Why am I grieving if nobody has died?
Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Grief. The word conjures up the image of a widow sobbing over her beloved late husbands casket. A veil covers her mascara stained face.
OK, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but what a lot of people don't realise is that grief doesn't just follow a death. It can be the result of any kind of loss.
Understanding this is the first step to moving on and processing the information, but it wasn't until it was pointed out to me by a professional that I realised I was grieving. I, just like most people would, thought I was a bit down.
Mother's Day can be difficult for many. for those who have lost a Mother or for those who will never be one. Growing up I always thought I'd be a Mum. When I got married I thought I'd be a Mum. For different reasons it wasn't to be. To cut a long story short, my then husband changed his mind, and then following Cancer treatment it was unlikely. I grieve the child I never had. I'm not one of these people that can say they never wanted kids. I wish I was. Just one, thats all I wanted. I dreamed of having a little girl, a best friend. I wonder what she would have looked like. What she would have grown up to be. They say you can't miss what you never had. I disagree.
It isn't just one area of my life either. I never really got over losing my Dad at a fairly young age. He was ill for many years before his death. The only comfort was that he was no longer suffering, however, I still grieve the loss of him and the fact he never lived to see our family grow. I grieve him, and the fact that those years were taken from us all.
Dealing with grief over death is one thing, but grief comes in many forms. The last few years, for me, have been awful. In 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, again in 2019. Thankfully, the physical side was treatable, but as anyone who has survived cancer will tell you, you live the rest of your life with the fear of it coming back. Maggie Keswick Jencks, the founder of Maggie's Centre famously said 'Do not lose the joy of living in the fear of dying' and that is so true, you can not let it control your life. However cancer does change your life and you tend to view life pre and post cancer, like there's different versions of you. I only realised recently that I am grieving the pre-cancer days, when that dark cloud wasn't constantly hanging over me, waiting to envelope me in it's fog yet again. The days before every ache or ailment immediately made me think it's back.
Coming out the other side of cancer treatment the first time, I began to piece my life back together, only for it to then fall apart again. My husband left me. We had grown distant before the cancer but my brush with mortality reenforced my dreams of how I wanted to live my life and they didn't match his. I knew life was too short, I needed my own interests, he wanted us to be together all the time. I wanted him to support my dreams. We couldn't agree and he found someone else. We had been together for 16 years. That's a big chunk of anyone's life. When we got married I thought we'd be together forever, I guess every couple does, but in hindsight we were different. I think people have to change and grow together. We didn't. I grieve my marriage, the bond we once had and the fact that it's over. It takes time to get over that.
In essence what I, you and anyone else in these situations have to do is acknowledge our loss, don't beat ourselves up about the way we feel and realise that we are in fact grieving.
Be kind to ourselves and allow ourselves time. Time we need to adjust, time our mental health needs to process the information and importantly, Time to grieve
You may also like:
Grieving at Christmas - https://www.tanyalouise.net/post/lifestyle-grieving-at-christmas
How to cope with the aftermath of someones death - https://www.tanyalouise.net/post/lifestyle-how-to-cope-with-the-immediate-aftermath-of-a-loved-one-s-death