It’s a funny old thing grief, before you have experienced it you might imagine it to be a series of sad episodes, a few tears before really feeling like you are over it, then getting on with your life as normal.
Of course, for those of us who have experienced it that couldn’t be further from the truth. It lives with us, sometimes gently tapping us on the shoulder and other times screaming in our ears.
My mother died when she was 51, of cancer. I was 23 at the time and it was a huge shock. When it comes to processing that grief it has been a very rocky road; sometimes I’ve managed it and other times I haven’t.
I’m not really one for graves, I’ve been to hers only a handful of times. Instead I’ve developed some slightly alternative ways of easing the difficult times and living with the loss.
So here goes…
1. Having a good dance
Quite often I’d come home from school and all the doors and windows would be open and the hi-fi would be blaring out Abba, Aretha Franklin, Queen or the Beatles. Mum would just be having a really good old dance in the lounge and singing really loudly and we would have a good old boogie together – for no reason other than it was fun to do so.
In the years after she died I used to do this with my son on my hip and I still do it now – sorry neighbours!
2.Watch a film
I love watching films she enjoyed, somehow it makes me feel closer to her. I watched The Bridges of Madison County the other week, one of her favourites and had a really good old cry. She loved a good period drama too or a Catherine Cookson series.
There’s something about food that brings back memories like nothing else. She loved Battenberg cake, Thornton’s toffee and Pontefract cakes. Random I know but sometimes I buy one of these and it just makes me smile.
There are lots of places we went walking when we were children and I often go back to them. There is a beautiful waterfall called Giot Stock which I love to go to. Pateley Bridge is a place we also went to a lot, as is Ogden reservoir which is near where we live.
Okay, a slightly weird one but I keep a bottle of Estee Lauder ‘Beautiful’ in my bedside draw. She wore it often and occasionally I give it a spray and it brings her back a little bit.
I’m lucky enough to have letters she wrote to me when I was away at university. It’s really like having a conversation with her and I love hearing her chatting away about work, walking the dogs and baking.
I love to sit and talk to my Dad and two brothers about her. Quite often because I will remember something they didn’t or vice versa. It’s comforting to have those shared memories and to be able to say: ‘do you remember when Mum did that’ or ‘do you remember that holiday.’
8. Speaking to someone new
She never got to see any of her grandchildren but I often talk to my son about what she was like as person. Crazy things she did that made us laugh. It’s nice to recall lots of memories.
9. Just going home
My Dad still lives in the house I grew up in so its comforting to go and spend some time there. It’s changed a lot but every crevice has memories from my childhood and when my mum was still around.
“So it’s true, when all is said and done. Grief is the price we pay for love.” E. Bucchianeri