I thought when Granda died that it would be the first few months that would be hard and then it would start to get easier. I was wrong. It wasn’t until nearly a full year after he died that I realised he was gone and he wasn’t going to just come in the back door again. That’s when I started grieving. It wasn’t until 14 years after Dad died that I actually started grieving for him. The most important thing I’ve learned about grief is that it comes and it goes. Everyone grieves differently. Not one person in my family grieved in the same way. For me the first time I experienced grief it was something I thought I would never get through and there didn’t seem to be an end.
Everyone always talks about there being seven stages of grief and how it gets better but it’s in the first few stages of grief that there are so many horrible feelings. There’s feelings of shock, denial, anger and depression. I got completely lost in my own head and I was angry for such a long time. I was angry because I was wishing I could still deny that any of it happened. Then I got depressed. When people said there were seven stages of grief I just thought “Ok, I’ve done all seven stages, I’m finished grieving”. But I was wrong. I got through all those horrible stages and those feelings and then it just hits me sometimes. It’s the same with anyone who has grieved. You can be perfectly fine one minute and then it just comes over you. The realisation that you miss someone so much. The realisation that they aren’t there. And the worst thing about it is that you don’t have to be looking at old photos or at a family gathering. You can be doing something you love doing, you can be with a group of your friends or you just wake up and realise that you really, really miss someone. It’s when it comes back and hits you out of nowhere that it seems like an endless process. But the truth is that these moments of grief get less and less. They don’t come as often. Trust me, when they hit you, they hit hard but you just have to let them come – because just like everything else, grief doesn’t last forever.
Just as quick as grief comes, it goes. You have a good cry, you talk about it, you acknowledge these feelings and you move on. Grief isn’t something we can control and it never, ever will be something we control. It is a natural process that we all go through when we lose someone we love. It’s when the feelings of grief leave again that we know it will all be okay. While I was grieving it felt like my life was on hold but when these feelings left I started living my life again. I started living my life as a stronger, better person. After grieving I started looking at life with a whole new perspective. Honestly, anyone can get through it. All it takes is to accept that you are grieving and to accept that things are going to be pretty crappy for a while. But it’s worth it. You get to hold on to someone for so long and then you get to let them go in a way that suits you when you’re ready to move on.
Grieving is one of the toughest things you will ever do in your life. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. But I’m glad I grieved. It changes us in the best ways. It taught me to be so grateful for everything, to appreciate the small things, to be open and not to be afraid of anything. It helped me realise that I can get through anything if I believe in myself and be strong enough to fight through whatever life throws at me.
I was never able to speak about the process of grieving but it’s something I have always been able to write about and a few months ago I wrote this poem to describe grief. I’m not W.B Yeats or anything but it sums grief up for me and I hope it helps whoever is reading this to realise that grieving isn’t always a bad thing:
Why did you come to me? Why did you stay?
When will you leave? Do you ever go away?
You follow me around, you come into my home,
You usually make your move when I’m on my own.
I can’t see you, I can’t hear you, and you don’t even talk
But you’re there when I run, and you’re there as I walk.
I tried to forget you, I try to let you go
But you’re with me always, keeping me low.
You keep me awake, you’ve taken my smile,
I thought you would go after a while.
And suddenly when I think I’m finally free,
You decide to come back and take over me.
I shake and I cry and I shout and I scream,
The tears come from inside me and they flow like a stream.
I can’t control these feelings whenever they come
I’ve asked myself a million times what have I done?
To deserve these feelings of depression and sorrow
Sometimes left doubting if there will be a tomorrow.
These thoughts that I have and these feelings within
Grow darker and deeper, I don’t know where to begin
When asked how I am, I push all help away
Because you’ve taken me over, I think it is okay
To behave like this miserable, angry girl
But it isn’t alright that you’ve changed my world.
People tell me there’ll be a day when this will have changed me for the better
But right now I need to deal with you, so I’ve written this letter
To tell you I’m ready to be sad about my loss,
And to finally let you know that you’re not my boss.
It’s difficult to admit that you come at a cost
We pay you with the lives that have been lost.
I know there will be a day where I’ll feel a sense of relief
And that will be the day I let go of you, Grief.
We know how this works, we’ve been here before
It really doesn’t matter how many times I close the door.
You’ll come back knocking on the special days
You’ve come back in many different ways
I just hope that when you come back to a different me,
I’ll treat you like a distant, special memory.
You’ll have taught me a lot about my world and myself
And you’ll be there in pictures that I have on the shelf
You showed me the importance of looking after myself with this pain
And you’ve made it easier for me to take trips down memory lane.
You’ve made me angry, sad, depressed and lonely
But then you changed and helped me remember the good times only
So thank you grief for taking me through these stages
And for helping me be honest, for unlocking the cages.
I appreciate the time that you’ve put into me
You’ve helped me accept my angels are in heaven and they’re finally free.