So here I am, your favourite blogger/vlogger/influencer etc etc etc spreading Christmas cheer with a very on brand festive post about grief. I wrote the 4 month post and wanted to document at 8 and 12 months too, for myself but for anyone else who may be on the same path at the mo. I thought it would help give a realistic view of what its like. You often read posts by people years later and how they coped but I thought it would be more helpful (esp myself) to be written as it happens.
If you haven’t read 4 months you can catch up here. It is one of my most read and most searched for blog post, and whilst I don’t want it to become ‘my thing’ at the moment it is very much an all encompassing thing so I am rolling with it. Unlike marriage, parenthood even a graduation, grief/loss is a given. It is something you will go through and I’ve learnt nothing prepares you for it, even if you know it is happening. I had so many messages about how my 4 month post resonated with people and I would love to know how you felt around this point too, it just so happens that its falling alongside my mums birthday and Christmas which has seemed like a double whammy of “oh hey Phoebe, just reminding you your mum isn’t around anymore”.
Everyone was right
Time does heal. But very very very slowly. Whilst my grief is no longer manifesting itself in the inability to leave my bed and watch Gilmore Girls in the dark, it is still very much a heavy weight in my day to day life. I would text my mum such random shit throughout the day and not having that but still seeing or doing stuff and thinking “oh mum would like that’’ gives me pangs.
One of the truest quotes I read about grief is that it is love without an anchor, you have all this love and emotion and no one to give it to. Memories to talk about, new plans to discuss and the person you want to talk about it with is not there so these emotions just sit in your body. Yes I could tell me friends, my husband, even all of you, but it isn’t the same.
My anxiety is worse than last year for sure. This time last year (December), Atticus was about to go in to surgery, we were trying to buy/sell a house, mum was obvs poorly and awaiting major op in Jan, and then in to 2018, mum had her op, my nana died, we moved house, she died, Geoff (sisters dog died), sister diagnosed with cancer. I mean I know ANYONE would be suffering but for someone with a General Anxiety Disorder and Agoraphobia my anxiety heightened and my circle has shrunk right down. I feel like my body hasn’t had time to settle over the year and its been one thing after another, I am constantly waiting for the ‘next thing’ at the moment and my brain is a very loud place to be right now. I have been having therapy since September which has helped but I know it is only my and my head that will be able to sort things out, and that will take time. If you feel anxious, if you feel this unsettled dread all the time, it has been normal for me but may not be for you, pop to your GPs to talk it out. Medication has been amazing for my anxious physical symptoms (racing heart, sweaty etc) and I still have a batch of unopened antidepressants that I’ve not touched yet. Medication isn’t the answer, it’s a plaster over a wound but if it helps until it’s ready to come off then that’s fine with me, and there is absolutely no shame in it. I feel I am almost back to square 1 with my anxiety but in a different way, its very hard to explain. New things are bothering me now (Michael being away) and old things aren’t. My anxiety is taking a physical toll on me. I’ve lost about 10kg (1.5st) because food/eating makes me feel sick. I have constant knots in my tummy, crippling cramping pain, fatigue, regular headaches, blurry vision, dizziness and constant nausea. The doctors say its all normal, its anxiety. I know going for a walk will make me feel better but to muster the energy when its cold and dark on top of feeling like crap has been a daily struggle and something I didn’t expect.
I won’t dwell on this, I am sure you can imagine how hard it has been. I am sure Christmas will always be ‘a thing’. I offered to host which I am wildly regretting (Im sure the day will be fine) but the added stress is just not worth it right now. We are going away next year. To put it bluntly it’s awful, everyone said it would be. Christmas is shit. I have tried with all my might to feel festive and it’s just not happening and I’ve decided not to force it. Fuck your Carols by Candlelight, your Christmas films and your gift buying. I’ve found buying gifts hard because I feel in such a selfish, un-celebratory mood. Decorating the tree was hard because there were so many baubles that mum had bought me over the years. Writing my first card to home addressed solely with “Dad” got me so much I had to stop writing and go cry for a bit. So yes, expect the first Christmas to hurt, a lot.
On one hand I think I am not coping at all, then on the other I think “oh I went food shopping and didn’t want to cry in the vegetable aisle”. We have had happy news, my sisters surgery went well and she is now cancer free, a few people close to me are expecting babies and my mantra de jour is that “feelings are temporary”. The blue sky is always there, I just need the clouds to pass (thank you Headspace). I have been jigsawing, re-watching favourite films, podcasts in the bath, heck I even went to a Christmas party.
Michael has been my rock. And I truly hope you have someone helping you through because without him, god, I don’t even know. He has brought me food and water when I’ve not left my bed for days. He holds my hand when I wobble if we go just down the road to Tesco. He has been so loving and caring when I snap for no reason, or he finds me crying because I can’t find the potato masher. He’s had a shit year too as he has gone through it all with me, on top of a new job and his own family issues. This is the part of marriage I never wanted to experience but so glad I have.
My best advice is to do what makes you feel better. Whatever that may be. Taking up pottery, fell walking whatever. Even if it means cutting people out of your life for a while, deleting them on instagram, telling people how you feel, do whatever gets you through. If its sleeping all day and night, living in the dark, if it helps you through the days then do it even though all the shitty grief articles tell you not to. Just know that there will be a time where you need to push yourself to regain some normality in your life but it will happen and you will feel better for it. Grief for the first 8 months has been about survival mode, thats how I feel I am operating. But!! I have good days, and on those days I can talk about mum and feel a sense of warmth, the bad days are slowly lessening and the good are creeping in so I hope in another 4 months I will have a more positive update for you.
So many of you have messaged that are going through similar and I would love to know where you are at right now. I’ve been having a love hate relationship with instagram this month but the resounding success has been all the amazing connections I’ve made. And the people who don’t roll their eyes when they see I’ve either uploaded another pink sofa photo or that I’m feeling a bit blue. You’ve helped so so much, and for that I am so grateful for that time suck of an app.