Losing a Loved One…And Why It’s Okay To Not Cope All The Time

by Auriel Simmonds

It’s a rollercoaster

It’s a hard time. At some points, it feels impossible. You feel like you can’t cope. You just want to lock yourself away in your room and try to forget that it’s true. Losing someone at any time in your life is difficult. When I lost my mother at 19 years old, it made me angry with the world. Living in a world where my mother wasn’t filled me with dread. Doing absolutely anything felt like a massive chore that I just didn’t want to face. Thinking about her overwhelmed me with sadness, while not thinking of her only lasted long enough for me to dry my face from the tears I’d cried before.

I didn’t feel like I could cope. And that’s what I’ve come to realise. I’m not supposed to cope with this all the time. It’s not like getting a bad grade on a test and then next time studying harder or falling over and grazing my knee. There are plasters for grazed knees. There aren’t any plasters for this. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit around my house crying every second of every day. I go to university. I meet up with my friends and go out and sometimes, I even laugh. But there are other times when I can’t face going to a lecture or even seeing my friends and there are times when laughter seems like a thing of the past. But I’ve learnt that it’s normal. When you lose someone, life becomes a bit of a rollercoaster ride of emotions so you have to strap yourself in and realise that you can’t always anticipate the lows or the highs. But you can learn to ride the rollercoaster and sometimes even enjoy it.

Grief is a weird thing

Grief is the unlearned and multifaceted response we have to losing someone. This means that everyone grieves differently but we all do it. There is no miracle cure for how you’re feeling but one thing you need to let yourself do is feel. In my experience, I have never been the most upfront person about my feelings. Therefore, when I lost my mother, I found it very difficult to talk to anyone about how I felt. However, my sister (being aware of my disposition to bottle up my emotions) encouraged me to open up because she knew I was grieving.

Talking about my feelings saved my mind.

I didn’t close in on myself as much and I learnt to be honest with the people around me. And sometimes, that meant admitting to feeling like I couldn’t cope. In my sister’s acknowledgment that I felt that way, I felt less of a weight on my shoulders. I shared the burden of feeling like I couldn’t cope. It felt like I’d been relieved of feeling bad for not dealing with it ‘properly’. Talk to someone you trust. And if you don’t have that person, there are plenty of helplines such as The Bereavement Trust’s at 0800 435 455 which may help you open up.

Time heals

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve heard that phrase time and time again and you just don’t believe it. But I think that something is missing from it. I do believe that time heals but now I’m aware that pain is a part of life and the pain of losing my mother will forever be in my heart. But with time, it does mellow.
For me, it started as a dull ache. I felt numb to everything that happened around me and I couldn’t believe she was gone. And then, when I saw other people with their mothers, an anger fired up inside me and burnt me and made me cry. I cried until I had no more tears. And then, not suddenly but steadily, I began to think about my mum without feeling angry. Instead, I thought about all the laughs we’d had and all the kisses she’d showered me with. I thanked the sky that she was no longer in pain. I thought of her for who she was and what she means to me rather than what she will miss out on and who I’ll grow to be – a person she’ll never see. And of course, I have moments where I break down and wish she was with me but they happen less than they used to.
I don’t cope all the time. But I’ve learnt how to cope most of the time. And when I don’t feel like I can cope, I know that it’s okay.

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