In our spot on the site where we chat about wellbeing and mental health, a few thoughts on dealing with loss.

Hello and welcome to Mental Health and Wellbeing Matters, our spot on the site where we chat about things that might be getting to us, or making life hard. This time, I want to talk about grief, and the long nature of loss.

Last week marked the third ‘anniversary’ – an odd word in this context – of me losing my brilliant superhero mum. She died a few weeks after her birthday, and throw mother’s day into the mix, it’s been a month and a half of notable dates.

The first year after losing her, I was steeled for these. As much as I decided I needed to confront grief and loss as much as possible, those dates were imprinted in my head for the months before them. If anything, as strange as it may sound, I was a little overprepared for them.

The second anniversary? Well that was different. I wasn’t quite expecting to be sideswiped in the way I was. It all really stung, and I felt particularly raw. I thought things would be ‘easier’ the second time around, and I was very, very wrong.

Year three has been stranger, because on the anniversary this time of losing my mum, I went to the graveyard and didn’t collapse into floods of tears on the spot. That’s the first time that’s happened. It’s the first time I’ve been able to talk, to perhaps even allow a little smile, when I’ve got to see where her name is now.

That said, a few weeks ago, completely out of the blue, I broke a bit. Just started crying. Missing her as strongly as I ever have. No particular reason, no particular catalyst. It all came out of nowhere, and I had little choice but to go with it.

I know a small number of people who have lost their mum over the last year or so in particular now, and as with everyone they’ve spoken to, I have no perfect answers. But I have firmly learned this: grief is uneven. Grief doesn’t go in a straight line. That things may be perfectly fine for a while, and then out of nowhere it hits you.

All I can ever tell people – and I’m not expert, this is just lived experience – is the obvious. None of us are the same. The pain of loss manifests itself in different ways, and it might be something that stings very hard for years, or you may be able to start smiling in weeks. Either’s fine, isn’t it? Who provides a manual for this? Where’s the flowchart that says you have to follow this path, and you’ll be fine by this point?

Like most such emotional absolutes in life, that flowchart doesn’t exist.

For those of you struggling with grief, all I can offer you is a virtual hug, and this message: don’t let anyone tell you what’s right or wrong for you. I hope the smiles start to outweigh the cries for you sooner rather than later, but if they don’t? That’s okay too.

We’re supposed to miss superheroes, and I dearly miss mine. You all take care. Love you mum x.

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