Losing a Parent

Today marks the day that my mum sadly passed away 5 years ago. For a good couple of years I've wanted to write a post on this but it just never felt like the right time when I sat down to do it. It isn't a topic really spoken about online I've found, for multiple reasons and obviously the stand out one is because it is just so personal to that individual. In the past I've mentioned it here and there in blog posts but I've never actually spoken about what has been like to lose a parent. Mainly this is because I worry that it makes people feel uncomfortable but then if I feel comfortable enough talking about it then it should be ok right?

I'm the youngest daughter of a small family, I don't have any extended relatives so it was always just my mum, my dad, Sarah my sister and me. I've always been really close to my family, even now I'm older and my sister has left home we still always do things as a family. When my mum got sick it was like a huge bomb had been dropped on us, she was always the core of our family and as she was a stay at home mum I was so used to doing everything with her that the thought of life without her wasn't something I could even fathom doing. She had always been a healthy lady, worked out 4 times a week, ate well and generally looked after herself so there was never much of warning sign she could be so sick as well as the fact she was only 44. After an unusual smear result and this leading onto her having a hysterectomy we presumed she would be on the mend but they found a huge amount of cancer cells in a cyst that had been removed.

Those cells had travelled up into her lungs and for 8 months they continued to spread and ravage her body till eventually it was too much and her body couldn't take anymore. The dr's tried a lot of various treatments like chemo and radiotherapy but they just didn't work and from the moment we found out we were aware she wasn't going to have a long life span, two years max but it turned out to be 8 short months. By the end of it all I felt like the parent I knew and loved and had been taken away and all that was left was an empty shell of a person and it was unfair for her to keep on living anymore. Whilst all this was happening I had finished my second year at college and had got a place at the university that I had worked so hard to get into and I was so happy that my mum had seen me get to that point. Sadly when she passed away it was only around 2 weeks before I was due to leave so never saw me get to go.

The day that she did pass away is something I won't ever forget even though now it does just seem like a huge blur. Even though I knew it was coming and she didn't have long left when it happened it was like something had stopped working inside of me. In a lot of ways it almost like a relief, I was glad that she wouldn't have to be in pain anymore and not have drugs pumped through her system which was a losing battle anyway. I know it sounds like a really awful thing to say it was a relief but nobody wants to see the person they love most in the world to be so poorly and basically become an empty shell and to not be able to live anymore. Within the first few days we stuck together as a family and just tried to do as much as we could to try and just deal with things, planning the funeral was probably the worst part as it felt like we were waiting to start grieving properly. I was also trying to decide whether I wanted to defer my place at university for another year or not. Trying to work out whether I could mentally go through such a big change at such a hard point in my life wasn't easy but I decided I was going to go.

Looking back it now going to university so soon after she passed away was one of the best decisions I ever made. It meant that my mind was completely taken away from it and I wasn't just focusing on her not being around anymore. Whilst to some people it might seem like quite a heartless thing to do to leave my dad and sister in such a rough time it was their wishes as well as my mums that we just went on with our lives. When I got to uni on the first day I was a massive jumble of emotions, not helping with my boyfriend at the time deciding that would be a brilliant time to break up with me either I might add. I had made the decision that I didn't want to tell anybody on my course about what was going on because I really didn't want people to pity me and it was quite a bombshell to drop on somebody who didn't really know me. Of course people did eventually find out and they had obviously realised that I didn't want a big fuss about it all so they were all really respectful about the situation, which I was really grateful for.

I felt myself grow up remarkably fast, issues that I might have had when I was a teenager just seemed so silly and distant. Over the course of my three years I had grieved in a way that just didn't seem real, going home was still tough because I wanted my mum to be there when I got back but she wasn't. One of the biggest things I struggled with is that I just wanted to talk to her and tell everything that I was up to and in a lot of ways I still have wobbles with this now. As I had moved away from home it did take me a little longer to properly come with terms with it all and I think it was only did I moved back home after I graduated that I mentally felt at peace with it all. There were times at university when I did feel like giving it all up, especially during the beginning of my second year it just all felt like it was too much and I considered going to see a counsellor about it. Even though it was hard I'm so proud of myself for getting through those three years and coming out the other side with a First Class Degree to my name it is an incredible feeling.

When people die you always hear the phrase 'it gets better in time', there is a good reason that people say this and it is because it is true. Even though at the time I felt like my life just couldn't go without her and it was unfair that my mum had been taken away from me and why had this happened to us etc with time those feelings went away. In an ideal world my mum would still be here today but life isn't ideal and everybody goes through their own battles and I'm incredibly lucky to have the life that I do have. I have an amazing family who I don't think I could have got through the past few years without, it has brought us so close together. Now whenever I go through something tough I automatically think 'I can do this' because if I can be ok with my favourite person in the world not being around anymore then I can do anything.

5 years on from that very sad Friday I've learnt a lot, I'm a completely different person now and I think my mum would be proud of the woman I've become (well I really hope she would). Losing her taught me that it is important to be happy in life and do all the things that you want, I try and make the most out of everything I have and every situation I'm in. Although I did grieve quite slowly I know it was the right path for me to take, I'm glad I didn't spend months and months in tears because all the tears in the world wouldn't have brought her back. Now I just like to look back and remember all the happy memories that I had with her in those 19 years and think how lucky I am to have a parent like her. Even though she wasn't there for my graduation and won't be stood at my wedding or be around to see her grandchildren it is important to remember all the times I did have with her.

This isn't the type of post that I normally write but it is something I've wanted to talk about for a really long time. It has always worried me that people might think I've written this for attention, sympathy or page views which is awful but sometimes people aren't very nice. I haven't written this for any other reason but to share my story because a lot of people now follow this blog and I know I won't be the only one who has had to grieve a loved one or lost a parent to an illness and it is comforting to know you aren't alone.