It hits you when you least expect it

Today would have been my Mum’s 70th birthday, had she been alive.

Mum June 2008 - a year before she died

Mum June 2008 – a year before she died

Surprisingly, I’ve been OK today. It was last week that it hit me that we were reaching a landmark birthday, and not celebrating it with her, here, with us. I guess it’s also as my birthday is a few days before hers, that I’m reminded that my Mum wouldn’t be wishing me a Happy Birthday in person.

Why do things hit us when we least expect them to? It can be anything, not just those we miss, can’t it? Sometimes children or friends do things which tug at our heart strings and we ‘go to pieces’ don’t we?

This day last year I wrote about life being too short, whatever age people live to. I then went quiet on you for about 9 months! I found 2013 tough. Really tough. Not just the bereavement of a close friend, or the heartache loved ones had caused us, but just the general, everyday stuff. I was struggling to keep going through my life, and really couldn’t share the experiences with anyone else apart from my family and close friends.

It does help though. To share. And to cry. To just say, “Yep, today is tough, but I’m going to get through it”, or “I really miss x, but they wouldn’t want me to be sad”. Little steps are better than no steps at all, aren’t they?

So, whilst I’m sorry we aren’t celebrating as a family group, Mum’s 70th birthday, I know that like me, many friends are thinking about her today, and all she brought to us in her 65 years she was on this earth. I still love you as much as ever Mum.

I don’t know why ‘it’ does it, but I’m sure it does us good.

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Life will always be too short

Last week we went to the funeral of OH’s 47 year old university friend. It wasn’t the easiest of days, or weeks leading up to it.

Red tulipsCompared to a year ago when I was sad at the passing of my 97 year old Nan, this January we felt that Gordon was too young to leave us and his family behind. We felt that his 12 and 9 year old had been robbed of time with their Dad; and his wife, a partner to grow old with.

We’d never been to a humanist service before. The celebrant got it spot on and reassured us all that this is just how it is. The ONLY certainty in life, is death.

Humanists, “want a world where everyone lives cooperatively on the basis of shared human values, respect for human rights, and concern for future generations.

We want non-religious people to be confident in living ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.”

She told us that it was right to be sad at Gordon’s passing, but that we’d had Gordon in our lives and we should be thankful for that. I know that all of us agree that having shared his life, love and laughter we wouldn’t want it any other way. He’ll be remembered with affection at what he brought to our lives.

We never know what’s around the corner for any of us. An accident, an illness, war – we’ll never know what’ll ‘get us’ in the end. Whether we live to be a grand old age and not be in great health, we just can’t plan can that last bit can we?

From someone who’s lived with a Mum who defied cancer for 10 years and watched her live every day to it’s fullest until she died aged 65, I know that it’s a shame when someone is taken from us so young of age. But that celebrant was right. Life would have been less colourful without Gordon, and we’re pleased that he was part of our lives.

A friend is currently living with the knowledge that her 2 month old baby won’t live for long. But the joy this baby is bringing to his family and friends and the love they are all sharing together is beautiful.

Please live for the day. Don’t bear grudges. And live your dreams. Don’t put off today what needs to be done or said. You may not get another chance to hug that person who needs it. Cliches maybe, but I’m going to live an ethical and fulfilling life, starting today.

Will you?

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Picking yourself up

Sometimes we go through tough times. It may be work, family, friendships that cause us to be sad, or low. We may be watching someone die, or caring for someone who is poorly. It’s tough isn’t it?

But we also know whilst we’re doing what we need to do, that it has to come to an end somehow. We have to move on from a friendship that is hurting us; we know that our loved one is going to die and be released from their suffering, leaving us behind. So what can we do?

I’m not sure I’ve got the answers, but having gone through some tough times these last couple of years, all I can do is tell you what I’ve done to pick myself up and move on. We’re all different and cope with situations in different ways. The important thing I’ve learnt is to talk to other people, and find a something to focus on to get me through.

When my Mum died I thought I coped pretty well. I got on with organising and arranging and clearing out her things. It was only 6 months later that I knew I needed help to work through my grief. There was all sorts of emotions going on, and I don’t think I was helped by the fact my Dad started seeing another lady 3 months after Mum died. It’s been a lot to cope with!

