Grief is a funny thing. It’s something I thought I’d got to grips with when I was much smaller, but somewhere along the way I shoved and swallowed it down until it only manifested in quiet and subconscious ways within my life. I think I’d accepted that it’s intensity varied, coming back and surprising me every so often. But I hadn’t quite prepared for the fact that it can completely hit you in its entirety all over again.
My grandparents raised me, were the most wonderful and important people in my life and I lost them at 11 and 15. I think I was too young to even comprehend the significance of that when I was younger and I eventually found myself feeling disconnected from the grief that it makes sense to feel.
It wasn’t until years later, after around 9 months worth of therapy, that I began to feel that grief seeping back in to my life, quietly at first and then with a force I’d forgotten. It was as if a switch had been flicked and memories I’d somehow forgotten came flooding back – bacon buttys every morning and dinner ready when I dashed back across the road home from school, walks home from nursery and lifts home from high school, gifts and days out and snatches of memories from the home in which they all happened. I was devastated all over again. I think part of this came from a realisation of what I had lost – two of the most important people that would ever be in my life, a home where I felt safe and content and happy. And part of it was just the natural way in which grief lives within you once you’ve met.
But I also felt confused and guilty and like I wasn’t entitled to be feeling the loss so intensely – it had been years. I struggled to reach out, felt I couldn’t bring it up in conversation, worried I was just being over-dramatic or attention seeking.
Over the last year or so I’ve found myself feeling this grief more strongly than ever, when I’m homesick or lonely or something exciting happens and I wish they could know about it. But I’m beginning to accept it, to give myself permission to feel it. I still don’t know how to deal with it in some ways – wish I could visit places we used to go to or write to them or do something to celebrate their lives. But I’m allowing myself to miss them. And that’s a start.