Sometimes there is a tendency we as humans have to avoid the pain or discomfort that life will bring. You could be avoiding taking that first step to train for that 5km you set out to do last year. It may be that you are avoiding having a difficult chat about said person to a friend. Sometimes it’s a life event that you shut out for fear of crashing out.
I lost my grandmother in October 2016. I was embarking on my gap year with the task of both retaking my A-level exams and working towards getting into Vet School. I had been on holiday for my cousins wedding when my Granny fell ill. It wasn’t good news and I think we all had a blinding hope that things would get better. While my Granny was dying, I was thousands of miles away in a different country, not quite grasping the fact that I wouldn’t see her again. I remember that I promised her while I visited her in hospital in Joburg that I would see her again that year. I never did.
You see, I had a very close relationship with my gran. I think everyone has an extra special relationship with their grandmother. When living on the farm, my front door was less than a hundred metres from hers. I had the freedom to see her whenever I wanted and for as long as I wanted. It was no big deal to go over for a cup of tea and her famous finger biscuits and end up going home before bed. Her door was always open to me and a chat about anything was always an option. When we moved to the UK, there was a sudden cut off. Calls were received and made every week which I took for granted. But the time when we went back and I would sit in her kitchen and talk about nothing and everything was something that I will never forget. Living apart from her whilst in the UK was difficult and it makes the getting over her death even harder to this day because I just assume she would be there when I got off the plane. I have to make myself remember that she’s not physically here with us every time I visit and its a hard first couple times walking through her house when I’m visiting my Grandad.
Fast forward to being at Vet School, I had finally reached the place that I had told her, and everyone else for that matter, I would end up at. I was over the moon that I had got there and I was beginning the journey to becoming someone I knew I wanted to be. Everything was going well. However, I realised that my mental health was declining part way through Summer of 2018 and I needed to speak to someone.
It was only then that I realised that I hadn’t finished grieving over the death of my Granny. Maybe I never really had the chance to. I swept the entire thing under the very dusty rug and moved on, switching off those lights that showed any feeling towards the grief. I made myself numb because I didn’t want to face or deal with my grief. I’d been so preoccupied with other events and projects in my life that I had got to a point where the numbness was starting to hurt, like your numb leg starting to get the stabbing pain after sitting too long.
A lot of that had built up and I was finally acknowledging it. But what I couldn’t get over was:“it was two years ago, get on with it”. I thought that I should be over my mourning period. Isn’t two years enough?
Well, on now to 2019, I am slowly opening the sadness and dealing with it. My music and songwriting is helping and I hope that maybe I’ll be ready for it to be heard (more for her to hear it). I’m more aware that it’s a wonderful part to be human to feel any emotion, and at the moment it is my grief. I was bottling up any feeling because I was so scared of feeling the sadness, and subsequently I was missing out on the joy. I am realising that grieving for any length of time is ok. She was my Granny. The first person I have lost. It was the first time I actually understood what it means to lose someone so important to you.
The message here? TAKE YOUR TIME. There is no need for you to be over your grief in a slotted time appointment. Whether its over a break-up, a passing or anything that means you feel you need to mourn, mourn, grieve and TAKE YOUR TIME.