griefpublic speaker

Turmulent Times

On Coping with Loss

It’s been a strange week. Full of ups and downs. The downs have been quite deep to be honest, but like all bad – terrible – news, in this case I have thought long and hard about what it means for me and my life.

Last week I discovered a friend of mine had suddenly died. For this piece I’m going to call her Amy, (not her real name). The rush of grief was overwhelming. I’d not felt anything like that in such a long time. I was taken by surprise, side-swiped by the sheer shock of it all. I cried and cried and felt strangely numb. Later, I wondered if I had the ‘right’ to be so upset. Another friend, similarly saddened, felt the same way.

How we deal with grief is strange. We still don’t really do it very well. Why is it that we feel that only the immediate family has the right to be affected by the sudden and untimely death of a person? We live with our spouses and children, and of course they are our number one concern. However, we also choose to spend time with others, we socialise, have friends, and spend more time at work than we do in our own homes.

A week later and I feel as though it’s sinking in. Yet still, a passing comment from someone had me in floods of tears. Because grief is a process. I must move through it and recognise it and somehow deal with this emotion of loss.

But as they say, life goes on and the world doesn’t stop for any of us. I have responsibilities and things that I must do. There is a part of you that says “Must I? Amy is gone, have you not noticed?” But no, they haven’t.  Children need their meals, there’s shopping, work and of course the eternal housework are all still there waiting for you.

I was to perform at a Christmas lunch two days after the news hit. My mind kept wandering off. Thankfully it was a Parkinson’s Group of people, they knew I had it too and probably just thought I’d had a few vague Parky Moments. Well, they would have done until I cried at the end when I talk about growing old disgracefully. Because some of us don’t get the chance to do that.

The next day I was working as a co-host to a party and I smiled, chatted and did all that cheery-banter thing. It helped I knew nobody there. I got through that. And last night I had six minutes at ‘The Fringe Bar’. I thought of cancelling. But I went. And even though I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to say when I walked onstage, somehow I pulled it off.

It felt good.

And I will go on. And she will go with me, as part of my history. Remembered, talked of at parties and on special occasions, and very much missed. But forever lost to us all. We will each find our own way of coping. Our lives have all changed. Some in unimaginably huge ways, and for others a passing moment of sadness or regret. Regret that we thought we had more time. We always think there’s more time. And that is where I think I’ll wrap this up. I wrote to my friends after I learned Amy had died. You know, they’ve sent you an email, you meant to call, to write, you just didn’t have time. I made it. I wrote it. It felt good.

Kitty.

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