Thursday, 18 August 2016

On Vulnerability

This post goes deeper than I've gone before.  I'm feeling the vulnerability of posting it and am doing it anyway.  I think it's important to have courage and breathe into the fear. And sometimes a brown paper bag, if that helps.

I made a decision earlier this year that it was time for me to take my big, bruised heart out into the world again.

I knew I needed to do this because I was feeling scared. While simultaneously watching my Mum die, and my sister battle cancer, I felt like my heart was breaking. And I spent 18 months healing it by feeling the pain, staying with it, painting, writing, and letting myself hit rock bottom.

But as time went on, I began to realise that I wasn't healing any more. I was hiding.

The world felt frightening now in a way I hadn't experienced before. I knew that bad things happened. Really brutal, painful things. And there wasn't anything I could do to stop them happening.

I realised that all I could do was embrace the now and live in each moment as fully as I could. No matter how scared that made me. And I realised too that, after spending 18 months cocooned in grief, it was time to step out into the light.

To do the thing that scared me most.

So I opened my heart to someone new.

I told him about my illness. I told him about the limitations it presented for me as far as physical capabilities go. I told him what I wasn't able to do. I told my truth. I got vulnerable.

He didn't shy away.

Being vulnerable is hard, isn't it?  Sitting with our vulnerability can feel intolerable, can't it?

Meeting someone new left me feeling deeply vulnerable.

Really, deeply vulnerable. I didn't know what to do with myself. It felt excruciating to sit with the feelings that vulnerability brought with it. My internal world felt messy, fearful and uncertain. I felt emotionally naked. Awkward. Unsophisticated and utterly at a loss to know how to sit with my feelings. Let alone express them.

I was taking a risk, there were no certain outcomes. I was stepping into something with an open heart, because it was important for me that I did, but I didn't know what would happen.

Life is like that isn't it?

There are no guarantees.

Sometimes we know that we need to move in a new direction, and it can feel terrifying, but we do it anyway even though it feels messy, imperfect, and uncertain.

I have striven throughout my life to bring order to messiness. To understand the things I don't understand and to make meaning out of things that feel unclear. It's how my brain works. I like answers, and clarity and sureness.

I don't like uncertainty and not-knowing. I don't feel comfortable with anything that feels messy.  

But again, I'm having a deep change of heart.

Brene Brown talks about the "courage to be imperfect". The ability to sit with our vulnerability and not shy away from our discomfort when we witness the parts of ourselves that could cause us to feel shame. To let ourselves be seen. 

It isn't easy to do, is it? To tell someone about a fear. To admit a mistake. To reveal something about ourselves that we've not revealed before. To tell our truth. To let someone get to know us, bit by bit, not knowing if they like us, or what they feel about us. Or if they will stay.

I wanted to be breezy about it. I wanted to be light and easy. I wanted to not get caught up in what things might mean. And I managed it. I managed it really well for a while.

He was kind about the illness. He took me to places where I could sit and look at beautiful things. He sat with me. We talked. We laughed. He was dry, and funny. He didn't place any expectations on me. He didn't judge me for being ill. He was calm and gentle. He liked photography and birds, books and gardens. I felt like the Emma I remembered before things got messy, and life got hard, and Mum died of cancer, and I watched my sister lose all her hair. Before my heart felt bruised and battered.

I was me. I hope that equated to open, funny, warm, witty. And possibly, a bit quirky.

And then I realised I liked him.

We are all here to connect, I think. Life is about relationships. There are very few people who, on their death bed, will want to be surrounded by the money they earned rather than the people they love and are loved by.  

We want to be known and we are afraid to be known, in case that knowing leads to a loss of connection somehow. In case the other person sees something about us that they don't like. So, we hide parts of ourselves.

