Tag Archives: loss

What does being kind to yourself look like?

When my Dad died (a year ago today) everyone said I needed to be kind to myself. I don’t really know what being kind to yourself looks like. I guess self kindness is a form a self care. Doing things you like doing and which make you feel good, cutting yourself some slack and giving yourself time to come to terms with things and to heal.

For the last year I’ve been in a bit of a fug. I feel a bit like I’m in a plastic box and I can see and hear the real world going on around me, but it’s all muffled and I feel slightly apart from everything. It would be easy for me to just let the loss of my Dad overwhelm me, but I have my son and I don’t have the time or the space to indulge in intense grief. I just take it in small bite sized chucks, I nibble at it every day, like a giant cake of grief. Eating a few crumbs at a time, this grief cake will take a lifetime to consume.

Last night as I lay sleepless in my bed, I was thinking, when I’ve lost other family members I was broken hearted. I grieved for them and I still miss them and probably always will, but losing my Dad has really felt like losing a limb. He was such a big, important part of my life, not in an unhealthy way, we just really got each other and he was one of my best friends.

“Be kind to yourself Jane”

What does being kind to me look like? I’ve worked a little bit less, I’ve turned some things down I knew would stress me out or I wouldn’t enjoy. I have made more of an effort, not just to spend time with my son, but to spend quality time with him. I’ve just booked a holiday for the two of us in August. We are going on a family holiday with my husband too, but he can’t get the extra time off work and I just want to spend time with and have fun with my boy.

We got a dog to distract us from the grief. She’s here to keep me company at home when I’m working and to give me an excuse to stop working and go out for a walk with her. She’s also a pretty good listener and gives great cuddles.

Going away seems to feature quite strongly in my being kind to myself plan. Before Christmas I went on a spa weekend with some friends and we enjoyed it so much we are going again this weekend. I’ve a few other breaks booked in for the rest of the year, having something to look forward to seems to help me get through the difficult days.

Despite my frequent weekends away and other holidays I’ve got booked, I feel like I hardly go out. My social life has almost ground to a halt and I hardly see friends or go out and have fun. This is partly because a lot of my friends don’t live locally, and those that do are busy people with busy lives. I’m also finding it hard to climb out of my shell and I’m slightly worried about how infrequently I see and speak to people in the real world.

I don’t know how I feel about my lack of a social life, it’s probably one of the reasons why I feel less like me than I have done in a while. Life is fairly humdrum. I’m busy being a wife and a mother. I hardly ever leave the house, I hardly see my friends and if I think about it a bit too hard I realise that I’m losing some of the colour and vitality from my everyday life.

I’m not sure where that all fits with the being kind to myself thing. I know at some point I need to start going out again and having a good time. Maybe I’ve only just got enough emotional energy to get me through the day and not enough to power me through the evenings too. Is hibernating being kind or cruel to myself? I’m not sure.

A year on I’m more determined than ever to be kind to myself. I need to find whatever makes me happy and to do more of that. I think we all need to learn how to be kinder and more considerate of ourselves.

How can you be kind to yourself?

How can you be kind to yourself? What does being kind to yourself look like today and what will that kindness look like tomorrow? Why does it take a death or something seriously life changing for us to stop and be kind to ourselves? Do me a favour, do something nice for yourself today. Treat yourself to whatever feeds your soul and makes your heart glad. You deserve it.

What does being kind to yourself look like?

My first Father’s Day without a Father

Father’s Day 2016 was a pretty special one. We had a pretty chilled out afternoon, all the family came round for tea and cake and the sun shone. We all tumbled out into the garden and I took a hundred photos of us all having a nice time. One week later I got a phone call to say my Dad had died and everything fell apart.

It’s been a tough twelve months, there’s no denying that. I’ve cried every day. Our family has laughed, cried and remembered all the good and great things about him. But there’s a massive Dad sized hole in my life which can never be filled.

Father’s Day is coming. It’s not a date which can be ignored, we still have a Dad in the house so he needs cards, presents and cake. He will need a bit of fuss and some thank yous for being the “World’s Greatest Dad” or whatever. As much as I’d like to sweep Father’s Day under the carpet and erase this annual celebration of masculine parenthood from existence, I can’t. It doesn’t work like that.

I don’t resent anyone having a Dad. I don’t resent anyone celebrating Father’s Day. I will celebrate as much as I can along with them, but always with a knot in the back of my throat holding my grief inside for just one more day. 

I can’t pretend it isn’t hard. Walking past card shops filled with cards and gifts makes me hold my breath until they’re out of sight. Actually going into one a couple of weeks ago and having to buy a Father’s Day card and a gift for my husband was ridiculously hard. Is this one of those things which is supposed to get easier with time?

