Category Archives: grief

More than another year goes by

Time is flying! It is already over a year since we finished our RAK project for mum’s 60th (I drafted this post around her birthday two months ago). Whilst we haven’t kept count of subsequent RAKs in these last months, we have most definitely made it a bigger part of our lives. They’ve been happening; we’ve seen the evidence on Facebook!

It seems surreal that it is over two years since this blog started: over two years since the cakes for the Holistic Centre, since “Balls for Dogs” on the beach. The project is also still waiting on the outcome of one of our RAKs. We hope to hear within the next six months.

Mum would’ve been 61 now. It’s hard to imagine how different our lives would’ve been had she been here. Most of the time it is becoming easier to accept that she isn’t here now (not that that makes it fair by any stretch!). Everything I’ve said about grief still stands but, if anything, losing her makes me want to live life to its fullest as you never know what’s around the corner. One thing I will say is that it is important for the grieving person to have their feelings acknowledged, even years later (so maybe ask them? Especially on birthdays, mother’s or father’s days and anniversaries – show them that you remember too!). It’s natural that she’s not at the forefront of people’s minds, but what’s a moment of reflection or a quick message to someone on a harder than normal day? I always endeavour to do this with friends and family who’ve lost loved ones. If you don’t, why don’t you? I promise it will not upset the person to have their loss acknowledged, even years later.

My mindset has changed over the last few years. I try to accept things and not wallow in self-pity as much as I used to. I figure that you can never try too hard to be a ‘better’ person. Everyone has times when they could do better but it’s important to recognise that and to work on self-improvement. And it is an effort! I’m always telling my students that you can’t sit back and expect good things to happen or for things to be easy, you have to make the effort. It’s the same for life in general. You get one shot at it. You may have had a crap time, rubbish GCSE results or whatever but what are you doing to change that? It is all in your control, even if it doesn’t feel like it. When things are going well but others are not supportive I often think of something mum taught me: not to let others bring you down. She often said “Rise above it”. Now, in my more well-read years, it reminds me of Maya Angelou. And I LOVE Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise

If you have wondered recently if it’s you, if you’ve observed people acting unkind towards you or just acted differently from how they used to be (as I have), keep reminding yourself that whatever issues people face, it is their issue. They own it, not me, not you. Strive to continue being YOU, to being the best version of you that you can. If that sits out of favour with some then you cannot help that. People drift in and out of our lives all the time for all sorts of reasons. We need not to pay attention to how this makes us feel but to focus on what matters. The less we care about the stuff we can’t change, the happier we will be.

I strongly believe that if people believed from within, if they trusted the person that they are is good enough (like she did), then they would be happier. They would subsequently treat others with kindness, they’d be respectful, they’d treat others the way they wish to be treated.

I saw this quote the other day and it made me think. Who was she when no one was watching? I often watched her when she didn’t think I was. I can honestly say that I only ever her saw her being kind and respectful to others. She did not ignore anyone. She helped. She saw the positive in any situation. She cared. She did not make anyone feel excluded, left out or left behind. A lot of people could learn lessons from that.

When no one is watching, we continue to do Random Acts of Kindness, big and small.

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Holding on

I still have her text messages on my phone. I got my first iPhone 2 months before her death so despite having 2 newer iPhones since, I have kept her message thread. It’s not that I’m not letting go it’s that I’m holding on and that’s different. 

The texts aren’t even that interesting, just an exchange of information about parcel deliveries, birthday gifts and what to have for meals when visiting. I read them occasionally because it allows me to ‘hear’ her voice. I’ve often thought of texting her but her number has probably been reissued now so that would be weird!

Her final text to me was a week before she died. She was in hospital by this point. In it she told me she was a lot better, but instantly when I read it I knew she was not – there were too many mistakes in her text. 

I’m thinking of ditching the iPhone on my next upgrade so will let the message thread go then. Until then, that red “delete” button just seems too mean! 

Living eulogies & obituaries 


There were perhaps 200 people at her funeral. The church was packed, even more than it had been 18 days previously when she walked down the same aisle arm in arm with the very same vicar before she watched her eldest daughter marry. 

We stood there at the pulpit LJM1 & I, and read her eulogy. We took it in turns, a paragraph each. I laughed at recalling a memory involving a donkey. I didn’t cry, not until everything was over and we were outside the crematorium. I felt remarkably strong, just as she had been when confronting what was facing her. 

She didn’t tell us she was dying. We knew there was no cure and that she was running out of options but she hid it well (she had planned to tell us but she didn’t have as long as she thought in the end). It’s not as though you can prepare yourself anyway; knowing outright wouldn’t have made it any easier. She made sure she left plans, made things straight forward. Shortly after her death I found a notebook in which she listed the steps to go through. She thought of everything: bank accounts, death registration, pension. I remember touching the page of the notebook where her hand probably rested. She also told me something one afternoon in LJM1’s old bedroom. I don’t know why we were in there but we were gazing out of the window looking down the street and she told me to help our dad find someone else. I kept it to myself for a long time, until it was needed. Even when faced with the most horrific outcome for herself, she made a decision that would have broken her heart to vocalise. She was truly selfless.
One of the RAKs that is in the pipeline got me thinking about her eulogy and about living obituaries. I wish she could have heard what we said and I wish she could have read everything we’ve written about her in this blog. Perhaps then, we should take the time to write a living obituary to our loved ones? Show those around us how much we value them now in the present day and not wait until they are no longer around to hear what we have to say? 

Perhaps we could use it as a self-evaluation tool? What would people say about me? What would I want them to say? We encounter self-evaluation in work all the time, but realistically how many of us evaluate ourselves & try to improve ourselves in our day-to-day lives? We don’t set ourselves ‘targets to improve’ bar an often light-hearted New Year’s Resolution that lasts a couple of weeks. Perhaps it’s time we did. I guess that’s what we’ve done these past 11 months. We’ve definitely thought about others in a different way, looked into their lives more and tried to understand them. But what about when our initial project is over? It certainly won’t be the end… It’ll soon be time to evaluate and improve once more!

You didn’t even say ‘hello’

Despite my previous post being about grief and losing her, it’s not something that I talk of often at home. However, I have had chats with my biggest little one about her, about mummy’s mummy.

So it was somewhat out of the blue that, in a brief moment of Sunday-afternoon quiet, Little LoveJoinMe1 piped up, “Please can I go up the big rock (where her ashes are spread) to say goodbye to mummy’s mummy because … because she, what’s it called? Is it died? Because she’s gonna … died?” 

I was so taken aback. I gestured for him to come and sit next to me and I hugged him while I said “She’s already died”. His response was a simple “but I didn’t say goodbye!” I explained how she died before he was born, “was I in your tummy?”, “No, before that”. 

I’m not sure where it came from. But more and more he is showing me his perception, his emotional intelligence and at not even four and a half years old. It’s reflected in the tone he uses, a gentle voice, quietly probing because he knows it makes mummy sad. 

We were telling daddy about our conversation later and as Little LJM1 said “I didn’t say goodbye”, his father said, sadly, “you didn’t even get to say hello”. Neither he nor Little LJM1 have read my previous post on grief yet this is precisely what I had written about. He didn’t get to say hello. Hellos are infinitely happier than goodbyes.  This makes me saddest of all. My little boy: he sees it with a clarity and gentleness beyond his years. He makes me proud and he makes me want to tell her