Some Things I've Learnt About Grief
I just want to start this post by caveating that I'm writing this post because so many people have emailed or messaged me to say that they have found my other posts about grief useful in some way. I am still constantly amazed about how little is written about grief in an honest way, as opposed from a professional perspective, particularly in this country. When you're experiencing it, it can feel incredibly lonely, so I really wanted to try and contribute to the conversation in a productive way. It's been almost a year now since we lost Blossom, and I still feel like I'm figuring this grief thing out day by day. I realised very quickly that it often doesn't feel or look like how it is portrayed in films, and that everybody's experience is completely different.
So today I thought I'd write about some things I've learnt about grief. I hope it might be helpful for someone else going through it, or perhaps it might help you to look after a friend who has lost someone.
It makes you feel incredibly vulnerable
I think for me, this has been the biggest change to my personality as a result of grief and loss. I have always been a pretty confident person and was pretty good at taking things on the chin, but ever since losing Blossom I have felt incredibly vulnerable. The only way that I can describe it is that it's like you've lost a layer of skin - throwaway comments that wouldn't have even made me flinch before can keep me up all night worrying and I take things way more personally.
I also find that traumatic events in the news seem to have a much bigger impact on me and I am constantly worried that something else might happen to my family. I think this is quite common when you have lost someone very unexpectedly as you really do understand that it can happen to anyone.
Time doesn't always help
When you lose someone the number one thing that people tell you is that "time is a great healer". I know they mean it in a comforting way, but I've found that actually, time doesn't always help. Because sure, over time your brain starts to wrap it's head around the idea that that person is now gone, but you also miss them even more with every single day that passes. As the days build up, that aching to see them again becomes an almost physical pain and it can be hard not to scream when people deal out the old "you'll feel better with time" cliche.
You will feel everything a bit more deeply
One thing that has really surprised me is that when you have experienced this type of intense grief, you tend to feel everything a little bit more deeply, both good and bad. Having experienced such sadness, the happy times feel 100 times happier and you really don't take that for granted anymore. And on the flip side, sad news on the TV now makes me bawl, because you can start to imagine a bit more realistically the pain that other people are going through.
A lot of people simply won't be able to understand
This one's hard because it can make you feel incredibly lonely at times, but a lot of people just can't understand where your head is at if they haven't had a similar experience. There have been a couple of instances where friends have made remarks or done things that have stung a little bit, and at first I couldn't process why, but now I realise that a lot of people just can't understand what you're going through and that's okay. I think when you realise that, it's easier to see that everyone is just trying their best.
It's possible to be heartbroken and happy at the same time
This is one that you never see in movies or books - everyone just seems to go from heartbroken to healed, but what I've found is that it's a lot more common to feel incredibly sad and happy at the same time. On the morning of our wedding I sobbed knowing that Blossom wouldn't be there, and I missed her so much throughout the day, but I also had the most incredible time marrying the man I love and celebrating with our family and friends. Life is messy and there doesn't have to be a clear separation between your emotions.
Having something positive to focus on really helps
So many people have told me that they don't know how my family and I have coped, but a huge part of it has been having something really positive to focus on with Blossom's Legacy. For those of you who don't already know, we have founded a new charity to promote water safety and survival skills, and knowing that we can channel our pain into something that will help other children in the future has helped us immensely. I have other friends who have trained for marathons or fundraised for a charity close to their hearts and I think having something positive to focus on really does help you to keep going.