Coping with Loss

Coping with Loss

I’ve experienced heartache over the years, losing many beloved pets, going through break ups, all painful and very sad, but it wasn’t until I was 19 that I experienced the worst pain imaginable, when my mother died.

I was very young for 19, still very immature and naive, and I relied on my Mum to do a lot for me, to be honest I was the youngest of all my siblings, and still looked upon as the ‘baby’ in the family.

The night she was taken ill was very traumatic for me, she collapsed at home, I didn’t know what to do, felt helpless seeing her so ill. I tried to help as best as I could, but I felt sheer panic, I wanted the ‘adults’ to take over, to rescue me from this nightmare. The irony was the one person I wanted to help me was my Mum, the very person who couldn’t.

She was taken to hospital, many hours later transferred to another hospital after being diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage. A team of specialist surgeons then operated on her, to try to stem the bleeding.

It was the following afternoon before there was any news, and it wasn’t good. They had tried to treat the bleed which had engulfed her brain, but the damage was too severe. There was nothing more they could do for her. Those words stuck in my brain and I felt my heart freeze. It was just awful. I, like everyone else, was in shock, this was not the news we expected nor wanted to hear. We were taken to see her. She was in a coma, on life support, noisy machines all around her, constantly bleeping. I remember looking at her and yes, it was still mum, but seeing her with all the equipment, a tube down her throat, her head shaved and bandaged up, it wasn’t a sight I wanted to see. I just wanted her to open her eyes, to talk, to say it was going to be ok. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare.

Amazingly, it was over 2 weeks before she passed away. The doctors had switched off all the machines, and we all expected her to pass soon after, but she didn’t. Every day we would visit and incredibly she was still breathing by herself. One day it was just me and my one sister who were there on our own, and whilst we were there her breathing changed, slowing right down, at times almost stopping. We were terrified, I was in complete panic, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, I didn’t want to lose mum, especially without Dad being here, he needed to be there when the time came. As we were gripped with terror, a priest came into the room and sat with us, and he said some prayers. Now although I grew up a Catholic, I wasn’t religious by that time, I wasn’t sure what I believed anymore, but having this priest by our side gave me so much comfort, that we were not alone just in case she did pass over then.

It was on the winter solstice that she passed away. I remember that day so clearly, we got to the hospital late, and within minutes of our arrival, she had gone, like she had waited for us, held on for us to get there, and then was able to let go. It was surreal to watch someone die, I was not prepared for it, despite the doctors telling us, I hadn’t believed it, I had been in denial, hoping she would wake up and life would go back to normal. Instead I watched her body, lying still, no longer breathing, and I felt as if it wasn’t real. I could see myself, in the room, but it felt I was out of body, watching from the sidelines, it was a bizarre experience. I watched my father, and my sisters, all crying, and then I realised I was crying too, in fact I was hysterical. Suddenly it hit me that she had died, and I was completely overwhelmed with feelings of immense pain, then panic that my mother was gone. It was truly the worst day of my life.

We planned her funeral, but had to get through Christmas first, just 4 days after she had died it was Christmas day. It was tragic to have lost her so close to Christmas, a time for spending time with loved ones, and a day which she always had loved herself. Christmas was never quite the same again for me, as it was always a reminder of losing her.

I remember we went to see her the night before the funeral, in an open coffin. I was not prepared for what that would be like, it was a big shock for me. Yes I had watched her die, but seeing her now was quite frightening to me. If I had the choice I would not have gone, because that did haunt me for many years after.

The day of her funeral dawned, I was dreading it, not sure I could cope with it. I knew the funeral was the final goodbye.

Despite it being such a sad day, it was heart-warming to see how many people came to the church. It was full, and many people stood outside in the freezing cold. Having been a nurse all her life, my mum was well liked and well respected, and many colleagues, friends and even patients came to pay their respects. That meant a lot to me, to feel their support and love not just for mum, but for us, they were so kind, it got me through that day. I know funerals aren’t easy, most people feel uncomfortable, but when you have lost a loved one you do gain strength from those who show their support.

After the funeral, life carried on, we all tried to get back to normal, but it was far from normal. I was the only one living at home, so it was just my father and I. I was still so young then, I didn’t know how to grieve. My father didn’t cope well either, and we just existed in the same house, without ever really mentioning my mums death again. I loved her so much, it was so painful to accept she was gone, that I would never see her or talk to her again. I tried my best to carry on with my life, but it was hard. I knew deep down I hadn’t dealt with her passing, it was always lurking behind me, in the shadows.

