Good Grief!

Its funny that I am writing this today, as compared to a lot of days, today hasn’t been so bad. I’ve only cried 2 or 3 times, I’ve only eaten one donut and half a bar of Dairy Milk (I totally admit to being a comfort eater – I generally feel that most of lifes problems can be solved with the right amount of chocolate)

But,  despite me trying to find some positives, there is nothing good about grief.  I am finding grief to be the worst emotion I have ever experienced.  It is dark, it knows no depths, it is all consuming, it is totally selfish.  It is not limited to emotional pain, but physical pain too.  There seems to be no end.  Just when you have a day when you think its easing, the following day you are back where you were, in total despair with the inability to have any clarity of thought, functioning on any level feels like wading through treacle.  Your greatest wish is to pull the duvet over your head and never venture out.

Sadly, that is not an option, children have to be cared for, shopping has to be done, house has to be cleaned, washing does not do itself.

And then there is work.  I have a great job, one that in the main I love and wouldn’t change.  But its a job where you don’t have an option of not going, you can’t ring in sick, and when you are there, you have to smile, be totally upbeat – I call it my Disney face.  Behind the Disney face you are crumbling, fighting to keep the smile fixed.

I am fed up of grieving,

I am fed up of crying, uncontrollably crying at any given moment.. whether that has been stood by the bitter lemon in the supermarket, queuing at the traffic lights, ordering a hot chocolate at Costa (I am sure that people think I am going mad, I have had some very strange looks – funny though, no-one has ever asked if I am ok?? usually just give me a wide berth)

I am fed up of having a nose full of snot.

I’m fed up of pretending that I am ok

I’m fed up of being so sad, so deeply deeply sad that I feel like I am suffocating, that the very life is being pressed out of my chest.

Sad.. that word.. its the only word I can use that expresses how I feel, but it seems so inadequate.   It doesn’t seem powerful, enough.  People can be sad for lots of reasons, but this sadness is different.  I keep looking for the joy, somewhere, the places I usually find it – in my children, in my home, with my friends .. its just not there, not for me, not at the moment.  The thing is, I’m not sad for my mum, thanks to my faith, I know she will be happy as larry where she is, I’m ok with that.  I’m sad for me, thats what I mean by grief being selfish.  Its all about me, about how I feel, about how I can’t cope, how I don’t know how I’m going to cope going forward.  I’m sad that my life has changed for ever and I didn’t want it to.

I asked someone after the funeral, what happens now, what am I supposed to do and feel now.  Are things just to return to normal, life continue as though nothing has happened.  Am I meant to smile and laugh.  His response… “well yes.. the worst is over”.. he couldn’t have been more wrong. The worst for me feels like it is just beginning.  The first few weeks after mums death are a fog.  I was literally incapable of keeping a thought in my head, of organising any sort of coherant conversation, activity… anything really.  I know now that was my body and minds way of coping.  To just shut down, as I was not physically or emotionally able to process or deal with what had happened.

One of the worst things I am experiencing though is fear.  Fear of lots of things.  I can’t imagine how I am going to make it through life without the person that gave me safety.  I simply don’t know how I am going to make it.  It seems ridiculous to feel like this, afterall,  I am 44, married, with children, with my own business, but I am scared that I can’t do this whole grown up thing on my own.  My mum, regardless of anything going on between us was always there, would always be there, would rescue me, would pick up the pieces, would make up where I fell short.  What happens now? I feel so exposed, so inadequate and isolated.

I have developed an intense fear of losing someone else, mainly my dad.. the only other person in my life that has always made me feel safe.  Rationally I know that  parents aren’t going to live forever, but honestly  I don’t think I could do or go through this again.  I am scared that I don’t speak to him enough, that I don’t see him enough, that he doesn’t know how important and essential in my life he is and that under no circumstances is he to die .. EVER!

I fear of something happening to me, I couldn’t bear for my children to have to deal and cope with these feelings of grief, loss and pain.  Of them feeling the fear, abandonment, loneliness and despair.

