Silencing Grief

She died, as I held her hand and watched her take her last breath. I placed my hand on her heart and felt the last three heart beats that she will ever take. I cried.

Her frail body laid so still. That was her last breath, she was gone. All I had left was her physical body. As the nurses assisted me to move her to one side of the bed, I laid with her and held her hand and cried some more.

It was my mum. She is gone.

I then looked at her face and to my surprise I don’t ever remember my mother looking so beautiful and peaceful . It was like ever single wrinkle she accumulated in her life time was gone. Her skin was smooth, her expression, was one of peace. At that point I realised that all the stress my mother ever carried in her life was gone.

I remember feeding her small portions of food every day until the last 5 days of her life, when she couldn’t eat or drink anymore. I remember being awake most nights laying in my bed watching her fade away, it was as though the cancer was eating her from the inside out.

I remember singing to her and holding her hand or just touching her gently. I remember the day the entire family came and sat with mum, we cried, we talked, but what I remember the most, is my older sister, repeating over and over and over again “my beautiful mum” as the tears rolled down her face.

There is process after someone dies that takes place, the initial shock, notifying people, the funeral and then you are expected to get on with your life. How?

How do you you lose someone they love so much and then be expected to just get on with it?

Mum has been gone for 28 months now and even though there has been a shift for me, every day I miss her from the core of my heart.

I remember one of my best friends saying to me in a general conversation “you just have to get on with things, life goes on”. I wanted to cry, my eyes filled with tears and I walked away, otherwise I would have lost it. That day, my relationship with her changed forever.

Why is it when someone you love so much dies and the funeral is over, that people around you who are meant to love you, just get on with things.

Why are they so afraid to ask you “how are you, how’s life without your mum”. Why is it that people silence you?

I changed after mum died. Nothing was the same. My entire life felt empty. There were feelings inside me that I couldn’t describe or even give them a name. It was as though I was walking and talking and going about my life, but inside, it hurt so much. I had nothing to give anyone.

Then I started to realise that no one was talking about my mum. I remember calling my sister on mum’s second anniversary of her death and she didn’t even know it was her second anniversary. I hung up the phone and cried and thought to myself, how could you forget her. I was so heartbroken.

At times I cry myself to sleep at night and I know my husband hears me, and he doesn’t know what to do, so he just touches me, so I know that he is there. There have been time her hears me, and doesn’t do a thing, because dealing with my grief is too hard for him.

I want to talk about my mum, I want the entire world to know who she was and what she meant to me. Even though she is gone, I want to keep her alive.

I often talk to her photo and say good morning and good night. I tell her how much I miss her. When I look at her in the photo, it’s a strange feeling, but I feel like she isn’t gone, and that all I have to do, is drive to her home and she will be there.

Why is grief so hard for people to acknowledge and talk about? Why do people silence other? What is it about grief that people avoid?

Stop silencing those you love, by avoiding their loss. Be the one who stands up and says “how are you”. Be that person they can talk too. Be compassionate, have empathy, open your heart and let them in. Let them cry a million tears on your shoulder. Let them voice their pain and heartache. Be that person!

I acknowledge grief has a deep sadness associated to it and that being with someone who is grieving can take a toll on you, but imagine being in their shoes and feeling their pain, if that was you, what would you want?

~ Bernadette Sutherland

Leave a comment