Grief. This is a tricky one. It affects all of us. One day it’ll be us causing it. I hoped you guys wouldn’t select this topic, but you have and I think that’s important because it is probably the hardest to speak about. All I am going to say is if I can help just one of the hundreds of readers here today, I will have completed my purpose. With that said, let us do this. Together.
My grandma recently passed away, her name was Carol. She lived about an hour and a half away from me further north. It was unexpected. Although she had recently been diagnosed with cancer I hadn’t made contact with her. I didn’t wish to speak to her or ask how she was because how ridiculous it seemed to me to ask someone with cancer ‘How are you?’. Well, she died 2 weeks later. She didn’t even know I knew she had cancer. Strangely, she died from a heart attack in her own home which is what she would have wanted, I also believe this was a blessing as I would have hated to witness her suffering. A few weeks later my first and only pet was hit by a car outside my house. I remember feeling his warm little body, completely drenched by rain and was in so much shock it took me 3 days to stop calling him to come in for his dinner. Kobi broke my heart.
With my grandma my initial feeling was regret. I remember this astounding wave drown me as I remembered all the times I had with her sitting in her front room and smoking until the early hours of the morning and how she never used to lie about the ugly secrets of the family and how she never held back when I asked a question. It came to me that I was built like her then. I found a connection. We had the same coldness and strength as each other. I was able to separate myself from the negative thoughts that I was feeling and take my grandmothers qualities on with me through my life. I wrote her a note when I went to see her in the chapel of rest which really helped me. I put all my thoughts on paper, the last few things I needed to tie up and tell her: my engagement, new job, dreams all coming true. It made me feel as though she was still involved and that I had her blessing.
Kobi however, ripped my entire heart clean out. I don’t know whether it was the circumstances or how he looked or how he felt or how sudden and unexpected it was but I know that’s a pain that will be extremely hard to beat. Losing my kitten was worse than losing my grandma because I wanted my grandma to be with my grandad who had died when I was younger anyway, I wasn’t selfish with my grandma – I knew my grandad needed her somewhere in the clouds and that she would be more complete with him in death than she would be without him and with us in life. With Kobi I was angry. The world had taken my best friend. I wanted to go on a vendetta to find who had hit him. I wanted to scream and throw every car off the road, this whole time not really believing it could be him. There was nothing I could do and I couldn’t handle it. I always like to have control and in a situation like this.. you don’t. No one does. Nature has to take its natural course.
I had trained Kobi to walk along roads because I live next to one. He walked 3 miles with me along the roads almost every day in summer. I couldn’t understand. After everything we had been through, living alone together, being bullied and tormented together that he was now gone. He was the reason I got through the hardest and most unwanted part of my life. I spent the whole day after he died in bed. Which was needed? I needed to listen to my body and come to terms with what had happened. I needed to cry. I needed to be alone and I needed to process. Once I had done this, I slowly started to feel better… with my family around me and friends there supporting me things got easier.
I found the burial of Kobi who is known in my household as the ‘King of the World’ easier than my grandmas. We put Kobi in a very stylish Louboutin box with a red velvet blanket over him, we all said our last goodbyes (i took some of his furs to put in a locket which I now wear every day) and we kissed him goodnight. I was happy with his send-off I knew he would be proud and pleased with what I and the family had done for him. It is very painful to talk about and share with you all but I dealt with my raw grief for Kobi by feeling every single little emotion that presented itself to me. Whether that was anger, sadness, remembrance, love, hate, I felt them all honestly and didn’t try to avoid them. I learned a lot about myself by being so honest about how I felt for a change. I asked for help when I needed it and I allowed support from others.
I went to see my grandma after she had died in the chapel of rest. I would personally recommend not to go and see your deceased relatives or friends because in all honesty there absolutely NOTHING like their well and alive self. I will not go into too much detail because my experience was totally horrific but your relative will be cold due to their bodies being flushed, their hair is straw-like and their general features are very distorted. This can do more harm than good to some but I have seen some terrible things. I would stay it is far better to remember your friend or family member how they were in life. Although seeing my grandma was quite traumatic I immediately broke the barrier between life and death by going over to her where she lay in her coffin and kissed her head – my mom who used to work in a hospital told me I do this as she used to have to do. This grounded me as initially I was quite ‘freaked out’ by the fact someone who was once so alive, that I loved was passed away in front of me. So, If you are going to see someone who is deceased I would highly recommend doing this. Despite the whole ordeal being uncomfortable I believe it was crucial to my realization of death and saying goodbye.
I think the key to healing from grief is welcoming different feelings. Don’t feel guilty for feeling anger or sadness or hatred. Just allow yourself to feel these emotions wholly and raw in their natural self. Think will aid your recovery and allow you to become a stronger person. Being honest about how you feel is often very hard and for some (like me) impossible. But even ‘impossible’ says ‘Im possible’.. and we can try. Just because people do not speak about the grief they have doesn’t mean they’re not feeling it and this is why you should be kind always – you never realize what someone else is going through.
One of my very good friends lost her dad when she was very young and she was still in school, to this day she is still heartbroken. But now she is starting her own family, which is phenomenal! My very best friend lost her mom, not long after this and every single day she is affected by what happened to her yet now she is a high flying entrepreneur in our very own capital city of London. These two girls astound me daily – they put up a fight against the world that they should never have had to! You should always be grateful for those you do have in your life. You should live every day as if it were your last. It is important that we have each other in hard times such as this. Most people who are suffering from grief are grateful just of a cup of tea or a quick text message. It only takes 2 seconds to brighten someone’s day.
I’m going to finish this blog post with a poem:
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes, we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
~ Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918,
Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral
Love, S x