I'm a sensitive person. I would rather chew my own arm off and hit myself over the head with it than admit that out loud, but I am. I feel things deeply. Sometimes ALL the feelings at the same time. Although I am measured and steady and calm, sometimes my internal world can feel messy. Sometimes, I can feel really small in comparison to the size of my feelings. When it happens, this can feel overwhelming. It's something I have worked very hard to hide from other people. Apparently not very successfully, as the people who know me best and love me all know this about me. And you probably do too, if you've read my blog for a little while. But still, I find it hard to tell people how I'm feeling. To say if I'm not OK. I think it makes me look weak to be upset, to need reassurance.  To need someone else in some form. So, I have striven to be very self-sufficient.

But in order to really connect with Life and other people we need to understand that what makes us vulnerable is what makes us beautiful.

I didn't know how to tell him that I was feeling vulnerable. I didn't know how to tell him that meeting him and finding I liked him meant that all the bruised parts of my heart came up to meet me. That the loss of my Mum hit me full in the stomach.  That the pain of watching my sister suffer smacked me across my face. That the fear of more loss had been triggered and was fighting to be heard.

So, instead I said "What do you like about me?" A couple of times.

And "I'm not sure how you feel about me." Once or twice

And finally "Are we exclusive?  What is this?  Are we boyfriend and girlfriend? Do you want to come to my friend's 50th and meet my friends and family?"

I wasn't overly pushy but cool I was not.

There were perhaps a lot of direct questions for a new friendship.

I wanted some sense of safety. I wanted to know that this sunshine on my face that I was experiencing with him wasn't going to go away, after what felt like a long time of stumbling about in darkness.

I wanted to feel secure.

It was a lot to ask of a new friendship, I think.

I'm not beating myself up. I did the very best I could, and sat with my stuff as best I could without leaking too much. I didn't go into detail with him about what was happening for me. I wanted to enjoy our friendship and the light, and laughter and fun, without sharing too much of the darker stuff that has happened. I told him my Mum had died of cancer.  I told him about my sister.  I didn't tell him about how broken my heart had been. It was very early days. I wanted to be seen as me. As my dear friend D described me recently, "a hobbled but lovable old twat". (Kinder words have never been written about me.)

And it ended.

And I have sat with the sadness of that. Of missing talking and laughing with my new friend. And of wanting not to have nudged.

I want to have been able to say, "I'm feeling vulnerable getting to know you because I lost my Mum not too long ago and things have felt dark.  I'm finding sitting with that vulnerability really painful.  I find being vulnerable really hard. I didn't anticipate I'd feel this way. It's caught me by surprise. Could I have a hug?"

Or, in the interest of brevity, "I'm feeling vulnerable right now, can I have a hug?"

But in the moment I couldn't. I said what I felt able to say. I was as clear as I could be in the rawness of the feeling. I mistakenly made it about my fear of him leaving instead of my fear of loss.

And I've realised something.

Sometimes I can be messy. Sometimes I can find vulnerability too painful to sit with. Sometimes, I am oblique and ask for reassurance in an unclear way. From out of left field.

At some point, I hope to meet someone who can understand that about me. And meet me there.

And I'm forgiving myself for being messy. I'm forgiving myself for not being perfect. I'm letting go of the "what ifs" and am wanting to celebrate something really important.

Something we need to remember.

No matter how dark life gets and no matter how frightening something can feel, we can choose to go out into the world with our big, brave, bruised hearts wide open and do the best we can. We can keep being our beautiful brave selves, even when we fall down. Even when we get messy and find ourselves asking for some kind of commitment from someone we've known for not long enough. When what we really mean to say is, "I'm feeling afraid of the uncertainty of Life. Can you hold me for a bit."

We can choose to go out and meet the world.  Even if things don't end up how we hoped.

We can be vulnerable, messy, and stumble our way through.

Because we get to say we did it anyway, and we are less afraid for the doing of it.

P.S.  This is a painting I did a few months ago when I wanted to try out a looser messier style.  

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Stuff of Life

When I was younger, I used to think Life was all about the big stuff.

Do you know what I mean?

