My dad lost his dog last week. His 12 year old Labrador Winnie, which was my mums therapy dog. Truth be known Winnie was more my dads dog. He loved her immensely and she was a very important part of the family. When mum took ill many years ago and dad became her carer, Winnie provided him with comfort- he sought a type of solace in her.
Losing mum six weeks ago, his wife of 54 years, Winnie became even more important, so when she took ill last week, it was a devastating blow. The vet ran tests and when the results came back, my dad, myself, my brother and our families were shocked with the news. Winnie’s lungs were filled with fluid, and her breathing was laboured- her body was shutting down. Six weeks prior my mum lay in intensive care, her lungs filled with fluid, unable to breathe on her own and her body was shutting down. It was startling similar, and me, being me, needed to understand the message, what was this sign, was it mum was taking her so dad could be fully free and he could make the move to my brothers? She was put down, as my brother and I comforted her- dad too upset to be in there.
It’s been a lot, these past six weeks, and as I look at my dad, I see everything he has lost. It’s not just his wife and his dog, it’s his whole way of life. It’s everything he knows and it’s a good part of his identity. My dad has lost so much, but the one thing he hasn’t lost is his love, and everyday I see that as he struggles with his grief. “Grief is just love with nowhere to go”.
For me, right now I’m messy. Everything is raw and I don’t want to pretend I’m not sad. It’s not a sadness that encompasses me every minute of every day, as I still feel happiness and joy, especially with my beautiful little love that was born a month ago. But nevertheless it is a depth of sadness that I find difficult putting into words. It is every loss I’ve suffered over the past 5 years, coming back and visiting. A culmination of losses that have been processed, unpacked and felt- yet here they are skirting around the outside of this new loss- this profound loss. Perhaps to remind me how far I’ve come and that I have the courage and strength to again get through this. Or perhaps to remind me how much I’ve been loved, how much I am loved and how much love I have in my heart.
The messy me are in those brief moments, that I forget, when I want to talk to her and share something with her, then remember, she’s gone. The messy me is when I’m enjoying a meal with a friend and my laughter turns to tears. Sudden and uncontrollable tears. The messy me is when I’m with my dad and I hold back my tears, because he’s been through enough- then I turn the shower on and sob. The messy me is celebrating my birthday recently, with family and friends, yet still feeling a little lost- first time in my life I didn’t hear my mums voice wishing me happy birthday.
The messy me is acknowledging everyday that my grief is here and accepting each moment as they come. The messy me is admitting I’m not myself, but I’m navigating this new life. A life without my mum.
I write my words not because I’m in a negative headspace, but because this is real life. You cannot positive think grief away, and it’s not a mindset change. When we face loss, we suffer, we mourn and we grieve. I write my words because they may bring another comfort who is struggling with their own loss. They may help those of you who haven’t suffered loss, understand a little. But most of all I write my words because it puts my thoughts, my feelings into something organised, it externalises what’s inside. It’s cathartic.
The messy me is okay being messy. Some days I know exactly what I want. Some days I have no idea what I want. But the things I do know is that I have to process my grief-the emotional and the physical. Grief literally sits in our body and will remain there until we process it. And I have to find this new life without my mum. I also know that I have much to be grateful for, a beautiful family and incredible friends. The messy me still has her goals and even though my energy has been directed elsewhere, where it’s needed, I am more determined than ever to fulfil everyone of them.
I write my words because they are important. My loss was important. My families loss was important. The messy me misses my mum everyday. I speak my words, I write my words because they are important. My mum was important.
I am messy, my grief is messy, because grief will never colour inside the lines.