Managing Grief

There’s lots of things that affect your state of mind. I’ve found that I really have to manage the things that I look at on TV, read on the web, people that I socialise with and people that I work with. More often than not, these factors are fairly easy to control.

If I find the news overly depressing then I can change the channel to something more light hearted. If I read the news on my phone, I can quite simply switch to a new app and get away from the doom and gloom. On a night out with mates, you can always crack a joke or change the subject if you find the conversation is going the wrong way. And as for work colleagues…….well it’s just easier to avoid the griefy ones and work alongside like minded people.


One thing that you can’t avoid is bad news in the family. Every family has their fair share of ups and downs. Some families share every minute detail. Some just the facts. But we all go through each others troubles and it may sound awful, but I try and distance myself from a lot of the strain. Don’t get me wrong, my family is very dear to me, both my side and my wife’s, but sometimes it’s hard enough to deal with your own shit, let alone someone else’s drama. If people need me, I’m there but I’ve learnt that you don’t need to be emotionally involved with every single issue.


Another thing that is hard to avoid is death. Death comes to all of us eventually. Some unfortunately head off to the pearly gates in the sky a lot sooner than others and some stick around and get their moneys worth from life. One such person that has left this world too soon is a very close friend of my family. Mrs L (not wanting to use real names) grew up locally to my Mum and with her eventual husband Mr L, were good friends with each other. My Dad travelled down from the north of England to London in his late teens to see if the streets were really paved with gold. He ended working in computers where he met Mr L, who in turn introduced him to my Mum and that is the simple story of how I ended up on the planet. Mum, Dad, Mr L and Mrs L, did a lot together. Holidays, days out, weddings and eventually children. I have very fond memories of staying over at their house playing with their kids when I was younger. Mum and Dad stayed close friends with Mr and Mrs L, despite living two or three hours drive away from each other and would speak quite regularly. Mr and Mrs L are lovely, warm hearted, funny, happy people in the prime of their lives enjoying retirement that they worked so hard to get to. Even if I had not seen them for a while, there was no awkwardness upon seeing them again. They welcomed us in to their home not so long ago with open arms and along with their kids and grandkids, we spent a lovely day at Peppa Pig World that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.


Last Sunday morning changed that friendship which had survived nearly fifty years. We had stayed at my parents Saturday night after have a night out with our friends. At 8.30am on Sunday the phone rang. No one rings anyone that early on a Sunday morning unless it’s bad news. My Mum answered and immediately started crying. Hearing this, I thought the bad news that would follow was going to be regarding my Nan who is ninety four and playing Russian Roulette with life. Although it wasn’t bad news about Nan, it was bad news about Mrs L. Mr L told Mum that Mrs L had passed away in the night. Sixty four years old and gone just like that. No underlying health problems. The only one between the four friends who wasn’t taking a mountain of tablets and rattling as they walked. They went to bed on Saturday evening like they had for about forty five years together, without having any idea that that would be the last time they would do so. To say I’m gutted is an understatement and it has really affected me since. To see my Mum cry for a dear friend and my Dad to be left speechless and standing in the garden staring up at the sky, made me feel very dark inside. Mr L will never ever share another minute with the woman that he had spent the majority of his life with. His love. His soulmate. His best friend. Gone. Their kids and grandkids will never feel the love from her cuddles and kisses. A couple of them so young that they probably won’t remember the cherished moments with Nanny that will never be replicated.


So what happens now? Well for one it’s started to make me worry about death. I’ve always been quite laid back about the grim reaper coming to call. Although since getting married and having kids, my views have definitely changed to the extent that I do think about it quite often. Is that normal? Does everyone think about it? Where do we go after death? What do you feel? So many questions but not the time right now to second guess.


All I do know for certain, is that the death of one person is something that affects many, many others and will do for a very long time. They say time’s a healer, and for everyone that was related and knew Mrs L, I hope that is true.


The thing that I have to remember now is how I control this in my head. Just because something happens to one person, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to someone else. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy taught me to separate all the thoughts tumbling around in my mind and if I can’t control it, then don’t sit there thinking that I can! Logical thinking is the way forward in times like this but it doesn’t make the sadness disappear any easier.


Rest in Peace Mrs L, you will be missed by many. x


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