The things that feel momentous.

Having huge adventures, being awarded hard-won qualifications, building a career, travelling to far-flung places, seeing as much of everything as I could, buying a house. I was very focused on tucking as many of these big events under my belt as I could. I was very adept at striving for the next big thing.

I didn't place an awful lot of conscious awareness on the smaller spaces between the big things of Life.

It wasn't fully aware that the ordinary moments of each day could hold as much treasure as the landmark events. I was very goal-orientated. Focused on doing rather than being.

And then I got ill and Life changed.

Life suddenly became very much about the spaces between the big adventures.

As a result, over the years of living with a long-term illness, I've had a deep change of heart about what is and isn't the big stuff of Life.

I've come to understand that Life is a continuous thread of very small moments, connected to each other.  I know that's stating the blindingly obvious, but stay with me on this. Each day we are given a certain amount of time.  Moments strung together to experience. What we place in each moment determines the quality of our lives. Life isn't simply about what happens to us or what next big thing we're striving for.  Life is very much about what we choose to do, be, see and feel in each small moment.

I used to waste so many moments striving for the next big thing.  Not realising that the moment I was in was the only thing I had. And that it held its own beauty.

There are only moments. Each moment an opportunity to love, be tender and to connect. To love ourselves, and other people. To be tender with ourselves, and other people. To connect with ourselves and other people.

The big stuff of Life isn't what I thought it was. The Big Stuff of Life is actually the small stuff of Life repeated. Over and over again.  A chain of small connected moments of love, kindness, beauty and gentleness, where we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and allow other people to see our vulnerability.  Where we're brave enough to reach out into each moment and connect with what's really in our hearts, and to give our hearts to other people in a way that is kind, gentle, tender, and loving.

If we are able to do that from one moment to the next, we have a continuous thread of beautiful moments all connected to each other and connecting us to the people around us.  We are living a continuous thread of tenderness. Creating a continuous thread of loving minutes, that eventually add up to a Lifetime of Love.

What could be bigger than that?

P.S. Jarryd Stoneman asked his 93 year old great grandmother with severe dementia if she wanted to dance.  He created a a big moment out of a small moment with tenderness and kindness.

P.P.S. I'm not advocating sainthood, here, you understand.  I'm fully in support of the need for swearing, hand gesticulations, the odd manhandling of a cushion with a rolling pin when things get too much, and the importance of gin. A good roast dinner does wonders to keep the wheels of tenderness oiled as well. Just sayin'.     

Friday, 20 May 2016


I saw this short film "Headway" with Louis Boniface recently.

I think it's beautiful.

Falling is such a fundamental part of life, isn't it? 

When we're children we learn to walk by repeatedly falling over and getting up again. There's no shame attached to falling as a child.  It happens. Gravity, feet that are too big for our little bodies, and spending a lot of time literally spinning in circles, mean that as children, we find ourselves intimately acquainted with losing our balance and hitting the floor. 

As adults, falling isn't a part of our everyday existence.  Generally, folk aren't keeling over in droves as they head through town (Saturday nights excluded).  Shame seems to have attached itself to falling by the time we consider ourselves grown up, and it somehow means we've failed if we fall. Both in the literal sense (running for the bus and tripping over the paving slab in front of more people than you can waggle a stick at) and the metaphorical sense (losing all your savings in a bad investment).*

*neither of these things has ever happened to me, although I did do a very impressive fall down a spiral staircase in a very crowded nightclub back in the 90's, and managed a somewhat flouncy recovery into the bar after dismounting the bottom step (there may have been a smattering of applause)

After watching this video, I've been thinking a lot about falling as a metaphor for Life and what we make it mean about ourselves if we do fall. As if somehow our worst beliefs about ourselves are true if we make a mistake, lose our balance, stumble, get knocked down by Life.
But they aren't.

No matter how many times we fall, we are still a beautiful combination of strength, and vulnerability. Tenacity and tiredness. Open-heartedness and fear. Creativity and compassion.

