I’m not sure where to start. There’s a lot to unpack.
Sometimes, as I clean my teeth, I write a whole blog post in my head. I did that today, and now I need to get the ‘toothbrushing’ thoughts on to paper. Does anyone else do that? I’ve been in this blogging trade for 3 years, 3 of the most important years of my life, so it’s ingrained into me at this point.
Today I wanted to unpack. That’s an analogy that I will be using a lot in this post. First, my mind wandered to journaling. I thought it would be best to journal this. Then I realised, as I put literal pen to paper, that it would be too emotionally challenging. I know that sounds weak ‘you can’t even write, eww’ but honestly. I almost started crying.
As we head into a new month, you might be thinking about unloading the negativity, and only carrying through the good bits.
That, I’m afraid, doesn’t always work.
Right at the start of the year, I lost one of my closest relatives. I thought of telling you, but my blog at that time was so ‘professional’. To be honest, it didn’t really feel like me as I sat and wrote at the keyboard. I was ‘Erin’. Erin was almost like an alter-ego, but to a point where it felt kind of toxic. I loved the content I was writing, of course, but it didn’t feel like I was writing it. Erin wrote it. Erin received praise and accepted it gladly, but it all these lovely comments never felt like they were for me. I still struggle now. I AM Catherine. People DO care about and love my blog. It’s so hard to accept. But yes, I can be awesome sometimes.
So I never told you.
It didn’t hit me until just today, 7 months after she had died. When I was first told, Mum said ‘grief comes in waves’ and I completely understand that now.
Granny was probably the member of my family I was closest to, outside of Mum, Dad and Jon (my brother).
But when I heard the news I was completely unbothered and went on with my day.
For 7 months I pretended everything was okay, and everything felt okay. Of course I was sad, but not as sad as I ‘should be’.
Then came around mine and my brother’s birthdays.
She wasn’t there.
She won’t spring back from the dead to say happy birthday. What was I expecting? There was just this absence. It didn’t really feel like my birthday without Granny. And I know this isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me. I know people who have lost their parents at a young age, and I know that must feel 10x worse. But when it’s your first ‘proper’ loss, you are foolish, naive and don’t know what to expect.
Today is my brother’s birthday, and my best friend’s. I should be happy. I had zuccini bread for breakfast, camped in my friend’s field, ate a ton of cake and spent time with family. Although I am content, it doesn’t stretch further than contentment. I am so incredibly grateful for today. I got to live another 24 spectacular hours on this planet.
I just feel a bit empty.
Yesterday I was brimming with life and fun and excitement. That version of Catherine is still inside somewhere, just not today.
I find it hard to accept that in my perfect life, things can be less than perfect. I have everything a teenage girl could ask for. I live happily with my family. I have clean water, a bed and a roof over my head. A beautiful cat, a platform to share my thoughts and receive responses from like minded people.
On some days, though, you won’t be okay.
Now I would like to return to the analogy I mentioned at the beginning of the post, about ‘unpacking’.
We’re catching a flight to September. You have one suitcase and hand luggage. What are you going to take with you? What will you keep in your hand luggage, right by your side as you’re flying? And what will go below the seats, in your suitcase?
No-one goes on holiday with all of their possessions.
You have a suitcase to pack. So pack it wisely.
You’re probably going to put in all the happy things and leave the negativity behind. You might take the good experiences with you and forget about the seemingly ‘bad’.
That’s what I did.
I moved on from January, the month my granny passed away. I’ve taken 6 flights since then, my suitcase being unpacked and repacked so many times.
Really, I should have taken Granny’s passing with me.
It has made me stronger.
It has taken 7 months for it to eventually hit me. I needed those seven months. But if I hadn’t gone back to pack grief into the suitcase, I would never be able to understand it.
I hope those metaphors don’t scare you away from my blog. I love using things like that though.
Whatever you carry into September, I hope it serves you well. Many good things will come to you in September, that you will be able to carry in your suitcase to October. Maybe your suitcase will expand in size, maybe it will shrink. Leave behind the things that don’t serve you. Just NEVER forget to pack in the mistakes and the hardships. You learn from them and they will make you stronger.
Grief isn’t negative.
It’s a natural part of being human and living in a mortal world.
Grief isn’t positive either.
Grief is beyond comprehension. It’s just so complicated. There’s no quick fix, and even if you could find one don’t use it. Let the wound heal naturally and give yourself time to recover. But if, like me, it takes seven months to deeply sink in, allow time for that too.
I’ll love you and leave you. Wishing you all the best for September,
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