Grief Has No Time Limit..

Grief and mourning go hand in hand, and they are not exclusive to those that have died. It can be experienced in many ways, and mourning can be associated with many different things.

The loss of a job that has been a way of life for years can be like a death. Things change, and with change often comes a period of mourning, although not everyone acknowledges their feelings as such.  Illness and loss of bodily function, appearance can also lead to grief.

Children moving out of the family home for the first time can be a cause for celebration for those left at home, or – it can be a loss – and mourned as such. Speak to mothers who’ve experienced this. Initially relief that finally your child has grown up enough to leave home, followed by sadness or even true grief. Your baby doesn’t need you any more. The reality is very often that they’ll be back – not necessarily to stay, but for chats, advice and the like, or to bring the washing! But it’s hard to see that at first.

Then there is the grief that comes with death. The grief we cannot put a time limit on.

Most commonly, the loss of a loved one is a parent or older relative. That is the usual order of life. We reach an age, and then we die. Hopefully we go gracefully, or better still quickly rather than a lingering on.

But then too often, comes the tragedy of losing a child. The age doesn’t really matter, as it doesn’t seem right that your child should go before you. That’s not the way of life!

From personal experience, the initial grief was raw, harsh and totally absorbing, blended in with shock and disbelief. This grief can be for sharing; having someone to talk to who remembers that child can be truly comforting. We were blessed as a family to have friends who came to share in our grief, to be there to support us in that extreme need. They gave us the strength to keep going, or at least it seemed that way at the time. With them you can release the healing laughter, reminiscing over some of the mad and memorable moments of that lost life.

For others who do not have that luxury, then the strength comes from who knows where.

Tears – how much can a body cry? You begin to wonder just where the tears come from and when will they stop! Floods of them, cleansing perhaps, but all part of the mourning process.

Despair too, is a part, and wondering how on earth will you get through this. But you cope. It is amazing where the strength comes from, but it appears when you need it. People comment on how strong you are, but inside you feel quite differently.

As time goes on, the grief becomes more bearable, it seems to wax and wane but you never really know when it will come. You try to contain your grief for the sake of others, but it seems that the more you are in control, the harder the next bout will be.   It has a nasty habit of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. You’ll be driving along and a song will come on the radio – one that was a favourite or you associate with them and the tears come again.

Oh there will be anger too at some stage – how dare they go and leave you to suffer? Anger at the loss of potential, the possible grandchildren, the chance to be related to a famous movie star perhaps. But that passes, and with the passing comes acceptance. Then a certain calmness and even peacefulness. The feeling that it was all meant to be, all part of the order of life leaving simply – sadness.

This journey will run parallel to the rest of life, beside the day-to-day stuff. Every now and then you will stop and wonder what your life would be like if they had lived. Daydreaming about possibilities forever gone, but then life and reality creeps back in again and you get back to the practical things in life.

What will we have for tea tonight?

Friends … Family …

Friends – we’ve all got them. Some of them are better than others, but most of us can confidently say that we have friends.

The dictionary describes a friend as “a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile.”

They are there to support you when you need them, but I guess over the years I’ve certainly had some friends who were hostile! Maybe that’s why they really aren’t on my friends list now – ha ha!

Then there are the friends we have on social media – all those friends on Facebook. Do you ever find yourself browsing through that list of friends and wondering who some of those people are? I know I have, and I’ve asked myself why I accepted that friend request in the first place. Just because they were friends with several of my friends, doesn’t mean that they should be on my list. Although, perhaps it is flattering to have someone want to see what you post?

A teenager may boast of having a vast number of ‘friends’, but they aren’t all true friends. Friendship can’t be counted in numbers; it’s really by the deeds.

Periodically I sort through and quietly move some of those ‘friends’ off the list.I mean, really do they know my family and do they need to know when my grandson got his license?Are they really interested that I made my first batch of mozzarella cheese yesterday? It was good fun too – I’m looking forward to doing it again someday, despite the recipes saying it takes thirty minutes – I took most of the afternoon!

Anyway, back to friends. I have a number of people I feel proud to call my friends. Some I’ve had for years. You know, the ones that you seem to lose track of when you move and then you see them again and it’s like you were just talking to them yesterday. They’re the ones I value.

Then there are the ones that are there in a crisis. I had some amazing friends around me when Kelly died. I still have them. The neighbors’ who had become good friends – the ones who I’d shared many a glass of wine with over the years. They were there for us when we needed them, doing the little things that you can’t think of when you are shell-shocked with new grief. That’s friendship.

Or the ones like my Wednesday coffee friends, who are there for you whatever the crisis is in your life. They dispense advice, give great hugs, and sit there sipping their coffee or tomato juice just listening to you pour it all out.

When I’m in need of a shoulder to lean or cry on, I think of my friends, and I ask myself “have I been a good friend to them too?’

A good test of friendship is in those times you really need a friend and that person is there to support you. I’m sure we’ve all had ‘friends’ who disappeared when the times got tough. Or the odd ‘hostile’ one.

We now have a new buzzword, it’s been around for some time although it’s not in all the dictionaries yet. I’ve no doubt it will be in time.

It is ‘framily’. When I first heard it I thought that someone had made a slip of the tongue, but no, it is real. My spellcheck doesn’t like it, but I think it’s a great word.

The Macmillan dictionary defines it as “A new social group underpinned by the principles that good friends are the family that we choose for ourselves.”

 I know that I have a wonderful framily surrounding me, supporting me and loving me – and I love them back too. xxx