It was 19 years later that everything came to a head, when the grief would finally hit me.

My father was elderly, he had been in hospital for months, and was just moved to a residential home, and that night I had a dream that he was going to die on 8 March, which was in 1 week. At the time I wasn’t spiritually ‘awake’, I didn’t know it was a premonition, but I knew that I had to take heed of the message. When I got up the next morning I told my husband about the dream, said I had a weird feeling, and couldn’t shake it and could we go to see Dad. So we cancelled our plans, and went to visit my father. Upon seeing him, I knew he was very ill, and called for an ambulance. He was taken to hospital, and a short while later we got the news, he had sepsis, his body was shutting down, there was nothing they could do.

I remember telling all my family about this dream, I wasn’t sure if it would come true, but I needed them to all know. I think in my mind I didn’t believe it was possible to dream this, although I kept telling everyone, I didn’t actually think it would happen.

It did. On 8 March my father died. Unlike with my mother, I wasn’t present at his death, I didn’t want to watch another loved one pass, it was too much. Seeing him in hospital had brought back all the memories of my Mum, that had been held inside of me under lock and key, until now. I felt I had gone back in time, I was 19 again, reliving my mother’s death all over again.

I felt wretched, I was 37, and suddenly it dawned on me I had no parents anymore. I felt lost, lonely, sad. Yet I couldn’t cry. The emotions were so intense, they were frightening me. I wanted to run away from them. I used exercise to try to escape, I would be running physically to escape these emotions that were appearing, threatening to swallow me up.

Before my father’s funeral we had his coffin back home for the night, It was closed, I don’t think any if us wanted to see him in the coffin, that would have been too difficult. We just felt it was right to have him back home. I had dressed the room with candles and his favourite flowers. I took photos, just wanting to capture the ambience, it really felt so peaceful in here. I looked at my phone and there was all these white blobs everywhere and blurring. I said to my husband look at this, there’s something wrong with my camera on the phone. He looked, and saw the photos I took and yes they were all affected. He cleaned the lens, and then I tried taking more, every photo was the same. I didn’t understand. He tried with his phone and they were normal pictures, but every photo I took was just this white blurring.

White Blurring and Orbs

I didn’t realise then that these were orbs I had captured. I would discover months later that they were called orbs, and my photos were actually spectacular images of them.

After the funeral I sank deeper into depression, I was anxious, couldn’t go out on my own anywhere. I felt panic whenever the feelings of grief reared up, I tried in vain to push them down. I was desperate to escape, I will admit there have been a few occasions where I contemplated suicide. I could not cope with the emotions. I felt backed into a corner with no way out.

Thankfully I was referred by my GP to a therapist, who was simply amazing. She knew how to unravel all my emotions, to help me begin the healing process. I would be lying if I said it was easy, a walk in the park. It wasn’t. It was painful, raw, the feelings I held for Mums death, nearly 20 years earlier, all came flooding out. They had to. I had carried them with me for far too long. I was able to face the feelings, they didn’t engulf me as I had feared. We looked at how Dad dying had been the catalyst for these feelings to emerge, it was time to process all that I had held in for far too long.

Over the weeks I did start to feel different, I could see the events clearer, I gained perspective and insight. I began to gain emotional intelligence, an understanding of who I was and why I behaved the way I did. I developed empathy for myself.

I felt this release of so much pain and heartache. I had carted around heavy suitcases, full of pain, and finally I could put them down. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I can look back and say isn’t it a shame I didn’t know about crystals, essences and energy work when I went through these losses. I could have used them it’s true, but maybe I wasn’t ready. I was quite unstable, wishing I was no longer alive, and I have to say getting therapy, having medication really helped me through those dark times. I know that everything happens for a reason and divine timing meant I had to go through all I did to get me to where I am now.

Once I had gone through the therapy I felt so different, free, liberated. I had accepted both my parents deaths. I felt at peace, and this was new for me. I had a different perspective on my life. It was being free of all this baggage which was a turning point for me. If I hadn’t gone through the therapy, I don’t know what would have happened to me, because I felt so low, I honestly might not have made it. Luckily I did, and I want to share with you that whatever you are going through, you’re never alone, and even when things seems so awful, they can get better.

It was a month after I finished my therapy that we found our new home in Wales. It was the perfect time for a fresh start, to move house, and of course when we viewed the house is when I had my awakening, a day that changed my life forever.