I watch Louis Boniface fall in this film and see how he turns every loss of control into something graceful and beautiful.

Maybe, when Life sends something unexpected, and we start to lose our balance, instead of tensing and clinging on, if we can allow ourselves to relax into the falling, stretch into the freedom of it, perhaps we can find ourselves flowing with Life a little more rather than fighting it.

Losing control and falling aren't the worst things that can happen to us. 

We all fall.  Life happens. We haven't failed if we fall. 

There can be great beauty in the falling and then choosing to get up again.


Saturday, 20 February 2016


Hello. How are you?

Today would have been Mum's 71st birthday, so it seems the perfect day to start writing here again after taking such a long break.

On Wednesday it will be 16 months since Mum died.  Even as I type that out I find it hard to understand how simultaneously quickly and slowly those 16 months have passed. I feel as if I am finally waking up from a deep, heavy, nightmarish sleep, blinking and stretching into Springtime.

Grief is a very strange thing.  It feels as if I am finally reaching beyond it.  Coming out of the "grief trenches".  It's lovely to be able to have finally found the edges of it.

I haven't wanted to write about it all here.  The process of feeling the many contradictions and paradoxes within grief has felt raw, violent and savage in a way I haven't known  how to use words to express.

I am usually very comfortable with words, with writing out how something has felt to me, of being able to express my understanding of it.  But this experience of losing my Mum has challenged that understanding of myself as I've felt utterly unable to join words together in a way that gives the emotional and physical experience of the grief any truth or depth.

When I lived in Japan, I lived alongside earthquakes.  They happened frequently, without warning, and I experienced very clearly the process of realising I was not in control of very much at all in life.  When the earth moves (and not in a good way) the sense of powerlessness and vulnerability is acute.

And that has been my experience of this grief.  Not depression, sadness, or wretched crying (although I have felt those things), but much more powerfully, a devastating meeting of my own vulnerability and powerlessness to control life.

I couldn't change what happened to Mum.  I couldn't remove her suffering.  I couldn't protect her from the illness.  I couldn't take away her pain.  I couldn't change anything about what she experienced.

All we could do was witness what she was going through and love her, so that she wasn't alone within it.

The most difficult aspect of grief, for me, has been the deep and thudding understanding of how vulnerable we are.  How soft and gentle our hearts are, how easily wounded we can be, how at any moment an illness, accident, or event can lead to a devastating consequence.  How powerless we are in the face of things out of our control. How savage loss is a part of life.

And how to reconcile that understanding with how to move forward knowing it.

How to not be afraid of life and everything it brings.

We are all made of approximately 40% stardust. The average human male is made up of 60% water. There is a fragility to how we're made..

So the question has been for me, "How do I move forward after seeing and experiencing so closely how brutal life can be?"

And the answer I came to this week is "tenderness".

I thought it was about Love, giving love, receiving love.  Which it is.  But, for me this week, I've realised it's about something inherent within love.

It's about the expression of love through tenderness.

The kindness, gentleness and sensitivity to pain that defines tenderness.

Our hearts are tender.  Our dreams are tender.  Our muscles get tender.

We need tenderness; us vulnerable, joy-filled, often weary, sometimes broken-hearted, humans.

We are often given tenderness as children. Kisses when we fall, cuddles when we hurt, nose nuzzles, ear tickles, the moments when we are wrapped gently in fluffy towels after baths. Gentle moments of deep kindness.  Often from our mums.

As adults that tenderness can subside.  We are busy. We push ourselves hard.  We strive.  We want to thrive. We can feel tired, impatient, grumpy. So can the people around us.

Tenderness can be absent for a long time without us even knowing it.  We can especially lack the ability to be tender with ourselves.

I have decided I want a life filled with small moments of tenderness.  Gentleness, kindness and a sensitivity towards pain.  My own and other people's.  I don't want to be blind to my vulnerabilities or those of others.