Grief – Sadness and Fear, the most destructive of emotions on every level

I know this is a process,  I know there are various stages that you go through – I’ll be honest, I’d be quite happy to go right back to the denial stage, I was comfortable there, I had no idea what was going on, I couldn’t think straight.. well actually, I couldn’t think at all!  This current stage (which I’m not really sure what you would call) totally sucks.

I know that everyone’s experience of grief is unique to them, that it takes time, that over that time you get used to a new kind of normal. I’ve been told this by many now, and I accept it, but its so hard to envisage a point that I will be ok,  at the moment, it means nothing, it is of no comfort.

You know, my biggest comfort has been Jessica.  She is 11, she is amazing.  She has seen me at my most upset.  She asks no questions.  She doesn’t ask whats wrong, she doesn’t try to offer words of comfort, she just hugs me, she holds my hand, she just says its ok to be sad mum, sit with me and we’ll be sad together.  And she stays with me till the latest wave passes, no matter how long that takes.  Then she makes a joke about my red nose, passes me another packet of tissues and we carry on with life.

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And I suppose, thats the point at the moment, to just carry on with life, to just keep going.



Mums the Word

“Mums the word” – definition – to keep quiet, stay silent

No-one really likes talking about it.. death that is.  Everyone feels a little awkward, not knowing quite what to say.  Knowing that no matter what they say it doesn’t make anything better for those affected.

The grief I am experiencing from losing my mum is beyond anything I could’ve expected,  some days totally unbearable, all consuming, a crushing abyss of despair and pain.  There are days that I cope, there are more days that I don’t.. and most of it you keep to yourself, you hide away, cry on your own..

People care, of course they do, they ask the question with a bit of trepidation – “how are you feeling?” and they smile with just a hint of relief in their face when they see  a slight smile from you and hear an answer of “ok, fine, thank you for asking”.  They know and you know that on the inside you have the deepest sense of loss, abandonment, loneliness and fear, but you don’t mention it, its not talked about.

My mum passing away has hit me hard, its hit all of us hard – well.. thats an understatement to be honest.  This is a distressing entry to write and probably read, but one I need to record, a cathartic exercise maybe.  For anyone reading, feel free to stop here, do not feel obligated to go further.

The weeks leading up to mum passing I want to remember, the night she actually died and the events of that evening I would rather forget, but in reality thats never going to happen.

Mum had a chest infection, a bad one, been to the docs, given anti-biotics, a week later she was no better.

In the morning, she was struggling to breathe, so called an ambulance.  The paramedics arrived, checked her over, said she was ok and advised her to see her GP, which we did that very same morning.  Her breathing was really laboured, she was getting no sleep, so added to her being unwell was her total exhaustion.  She also had swelling in her ankles and legs, and it was all this put together that prompted the doctor to refer her to Blackburn Hospital that day.

The hospital were concerned and on an ECG picked up on an irregular heartbeat, prescribed some blood thinning meds, arranged a cardio echo and we went off home (this did take a full day of sitting in the hospital).

Tuesday & Wednesday
All seemed ok, mum was still tired and not well, but didn’t appear to be getting any worse.

Wednesday night
I’m a bit of a night owl (get long periods of pretty severe insomnia), so was up late, around 1am.  I heard the familiar sound of mum in her slippers shuffling along on the floor in the hallway (the times I thought ‘I wish she’d pick her feet up!’), figured she was off for one of her numerous night time trips to the bathroom.  I decided it was late enough and to attempt to get some sleep and take myself off to bed.  Going in to the hall I could here odd noises from the bathroom.. I stood, waited, listened – I didn’t really want to just walk in, but the odd noises continued, I knocked on the door and went in to find mum on the floor, she wasn’t able to get up.  She had a severe cut over her eye and was very disorientated.  Ron and I managed to get her up, got her back in to bed and tried to settle her.  A bag of frozen peas on her eye, and a make shift bed on the couch for me.

