letters to younger me: everything i wish i knew about… grief

when you think about grief you think about death. well it’s where your mind goes generally. but there are so many more forms of grief that you will experience over the course of a lifetime. they won’t all hit the same, or take the same about of time to recover from, but they are all grief, they all hurt and will leave you feeling crippled.

the best piece of advice, well not advice but the biggest lesson learnt is probably that no one will tell you there is a limit they put on how long you can grieve. after a period of time be it a week, month, or year/s , all of a sudden everyone decides you should be ‘over it’ or ‘move on’.

the thing is, with any type of loss, you never really ‘get over it’. you simply learn to move forward, because you have to.

you learn, you will learn, to put your hurt and pain in a box, in the corner of your mind and heart. you’ll pull on it sometimes when you want to, or need to, remember what it is to feel on that level or that you deserve to be hurt again.

something to remember is this: we might lose people but we will never lose what they gave us. the memories. the love. the laughter. the lessons. this goes for every type of grief – including death and break-ups. the guy who told you you deserve the world – that he wanted to give it to you but couldn’t – he reminded you of what you deserve and that there are good guys out there. i know you still miss him – maybe you always will – but he reminded you of your worth. that can’t be a bad thing.

the thing with loss and grief is that it’s never going to be okay. it’s never going to be okay. it’s always going to hurt. your heart will always be broken but it just gets less debilitating. the cracks will heal but you’ll always feel the break. you’ll just learn to live with it. you learn to get out of bed, you can eat again but it’s always going to hurt.

somedays the heaviness will be unbearable. other days, you’ll remember little things about them that make you smile. like whenever you see a rainbow, you’ll think about grandad. it will be bittersweet; the happy memory of them tinged with sadness.

in the early days you’ll see them everywhere, hear them in every song on the radio. over time this will get easier but you’ll never be fully prepared for those moments where the grief hits you out of nowhere. when you think you see them in line at the supermarket just to realise that it is impossible or improbable. when the radio starts playing a song that reminds you of them the most, or that has a lot of memories attached to it. you’ll feel like the grief has hit you fresh all over again. the ground will feel like it’s opening up. it’s not. you’ll be okay. you made it through the first hour, first day and week. you’ll make it through this. if you need to run out the supermarket, that’s okay. if you need to excuse yourself and go to the toilet to cry, that’s okay too. crying yourself to sleep again is okay.

we all deal with grief in different ways; we all process it differently. we all have different timelines. when it really seems too tough just tell yourself ‘if you can get through the next 10 seconds, you can get through anything’. be kind to yourself through it. try not to isolate yourself too much; being around people can help. i say ‘can’ because some people are not going to be productive whilst you grieve and heal, whilst you get to a point where you can function day-to-day.

grief teaches you a lot about people. about yourself and those around you. your strength will surprise you. remember, as mr sheeran sings, ‘a heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved’ – and that ain’t a bad thing at all.

xoxo M

There will come a time…

There will come a time where the tears don’t fall everyday. Where a task as simple as breathing won’t hurt. Where you can remember them with a smile, instead of tears falling down your cheeks. There will come a time it won’t hurt so much to talk about them, and remember the person they were. You’ll talk about them with a smile on your face and joy in your heart instead of a heaviness on your chest and knots in your stomach.

 

There will come a time when that song comes on the radio that reminds you of them you’ll turn it up and sing along, instead of changing the station because it’s too raw to listen to it just yet. You’ll let yourself get swept up in the melody and remember with a sad smile the moments that you shared with that song. When it’s finished you’ll sit there and say hey to them, because you believe it’s their way of letting you know they are still around.

 

There will come a time when you see something or experience something that you know they would have found funny and you’ll laugh a little bit louder and harder because imagining their reaction to it makes it funnier somehow.

 

There will come a time when you are used to them not being around, you won’t like it and wish they were still here, but you will get used to them being gone. It becomes the new normal, no matter how much you know it’s not really ‘normal’ that they are gone, it becomes your new normal. It has to because, although they are gone, you have to keep on living. Even on those days you don’t want to. You get to keep on making memories, going places, meeting people. You won’t be ok with them being gone, but it will become a type of normal.

 

There will be times when the sadness comes back stronger, usually when there is a big event; weddings, promotions, proposals, births and graduations. You get sad that they aren’t there to share those moments with you because they should be. They should be there for all of it. Or at least that’s what we feel. That’s the way we think it should be. Life isn’t that nice though. It’s true the only certainty in life is death, we just get too busy living and forget. We always think we have tomorrow.

 

There will come a time that the anniversaries become a time to reflect as well as mourn. On Tuesday it will be 2 years since my beloved Grandad passed. 2 years. I don’t even know where that time has gone. So much has happened since then but yet it still feels like yesterday. I found myself walking past his old flat the other day whilst I was on my way to meet friends. For a second I forgot he had gone, and started smiling at his front door and then, of course, I remembered.

 

Grief is not pleasant. Everyone knows that, those that have experienced it first hand know that. Some people find respite in various sources – drink and drugs (both prescribed and not) are probably the most common. It is my belief that they only serve to numb the pain for a time – as John Green said “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt”. I think, where grieving is concerned, you have to feel the pain in order to move on, in order to carry on. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

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On Tuesday there will be tears, there will be sadness. There will be tea and biscuits. There will be memories shared. There will be Glenn Miller playing. There will be talk of rainbows. Gerry and the Pacemakers will no doubt make an appearance. I expect we will play The Dave Clark Five’s ‘Glad All Over’ and sing it at the top of our lungs to honour my Grandad’s love of Crystal Palace.

We will remember the man, who he was. What he meant to us, and still means to us. We will, begrudgingly, thank him for his gifting the majority of us with the ‘Snook Spamhead’ – you’ve never met a family with such large foreheads I tell ya. We will wonder together what he would have made of different situations that have happened, of where all our lives have taken us. We will all know, without a doubt, how much he would have loved to have met the three great-grandchildren that came after he left; Mason-James, Lieselotte and Betsy-Bear.

There will be love and smiles as we remember him, and we will realise, again, how lucky we were to have him as ours because he really was the best.

 

Grandad,

 

I love you. I miss you. I hope you’re proud.

 

I’ll meet you at the end of the rainbow.

 

Xoxo Michaela

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