I don't want to hurt myself or other people through lacking tenderness.

Loss, grief and hurt are part of living.  I don't want to be hardened by those things.  I want to be tender to them.

It isn't weakness to be tender.  I think it's a strength to understand our vulnerabilities and to live life fully aware of them, loving them and being kind to those parts of ourselves that need gentleness. I think it's only when we can meet our tender spots and love them (even if it makes us supremely uncomfortable) that we can do the same for others.

There is deep beauty in the fact that we are so vulnerable, and that we know it, and keep going anyway.

Happy birthday, Mum. I love you.

With huge love for you and your tenderness, wherever you are.


P.S. This is my latest painting. Mixed-media on watercolour paper. Inspired by the artwork of Tamara LaPorte. Click here to go to her website. Take a peek, it's beautiful.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Summer Soul Searching

Hello again.  How are you?

I want to have something beautiful, witty and wise to write here, for you.  A message full of optimism and hope, and sometimes I think I might just manage it. But possibly not today...

I'm not maudlin, you understand, I'm just feeling weary of grieving.  And it's not something I can turn off.

I can't snap out of it. Or wilfully distract myself from it.

I feel like I'm in an enormous IKEA, and I'm committed to following the floor plan through all the departments (of Grief). There's no short-cut I can take through Bedrooms (Crying), Kitchens (Deep Rattling Aloneness) and Storage (Heavy Weariness), that will whip me out into the Supermarket Area of Goodies (Smiley and Not Flinching with Every Quick Movement Any More).

I don't want to sound upset or angry.  I don't want to come over as bitter, or God forbid, self-pitying, but I'm definitely in the region of possibly knocking on those doors. If not knocking, then somewhere close to ringing the bell and then legging it.

Grieving is exhausting.

Time doesn't heal.

Healing doesn't automatically happen because time has passed.

Healing is an active process of having the ability to face all the darkest, murkiest, loneliest corners of the self. Without doing an about-face 180' turn and bolting, (hair on fire), screaming to the heavens for a bottle of gin bigger than your head, with the words "What the eff was that?  I don't want to look at that pile of c**p ever again and no one can make me!"

Every day waking up to the most painful parts of the self and not muttering "The horror! The horror!". Instead, facing those dark, scary feelings, looking into them, seeing them, acknowledging the hurt they bring, expressing that pain and then, subsequently being able to let the pain go, piece by small piece.

It takes some stamina to stay with yourself when what you're looking at and feeling is lots and lots of murky loss.

Pass the gin.

In the past when I've grieved, I've reached a point where I've needed to numb out for a time, and have tried to use food, drink, friends and family as massive distractions when I couldn't face feeling my own hurt.

Now that I'm older and not much wiser, I've decided that's not something I want to do to myself.

Not least because, what I've discovered while grieving the death of my mum, is that the grief that hasn't been actively healed in years gone by comes back to haunt you when a big loss happens.  It really does.

Like rowdy friends at a party, and demanding an audience for their bad jokes.

I'm grieving for all of my losses this time around.  Not just the massive loss of my mum, which is huge in and of itself, but many of those smaller losses I numbed out and distanced myself from through the years.

Each one seems to be popping up, asking to be felt and released.  Not unlike "Whack-a-Mole" the fairground game where you have to wallop that annoying little fella on the head as he peeks up out of one hole after another. Only I haven't got a plastic mallet and there's no mole to beat the c**p out of.

It's been 9 months since my Mum died. And I'm tired.

Distracting myself from my pain doesn't work now I'm older.  I know the gin is just going to leave me feeling more awful the morning after.  Eating a pile of food is only going to make me feel sick, and looking for myself in somebody else is going to leave me lonelier than I was before.

And none of this is because I don't deeply miss my mum or love her any less.  It's because I love her so deeply that the grief is so intense and unrelenting.