I knew that bereavement counselling wasn’t what I needed, so I tried Reiki, with a spiritual healer. She’s been fab, and has helped me so much over the past few years to come to terms with the way of the world. She’s worked with me to ensure I focus on the things I can affect, and my own emotions. I no longer get angry when other people are doing things I can’t affect. It’s helped and has been reassuring.

The credit crunch has affected my business, along with every other business in the country in a dramatic way. My growth plan that started before Mum’s prognosis and the credit crunch meant that I was saddled with expensive premises just when sales halved. It’s taken time to get things straight, change strategy and develop a new way of working to support more women through the Bra Lady network, whilst generating a profit.

The thing I’ve learnt here is to keep trying different things. Don’t give up. If you know your business is needed within the market place, then you’ll find a way of developing it, however slowly. If you’ve got the energy and can afford to keep going with it, just do it. You’ll never be happy until you’ve tried to make it work. However difficult the economy is.

Family life is often challenging. As children grow up they want to do different things. As a parent you want to support them, and ensure they get as many opportunities to do different things. It’s got to the stage in our house that we want to give the boys those opportunities, but we have to work out a way of financially supporting that. For us, it wasn’t a difficult decision. We have a lovely old house that needs work doing to it, so we’ve decided to sell up and move on. What’s the point of having a house we can’t afford to be in, whilst the boys are missing out (and we’re missing out on watching them develop new interests)?

So, whilst the last few weeks have been extremeley challenging in so many ways, I’ve managed to pick myself up, dust myself off, and not quite start all over again, but certainly move on in all areas of my life. The next few months are going to be tough. Moving house and all that entails will be a challenge. But, now we’ve made the decision I feel lighter and more able to look at other parts of my life and put things in perspective.

We only get one chance at life. However tough life seems now, we do need to make the most of it. Use your support network to help you through, and choose some simple tasks to achieve each day. The bigger tasks and decisions will follow when the time is right. Small steps is all we can hope to achieve when we’re sad and upset. Those small steps though will help us move towards the sunshine that we want back in our lives.

I’ve got friends who are newly bereaved, and others are watching their loved ones suffer. I’ve got friends who are struggling with their businesses, or have seen their businesses taken away from them. My son’s friend’s Dad died at the weekend. It’s all around us this sadness and upset. But then we see a new born baby, or a beautiful flower or view, and we know we have to live in the here and now. We have to support our children to grow up and be able to cope with all that life will throw at them. My 10 year old son wrote this in a card he’s sending to his bereaved friend “We hope happiness will come back into your life soon.” .

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Memories are made of….what?

Having spent the long weekend at my childhood home, clearing out cupboards, draws and the loft, I’m not sure I know the answer to this question!

Maybe I’m even more confused about what memories are. Or maybe I’m totally clear, but it’s sometimes difficult to share with others who have differing opinions. What do you think?

I personally put in the bin, my parent’s 21st birthday cards, wedding invites, birthday invites for friends and masses of photographs. Just because I’ve binned them doesn’t mean that my Dad, (and late Mum), won’t have their memories will it?

Looking through the photographs, it brought back memories of holidays, birthdays, favourite clothes and all the wonderful things that make up my past. But just because I haven’t seen these things for years doesn’t mean that I’m not me does it?

So, yes, I was hard. A lot of ‘stuff’ got binned, recycled and given away. Is that wrong? Do you think it’s throwing memories away? Or are memories just that? Memories, in our heads and hearts?

It’s almost 3 years since my Mum died, and Dad is hoping to move house soon (just needs a buyer – anyone interested? Lovely village in Essex, easy commute to London, overlooks fields….oops! Digressing again!). The house has to be emptied, and he won’t need all the ‘stuff’ that’s in there. Do any of us? I know I throw things out a lot easier since clearing a lot of Mum’s things out.

I’m going to make up some books of my life, along with that of my parents, grandparents and family tree history. Not much, but some basics and photos over the years. Have you done anything similar?

So what are your memories made of? ‘Things’, or ‘stuff’ in your head?

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Valentines Day – Love is so bitter sweet

Love is walking together through all lifes challenges

Valentines Day is so many things to each of us isn’t it? Love & mushy stuff for some. Lonely times for others. And so many happy memories, and shared experiences along the way.

