The loss of a parent is something you can never prepare for. The shock and complete disbelief that your loved one will not be coming back is an unimaginable concept, so learning to accept this is only what can be described as overwhelming.
I lost my beautiful mum to terminal cancer in 2015. The reason I want to tell you about this is for anyone out there who has been, or who is currently in a similar situation. I want to explain to you how I carry on every day, what has helped me, and also what I have struggled with. Hearing that others have suffered in similar ways has definitely provided me with a certain sense of relief and comfort, as I came to realise I was not alone. This is what I would also like to do for you.
You never expect your parents to die before you. Being a child you automatically believe that they will stick around forever, and be there throughout everything with you in life, right at your side. When my mum died, I was shocked to the core. Not only had I lost my mother and sole provider, as my father had left our lives when I was eleven. I had also lost my best friend. My mum meant everything to me, and the hard realisation that I would never be able to speak to her, hear her laugh or even hug her again was absolutely heartbreaking, and still is to this day. Death is so horribly final.
In the last week of my mum’s life, she was in the hospital in immense pain. She suffered greatly. Having to watch my proud, brave, beautiful mother transform into a frail woman that I did not even recognise, broke my heart into pieces. The memories of this still haunt me.
‘Time heals” is the phrase that I have heard being said continuously by friends and family. I think it is the only thing people really know what to say, because they hope it will help, but I would argue that in this instance time does not heal. Time has managed to bandage me up a little, and every year that bandage has gotten slightly stronger, but the wound beneath is still there, as fresh as the day she died.
“Have you accepted it?” you may ask. The simple answer is no. Admitting that my mum is dead is something I still cannot accept. I still find it weird. Weird that she is gone, and that she still won’t walk into my room telling me to help her in the kitchen or telling me off for not tidying my room. The happy memories I have of her in my life seem like a distant dream, like they never even really took place. Remembering them pains me. I am far more emotional than I ever have been. I cry at any sad film or song, and I am not sure that it will ever really be ok. Unfortunately you cannot replace the irreplaceable person that is your mother.
There comes a time after a death of a parent that you realise, you have to make a choice. To move on or not. I made the rather brave decision to move on, and I will kid you not, it has not been easy. I did not suddenly wake up one day feeling fantastic and skip around my bedroom happy as Larry. What I have done however, is learn how to put on a brave face and wear my armour, so that when significant events, such as, Mother’s Day, Christmas or birthday’s arrive, I can just about survive. Dents and grooves have appeared in my armour, they hurt, but ultimately I feel strong enough to stay protected and not break down.
What I think is one of the hardest parts about losing a parent is that not many young people have actually experienced it. As much as my friends have been incredible and there for me throughout everything, which has meant the absolute world to me, they are unable to fully understand my emotions. Death is sadly one of those things. If you have never gone through it, you won’t be able to put your feet in that person’s shoes completely, because trying to grasp a life without your parents is an unimaginable prospect.
What I now tend to live by are my mum’s words. I can still hear her voice telling me to ‘buck up and remember the positives in life,‘ whenever I was sat crying about something, believing that my world had ended. Remembering the positives is now exactly what I am doing. I now cherish the beautiful world that I live in and the amazing people that I am lucky enough to have in my life more than ever, as I now fully understand just how short life can be.
Currently I am now in a position where I have just come home from travelling in Asia. It was a place I had always wanted to visit, and finally I got the guts to go and do it. I can happily say that my travelling is something I will never regret. It boosted my confidence and gave me the lift that I so desperately needed at a point where I was so depressed. I am also now searching for a new job, but not just for any old job, a role that will give me satisfaction and ultimately make me happy. I am really striving to live my life the way mum would want me to, which would be to make the most of my time that I have on this planet, and fully enjoy every second.
Even though my mum is not physically here, living the way she would want me to, and making her proud is what makes me wake up in the morning and embrace every new day. I do know in my heart that I will never really be ok with the fact that my mum is gone, but my incredible friends and family keep me strong, and ultimately I know my mum is with me in spirit every step of the way. I really hope I can make her proud.