Meeting up with family after months apart is amazing, but, amid grief, it can be tinged with a lot of sadness.
I saw my mum this weekend. It’s the first time since the funeral of my daughter and, obviously, it was socially distanced in a park. My mum has been grieving all on her own for the last two months. It was, of course, very good to see her, but there was so much sadness hanging in the air.
I’m not sure which phase of grief I’m now in. Maybe all of them at the same time. I still don’t believe it’s real; I am immensely, immensely sad almost all the time now, my ability to distract myself during the day with doing something else is fading; I am battling acceptance and trying to focus on getting through the next minute rather than the next week.
I’ve been speaking to a lot of people, but they sometimes say the wrong thing and it makes me angry and also worried that I am pushing them away because who knows what the right thing to say is. They sometimes make assumptions about my relationship with my daughter, based on their own experience, rather than listening to what I am saying. One person said that you can never really know young people once they pass the teenage years because they don’t tell their parents most things. I don’t feel that was my relationship with my daughter. Maybe I’m wrong. Everyone has their own story. And who knows when a person’s story begins because children inherit their parents’ stories in addition to their own and forge? How I parent is based on my own childhood experiences which draw on or are a reaction to those of my own parents among other things.
I feel I knew my daughter pretty well, as much as it is possible to know a person. From the moment I first saw her she was fascinating and unique and I loved her beyond reason. Like many children, she used to ask how much I loved her every night before she went to sleep. We settled on infinity to the power of infinity [she was learning maths]. Is that even sufficient to describe it?
On Friday I had to deal with the ongoing saga of a complaint I put in against the Mail Online who ran CCTV footage of my daughter’s death with a sensationalist ‘exclusive’ headline. I’m not very hopeful about the outcome. The press seem to be able to effectively turn my daughter’s death into entertainment and call it investigative journalism. I also received a reply from my MP about the Dominic Cummings fiasco, justifying his exceptional circumstances. At the end of the month we have the sentencing of the driver who killed my daughter. It has been delayed because he needs psychological tests for the trauma caused by his own actions. Everywhere people seem to be dodging responsibility.
This week is my son’s 10th birthday. He is very excited. But the backdrop to it is this huge chasm of grief that we tiptoe around. I feel like I am just on the brink, but somehow I rescue myself every day from falling in. I’m not sure if lockdown has been good or bad for the grieving process. I feel like we’ve been in some sort of protective limbo. I’ve so wanted to see people and talk about everything, but I’m not sure if I’m ready and doing it two metres apart won’t help.
Daughter two is having trouble talking about her sister because to talk about it her makes her loss seem real. I’m the opposite. I have to talk about her to keep her here so it’s not real. Work is good. It gives me something to do, but then I feel guilty that I am not with the kids enough. Yet all I can do is tick the days off the calendar and hope that, at some stage, this gets easier. At my daughter’s funeral I just kept my eyes focused on the photo of her at the front. When she was here, every time I saw her face it made me happy. I wrapped myself in that feeling and I got through that day. It’s not courage, as some people say. It’s love that makes this so very painful, but ultimately it’s love that gets you through it.