness and isolation from others. I have always kept to myself, and this loss has opened me up to healing over six months – I have human-angel friends who come long for a kind word, a hug or even some advice that helped me through. Slowly, I’ve come to see that I’m not so alone after all. I have learned four things that have made a profound difference towards the emptiness I feel in my heart throughout this journey. 

One: Friends are sometimes more comforting than family

This sets of loneliness with the loss for many people. Sometimes family don’t seem to show as much compassion, love and kindness as strangers do. I have many, many beautiful people I’ve come across who’ve shown me so much, love. Every time I walk in my neighbourhood, I see a friend or two for a hug, a little chat which is more like a pep talk. These people knew mum for a long time and understand my pain. But, they, too, find it hard to accept she’s gone and will never forget what a beautiful person she was. These friends are my saviours because you can share all the happy moments and remind yourself of those, rather than focusing on the hurt. Those text messages and prompts throughout the day can also help you talk about your feelings on any given day. However, there may be times when nothing can stop the flow of emotions – those moments are best amongst someone you love. Siblings or relatives can make things hard – and they don’t mean to most of the time. Outbursts and negative chatter can become a little hard to handle during your vulnerable stage. Proceed with caution, as some relatives cannot differentiate offensive and defensive comments very well. 

Two: It’s ok to cry when you need to without holding back

I’m working from home due to the Delta outbreak. It was a blessing in disguise, as I spent all my time with mum, even if I was working. Being near mum helped make the most of every single second. Now that she’s gone, I often have flashes of memories come to me, and that’s when things start getting rough. I have a good cry. Sometimes I’m alone, and at other times my daughter will come running in to comfort me. There was a time when I would hold back tears in fear and embarrassment. Even though I’m a lot older, I find it easier to cry now. Perhaps this is because the grief is too much, and the emotion of tears is the best way to verbalise the hurt. So now, wherever I am, I just let the tears flow. Emotions turn up and when they need to and then disappear. These are fleeting and don’t last long. But, if you allow them to come up, it will help make you feel a lot better. Practising deep long breaths helps too – and so does walking; I like to do both when I’m outdoors. A good deep breath with awareness helps to ease anxiety, pain and discomfort. 

Three: Finding yourself again takes time and gentle probing

Sigh, this is a tough one. I spent the last six months focusing on mum and getting by with work to pay the bills and look after my daughter. Do you know the feeling of doing something that is calling you in your heart? That calling was to be there for my mum every step of the way – no regrets. I figured everything else would be there, ready to start from day one when I was ready. When this happened – I realised all the rubble left behind. I had all this spare time and didn’t know what to do with it, yet behind me, there was a lot of unfinished business just sitting there – waiting. I didn’t know what my dreams were any more. I had big, grand plans in January 2021, and now it doesn’t seem that special anymore. My writing has been the saviour – so what do I do with it? Where do I go from here? At the moment, I don’t quite know what I want – but I know a few little things. First, there isn’t a deadline for dream creation and making it up to your family for any lost time. It takes time, effort and patience. But, unfortunately, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the pebbles left behind will have to be picked up and dealt with one at a time. That’s all there is left to it. 

Four: My cat became my comforter and watchful guardian

I have two dogs and one cat – all boys. I’m a dog person, but my cat has surprised me during my most challenging and most heartbreaking moments. This is Henry – he lived with my mum for many years until she could no longer look after him. We brought him home, thinking that perhaps he wouldn’t like the chance. Instead, he loved it and enjoyed his grandmother’s visits every day. When mum became sick, she was no longer coming over, and the animals missed her – no one more than Henry. Mum had about one week to live, then suddenly, something in Henry changed. He became attached to me, often greeting me when I’d come home. He noticed every time I cried and came running to hug and pat my face. These moments were some of the beautiful experiences I was blessed with during my grief. Henry has a sixth sense and could smell my mother’s death on my skin and clothes somehow. I was with mum almost all day, to the point where the smell would stay inside my nostrils. This is only the typical impending smell of a person dies. I cannot describe it, but animals pick up on this instantly – especially cats. As the days progress, I see more and more instances come up in my conscious. Have they been hiding all along? It’s incredible when you start focusing on something; it expands and contracts. Now I’m focusing on myself and my family a lot more. Restrictions are not that pleasant, but when you are around family and fur kids you love so much – You can’t conquer anything without love

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