Today is a tough day for me, but I thought what a better way to distract myself than to start this mental health blog. I have wanted to do this for some time, but haven’t been mentally prepared enough. Its time stigma is stamped out and more people are able to speak out about their mental health, not be afraid to disclose it on an application form and for people to understand, “I’m not socially awkward, I have crippling anxiety”.
This post isn’t going to focus on anxiety, it’s going to focus on loss. I recently started to look into my family tree, again. What shocked me more than anything was the number of loved ones I have lost in such a short time. I remember being 9 years old when I suffered my first loss. My uncle who was a high ranking individual in the Army took his own left via gunshot.
I remember waking up to my mother screaming, running into the living room to see the TV just on static, my other uncle was with my mother and I ran up to her. She started screaming “he’s dead, uncle ***** is dead!” I was 9, I hadn’t suffered a loss before, but I remember the feeling, it was as if someone had punched me in the face, stomach and back all at the same time. I remember beginning to cry and hugging my mother, not fully understanding what had happened or what was going on. The rest of that night was a blur, in fact, I only remember small snippets of what happened in his funeral, what happened when we tried to lay him to rest and that it was a sunny day. Fast forward to 2018, I have lost a total of around 12 family members and 8 friends in the 21 years’ since my first loss.
My most recent lost happened this time in 2017. My beautiful, funny, loving, caring and amazing cousin took her own life via overdose. I will never know what went through her mind in her loss moments, but I have witnessed what has been left behind, I thought I’d be angry, I was original, that she could do this on a family that has already lost so much, but now I’m just heartbroken. She was a mother, a daughter, a partner, a friend, a sister, a granddaughter, an auntie, and a cousin. She had so much to live for, I won’t name names or go into too much detail on what happened in an attempt to keep my family protected, but I remember taking the call from my aunt, we don’t talk often, we are more texters.
She had immediately thought someone had to let me know as I’m usually one of the last to find out. I remember saying to my boss “Someone must have died, she never calls me.” She called me and told my cousin was already dead, I asked her if she was joking and told her what I’d said. She started to cry and said she was gone, I asked her how, how had this happened, I’d spoken to her via Facebook not that long ago. I got details from my aunt on what hospital she was in, I told my boss I had to go, I collected my stuff, ran out of the building whilst trying to ring my partner to tell him. Again, the rest of the drive home was a blur. I remember picking up my little cousin (my cousin’s sister), who is more like my little sister. We went up to the hospital, I don’t remember what was going through my mind until I got to where we were supposed to be, I remember entering the room to go find where my cousin was, a girl I didn’t like asked me how I was, I remember thinking “are you fucking serious? My cousin is lying dead behind that door and you just asked me how I was?!” I went into the room, I saw my cousin’s mother, her brother (my cousin), my cousin who had passed partner, and my aunt (my cousin’s mum).
My little cousin ran to her mum and started to cry, I looked at my cousin, she was so pale, bloated and not at all like her usual swarthy skin. I think I was in shock, I hugged my aunt, I remember speaking to her and her speaking to me, I seem to have blocked out what was said, but I just couldn’t believe it. The rest of the day was a blur. Something you should know about me, I don’t do grief the way others do, this is due to a childhood trauma I probably won’t discuss on this blog. However, the day of the funeral arrived, my partner was by my side, I remember I’d kept telling my cousin how sorry I was I wasn’t there for her, that I would look after her mum, sister, brothers and her daughter who was only 8. I remember just wanting to make sure my cousins were okay, whilst my other cousin who had come from England (his mother was the aunt that called me) was squeezing my and hugging me, as was my partner, just letting me know they were there. We left the house and walked down the side towards the car park, I spotted the funeral car and my emotions took over. She couldn’t be gone, she couldn’t be, she was 32.
The funeral was unbelievably sad and there were a lot of people there and at the wake. This seems to be the only times we see our family that are from England. Is anyone else’s family like that? I ended up taking a week off work, I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it, why did she do it? She wrote a letter to my aunt and her partner, but I would never ask them as it’s still so fresh. Although it’s been a year to the day we lost her, I often cry when I think of her or my cousins. I see the pain in my little cousin’s face and just know by her body language she’s not in a great place. I do what I can to support her, but what can I do when it’s still so fresh for me? I do what I always do, I act like nothing phases me, I don’t cry or scream, but inside I’m doing both.
So how do you deal with grief? Is time a healer?
I can tell you how I have dealt with it, I’ve blocked it out until something happens to trigger it and then I scream cry when I am on my own, I sleep a lot and I cry some more. People deal with grief in different ways, some with food, some like me, some with alcohol or drugs, some with sex (yes, sex. Don’t judge others until you have walked a mile in their shoes – Emo Phillips) Time isn’t a healer, I feel like as time goes by you become used to them not being around, but the pain of the loss never leaves you.
I have been asked in the past “How do you get back to normal?” “How long did it take you to just carry on?” I for one, am not normal so I don’t know what normal means. I carry on because I have to, I have responsibilities, I made my cousin a promise and I intend to keep it. I have been very low, I have felt suicidal, but I hear her in my ear when I need advice or if I am going to do something to hurt myself an others (such as commit suicide) telling me what to do, telling me not to do what I planned to do. Nothing and no-one will replace her. I don’t believe in God, but I do believe that wherever she is, she’s with the other’s that we have lost and they’re living a happy, peaceful mind with no demons haunting them anymore.
I’m not a professional grief counsellor, although I have done a Diploma in Counselling and CBT, I am still a “normal” person and I still lose people and don’t understand why. Things that seem to help me are: –
– Reading (wellbeing books or just a normal book)
– Listening to podcasts on grief and mental wellbeing
– Listening to music
– Having a good cry
– Going for a walk or drive somewhere to clear my head
– Sleeping ( I like sleeping because I fully escape my mind for a few hours)
I’m interested to hear what others have to say about grief and how they deal with it so we can give others some ideas. I think that’s enough for now, thanks for reading.
N – The Beauty Viewer xox