I was never sheltered from death and loss as a child. I knew it happened to everyone a some point but as a child you don’t really understand what that means until it happens to you; and it happened to me a lot over the years.
My first experience with death was at a very young age. I don’t remember just how young, perhaps five or six when my great grandfather little Erny passed away. He had been living with grandma for a long time as he was old and frail ( in his nineties) but the caring duties became too much for her and he was forced to go into a care home. I remember visiting him with mum and grandma and riding on the stair lift that the home had. I remember little granddad as being a very funny and clever man, quick witted and quick tongued. I remember enjoying being around him a lot until one day mum told us he had passed away and that was it, I never saw him again; obviously. I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral and so my first experience of death was one of sudden and unexpected loss with no real way of making sense of the grief and the whole i had in my life.
My big granddad Doug (Raymond) passed away a few years after my little granddad. I remember him being a very quiet and stern man and because of this I didn’t really have as close a bond with him as I did with little granddad. I remember granddad being very sick (liver cancer) and I remember him going into hospital; then much like great granddad, mum just came home one day and told me he had passed too. I wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral either and we never talked about him passing at all. I was left to manage the reignited loss I felt alone, again when all I wanted was comfort and to talk to someone.
Life gave me a break for a good few years before it took the next one. In 1996, on a bright may afternoon my grandma passed after a very short battle with breast and brain cancer. She had fallen ill about three weeks previously with what the doctors diagnosed as vertigo. Little did anyone know that this was the last attach of the grapefruit sized mass growing in her brain. I had been staying with her for the week to try and help her but the day I went home she collapsed and was taken to hospital where they found the tumors and we were told she was terminal; just weeks to live. She made it a further three before she took her final breath and my best friend in the whole world was taken from me and again I was left to deal with my grief alone. I insisted on attending her funeral which helped give some kind of closure but beyond that there were no discussions with mum about any of it. just silence.
As an adult things haven’t got much easier. My dad passed before I had a chance to really get to know him and I wasn’t invited to the funeral, so that was hard to deal with. Aunty sheila passed away just a few hours after I had last spoken to her. My then husband helping the paramedic with CPR before coming to wake me with the news she couldn’t be saved. I was less than thirty feet away when she died and I slept through it. I have never come to terms with that, even now.
RIP Dad – 2003
RIP Aunty Sheila – 2015
Then there was my Lee and my best friend Denis, both passed just days apart. My heart breaks when I even think about dealing with the loss I feel from that one; so I don’t. I lock it all away, compartmentalize it all and don’t deal. Until I have a day like today where I am reminded these things happen, these people are no longer in my life and I miss them badly.
RIP Lee – 2017
RIP Denis – 2017
I have a very close and personal relationship with loss. I have no choice but to hope life gives me a break for a while now. I have virtually no one left.