God knows I’ve lost enough people now and each one has made me feel different. Not only different after the event but also, different to how I expected to feel.
I was a child with my first two grandparents, I don’t recall feeling anything. They were there and then they were not there. Back then we never went to funerals, it wasn’t the done thing for children to go to a relatives funeral unless it was unavoidable so, quite literally, they were just ‘gone’ and it didn’t resonate with me. Likewise, even into early adulthood, older relatives, great aunts and uncles were here then gone and my life didn’t change at all, I felt no different.
At 23 I lost my mum, that was my first experience of grief yet, shared grief was all but denied me. Had I not been married at the time and not had such great inlaws, it was quite clear my grief was dictated by what others felt was appropriate. My own family held the attitude that any outward sign of grief was an unacceptable sign of weakness. They showed none themselves and expected the same from me. For me, bottling up that level of grief was not possible. As time went on I realised that I did have the freedom to grieve my own way. Because no one in my circle knew mum close enough to acknowledge the anniversary or her birthday, I was left to it to grieve my own way. Sadly, with mum, there was no grief at the funeral which got caught up in a family feud I was not party to but got heavily affected by. I was stuck with the wrong side of the family, the side who were not grieving but rather going through the emotions or there to cover their own guilt. Part of me, even to this day, missed that opportunity to really have a day to say goodbye properly.
Now, my nan, mum’s mum and my last grandparent died a few years later and I had been so close to her my entire life and yet, when she died and at her funeral and ever since, I’ve felt nothing. I know when she died but that is only because it was January 1st, an easy date to remember and I know the year or 1988 because it was between Jermaine & Matt’s birth years of ’87 & ’88. I just don’t even think about it at New Years or on her birthday in March which I am not even sure was the 11th or 12th.
The next one to hit me was my friend Tony. I was so close to him, I really loved that man and he went so suddenly and for an age afterwards I would randomly cry but, I couldn’t tell you what month or year he died without working it out and I’d not want to do anything to ‘remember’ him.
Next was Sean’s mum Clare. Again, I cannot tell without working out when she died but I do very often think about her and miss her personality in my life. Again, it’s not me to want to do a remembrance gathering each year. I feel funerals are the time for that and from then on, we grieve our own way.
A couple years ago Dad went. He’d had dementia for a while so effectively went a few years earlier but, in many ways, it was nice to get to know him when he didn’t have the opinions of his past life to cloud his actions. He got to know me a little and, perhaps, even liked me a bit and it is that part of him I do miss not the part before his dementia where, generally speaking, he was quite horrible.
Following that event was my ex mother in law Kay who I always considered since 1985 to be ‘mum’ and she effectively took over when my mum died in 1986. As this happened during Covid restrictions it was a very small funeral. No one from her extended family came, not even her husband. It was just my ex Kris, her daughter and three of our children with just a neighbour. It was, as much as these things can be, a lovely day.
As much as we can do this taken into account the feelings of others, we really need to grieve (or not) our way. If we want to do something special on a birthday or anniversary of death but no one else wants to, that is fine, we should accept it graciously. If we are invited to a memorial and really, don’t feel it, we should politely decline and not feel bad about that.
Grief is too complex to grieve someone else’s way, we’ve got to stay true to ourselves. As I said earlier, there are some events where I’d prefer not to be alone like Mum’s death, hell, I even arranged a civil partnership on her death anniversary to ensure I wasn’t alone that day and then, that relationship didn’t work out so now I dislike the day all the more. I’d prefer not to be alone but, also as I said, no one alive now knew her, certainly no one who ever showed they cared before so, to ask anyone to join me would be pointless. When I can I try to arrange a social event around the time. Only I really know why but I get the comfort all the same, I’d never sell it as what it is to me, I don’t want anyone there being morbid or going over the life of my mum, again, they never knew her anyway.
So, the purpose of this blog entry is to share only my feelings on this, it would be wrong to read anything as an instruction to others, the whole point is to do it personally.
To all those feelings we have of all those who we lost and it hurt, my sympathies and understanding, always.