There are many types of grief. You grieve over the death of a loved one or a furry friend, and you can grieve over living losses like failed relationships or a loss of a job. You grieve over what was, what could’ve been and part of yourself that felt whole.
I wanted to share my experiences of grief, mainly to get it off my chest, but I also hope I help others. I encourage everyone to talk about what they are going through, it helps you process your emotions so that you can take action towards feeling better. I have learnt a lot throughout 2020 about grief, which has helped me understand more about myself and the experiences I had gone through while growing up. I didn't get the support I needed as a child therefore I have struggled mentally as I have gotten older.
My life dramatically changed when I was 7 years old. Within a year so much happened, My parents broke up, so my Mum, my brother and myself moved out, I went from seeing my dad every day to barely once a week, then once every two weeks. I was a real daddy’s girl so this broke my heart. Then my mum started seeing other guys, including a family friend who later became my stepdad. At 7 years old, I was old enough to see what was going on, but I was too young to understand any of it. I automatically hated the man trying to replace my dad. Next thing I knew, we were moving house, moving town and moving school. That’s a lot of change in a short amount of time There are videos of when I was young, maybe 5 years old. I was a crazy, bubbly and happy child, but I don’t remember being that child. Children are resilient and adapt to whatever life throws at them and that’s what I did, but a small fire of anger never went away.
Years later, I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom one afternoon with my stepsister, but I have always thought of her as my sister. Amy and I were whispering and giggling. She was telling me about a boy she liked at school and she wanted to write him a letter. I remember her birthday parties, the disco playing Amy's favourite S Club 7 songs while Amy whizzed around and danced in her electric wheelchair. I remember the last day I saw her, I went to one of her hospital appointments. It was a Thursday, 2007 I don't remember the details, I just remember laughing a lot in the hospital canteen with both our mums, Amy was funny and so brave. She died the Wednesday after, peacefully in her sleep with her parents by her side. She was 10 years old and was loved so much. I put in a request that she was to be buried with her half of our friendship necklace we had both been given one Christmas. The necklace was put around her favourite teddy bear she was also buried with. I wore my half of the necklace all the time for years and years, never taking it off. It was comforting knowing I had some kind of connection to her. I don’t remember talking about how I felt, but I talked about Amy, like in a speech at school. I talked about how she was my hero. I never once looked up while reading off a piece of paper, but when I looked up after I had finished talking, my teacher was in tears.
In 2010, my grandad got diagnosed with cancer. My grandad was loving and caring and spoiled us grandkids rotten. He built me a huge doll's house and made us all laugh. He loved jigsaw puzzles, computer games and his family. The treatment worked and he became cancer-free, but then he got secondary cancer. He became so ill from then to the point he was too ill to be operated on and treatment wasn't taking effect. In Aug 2012, my grandad passed away with his wife and three children next to him. I struggled a bit more when he became more ill and when he died. I was 17, I was a highly emotional teenager. I turned down the last opportunity to see him in the hospital because he had started to lose his memory and I was terrified at the thought he might not know who I was. Once again, things changed, I changed. I bottled up emotions and I became numb, for a really long time.
At the end of 2016, my heart didn't just get broken… it got shattered. My whole life turned upside down. Events took place and I started to realise that I didn't want my life anymore, and that scared the hell out of me. I can’t go into detail about what happened as it’s not fair on those that were involved, but I had to walk away from toxic situations and unhealthy relationships. The situations were out of my control, and I couldn’t fix it no matter how much I tried. So I walked away and that’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I lost really important people in my life.
The next 6-12 months was really messy. It was like I exploded, all my emotions became too overwhelming. For years I felt numb, then something broke inside me and suddenly, I felt everything. I didn't know how to deal with it. I was a mess. I was so lucky to have amazing friends and family that were so helpful and supportive, I wouldn’t have gotten through it all without them. Over the last four years, I think all the grief from all the events throughout my life surfaced from where I had stored them. I learnt that I had been suffering depression, I then learnt I was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. I knew I hadn’t felt well within myself for a really long time, but I never had the support or understanding, I grew up being told I was emotional or crazy. I took it upon myself to learn and understand about mental health, grief and physiology. I have a much better understanding and awareness about my grief and mental health.
I’ve learnt the hard way that things don’t last forever, and I learnt that taking care of your mind, body and soul is so important to help you get through life’s toughest moments.
It’s also really important that children get all the support that they can get. Encourage them to talk more about how they are feeling, teach them to process their emotions rather than bottling them up or turning any negative emotions towards themselves.