White Blurring and Orbs

Since waking up, I began noticing signs, which I believe often are from loved ones who have passed over, letting me know they’re still with me. I would look up at the sky, and still do, and see shapes in the clouds, signs that spirit is looking out for me. White feathers would just appear, often in unexpected places, and I knew it was important to pay attention. The night we moved into our new home, a big white feather was in the bedroom! Butterflies also got my attention, they often land on or near me, and I feel they send me messages of love and hope. and birds too. I have such a strong connection with birds, I have spirit guides who are birds, so it makes sense to see them, but often I will see a robin in our garden, and I feel its my dad showing he is near.

Recently I lost one of my cats. She was a beautiful gentle soul, had been my companion for almost 18 years. It was devastating. I felt lost, she was my little helper, and now she was gone. I would never see her little face again.. It was deeply upsetting. However now I know about crystals, healing, essences, I was able to turn to them for support. I had made an essence to help with trauma, grief, death, soul midwifery. It was intended both for the person or animal dying as well as the people left behind. It’s called Over the Rainbow. On the way to the vets, I had instinctively put the essence in my bag. When the vet said she needed to be put to sleep, I got the essence out, and sprayed her with it, before spraying myself liberally. I could feel support, like being hugged. I burst into tears, saying goodbye to my special friend, it was so sad. She passed very quickly, and I am certain the essence helped her to slip away so peacefully. I continued to use it all the time, and I realised the essence was helping me in this supportive role, I was still upset, still grieving, crying, because this is how we process our feelings, but the essence held me whilst I went through this period of grief. It created a safe space for me.

I am not sure you ever ‘get over’ the death of a loved one, it is more about acceptance. I still miss my parents, and others I have lost, I always will, but I appreciate and am grateful that I had them in my life, even if it was shorter than I would have liked.

So, grief has taught me so much about myself, I love deeply, I care deeply, so it’s totally understandable that when I lost a loved one, l felt bereft. This is normal. For some reason before therapy I thought I was abnormal, that I should be stronger, able to keep a lid on my emotions, that I was somehow weak by being emotional, that crying was a sign of weakness. I also faced up to my own mortality, losing my parents had made me think of death a lot more. I will admit I used to be scared of dying, frightened by the thought of it, and I do think this is normal, a part of being human, but I now am more accepting of it, and have more of an understanding of the soul, and the journey which continues after we have passed over.

I have realised how hard I found it to open up to others about how I was feeling. With my family I didn’t turn to them when my mother died, as they were going through it too, I felt I couldn’t burden them further.

We often compare ourselves to others, how they fare in trying times, judging if they look ok, measuring their ability to cope against our own. We all are unique souls we each handle things in our own way, in our own time, but judging a book by its cover doesn’t tell you what is going on inside. Someone may look fine, they may even smile, laugh, joke, but inside they could be crying, grief stricken, sad, but aren’t able to express this. This was me for 15 years. I didn’t know how to grieve, or emote. I suffered in silence.

If you have lost a loved one, and that includes pets, then it is vital to allow yourself time to grieve, and that takes as long as you need. Its normal to experience many emotions, including guilt and anger, they are all part of grieving. Try to not push your feelings down, not easy I know, but they are always there even if you think you have locked them up, sooner or later they will emerge. Writing is a way I found helped me to get feelings out, this is how I first communicated with my therapist as I couldn’t talk about how I felt, so I wrote it all out for her to understand what was going on. It’s also good to cry, it’s a way to release, so let the tears flow, but don’t worry if you can’t cry. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you don’t, we all deal with loss differently, so don’t judge yourself, just be you. I cried for Mum but when I lost Dad there were no tears, and I felt so guilty about this, thinking that it made me a bad person, who should be ashamed, but that’s just not true. If you have someone close you can talk to, this helps too. I wish I hadn’t bottled it all up for so long. I remember when I opened up to my sister about my feelings, about Mum, many years after she had passed, and she was so supportive, but was horrified I had kept it all in for decades. Without my family I know without a doubt I would not be here now, and I am so grateful to them. Mother nature is here to support you too, getting outside, being in nature is very healing. I can also highly recommend the Samaritans. My goodness they are Earth Angels for certain, and they do a fantastic job, always there if you have no one to turn to, they will listen. I have been to the darkest of places in my life, felt there was no way out, no one could help me, but it did get better.

Crystals help with the release of emotions. They are solid, stable, reliable tools to use, and of course there’s essences. Over the Rainbow provides nurturing and support to hold you whilst you process the pain. It is the love of the divine.

Finally I will leave you with these words, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which resonate with me:

Tis is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all…

Josie xx

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