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Emerging from a lockdown spent grieving brings mixed emotions.
It’s half term and the sun is finally out. GCSE and A Level people have finished school and have endless months ahead of them. It should be a time to relax and take it easy. But there’s still a lot of insecurity around and endless months could feed into anxiety and depression, which means trying to take preventive action – some sort of job, project, DIY initiative perhaps, a loose sense of structure.
Left to their own devices teenagers would sleep all day and then spend all night rewatching Eurovision – at least in our house. Which would be fine, but it doesn’t make them feel any better about themselves. Everyone is having friendship issues and loneliness is a terrible thing at any age, but especially in teenagers, and especially teenagers who are grieving. At least they have each other.
Eurovision in our house is a huge celebration. It lasts for months, involves dressing up on the night and eating food from around the continent. Italy has now become the destination of their dreams and we already know the entire back catalogue of Maneskin, the winners. Yes, they love the songs and the glamour, but really underneath it all it is a celebration of their sister, who was chief Eurovision cheerleader. We don’t talk about her, we can’t talk about her together, but we do her all the time, we keep her here in everything we do.
Time passes, but nothing much changes. We still crawl through the days. We’ve seen people since the great Opening Up, but mostly they have not asked about the big elephant in the room, bar factual details about the police report [only just received], the inquest etc. Usually it is me asking the questions about them. Maybe that is better because what can you say? That is the thing as a parent too. You feel so completely impotent. You want to help your children. The natural instinct is to ‘make it better’, but there is no better to be had.
Instead it comes back to structure. Not a rigid one, but regular things to get you through the day. Regular times to ‘talk’ to my Nish, visit the bird box we put up for her in the forest, work…And stupid things like a hot chocolate on a Friday or a favourite meal or something small to get through the week…staging posts to help us get through all this time when we are without her in person, but our heads are full of her and every item on the news or programme on the tv seems to be about her. She’s the top score on Just Dance, she’s my son’s head on my shoulder, she’s in every drop off at the tube, every car journey, every time I go into the kitchen in the morning, in the last aisle at Tesco looking for shampoo, in all music…
And in a way being in the house on our own with her has helped over these months. It is so difficult to go out into the world to places that we went before and not be with her or be able to text her and tell her. I used to text her all the time, but usually her phone was on airplane mode and the messages didn’t get through for a while. In my head I am texting her all the time now. She’s still on airplane mode, but I hope somehow my messages pulsate out across the air.