For the past few weeks, amongst the most roller coaster of emotions, I’ve thought on multiple occasions what I’m going to do with this blog. To end it on such a sad note feels so final. This blog was meant to have many, many, more updates and entries. Mum’s “journey” was supposed to be longer, with multiple more ups, and inevitably, many more downs. It was not only a tool that I used to keep family and friends updated, but was also my way of talking about something painful. It was cathartic. It helped me to understand and navigate the worst period of my life, and by putting everything in writing, and doing something that Mum loved, I felt better.
To end on a post titled “What Happened?”, doesn’t feel right, so I’m going to continue writing. Instead of a blog where a mother’s diagnosis with stage 4 melanoma is discussed from a daughter’s perspective, it is a now a blog about dealing with the aftermath. Navigating the grief of losing a loved one. Losing a mother, from a daughter’s perspective. I’ve been told multiple times by multiple people to write a journal; to put my feelings down on paper; that it’ll help. Instead, this blog is my journal – and if it helps anyone who’s reading it who is going through something similar, then I’ve continued to do what Mum wanted, which at the end of the day, has always been the true reason for this blog. It’s also, let’s be honest, a lot cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist!
So here it is, the next chapter of HerMelanoma.com
They say that grief comes in 5 stages. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Everyone deals with it differently. I personally never felt or feel denial. I don’t have the ability to push it to the side, shut it out, or have moments where I can forget what’s happened. I wish I did, especially in those early days after Mum’s passing – but it always felt painfully real, from the moment my aunt called me at 4.50 am on that Sunday morning, and said the words “Alex, she’s gone”. Since that moment I’ve only felt one emotion, that isn’t a stage or a page from a psychiatrist’s playbook – pain. Intense, breathtaking (literally), pain.
Those 2.5 weeks in Melbourne after Mum passed were, lets just say, the worst. Due to the circumstances, everything was painfully dragged out. The hardest was the emptying out of her apartment. It smelt like her. It felt like her. She was everywhere. Going through her belongings, remembering all of the memories that were attached to many of them, was gut wrenching. Every item that was thrown out felt like we were throwing away a piece of her. The one and only good thing to come out of it was that my aunts, who live in Melbourne, no longer have to take on that task, and after everything they’ve both done these past few months, I’m glad we did at least that for them.
For those that personally knew mum and our family, you’d know that mum and I shared a special bond. She was, and still is in every sense of the word, my best friend. There was nothing she didn’t know, I told her everything about everything. She got me through every high and low of my life, especially my lows. She was my rock, and the only person I wanted when things got hard. Which is why I’m struggling. Things are hard, very hard, so naturally I want and need the one person I can’t have; my Mum.
Being back in London has been a whole mixed bag of emotions. I feel most at home here, but I also feel like I’m living in limbo. I’ve since gone back to work, yet every day feels like i’m floating through them, without really registering what’s going on. My one saving grace is that the place I work is filled with supportive, understanding and incredible women. From day one they were there, which is a far cry from the management of my previous workplace, making it mean so much more. I’ve had moments where I’m sitting at my desk and all of a sudden, without reason, the reality of my new life rushes in without warning. I’ve had days where I can’t get out of bed and have been forced to text work that I can’t come in that day. And they’ve made that OK. Sleep is now a luxury – turning off the constantly turning cogs in the brain is something that I haven’t mastered yet, but I’m getting there.
I feel like in my life I’ve been incredibly lucky in that I’ve never experienced real pain before. I’ve never lost a loved one that I was close to. I’ve never been through a painful break up. This “luck” means that I’m now in completely new and unchartered waters that I have absolutely no idea how to navigate. I have never felt pain and grief of this magnitude before, and at 30 years old, I find myself being completely and entirely overcome by it. At the end of the day however, I know that that’s ok and that this is completely, 100%, normal. It has barely been a month since I lost my mother, and I know that with time things will get easier. For now, I simply have to get through this and use the incredible people around me to help me to do it.
I know this blog post has been long, and incredibly depressing. Death is depressing, and as mentioned above, depression is, after all, a stage of grief. There’s no point using this blog as a means to talk about how i’m feeling if I’m not 100% honest. This is the first “journal” blog post of many, so undoubtedly it is going to be one of the heaviest. Talking about it and writing again on this blog has already made me feel just that little bit better, and I know that Mum, wherever she is, will be glad.
p.s A work colleague of mine is incredibly talented at writing poetry – below is one of her beautiful poems she gave me, which I couldn’t love more…..