So, I'm facing myself and my hurt, and I feel like I want to say, firmly and quite clearly.  "Yup.  I get it.  I need to look at it all.  But, I'm done.  I've had enough of lifting up rocks and looking at the shadowy stuff underneath.  I'd like some sun, some sand, a bit of a shindig and some massive honking great belly laughs, if it's all the same to you, Universe. And while you're at it, could you mix me a cocktail with all the trimmings and more paper umbrellas than you can waggle a stick at?"

How do you balance feeling your grief with having some lightness in life? I don't easily seem able to at the moment, and I'm tired of feeling all the sadness. I haven't yet fully found a way to balance the sadness with something gentler. Hot baths, hugs, and snoozing are my go-to heart-lifters at the moment. Oh, and good, ripe mangoes. That's not a euphemism.

I miss the fun of life. Grieving and healing loss are hard ruddy work and I feel very disconnected from the Emma who cries laughing.

I need a holiday from my grief and haven't yet found a way of having a holiday from myself. I feel very guilty, writing that out loud.  As if it somehow dishonours my mum. But it's my truth at the moment and I know my mum would understand.

So, I'm plodding on with the journey through all IKEA departments, taking a nap, or a TV break along the way, in the hope that if I stay my course, I'll soon find myself laughing more and enjoying a hot dog bigger than an inflatable, after navigating some of the dark corners of bedding.

How do you give yourself a break from feeling your grief?  How do you find the fun and laughter in life while you're grieving?

Sending you huge love wherever you are.


P.S. This is a recent painting of mine, inspired by the artwork or Tamara LaPorte, and the quote by Henri Matisse.

P.P.S. Netflix is proving itself worth every penny for giving me a break. I am giving it an absolute bashing by currently watching a plethora of dramas, as well as learning more than I hope I will ever need to know about life in a women's prison. Orange definitely is the new black.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Angels and Roses

Thank you for the warmth and support in your comments on my last post. I find it very therapeutic to write out my feelings here and send them out into the world.  As strange as it sounds, I often forget that people read them. Seeing your words of support and feeling the kindness in them has really touched my heart. Thank you.

This is a painting of an angel I did a couple of years ago.  I remember showing it to Mum and her loving it.
I have believed in angels ever since I was a little girl. 

On 25th April it was the 6 month anniversary of my Mum dying, and recently I've been experiencing a subtle but powerful shift.
Almost every month of the past 6 months has contained a significant date that has scratched at the raw wound that has wanted to heal.
The first Guy Fawkes' Night, the first Christmas and New Year, Mum's 70th birthday, Mothers' Day, Easter.
Each one an accentuation of her absence. But strangely enough, those significant dates have not been the times that have hurt the most.
A little while ago, I returned once again to the hospital where Mum spent her last weeks, for one of my regular appointments there. Seeing the windows to the room where she stayed, I noticed they were open. Another family inside, possibly experiencing something similar to us.
I spent a few moments looking up at those windows, remembering all four of us inside. At the time, trying so hard to know and understand how best to love and support Mum, and how best to be able to let her go.
I find being back at the hospital very painful.

I think grieving is possibly a process of meeting the self.
If we can stay with ourselves in our darkest times, not abandon ourselves when we are at our most messy, broken and fearful, and not strain to run from our sadness, we get to hit rock bottom and realise it's actually a very solid place to be.
I'm having a deep change of heart.
Building a new way of living.
JK Rowling said "Rock bottom is the strong foundation on which I built my life."
I think grief is an opportunity to hit rock bottom, meet ourselves and realise that actually we keep good company.

We are lovable even in our messiness, hurt and feelings of brokenness. I believe life is about deeply experiencing all the emotions and feelings, not just the ones we judge as "good". And if we can do that we can find a space of self-acceptance that can't be very easily shaken or disturbed. Our foundation in life becomes much more solid because we become acquainted with our shadows and realise they were only that, shadows. Not anything to be afraid of.
Life sometimes brings pain and struggle, not to make us suffer, but in order, I think, that we become better acquainted with who we really are and to give us an opportunity to meet ourselves when we are cracked wide open and all the masks have fallen away.
So, Spring is here, and I am bobbing along on rock bottom, deeply glad of the solid foundation it gives, and meeting myself face-on.
I've decided that I like who I'm meeting.