I do like the fact that we celebrate LOVE tomorrow. We don’t love each other enough do we? And yes, it’s cute when our children make cards for their friends isn’t it?

Tomorrow is the anniversary of my husband asking me to marry him. I can still picture it all – the lovely meal he cooked. The wonderful wine we drank. Him on his knee. My tears, and our shared laughter and kisses. Such a happy day.

But it’s also my late Nan’s birthday.  She would have been 98 tomorrow, but she died a couple of weeks ago. 8 years ago we held a surprise family party for her 90th. I was 2 weeks away from giving birth, so she certainly didn’t expect to see us! My hospital bag, and my pregnancy notes were safe in the car, just in case. But no.2 was on time, so we had a wonderful family occasion. Just for Nan.

The 14th February is also my Aunt’s birthday. Tomorrow will be the first year of her 70+ that she’ll be celebrating without her mother being around. She’s not looking forward to it.

So whilst some of us celebrate time with our loved ones, remember those friends and relations with broken hearts – through death, or breakdown in relationships. Not everyone wants to hear about how many red roses you’ve received! (I get none by the way – “waste of money”, but I do hope for a shared meal).

Whilst we celebrate the day of LOVE, let us be sensitive to those we meet and speak to. Some of us are loving life, and remembering those we will always love. But there will be some tears of sadness too.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy New Year!

Walking together

I’m so pleased January is finally over!

Anyone else had a tough first month to the year? Always difficult when you’re so fired up with resolutions, plans and expectation isn’t it?

Well, today, I’m putting January behind me, and moving forward. As much as it may help to reflect on some of the challenges that came my way in January, I’m not sure that will help me this time. Over the coming few weeks I may share some of the challenges. At the moment some are too raw and unresolved.

So, today, I’m declaring that 3rd February is my NEW YEAR! Yes, we’ve had our Chinese food to celebrate that festival. But today is different! So why today? 3rd February?

It’s my Mum’s birthday! She would have been 68 today. And as my birthday is at the end of January, (and I did have a good relaxing time & put the stresses to one side), February was always about my Mum, and now my second son too.

What would Mum have done in the circumstances I’ve found myself in? I think she’d have busied herself with her friends, activities and crafts. She’d have spoken to her closest friends and got support. She’d have carried on with life and taken everything in an “Oh well, we can’t help it” type of way. So, guess what I’ve been doing? Carrying on, speaking to HER friends as well as my own for support. I can’t think about it really as if she was here, then some of the things that have happended wouldn’t have, (if that makes sense?).

So, apologies for the slightly downbeat post – I know you always expect positivity & motivation from me! Well, sometimes, life happens. And it does affect us. We can’t hide from things that happen. But we do have to deal with them and carry on working towards our goals and living life to the full.

So, today is my New Year’s Day, and I’m so looking forward to the challenges and delights that 2012 are going to bring. Yes, there’s going to be more knocks along the way. But I sincerely hope that I’m strong enough and prepared to deal with them.

Keep looking after me Mum and sending me your love, strength and support. Without your guide I wouldn’t know the right way to go.

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Time IS a healer

It’s 2 years ago today that my Mum died of cancer, at the age of 65. It’s been hard carrying on without her support, and I still miss her loads.

But, I’ve found the last few months easier to cope with than all the months before it. It’s not that I miss Mum less. I often find myself thinking, “if only I could ask Mum, she’d know how to do…./what to do about…. this”. I’m just more able to cope. I’ve put things in perspective.

Walking together through life

When someone dies, however close you are to them, and even when you’re expecting it to happen, it’s a shock. You grieve their loss, and for me, I only started ‘getting over it’ properly when I started having Reiki sessions with a spiritual Reiki master. Bernadette helped me to put things in perspective. Yes, I’d lost my Mum, but I still had my own life to lead, my 2 children to bring up, my husband to love, and my Dad and brother to support, plus my business to run.

 

The first year was tough, but we survived. This second year has been easier, as I’ve been looking forward a lot more. I haven’t been reflecting as much, or thinking, “it’s a shame Mum’s not here”. Because I know she is here. All the time. Whatever your belief system, I think most people believe that those who have died are still with us spiritually.  My Reiki master talks about angels, and spirits supporting us, with different ‘people’ caring for us at different times. I feel, that just in life, Mum is looking out for us. She still cares, takes an interest, and is supporting the family in all it does.