Arranged for a friend to come and sit with mum whilst I went to work.  She clearly wasn’t right in herself, but given I would be back by lunch time we thought we’d see how she got on.  On my return I found mum to be very confused, disoriented still.  Most definitely time for a trip back to Blackburn hospital.

Following scans and examinations, the hospital advised that mum had suffered an acute stroke and she was admitted.  Her sight had been affected, her mobility was fine (well, no worse that it had been before), but she had some cognitive impairment which would need to be assessed.

Mum spent the next week in hospital undergoing further assessments.  She was bright within herself, for the most part was lucid, clear of thought, recognised and understood most of what was going on.  She needed assistance now in showering and dressing.  She had no appetite (in fact, was going to write to the Prime Minister on the shocking quality of food in the hospital!)  But generally, it was felt, with assisted care at home she could be discharged.

The most worrying thing however, was that following a Cardio Echo, they had discovered that mum had severe Ischemic Heart Disease.  They prescribed the necessary medication, made the referrals to specialists that were required, made arrangements for support at home – and she was discharged.

Over the next week mum was doing ok.  I assisted her showering, washing hair and dressing (on the couple of occasions she tried to dress herself, most items were on back to front, or she forgot what she had already put on, so ended up with trousers and a skirt on, or a couple of jumpers – she did laugh about it and insisted she was starting a new fashion trend).

She was able to go to church, and one of the most wonderful things to see was that she went straight back to playing the piano  – all be it hitting a few (well, quite a few) wrong notes, and playing the intro to hymns a few too many times.  But she loved playing the piano at church, it made her feel useful and needed, and it brought me such joy to see that she was still able to.

I had started to make adjustments to my work schedule, knowing that moving forward she was going to need extra care.  In the meantime we received such amazing support from her friends who came and sat with her during the times I had to work.  Who kept her company, talked to her, stayed with her whilst she dozed off.  Made sure she was safe and loved.  I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the help and support offered so selflessly during those 2 weeks.

Mum had had a really good day.  She’d had company, the carer had been round for a chat and under supervision mum had made herself a sandwich and warm drink.  Some additional mobility aids had been ordered to make her life a bit easier.  Ron and I had come in from work after lunch, sat and had a good chat with her.  It was our wedding anniversary, and we were meant to be going out.  The children were off to Ron’s mums for the night and we had planned to go out for dinner.  But I was tired, and decided we would stay at home and order a takeaway instead.  However, the girls were excited to go to Grandma Betty’s, so rather than cancel and have them home, they still went off for their sleepover (I can’t even begin to express with hindsight the relief that they had gone)

Mum was tired early evening, I helped her shower, wash her hair, clean night clothes on and got her in to bed with a book.  I explained we weren’t going out, and did she want anything from the takeaway – Chips and Gravy was what she wanted, and so its what she got.  My Aunt Jean phoned around 8.30pm and I took the phone in to mum for her to have a chat.  She was so bright, telling my Aunt about her day and our plans to go out for a drive on the Saturday.

It was later that night, around 9.30 / 10pm that I went to give her a night time tablets.  She was in bed, the lamp on at the side of her, duvet tucked under a chin, eyes closed.  I didn’t want to wake her, but she needed her last lot of meds.  I tapped her lightly on the shoulder, but she didn’t wake.  Mum was deaf as a post without her hearing aids in, so I gave her another tap and said her name a bit louder, but still no response.  I got louder and gave her a gentle shake.  There was no breath, there was no movement, but she was warm, normal colour, she just looked asleep.. but I knew.

