This is quite a difficult post to write for me as it’s quite an emotive subject and unfortunately something I have had to deal with quite a lot over the last few years. If you have been following my blog at all you might know that I lost my mum in 2015 to Esophageal Cancer and that single event almost broke me in two. But sadly for me, this wasn’t the only massive loss in the recent past. I lost my Gran (last remaining grandparent) 3 months after our wedding in 2012, we lost our beloved Peggy-dog the week I started at The Prince’s Trust in 2013 and then in 2014 my mum was diagnosed with Cancer and she passed away almost exactly a year later.
So since 2011 (Gran’s diagnosis) something shitty has happened every year, with 2016 being the first year nothing devastating happened. Granted, M’s dad had a massive operation and was in HDU for a short while, but he has bounced back quicker that Katy Price’s norks, but I digress.
For 5 solid years I was either dealing with or recovering from something awful and quite honestly and inevitably it took its toll. My mum had the most harrowing time whilst she was ill and she sort of leapt from one heartbreaking set back to another. My Gran got constant water infections due to her bladder cancer and basically went a bit crackers. I spent one interesting afternoon, whilst taking her to radiotherapy, answering the same 5 questions over and over again, whilst feeding her jaffa cakes. Peggy dog spent the last 3-4 months of her life just being properly miserable, not being interested in us at all and slowly going deaf. However her ability to sniff out a decent bit of chicken, thankfully never left her. But it was all very very hard to watch and once all three of them eventually left this world, it left me so so sad.
About 5 months after mum died, I still wasn’t sleeping and I was still having such terrible nightmares. My worse one, was dreaming on and off all night that people kept telling me mum had died and in my dream, I was hearing the news afresh each and every time. Experiencing that heartbreaking news most nights and then crying at the start of some annual leave because I wasn’t looking forward to it, forced me to take action and I went to see my GP.
My GP was new and I didn’t know her, so was a little embarrassed to explain my situation. It’s so hard to be instantly very vulnerable to someone who you’ve literally just met. But explain I did and the GP was lovely to me and explained that I could be signed up for some counselling and I only had to speak to the receptionist on the way out. However, on the way out, the receptionist told me that whilst I would be assessed quickly, the wait to see someone was 6 months. I sighed a hopeless sigh and walked out without ever calling the number they gave me. I waited almost another year before I attempted to get help again, as whilst some things have improved, I was still finding some things quite tough.
My salvation came on Twitter of all places in a thing called #sthelenshour which is an hour on a Monday night in which my local town’s business sort of go onto Twitter and shout about their business and support the town and all the amazing things that happen. I came across an amazing councillor called Maureen who was easy to deal with, reasonably priced and available. I had about 8 sessions and it instantly made a massive difference. I was of course in tears within a few minutes of starting our first session, but that was just what I needed. Maureen made me think about things differently and worked with me to help me cope with my grief and all the difficulties that come with it. It helped and I mean REALLY helped.
It’s so sad that this service isn’t provided on the NHS, but paying for a private therapist saved my sleep and changed my dreams from scary horror movies to the more normal confusing 1 act plays where you jump from your living room to your childhood playground, all the while knowing you have to be at work in 5 minutes and you can’t find your keys.
From everything I’ve experienced My top tip on dealing with loss would definitely be speak to someone. I am not a person blessed with lots of friends and so I couldn’t call the girls to come round. My sister is lovely, but obviously when mum died, she was not only going through the same thing, but she was also raising my two nieces. I wasn’t alone though, as I am married to the most selfless, kind, caring and compassionate man in the world. Without him, I am not sure where I would be.
But I guess what I am saying is… speak to someone, anyone – your GP, your therapist, your neighbour – anyone. Dealing with loss is so hard and bottling things up only makes it worse. Call the Samaritans if your village is just you and your dog. Their number for the UK and ROI are:
Dealing with loss is devastating and hard, so don’t beat yourself up if you are struggling. We are all human.