Grief, at 32

December 4, 2015

When is there a right time to talk about grief?

Never really. At least that’s the conclusion I have found considering I have let this post sit on the back burner of my brain for quite sometime

Every time I think I will give it a whirl someone I know loses a parent, another friend miscarries a baby or , terminal illness hits a young adult close to mine or my husband’s heart.
Death is everywhere.

Great uplifting start to this post, eh?

So what qualifies me to write about such a topic?

I actually think all and any of us could put thoughts about death and grief on a page.
The position I come from is the fact that I “lost” my daddy the week before my eighth birthday. He was terminally ill and needed a heart transplant.
Added to those cupboards of grief in my complicated and diverse brain is the baby I miscarried the night before my thirteen week scan, the uncle who died suddenly around the time of my A level exams, and the list goes on …

Each of us know of,

in some capacity, whether deeply rooted or on the surface perhaps when a work colleague suffers a loss, how  grief feels.
How those questions of why? What if? What the frig is this all about? roam our train of thought when we realise that someone has gone forever.

It’s a process we face and it’s OK to talk about it

Below are some of the common questions and truths I have found and am exploring in my own grief journey

It gets easier, the pain becomes less”

Now there’s a line you hear often enough.

I do believe it though. And my incredible mother is living proof of it. The pain she said she felt the days and nights after dad passed were grim. She tells of how getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night during the summer of 1991 she would wonder how on earth she would make it through.
My aunty said she thought she would never smile or laugh again.
I thought I would never happily look at someone else’s pregnant belly again.

But somehow, we do. I did, She did and, it can be done.

Nothing, I repeat NOTHING takes the pain of loss away fully. I am testimont to the fact that my grief is more apparent now when I see my brothers business success, or my own children’s characteristics, that I feel grief harder and stronger than ever before. Longing and wishing Dad were here to witness it all and tell us his opinion on the roast dinner cooked by mum.

But if you are in the midst of or right at the start of your own grief journey now, some day you will smile unknowingly again. And the hurt become bearable and days right themselves.

When my uncle died I remember being so sad that the radio still played and the people down the road rode their horses and penned in the sheep. I was eighteen and it dawned on me that the world sadly doesn’t stop when someone in your life dies. That was a bitter  pill to swallow in my teenage years. But it seems it’s not out of the ordinary.

It’s a big old world and, sadly death is a huge part of our daily life.

Whether it be our own lives affected or those around us.

It’s ok to cry

Heavens above it sure is! Perhaps it’s that I’m now a mother, or indeed that I’m twenty weeks pregnant. But I cry. I cry for my dad at least three times a week.
I see his favourite loaf of bread at the supermarket and I cry when my mum agrees that he would have loved to see the mayhem of my children wrestling on the carpet.
I cry at Kate Winslet in the movie ‘The Holiday’ ( that was last Friday actually).

Let it out.

Crying is not only therapeutic it is a ritual known to us to physically cope when the body can’t do anything else to deal with hurt.
Cry like you’ve never cried before and embrace those memories of that loved one who your heart is yearning to have beside you right now. You’re allowed to.

Sometimes I think we worry about crying as it maybe shows weakness. No it flipping doesn’t.
You are a warrior championing every day of your grief ridden life tackling the sadness from twenty years ago, or the death of a partner two months ago, and you are Perfectly entitled to let those beautiful tears flow.

There’s no hierarchy in grief

My husband said this to me recently.

Sometimes, embarrassingly and shamefully I get jealous of friends I know who are suffering grief at age 32.
I am not proud of it but from time to time I respond to their sadness with stupid words (into myself ) like “well at least your dad walked you down the aisle”, or, “but no body lives forever,  do they?. What do you expect?”
My wise husband ( who writes over here in a slightly more uplifting post about fatherhood) used the above line when I shared my unkind thoughts with him and it stuck with me.

It doesn’t matter when we suffer grief, it doesn’t matter how long we knew the person – our grief is our own.

Our sadness is OUR sadness and we deal with it how we should.

In saying that my mum constantly reminded us (my brother and I ) growing up that it was in some ways easier to process that our daddy died of natural causes and not in a freak accident or a murder scenario. I agree with this. There may not be hierarchy but there are ways in which death is more tragic and complicated and people are left wondering and damaged by the extreme mass of events.

In a nutshell. Live and let live.

In the same way you will torture yourself by thinking how life could have been, you will also torture yourself in comparing your personal grief to that of an others.

You wouldn’t want to be in someone else’s shoes during a school exam if you knew they would flunk it, would you?
Stay out of it. Focus on your own exam.

Grief will shape your life.

It will.
Grief will play a role in every decision you make there after the event. And that is to be praised and acknowledged!
I know my life is determined by goal setting and business success and family abundance because of the gap I felt growing up without a father from a very young age.

And I now feel thankful for that.
Perhaps there are times (like my degree show) where I really felt, despite being twenty three years old, that I was on a blind search amidst my grief, yet it still needed to be done. And it’s because of that search and journey that I went on to complete my masters and have my two beautiful boys alongside a loving husband.