Sending you love, wherever you are.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Some Thoughts

I'm aware that writing about grief may not bring floods of new blog readers to my blog, and I've thought about whether writing about such personal loss is "too much information" to be sharing on a blog where I usually write about art, creativity and my attempts to draw a cat that looks like a cat. It's a deeply personal topic.

But, not writing about it feels more difficult than writing about it. Somehow, the grief I'm experiencing is demanding a voice, not to stay stuck in it, but actually in order to be able to move through it.

If this is difficult to read, I understand. It's human nature to want to relieve another person's distress and hurt. But grief can't be fixed, and moving through it is a very lonely experience. Moving through it without being able to express what it feels like is lonelier still.

So, I find myself compelled to share about it here, even though it's such a private thing.

Grief isn't linear. It isn't something that can be controlled. It isn't clear and concise.  And, above all else, it isn't in any way, shape or form, simple.

My experience of this grief is different to any other I have experienced.  I have experienced loss and grief before.  I am divorced, I have lost other deeply loved relatives to illness.  I know how I experienced those great losses and how I moved through them, until I reached the edges and was able to pull myself into a "new normal".

But this is different.

I find myself thinking of friends I love very much who have lost their mums too, and I realise how little I understood of the devastation they were going through when their losses occurred.  It wasn't out of callousness or lack of care on my part, but simply a total inexperience of it that meant my understanding was limited.

This grief feels vast, and deep, and so far, four months after the death of my mum, I haven't found the edges of it.  I stretch out thinking that perhaps if I reach far enough, I will find a place internally where it ends, but so far, that's not happened.

And then I read this quote by Eckhart Tolle, and I found myself writing it out in my art journal and surrounding it with pink roses (mine and my mum's favourite flowers)...

Grief is the process of trying to accept the unacceptable.  The process of trying to make peace with the absence of my mum.

"For me it was like losing a planetary presence: Just empty space instead of all that gravity." 

And so four months after my mum's death, I find myself fighting a painful battle of trying to accept something I find unacceptable: Living in the world without my mum in it with me. 

Grief isn't an event. It isn't a choice either.  I know my mum isn't here any more.  I understand fully what happened to her. I'm not wallowing in sadness for the sake of it, or refusing to pull up my boot straps and carry on.  I know life goes on.  I want it to and I want to be a part of it.  But right now, my heart is healing and trying to find a way to accept the painful truth it holds, that there are two parts to my life.  My life with mum as an integral part of it, interwoven into the fabric of my days, where she was physically present in the landscape of it all.  And the other part, where she's gone, and there is the total absence of all of her.

I feel such deep loss and sadness that Mum's no longer with me physically, talking to me, listening to me, being irritated by me, telling me she's proud of me, touching me, disapproving of something I've not done or done, loving me regardless, smiling at me, laughing with me at something rude I've said, hugging me and holding me tight when the world feels frightening. 

Grief is the process of trying to accept that this is the second half of my life, the half without Mum, and it's a strange and complex journey.

I've been confused about how to do this grief journey. Tempted to give myself a hard time for finding it so difficult, Telling myself "it's been four months, Em, come on, Love, get better at doing this." And then I realise, it's been four months, sixteen weeks.  Hardly any time at all, and I am doing just fine where I am.

I know this will change, I know it will get easier, I know I won't always feel this way. But for now, it's where I am and I want to at least try and explain why I'm not smiling as much as I used to (just for now), and why my postman looks terrified when I open the door to collect the mail and he catches sight of my thatched barnet.

With love to you in your grief, if you are grieving, whoever you are and wherever you are.


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