Grief is the one thing that we all fear to experience yet at some stage in our lives we will all go through. The impact it can have on someone’s life is incredible, and I should know. I’ve lived with its grey shadow hanging over my head for the past eight years, yet it’s only been since July last year I’ve truly felt the extent of the grief that I’ve been carrying around with me since September 2008.
There have been times throughout the past eight years where I’ve known it’s there, yet I hadn’t been able to quite grasp what it was or why I was feeling the way I was. More often than not, it would come about when times were stressful. The anniversary of my mothers death and Mothers Day were the most obvious of times, but the months leading up to finding out my A Level results, moving to university, starting a whole new chapter of my life in Canterbury, and any other academic based stresses would usually provoke it.
I was very good at shutting it all out though, in fact, I’ve become quite a master at covering up when I’m worried or upset about something, particularly when it comes to my mums illness and eventual death. I don’t know if it’s because I had other worries that made it all the more easier to push to the back of my mind. Getting through university, the endless drag of trying to find my first job, a tough and stressful relationship were all more than enough to take my mind off of the matter.
But things all came to a head in July of last year. Gone were the previous troubles I had had in the past. I was two years out of university, in a job where I loved the people and had made an amazing group of friends, earning money, loving family and friends outside of work, and most of all, I had met the most amazing man who the Emily from a few years ago would have thought she didn’t have a chance in hell with, yet I was his girlfriend. I still am his girlfriend and we’re coming up to our one year anniversary in a few months time. But it was a strange mix of emotions. Here I was, happier than I’d been in my whole life, but I still had the grey cloud hanging over me. I was becoming all the more emotional with every passing day but didn’t know why. How could I be so happy yet feel the way I was? None of it made sense, but in actual fact the answer was staring me straight in the face.
I have never truly dealt with the reality of my Mums death. I was 15 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2006, and I was 16, just seven days away from my 17th birthday when she died in September 2008. I threw myself into everything that wouldn’t remind me of her illness or death, and I guess you could say it worked for a good few years. But the truth is I have to face up to it, and I have to deal with it. I can’t live with life to the full like I have been but having these emotions stop me from doing things that I want to do or trying to push me away from the people I love in order to avoid the risk of being hurt again.
Last summer was the first time I’d ever expressed these feelings I’d been hiding to my loved ones, but as painful as it was to admit, it felt like the biggest weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Over the coming months I began to feel a lot better, and I felt like I was able to deal with things a lot better. However, the past week has seen them flare up again following the news that my almost 97-year-old grandfather had passed away. Although he lived a good long life where he had his independence until four months before his death, and despite the fact we weren’t particularly close, it has still hit me like a ton of bricks, but I think part of the grief I’m feeling right now is the grief that I’ve been locking away for almost eight years.
I know it will eventually pass as it did before, but it still emotionally drains me whenever it comes. I’ve been considering going to speak to a grievance counsellor since the summer, but I guess I haven’t built up the courage to make the first step as of yet. One day I will though, but for now I just take each day as it comes.