You will find people who “get it’

Right now you may feel like no one understands. Nobody gives a Toss about your 3 pm slump after visiting a loved one with Alzheimer’s and, nobody knows what to say to you when they bump into you in the street.
But the more you talk openly the more chances there are of you meeting someone or being introduced to a person who has suffered a similar grief.
And what an Angel they will be.

Understanding, listening, sharing, rooting for you because they feel that deep deep anguish eating your soul. And you will know you are not alone.

Grief puts life into perspective

Again, to drag my husband into this, he would often comment that I am pretty spontaneous and don’t dwell on silly matters too long.
I find that disputable ( especially when you think of that time in 2006 where he didn’t get me a fourth drink from the bar because he felt It was home time… I dwell on that from time to time!!).

However I take his point about me as flattery.
I read an article recently giving advice to young kids who had a lost a parent and one of the things it noted was how kids who have lost a parent don’t overthink and dwell on the fickle things. They know it’s the big stuff that matters like family, living life, travelling and feeling and showing love.

I agree with this.
Although our worlds shatter from the top floor to the very foundations when we suffer at the hands of grief, it serves as a constant steadfast reminder that life is to be lived. It’s short and we keep going.

There are a ton of things I could ramble on and say but all I want is for you to know that it is ok to live in this grief while it lasts.

It is ok to feel lonely and out of your depth. It is ok to get emotional and to seek blame.

But it is equally ok to start to surface for a little while on the other side.
You are not alone although you may feel it and, talking does help. So keep talking and hoping.

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  • Reply melwiggins December 4, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Brave, honest Aly. Thanks for putting your hard emotions out there, shining a bit of light into the dark places of grief – that’s a beautiful thing xo

    • Reply Aly December 4, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Mel, thanks for taking the time to read this. Hope to be in your presence very soon x

  • Reply Jamie Parker December 4, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Perfect! I can completely relate to everything you say. I love the honesty in this post, probably because it’s all of the feelings I have felt and would only dare share them with my husband because I simply didn’t want to burden anybody with my ‘stuff’ (grief!). Thank you for this Aly X

    • Reply Aly December 4, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      Jamie thank you for reading and for sharing your hurt. Good to know we have so many things in common in this personal story of grief! Thank you xx

  • Reply Nic December 4, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Thank you for this Aly… two things in particular really touched me – the feeling of unfairness that life goes on when you’re grieving & ‘at least your dad walked you down the aisle’. I’m also sad that my kids never got to meet my dad. Tomorrow is the anniversary of his death, so it’s been comforting to read this today and have a good cry. I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to be sad… it took me a long time to realise this. Thanks again. x

    • Reply Aly December 4, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      I agree! It actually took some counselling after my second born for me to realise that grief not talked about was the one thing that was holding me back and hurting me more. So sorry to hear for your loss and thank you for taking the time to read and share your story xx

  • Reply Sandra simpson December 4, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    great piece Aly you hit the nail on the head on so many points and things i fibd myself doing and saying!!!

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Sandra thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I know your journey has been tough also. Keep trucking! X

  • Reply Sarah December 4, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you, lovely

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Thank you for reading and commenting

  • Reply Rach December 4, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Such a beautifully honest and wise post, thank you so much for sharing. Having lost friends too young to have lived a full life and watched family suffer for years before passing I know those days when hiding under the duvet and sobbing at what could have been is the only option and other days where you live completely for them making memories they never had the chance to but would want you to make! Sending you loads of love xx

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Rachel thank you reading and for sharing these poignant images of life underneath the duvet and not knowing how to start to process deep hurt through a loss. I really appreciwt your input and time to do this. Sending love xxx

  • Reply Janine December 4, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    I said to Michael recently that I feel in a bit of a griefy trough at the minute – this sums it up really well. I don’t know if it’s the time of year or just a bit of a swing back into the grief, but you’re so right in all you say. It really doesn’t matter. It is what it is, and it’s my grief and I can own it and try not to let it own me. So we’ve put the tree up and listened to Kate Rusby sing Christmas loveliness and I’ve thought about my own childhood Christmases. And I might cry a bit later or tomorrow, but I will live my life at the same time. Love you, lady xx

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 10:59 am

      I know I have replied to you on other media formats but again thank you for sharing and opening. Life is tough yet it’s to be enjoyed so sit and be and know u love and care for you. Also that your dad was AMAZING. Xxx

  • Reply Barbara Crawford December 4, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    After losing my mum 5 years ago ( And 6 weeks after giving birth to my first son) , I struggled so badly and didn’t looking back deal with it well… I was so angry with the world and all in it and like you made a comment ” how does the world keep moving when my world is falling apart”…I finally succumbed myself to being treated for depression which to be honest was the first thing that brought my head above the clouds . I cherish every memory I had with my dear mum, but am sad about all the things she did not get to be part of. However my two sons know all about my mum, as I talk about her and have Her presence well within my home and my heart. Five years on, it sometimes feels like yesterday … But I am very grateful to have been brought up by an amazing lady and hope that I can be half the person she was…

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Barbara thank you for reading this post and for opening up such a painful memory. I too only felt like I could face my grief when I went for counselling which I thought was for post natal depression. But it turned out my grief was Undealt with and it gave me such tools to process the hurt. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and trust you will continue on your journey knowing so many of us have the struggle whether it is raw or underlying. Thank you x

  • Reply Joanne December 4, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    I enjoyed reading about this.having recently experienced the death of my dad and taking a ride on the train of grief it makes a lot sense what you said. Like the world doesn’t stop just cause your worlds stopped and jealous of others who have their father still with them.its a journey and we will. Survive although the journey may be bumpy along the way. For now I am accepting the feelings I have sadness, memories of the good times, hurt ,pain cause we’re all human.