As social media fill with gift ideas and Father’s Day memes it becomes harder not to look it all in the eye. Most days of the year I wake up, hug my son, talk to my husband and remember that my Dad is dead. His absence is always there. Each day the place where he once sat in my life just yawns a little wider as I realise even more what I’m missing.

This Sunday, this Father’s Day I’m going to have to stick a very brave face on and swallow down my grief for another day. I’ve no idea how I will actually get through the day without crumbling completely. My first Father’s Day without a Father will probably break my heart all over again. Maybe I’ll use the day to remember him, just like I remember him every day.

It sucks.

My first Father's Day without a Father

Taking care of me – why I need some self care

Since my dad died a month ago I’ve been trying to process everything and find a way forward. It’s all become a bit too much for me this last week or so. I know I need to have a word with myself and get myself to a tolerable place before the school holidays start. Rolling around in a mixture of grief and self pity whilst looking after a lively five year old do not make happy bedfellows. Self care is the order of the day.

I have a week to sort my head out as much as I can, so here’s my self care plan:

Stop constantly refreshing Twitter. Take a social media break as best I can. Social Media, Twitter especially is a real life saver, but sometimes I need to step away and stop obsessing.

Go out with friends. I have excellent friends and they shower me with love, support and sarcasm. They will put me in a different headspace and help me process things and move on a bit.

Cuddle my boys. There’s nothing quite as healing as holding someone you love and who loves you right back really hard for as long as possible. Hugs help a lot, so I’ll be going in for them as often as I can get them from as many people who offer them. I may leave the hugee with a slightly damp shoulder. Sorry.

Sense and Sensibility. I have many favourite films and right now I have a very deep yearning to close the curtains and watch Sense and Sensibility and cry my little heart out. For some reason quotes from that film keep popping into my head and I think I just need to spend a couple of hours watching Alan Rickman quietly break his heart and mend it again over Kate Winslet.

Writing. I often (much like I am now) write my feelings out of my head and onto my iPad. Sometimes they end up on my blog, sometimes they get deleted. Either way it gets those thoughts and feelings out of me and it does help me feel better to articulate my emotions, which can only be a good thing.

Sleep. I hardly sleep anyway so it will do me no harm at all to aim for some decent restorative kip, even if it means taking pills to achieve that. I usually get around 3 hours a night and I’d like to try for 5. Anything above that would be something of a miracle. No, I don’t know how I function either.

Work. I continue to dabble around the edges of work. I’m freelance so that’s a luxury I have, I can’t really afford that luxury but for the sake of my sanity this is how it is. I’m pickier than ever because I’ve only got so much inner battery life in me each day. Work is useful, it occupies me and gives me some structure to my day, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself when I’m already feeling pretty overwhelmed by life.

Food. Well this is the best diet ever. I’m either not eating at all or eating tiny portions of stuff. Not great stuff, not overly nutritious stuff, but I’m trying to eat something every day.

Plan nice things. I’ve got a couple of nice things in the diary coming up. Again I don’t want to overwhelm myself but it’s good to have things to look forward to. Like my best friend coming to stay and us making a dent in the case of red wine I’ve got sat gathering dust.

Plan nothing. I also recognise that importantly I need time by myself to recharge, regroup and gather strength for whatever lies ahead.

Times of emotional crisis of this magnitude are thankfully rare. It’s times like this when true friends and the people who really do care step up and offer support, either by sending the odd message of support, taking me out for a pint or offering a shoulder they don’t mind getting cried on.

I’ve been lucky that some excellent people have been there for me and helped carry me from one day to the next, but I’ve found the odd person who you think will be there for me through whatever and they’ve ditched me. That’s human nature, it’s a particularly crappy side of human nature, but it happens. 

Over the coming days, weeks and months I’ll be focusing on what is best for me and my little family. I’m running on empty, but I hope some self care will help me gather the strength to continue and return to a version of my old self again. 

self care

Grieving: Mending my broken heart

My broken heart just really needs a big cuddle right now and I need to learn how to do that for myself.

It’s been three weeks now since my dad died. I’d been doing pretty well until last week, keeping strong and ploughing on. I’ve been outwardly cheery and strong to the point where you’d think nothing of any consequence had happened in my life. 

The first couple of weeks after someone dies you’re busy. You’ve got stuff to do, people to talk to, arrangements to make. Then it all stops and the world carries on without you.

Last week the world quietly took itself off pause and carried on and I crumbled. I crumbled and touched the edge of the abyss and I scared myself. Last week there was time and space for me to open the door a little bit on my grief. I shone a light inside and saw that my heart was broken. I have an utterly broken heart.

