Time Heals All Wounds: Dealing with Grief and Loss

I don’t know about you, but for me, time does not heal all things.

The picture in the header of this post is of the house where I grew up, and it still makes me sad to look at it. It has been 7 years and I still feel the grief of losing my Mum like it was yesterday.

I just don’t talk about it anymore, not even with my husband. I used to, but the conversation is always something like this:

Me: ‘I’m missing Mum again’

Him: ‘Yeah…’ (looks at me in a sympathetic way before going back to what he is doing).

I mean, what can he say really? I don’t have anything specific to talk about, just that I’m missing her. I don’t really share stories too often because it makes me sad. I’ve dealt with it mainly by blocking out the past. Whenever thoughts pop up, I just try to brush them aside and focus on the present, but sometimes I just get overwhelmed with feelings, not thoughts. Like if I’m out and I hear a song/hymn that reminds me of her, or if I smell something that smells like her, or even if I see/hear other people talking about how special their mums are…

I’ve just recently put a photo of her in our lounge room. I haven’t had any photos of her sitting around before, and I’ve put all the photo albums away; looking at photos of her is just too painful and I miss her too much. But now I just find myself avoiding the photo. It’s only natural to avoid things that hurt.

Most people I meet would have no idea how I’m feeling. I rarely talk about the past, and if I do, it’s to share a funny story about Mum and I. I suppose most people would think I’m dealing with it well. I don’t really know what dealing with grief well is really; yes, I’ve gotten on with my life, sort of, and yes I function fine from day to day, mostly, but I still feel it. I just wouldn’t have any friends if I went around mourning on the outside for 7 years.

What makes it more difficult is that I’m living in a different state now to where I grew up. Nobody here knew me when I was growing up, nobody knows much about me and its hard to make close friends. It’s hard to share memories with people who weren’t there. Even with my husband, he tries to understand, but how can he when he doesn’t know who I’m talking about or what Mum was like? He has what I tell him, but hearing about something is so different from experiencing it for yourself, just like hearing about somebody is different from knowing them for yourself.

When Mum died, I went to live with her relatives in a different state. My father contested her will, wanting more for himself. The court case went on for over a year, and when I turned 18 I had to get a lawyer of my own. During that whole time, I was forced to remember all the bad things that went on between dad, Mum and I, and I didn’t get to remember all of the good things. I think, due to the stress and trauma of it all, I had a lot of trouble remembering things and I would say I couldn’t remember, but I would be told that I had to remember if I wanted to get through this court case. Eventually, he dropped it, but during that year and a half I had only thought about the bad things, I had no time to grieve, and I had nobody to talk to. There was nobody in this state who knew me growing up, and since I lived in the country with terrible reception and a pre-paid phone plan, I couldn’t be in touch with my old friends I had left behind. I couldn’t talk to any of my father’s side of the family because I didn’t know what was going on and which ones of them would pass information on to my father and I didn’t know who to trust. It was just easiest to block everything out and start a new life. My cousins said I should do something, so as soon as I moved here I went to uni. In hindsight, that was a bad decision, but at the time it gave me something to focus on. I think maybe it would have been better if I had stayed in my room and grieved, but I threw myself into uni and came out with top marks in everything. Not that it mattered, because I’m not using any of it today…

I’m not just grieving for the loss of my Mum, although that is the main thing. I’m grieving the loss of my friends, my family, my old life, my childhood, my time that I wasted studying a course at uni that I’m not going to use…I can’t go back to my old home state without feeling an unbearable sadness, especially when I go to places familiar to me.

Nowadays I find it hard when others lose somebody close to them. I do feel for them, but at the same time I see all the support they’re getting from friends and family and I just feel sad that I didn’t have that support. I never really had a father, and even when I was young I used to feel really sad when I saw my cousins/friends sitting on their fathers’ laps because I didn’t have a father to do that with; he was never around, and if he was, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable sitting on his lap. Most people I see who lose a loved one have a parent or siblings to help them through and they get so much support. My father went around telling people bad things about me and a lot believed him. I decided not to defend myself because what would be the point? Anybody who was my friend would ask my side of the story for themselves and anybody who wasn’t would see the truth themselves in time. I’ve been in touch with most of my father’s side of the family now and we’re on good terms, except for one lot of cousins who had the least to do with anything, but won’t speak to me for reasons unknown to me. That hurts too, but that’s a story for another day…

The point I’m trying to make is, although I have a great husband who I love and I can’t complain about my life, I’m still grieving. I don’t talk about it, because I don’t want to be that person who drags everybody down. I’m not a fake person, and I have a hard time talking about light stuff and laughing at things that aren’t funny and smiling when I don’t feel like it, but I don’t talk about the things that make me sad, I just keep doing what I’m doing until the feeling goes away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy most of the time, and I enjoy doing lots of things, but deep down there’s always this little bit of grief and sadness that could overwhelm me if I let it. The loss of my Mum has left a hole inside that nobody, not even my husband, can fill. If I got one wish, it would be to go back and start my life again so I could have more time with her and be a better daughter.

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