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 10:55 am

      Thank you for reading and for your own beautifully honest words. So good to know we’re not alone. Sending you love on this wet Saturday x

  • Reply Judith O'Hagan December 4, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    I think Uncle John would be very proud:-)

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 7:15 am

      Love you Cous! Thank you x

  • Reply Lynne Mounstephen December 4, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    One week into losing a parent, your words really strike a cord. Thanks for sharing, Aly.

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 7:14 am

      Lynne I can only imagine how raw and bewildering your most recent days have been. If there is anything in this post that helps, I am happy but equally comforted by you sharing your hurt. Much love and prayers. Aly

  • Reply Naomi December 5, 2015 at 1:11 am

    Aly, thank you for sharing this. I also lost my daddy when I was seven, and so I share with you, in part, the endlessness of missing someone you never really knew. The grief that hits you unexpectedly in waves, long after time ought to have been a great healer. The unfairness of a world that simply carries on. But I also have a mum who, although her world shattered that day in 1987, and who is one of the most quiet and humble ladies you could ever meet, had the faith and strength of character to just keep going. Because that’s all we can do. I spent most of my childhood and a substantial part of my adult life feeling angry and wondering when it would all be over, when the grief would finally go away – until I realised it never would never truly be over, and that was okay. Accepting that was such a turning point for me. My grief has changed and it has of course lessened over the years, but it has shaped who I am and I can feel at peace with that now. My love to you for sharing your heart in this blog x

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 7:13 am

      Naomi what a powerful story you tell and thanks for sharing. I couldn’t agree more about my own Mother and her humble uncomplaining attitude towards her grief. I was interviewed by a reporter yesterday and I mentioned the rock she has been despite the pain. Honestly, thanks for telling me this. X

  • Reply Sarah December 5, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Good woman for putting this together. So much to relate to in here. Well said & heartfelt. REAL, just like you. I would also say that whilst there is absolutely a tendency to not sweat the small stuff, death and grief also ensures you appreciate the small stuff when you stop and smell the roses. Love you girl xx

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 11:09 am

      Have tried now three times to comment back but it keeps erasing. Maybe it intends me to see you in person and squeeze you, my wing woman and my angel. Love you and thanks for the reminder to see the small as good as the big at times xx

  • Reply Janine December 5, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Aly, sometimes I think I couldn’t love or respect you anymore than I already do. Or that couldn’t inspire me anymore than you already do or how I get so excited about your work succeeding. And I read this and it just makes me love you more! Thank you for sharing this. It is amazing.

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Janine thank you for reading and for such beautiful words in response! Sending love and thanks for you right back to you in Bangor. Special simple friendship xx

  • Reply Jenny macartney December 5, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Really loved this Aly, though found it so sad to relate to your mums suffering in ’91. Lyndsey was just a baby and we were close by , but unaware. Your mum is an amazing woman and so are you . Much love to you both xx

    • Reply Aly December 5, 2015 at 11:02 am

      But Jenny what an incredible second mum and friend you became for me so shortly after all the sadness in our house! For this I will be forever thankful. Taking me under your wing. Xxxx

  • Reply 35. - AmandoBlogs.comAmandoBlogs.com September 27, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    […] someone who was lucky enough to live such a long, full life. My friend Aly wrote a really beautiful post about grief and how it has no hierarchy and that really helped me… but […]

  • Reply Ydele White December 11, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Aly, I’m only reading this post of yours now for the first time. So lovely – honest and true. The post I’m currently writing and cannot get myself motivated to finish touches on this slightly. My dad passed away 14 years ago, less than two weeks before I turned 22. We miss him so much. You are right, it is so good to cry, and often. We need to meet sometime. Talking is good, it is therapy for the soul. From one to another. Love & hugs xo

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Ydele! Thanks for your comment and so sorry for the delay. Grief is such a huge huge topic that writing or typing about it can be draining. I loved checking in on your blog over the holidays, keep going! Happy new year and hopefully this year will be our year for meeting and getting the troops together! Thanks again for following and commenting xx

  • Reply Jenifer swan December 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Aly I’ve only recently come across your artwork on instagram and through this your blog. I find your honesty so refreshing as an irish woman I know how much we love to downplay our emotions. I’m facing Christmas with a mixture of dread and hope. Lots of pain and lots of grief this year but I’m trying to embrace it as much as I embrace the hope of the christ child. Thank you!

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      Jenifer how was your Christmas in the end? So sorry for the delay. My blogging is slow these days and I apologise for not checking in sooner. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I trust that you feel refreshed and somehow emotionally equipped for the year ahead. Thanks for reading and commenting and following! x

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