I don’t know how to mend my broken heart. Everyone says that time is a healer. I’ve been quoted three months to get over the shock, one year to get through the first tranche of painful anniversary memories and three years to get over it properly. I’m taking it one day at a time and for the record I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

I am excellent at compartmentalising things. I put little lumps of feelings, painful experiences, whatever, in boxes in my mind and when I’m feeling strong enough I take one down off the shelf and look inside. Sometimes I have a rummage about and wonder what the fuss was about, sometimes I slam the lid shut for it never to be opened again. 

I think this is a box that will become very well worn over time. I’ll take it down, open it a bit, deal with whatever pain and sorrow I can and then close it and put it back where it come from. I also know the box next to it on the shelf contains a whole load of really wonderful, special memories of my dad too. I’ll try and open that box and share its contents as much as I can too.

I love my dad. He was one of the biggest and brightest stars in my universe. I will always love him and I will always miss him and I’m going to try very hard not to fall into the abyss again. He told one of his friends that I was one of the strongest people he knew and I’m going to try and make that true.

broken heart

Nothing will ever be the same again

Grief makes everyone act and react in different ways. On 25th June 2016 my dad died suddenly and I was tossed into that weird limbo stage, part grieving, part organising everything, part comforting his also grieving friends and relatives. It’s been nothing short of a privilege to know my dad, he was a one off in the truest sense and we have been overwhelmed with love and support since he died.

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Everyone copes with loss differently. I can see this in my immediate family and in his close friends. There are said to be five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For me I feel like I rattled through them quite quickly, but even now as I write this just over two weeks since I last saw him, I am very aware of the gaping hole he has left in my life. I will miss him forever. I know this to be a fact.

In times of adversity, and there have been many of those such times for me in recent years, I have turned to my dad, my husband and to a small but loyal band of close friends to help me through.

My dad is no longer able to support me, but I knew him pretty much inside out and well enough to second guess his immediate response and what advice and guidance he would give. I know in this situation we’d be indulging in some gallows humour and bantering our way through the trickiest bits in order to not look the full horror of his loss in the face. I thank the friends who have made me laugh, really laugh at this time. I know he’d probably want to shake them by the hand.

My boy Ben has been fantastic. At just 5 years old he doesn’t really understand what’s happened and why I’m so upset, though I try not to be too glum in front of him. He has granted me extra cuddles, he’s made me smile a great deal and almost managed to tidy his room. If you ever need a distraction from grief I’ve found a 5 year old boy is pretty effective.

My dad and my husband had a special relationship. They’ve known each other since we started going out in 1995. He started working for my dad in 1998, becoming a partner in the business in 2000 and when my dad retired in 2013 he handed the business over to him. They worked together for a long time, didn’t always see eye to eye, but made it work. I think they had a tremendous respect for each other.

My husband has lost someone incredibly special to him. We all have.

My friends have been excellent. Too many to name, all messaging me offering quiet support, making themselves available for trips to the pub, or for lunch and just letting me talk and cry and laugh. I am incredibly lucky to have such good people around me. I know these words to be an understatement.

I think I’ve managed to choose the best friends I could hope for. Every message of support, every card through the door, every whisky raised to my dad has been very much appreciated.

The funeral may have been and gone, and life must for almost everyone return to normal. For me nothing will ever be the same again. It will take time for me to learn to live my new normal, find a way to be without my dad there to pick me up when I fall down.

I always see adversity as an opportunity for change, a chance to alt-control-delete my life. Something big may come, or something small. But whatever happens I know that my dad instilled in me humour, logic, love and the steely determination to get through and succeed in whatever direction I choose to strike out in.

I’ll miss the old bugger. But I’ll keep trying to make him proud of me if it’s the last thing I do.

Nothing will ever be the same again

No Regrets

I don’t regret my life. The choices I’ve made, the mistakes I’ve made. The people I have known. It bothers me that I care too much, and I feel pain when they feel pain or when they cause me pain.

I don’t regret because that what’s shaped me and made me the person I am today. Flawed, fragile but surprisingly strong. I wish things were different, had panned out in a more positive way but they don’t and never would. Someone always gets hurt.

I don’t regret because whatever I did I loved at that moment and I chose it. Life should be lived in the moment and not cautiously. To live cautiously is a half life. It is a pain free life but what is life without pain, or hurt, or upset? I cannot live a numb life.

I don’t regret because that is facing the past and not the future. What is in the future no one knows but I won’t regret it. How could I? I choose to walk a path boldly and without fear of what might be there, because I can deal with it.

I don’t regret the life I’ve lived. It has given me so much. So much to be grateful for in comparison to the things that pain me. The nature of pain is that it usually diminishes in time. It is a fleeting feeling.

Guilt and regret stay with you. I carry guilt heavily but I am working to free myself from a lifetime of pointless guilt, why feel guilty over imagined crimes and slights long forgotten?

So, no regrets. Never.

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