Then things got crazy – I ran for Ron, he called the ambulance and they instructed to start CPR – I am first aid trained, but you never in all your life expect to have to perform CPR on anyone, let alone your mum.  With each compression I knew in my heart that she had gone, with every breath I gave her the fear inside me grew.  We had to get mum on to the floor – I know it was necessary, but it seemed so wrong, so undignified.  She was so peaceful, so comfy, and in the space of minutes she had been dragged from her bed, I felt her rib crack with one of the first compressions, and I was frantically trying to pump and breathe life in to her.. but I knew

Ron and I took it in turns to continue CPR until the ambulances  arrived – what seemed like a lifetime was in reality 11 mins.  A team of 4 paramedics continued to work on mum for 40 minutes. I prayed, harder than I have every prayed before… but I knew

Ron phoned my sister – she had to come, and come now – but she lives near Doncaster – a good hour and a half drive..

They got mum in to the ambulance, I travelled with her, the paramedics as gently as they could advised that the prognosis wasn’t good, that whilst they would continue to administer CPR on the way to the hospital, the likelihood would be she would be pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital.  I sat by her in the ambulance, watching, praying, trying not to vomit.

I witnessed the most horrific sight I have ever experienced.  CPR is not a gentle process, it is severe, it is a violent assault on the body- essential I know to try and sustain life.. but I knew

Mum was pronounced dead at 12.44am Saturday 24th February.

Her passing had been painless, peaceful, the aftermath was anything but.  The only comfort I can take from our actions and everything I had to witness is that my mum whilst not frightened of dying, wasn’t ready to die and she would’ve wanted us and the medical professionals to do everything they could, no matter what to try and keep her with us.  Sadly, and devastatingly, it wasn’t to be.

Her last meal – Chips and gravy
Her last conversation – with her much loved sister Jean
I was told by the Coroner after the her postmortem that her heart would just have stopped beating.  She would have closed her eyes, and her heart stopped.  There would’ve been no shock, no fear, no pain, no knowledge.

Her heart stopped, and mine broke.

I feel very blessed in many ways for the couple of weeks leading up to mums death.  If it wasn’t for the chest infection she would never have gone to the doctor, the doctor wouldn’t have referred her to hospital, the hospital wouldn’t have been put her on blood thinners, and the stroke she had a few days later would likely to have been fatal.  Having the stroke gave me the opportunity to care for her for those 2 weeks.  To do things for my mum that were a privilage.  To show love and compassion in a very special way .. my mother – a formidable woman, whom I didn’t always have the closest or easiest relationship with over the years.  For those 2 weeks, I will be forever grateful –  she knew despite our fall outs, differences, arguments – that I would have done anything for her, that I loved and cared for her, and was willing to do what ever it took to take care of her.




Back to Blogging

Its been a while, probably about 3 years in fact.  But with recent events and changes in my life, I’ve decided to return to the occasional blogging.

As a teenager I used to keep a journal, a daily record of all I did, thought, woeful teenage angst etc etc – I kept them for around 7 years – and wow, to read back on them now is totally cringe worthy for the most, but a good reminder of how I felt and the events that helped shaped the person I am today.

This was what I had in mind when I started a blog some 3 years ago, it was to just be a personal account of our daily (Daly lol) lives.  Just a way of keeping for posterity stories about our lives together, and sharing our experiences with anyone that cared to have a read. But suddenly (or rather over a few months), I found I became more concerned with what I thought people might want to read, how I would be perceived and were the photo’s good enough!  Everything we did, everywhere we went became a photo and story opportunity for the blog.

So I stopped.. I was doing things to blog about, rather than just because it was part of what we were doing for a family.  This was not what I wanted my blog to be, so I stepped away from it.

Life over the past 2 1/2 years has changed so much.  We moved from the big smoke, a large Yorkshire City, to a small Lancashire town.

Ron and I are still adjusting to sharing a life together

My girls are growing up quickly.. too quickly

My mum recently passed away .. she had moved and was living with us, so currently, adjusting and accepting life without her here is the biggest, hardest life changing event I’ve ever had to deal with.  It is all consuming, and I’m not really sure if I am dealing with it yet.

So.. here I am, back to the blog, but with a fresh approach, to keep a record of my family as we move through time.  Something for me, for us as a family, and a read for anyone else that might want a little peak in to our lives from time to time.