This time of year is hard for me and it has been for the past 4 years now. August 2nd 2013, 2 days after her 75th birthday, my beloved nana passed away, for the most part, it was unexpected. We found out on her birthday that she had cancer. We were told “She doesn’t have long”, my mum tried to prepare me for the worst but we didn’t realise how little time nana had left.
I was extremely close with her; spoke to her about things I wouldn’t even tell my mum. I couldn’t function without her and 8 months later, when I was still locking myself away, getting angry over nothing and failing at college, my mum took me to the doctors.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and I was put on a benzodiazepine and an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). After a couple of weeks I did start to feel better finally and I’ll maybe do a blog post on this time of my life at a later stage but for now, here’s how I got in control and began to cope with my grief.
- Light a candle – I did this on the first Christmas without my nana, I was on my own and sat for a while thinking in the serenity – it helped me a lot.
- Remember them with other people – talk to someone about the good times you all shared! Shed a tear if you want, it might help. My family and I did this on the first anniversary.
- Don’t block the hurt out – After my 18th birthday I decided it was easier to block out the hurt by drinking alcohol on Christmas Day to ignore the fact that my grandparents were missing. It was stupid, I achieved nothing.
- Occupy yourself – The last two years (and this year too) I’ve been at work over the anniversaries. This doesn’t mean I don’t take a moment out and reflect, but being occupied does definitely help and makes getting through the day that bit easier.
- Make a big change – Christmas was a hard day for me, so once I moved out of the family home, I decided to stay up here have Christmas with my boyfriends family. This makes it easier because I’m not thinking about what I am missing-the situation is totally different now and I can enjoy it.
- Have a quiet moment to yourself – don’t feel like you’re not allowed to grieve. Hiding your feelings or being strong for too long will not help anyone. If you want to sit looking through photos and cry – DO IT! I still do this 4 years down the line and I don’t feel guilty!
- Visit the grave/headstone when you feel ready! Don’t feel pressured into going, don’t feel like you have to go there every day/week, go as often as it feels right for you.
- Accept support – Sometimes Ben will come in and I’ll be sat in a pool of tears because I’m remembering my nana and hurting. At the beginning I’d have pushed anyone away and not spoken to them. Now he comes and gives me a hug and I calm down and we have a chat. It feels great to get it off my chest and have someone supporting me when I’m feeling low.
A wise man (my Grandpop) told me this, not long after nana died:
“Just because one person isn’t here anymore, doesn’t mean everything else stops. The birds will still sing, the sun will still rise, and life goes on.”
He’s a very clever man.