Dealing with Loss
Guest blogger, Lisa Holmes, shares her very personal story of grief and loss in our latest blog. Whether its losing someone to a long term illness or a sudden tragic death, loss is never easy.
Whether its losing someone to a long term illness or a sudden tragic death, loss is never easy - I mean the loss of a family pet can be traumatic if they have been your best friend and support – believe me having gone through both, my dog was my confidante throughout that grieving period.
We’ve all heard the “time is a great healer” line and yes, it’s frustrating at the time and impossible to understand. But the truth is its true, time is a great healer and life does indeed move on but its like having a scar that never heals fully and always a piece of you that is missing. But life can still be amazing and full of promise, laughter, and joy after loss. In fact, loss makes you appreciate all of those things more – however big or small they may seem to be, though it takes time to get there.
So, what’s my journey? Well having really gone through life relatively untouched and shielded from grief up to the age of 26, that all changed on a fatal day in May, 21 years ago. Engaged and living with my then partner, Darren a 27-year-old Firefighter with his whole career ahead of him, one sunny day he went out on his motorbike only to be killed in a fatal crash. At 26 you don’t expect a police women to knock on your door and deliver the heart wrenching news your fiancée is dead and not coming back, the person you saw that morning leave the house will never walk through the door again - your life flips on its head and everything you had planned is now gone.
Unable to take it for what felt like forever, having to call his mum and step-dad, my own parents and tell them all he’s gone, my sister rushing to be at my side - an absolute tower of support. Then all becomes black and life suddenly doesn’t feel like it’s worth living, what’s the point – you’ve just had your heart ripped out and you’ve lost your way. I felt like I was constantly in one of those movies, where I was walking very slowly, stuck in my nightmare whilst everyone around me was on fast forward carrying on with their lives and I just wanted to scream and get off the ride.
I was lucky though I had amazing family and friends that literally were with me all the way – even at times when I didn’t want to talk or wanted space but I knew they were there and were regularly checking in on me, whether it was to make sure I was eating properly to staying overnight just to allow me to talk (even though I was constantly repeating myself at times). It still didn’t stop that heart wrenching pain that I can only describe as having your heart ripped out and broken. I sought grief counselling – the first counsellor was rubbish – she cried more than me and I found myself consoling the councillor – what is that all about, I don’t know ? However, I was referred to my second counsellor by my doctor and this really helped, they listened – no answers as such, just listening and allowing me to talk things through.
The one thing that was constant – at my side was my dog, Darren had bought Jasper for me as a birthday present we both wanted a dog and Jasper was the one. Who would know that dog would be my focus, a reason to get up every day, I walked him every single day without fail morning, noon and night no matter what as I knew he needed me and I needed him – believe me I didn’t want to get out of bed most days. As time went on I knew I couldn’t hide from the world forever besides I started to get sick and tired of crying, in fact I was starting to bore myself – I knew that I was still here and as much as I didn’t feel like it I had to pick up the pieces and get my life on track. Don’t get me wrong it didn’t happen over-night and I didn’t suddenly jump out of bed and think right that’s it, I just kept thinking “is this it, is this my life now?” – and it isn’t and it can’t control you – don’t get me wrong, it can shape you but can’t control you.
I started with small goals – back to work (part time at first as large groups were hard), going to the gym, I booked a holiday with a friend, then with these goals you start to laugh again. Friends were key – don’t shut yourself off from people who care– I’m always amazed how many stuck with me all the way through and still to this day are my great mates. It must have been hard for my family and friends seeing me upset but also most of them were also friends with Darren so grieving themselves.
Work has always been a factor and as the fog started to lift I started to get braver and determined to push myself out of my comfort zone – I gave up my job in IT within a financial services company and embarked on new adventures (not always plain sailing) that took to me where I am today as a Director of a recruitment business. I travelled as much as possible – going to places like Brazil, Malaysia, Thailand – often travelling alone then meeting up with friends who were on a world tour. Weekends away with friends and lots of laughter followed, don’t get me wrong birthdays, Christmas’s and the anniversaries of the accident were tough – in fact they still are but the scar started to heal it didn’t feel as raw. Small Goals followed by bigger ones and talking, never shying away from talking about Darren and how he was part of my life. Don’t expect healing to happen overnight – it doesn’t how can it when you have loved someone who has then gone.
21 years down the line – I’m married to a great guy, who without being soppy I love dearly and is also my best friend and makes me laugh lots – we both know you need to seize the day and make it count. I’m super passionate about everything I set my mind to – I know life is for living and yes, at times I do need to remind myself things can be worse when a bad day/week happens but I know even though I don’t wish it on anyone, grief has made me stronger and more determined. Darren is never far away from my thoughts and having had other bereavements since close to home – the beloved dog Jasper, a close friend of mine and Neil’s died tragically, losing my mother in law all of which have been tough and hurt like hell but now I know that you can get to the other side of it and laugh again and have a life.
Allow yourself to grieve, talk, listen and don’t be afraid to cry or ask for support – if you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends – there are people out there who will listen believe me.
But most of all – know there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel you find yourself in, you just can’t just can’t always see it straight away.