Jude shares her thoughts on the seventh anniversary of her mum’s death.
Written on Sunday 31st July
It’s seven years. Today. I thought that as the years passed by, each anniversary, each birthday, each marked occasion would become less significant, easier to deal with, less noticeable. But that’s not necessarily the case.
It appears that this is one of the hardest yet. And my body holds an anger that I have not felt for some years. I want to shut the world away as much as I want to rail at it. I want to scream, and I want to disappear, not simply hide. I want to be swallowed up, so that I don’t have to feel these things and have so many thoughts flitting and whirring around my mind.
I started reading the poem I had read at my mum’s funeral. It’s one of my all-time favourites and brings me so much comfort and solace. Today, however, it churns and stirs things up, so that I’m in tears and choked up before I can get any way through. There’s a part of me that feels so sad and another that feels disappointed. I want to reach a point that I can reflect, remember, and celebrate, rather than be dragged under.
Today will pass
By now, I thought, I should be better equipped to manage these days and any moment of grief. And in some ways, I consider that I am. I know that today will pass, as will the thoughts and feelings I experience. I know that time will move forward, and the world will seem a kinder place to be once more. Just for today things feel heavy. Only today.
Seven years on, I have also learned to be a little gentler with myself. Feelings are important to experience, to be given space, to have the time to breathe. To shut them off entirely or to let them loose on others is not the answer. But to sit with them, acknowledge, and let them shift and morph, is far healthier and productive in the long term. There is some truth in nothing stays the same.
I like to think of grief like metamorphosis, constantly changing and transforming and translating itself into something other, something different, something else. It’s a kind of shapeshifter. To borrow that all-familiar metaphor of the ocean, one wave crashing, colliding, drifting, blurring into another, becoming another. Sometimes being dragged under, other times floating, surfing, skimming the surface.
My Grief Toolkit
And then there is also the toolkit – the little resource boxes, both inner and outer – that can be drawn upon. These have been created, built up, and nourished over the years. For each of us, this will look different, composed of things most useful to us as individuals – even my own changes with time. It’s the kit that holds me steady whether I’m down or up or somewhere in between.
For me this includes wearing something that makes me feel close to Mum – a top and also a necklace my younger brother bought for her, which I know she loved – and other things, too: a lavender balm (one of my favourite smells), a meal with rice (my comfort food), and an ocean-themed colouring book. I know, too, that I will visit her tree and take a few moments to just be.
Grief is an ever-changing wonder, growing, moving, shifting with us as we move through life. Sometimes quiet, sometimes loud. Take a beat, take a breath. Keep going.
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