Thursday, 25 April 2013

Guilt and Grief, a well matched pair

Apologies for the late blog post this week, but sometimes this blog is great therapy for me and other times I just want to pretend my life is fine, and hide from the various emotions that it can bring!
 I previously touched upon, "Guilty Grief", only at the time I was referring to feeling guilty when I grieved for my Father instead of my daughter, but what I have realised over the last few years is that Death and loss bring with it a package of guilt.
Guilt that I should have this massive amount of patience for  my remaining children and be the Best Mother Ever,  when in truth its the complete opposite I have less Patience and I shout, a lot, and have many poor parenting moments!
Then there is the guilt that I didn't do enough with "Lola" I should have taken her swimming in the winter more,  let her eat more chocolate, bought her more toys -  instead of buying her  the cheap rubbish kitchen from Woolworth's I should have bought her the much better one from ELC! Guilt that her last Birthday party ended up being more about me and my friends than her, guilt that I never decorated her bedroom (it was going to be her 3rd Birthday present!)
The guilt didn't stop there, I couldn't understand how I had no idea about the brain tumour, I must have missed the signs! Guilt that I didn't do all I could at the hospital. Guilt that I never had the right flowers at her funeral, guilt that her little white coffin looked cheap and tacky! The guilt came and went so much over the years that as I was just getting use to living with it, my father died! This catapulted my grief back into the forefront of my mind, suddenly I was torn with this overwhelming grief for my dad and guilt that Lola's death was now moved to the side. I got confused over why I was crying, was it for the loss of my Dad or the guilt that it wasn't for Lola? It comforted me to believe that they were together and this thought is what I had to focus on. Two years on from my Father's death I have finally won the guilt battle by realising it is OK to have days and moments when its about Him, not everything has to be about Lola's death.
So I have learnt that guilt and grief go hand in hand and learning to accept your guilt and learn from it enables you to let it go one day at a time. I am not saying I don't carry any guilt anymore, but I did win the fight, it does not consume me.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Are there different types of grief?

Are there different types of grief?
When first confronted with this question I would have said yes, but for myself now I think there are no different types of grief just different stages. Initially I felt so alone that nothing was as important as my grief, only another Parent loosing a child would be the same. I used to get angry with people that compared loosing a parent to what I was going through...It was NOT the same, we expect to bury our Parents it is the natural order of things, but our Children No way! In actual fact, just because it may be the natural order of things does not mean our grief is any less all consuming and devastating. It has taken me some years to realise this and now having lost my Wonderful Dad, it is even more apparent that to loose one you love so much is what hurts the most, not the order in which you love them. How can you measure grief? just because I loved my daughter more than anything in the world, did my Dad's death hurt any less? No.  Even though he was ill for a long time and was 87yrs old, I was still shocked to my very core when he died. I had spent 35years of my life with this strong,
benevolent man and loosing him made me feel even more alone. This presented another issue all together "Guilt" I found I wrestled with my conscience if I cried because I missed my Dad, ridiculous as it sounds that was the case, "Guilty Grief" who new????? I will leave this topic for another evening, I will simply end tonight on a saying I once dismissed,
"Grief is the price of Love". In ever loving memory of Owen Ralph De La Motte, a true gentleman.

Lola and My Dad.
Me and my Dad on the day of my wedding reception.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

How many children do you have?

I recently wrote an article for ABC magazine Sussex, where I addressed a few of the issues surrounding grief. One of the topics I wrote about was the dreaded question,

"How many children do you have?"

When faced with this question you have maybe 1.5 seconds to decide whether or not you feel able to tell the truth and if so are you prepared for the next question? which usually is,
"How old are they?"
Now, the truth depends on so many things, I could just say 3 and deal with the horrendous guilt that comes with that truth or is the person asking worthy enough to know about my Lola and loosing her? and if so am I having a strong enough day to speak this truth? or Will I ever have to meet this person again in a social situation  i.e the check out lady in Tesco? if not I could tell her 4 and give their ages as they would be, this would make me happy initially but guilty that it is not really true & upset because I want it to be true! What if it was a friend of a friend in which case I either go for the 3 children answer or tell the truth or I could use my other answer which is,
"Well I have had 4 children" and when asked the next question just give ages of 3, believe it or not this works and people don't always pick up on the fact that I have given them 3 ages instead of 4! but the ones that do are obviously interested so I usually say,
"My eldest daughter passed away, she had a brain tumour". I find by telling them how she passed it stops any more questions or puzzled expressions. When faced with a large group of new people, for instance a new school I have found it easier to find the biggest gossip, tell them the whole terrible truth and that's it job done!
I watched a program some time ago with "Anne Diamond" , she tragically lost one of her Sons to cot death in 1991. She very clearly stated,
"I am a mother of 5,  4 surviving" I thought at the time how brave, but actually I realise now how necessary it was for her to say that. Like I mentioned earlier there is a terrible guilt that comes when as a mother you don't acknowledge one of your children just because they are no longer here.
So you see, such a simple question becomes a minefield of dilemmas. Only grief has the ability to  turn the most basic into the impossible.

I am a very proud Mother of 4 beautiful girls.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

What have I learnt from my daughter's death?

What have I learnt from my Daughter's death?

That the world goes on, whether you are ready for it or not.
That death can happen to anyone at any time
That Life is short, so appreciate everything
That what does not kill you makes you harder
That you can't change what people think of you
That true friends will always be there, no matter what

That I have no tolerance for stupidity or self pity & I will be blunt about it.
That I will always measure my life from before & after Lola's death.
That as long as I am on this earth I will worry constantly about my children.
That I am not afraid to talk about Lola, or how she died even if it makes others uncomfortable.
That I really have married the best Man on the planet.
That I can laugh & and have fun but after knowing such great sadness I will never be truly happy again.