We may have other troubles, family crises and difficult times, but Mum will always be with us. During her life she gave me foundations to live my life by. I now know that she doesn’t have to be here physically for me to be able to move forward. It’s taken almost 2 years to understand this. But the family is getting on with our lives. We do feel the most organised we’ve been for a long time. We’re having a really good sort and tidy of the house and garden this weekend, getting our family foundations right to move on.

Yes, I can remember what I was doing exactly at this time 2 years ago. I can remember what it was like being with Mum and Dad when she died just after midday. But her physical death, released her spirit to support us and watch over us in a different way.

She wouldn’t want us to sit around and be mournful today. She’ll be more than happy we’re tidying the garden up, (in the rain!).

This is a day late due to technical issues beyond my control! I can hear Mum laughing now! ;)

 

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When you just can’t stop crying

I’ve been stunned by my reactions tonight. I’m sat here with damp, ok, wet, eyes, having been crying. I’ve tried to stop, but the harder I try, the more I cry. I haven’t cried in ages, so why now?

I’m tired I guess. I had a very late night with friends last night, but a very enjoyable evening was had by all. I’ve been doing accounts all afternoon. I got soaked watching no.2 in his u7 football match this morning. And I’m only just warming up! But that’s not the real reason.

The waterworks started when I was writing all the instructions for my friends who are coming away in 2 weeks time to celebrate my 40th birthday. No, I’m not upset that I’m 40. It’s just another birthday to me. Yes, it’s a ‘big one’, but so what? I’m just using it as an excuse to get friends together in one place at the same time to share food and party games and have a great time together. I want all our families to meet each other again – some people haven’t met since our wedding 13 years ago! A lot has happened since then!

No, it’s because I’m missing my Mum. I haven’t missed her this much for months. If she was on this earth now, she’d have been planning and plotting surprises for me. Not expensive things, but she’d be making me a handmade card, she’d be searching the shops for a present suitable for her daughter’s 40th birthday – a memorable occasion. If she’d have been visiting the party (which I’m sure would have happened), she’d have brought ‘things’ – nibbles, drinks that no-one ever usually drinks; party games & little things for the children. She’d have had such fun in planning these treats as she got great pleasure from sharing and giving.

So why am I crying? I have no idea! Am I trying to think of all the things she would have done and replicate them? No, I can’t afford it. I also don’t need to – the 10 families who will be there are all bringing things to share. My best friends are helping me plan and organise it (I had told OH what I wanted 4 years ago, but I’m still organising it myself!), and it’s going to be lovely. But I just MISS HER. I wish she was here so I could share my weekend with her. I wish I could get a text from her or hear her speak again wishing me “Happy birthday”.

Even though I know she’s with me in spirit, I guess it takes big occasions in your life to make you realise just how much you miss someone.

I love you and miss you Mum, and these tears are all for you, and the love and laughter that you shared unconditionally.

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One year on – Life without a loved one

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my Mum’s death. And, I just want to reflect.

Mum - happy times

We’ve all survived

Despite thinking that we’d never get through it, my Dad, brother and I are still here. Her grandchilren are growing up, as children do. It’s been very painful. Even though we were expecting her death (she’d had ovarian cancer for 10 years), and had the luxury of saying goodbye, and putting things in order before she died. It was still hard when the final day came.

Mum was a beautiful, loving person, who always thought of others before herself. Even when we were planning her funeral and thanksgiving services together, she was more worried about where people would park in the town centre, than it being the right place to have the service!

Throwing Out

We did a lot of clearing out Mum’s things very early on. I spent a lot of last summer driving up and down the M6 to clear Mum’s clothes and her craft shed. She was a fanatical crafter & flower arranger. We all loved her for her generosity and the beautiful things she made. But we had so much stuff we held a sale in the Village Hall in aid of McMillan Cancer last September. Continue reading

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Mother’s Day – without a Mum

I’ve always loved Mother’s Day – the history and traditions. The sharing. The actions to show Mums how much we care and love them. But, I’ve always had my Mum to tell. This year is different.

This year is my first year without Mum being alive. And even though I’m a

My Mum

Mother myself, it feels strange to not be buying cards that mean something special, or planning a gift or action to make her smile and tell her how much I love her. Continue reading

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