You may have noticed that I’ve not been around a great deal in the past few months. Quite a lot has happened in my life in the past six months and at the time I didn’t want to share that but at the same time, I didn’t feel I could carry on posting about harvests and allotment up’s and down’s as if everything was tickety-boo.
So then, time to come clean.
At the end of July, my Mum died suddenly. She was 81 but of all her siblings, everyone agreed that she was the strongest and most likely to reach extreme old age. But now she’s gone and there’s so much I didn’t have a chance to say to her.
She had been feeling unwell with dizziness and nausea, but everyone including me, mum and her GP put it down to the extreme heat. Eventually, she was admitted to hospital with a suspected stroke but all the usual scans and checks revealed nothing untoward so she was discharged. She died of a pulmonary aneurysm in the taxi taking her home, at about the time I left a voicemail on her mobile. That she died alone, with strangers is one of the things that upsets me most.
As well as grief, I feel guilty. Guilt that I deliberately chose to leave my promised phone call until the evening, because I know how long hospital discharges can take and because I was driving home from Somerset (rather than driving to Lincolnshire to see her) but my mum will have just added it to the list of times when I just didn’t get around to calling her. Then there is the bigger guilt that we spoke so little; a handful of times every year. I don’t know how that happened; it crept up – all those little hurts and slights held tight and added together somehow created what felt like an almost insurmountable barrier. Ironically, in those last few months, we had started to find a way back to each other.
I was at work when I found out about her death. I was facilitating a leadership day with nurses. Up until that point, my motto was that trainers always go on unless attached to a drip or strapped to a bed – there were several minutes when I contemplated fixing up my game face and carrying on the day. As I left the ladies, my co-facilitator came in and asked if I was OK and of course, no I wasn’t. She hugged me, told me to go home and she would deal with everything. I didn’t feel I could just disappear, so I went and told the group and they all hugged me too. Why am I telling you this? well, it surprised me how much difference those hugs made at that moment and it came about because I felt able to shed my game face, be vulnerable and share my grief.
There’s more: after 27 years of marriage my husband and I are divorcing and the house is being sold, so all of my anchors are unattached. I confess that when I look to the future, I feel very uncertain and scared at the size of mortgage I need to take on in order to secure my future. I’m still clinging to the allotment, but I may have to let that go too.
I know things will work out, that opportunity awaits etc but right now I just don’t feel inclined to pretend I’m OK when I’m not and that is the very essence of being able to be vulnerable.
Thank you for lasting out and reading to the end xx
PS – if you want to know more about vulnerability, google Brene Brown’s TED talk
PPS – allotment chatter will resume shortly
I’m sorry to hear that you’re having such a tough time. My dad died by himself and it was really hard to know that. You’re having a rough year but I’m sure that you’ll get through it. Take care.
Bless you, so sorry it is such a tough time for you, thinking of you and sending hugs and best wishes xxx
Oh gosh, that was a hard read – you really are going through some dark times. So sorry for the loss of your mum, thinking of you. Take care xxx
Dear Sharon, what a tender time for you! I am so sorry to read of what you’ve been going through and am sending you a virtual hug too… I wonder if you can find some solace and perspective in looking back at your poignantly beautiful post of exactly this time last year: https://lifeonalondonplot.com/2017/11/15/wordless-wednesday-5/
And in Brené Brown’s terms, just by sharing this post, you are already “daring greatly” – just think what you will achieve in another year… (and by the way, please, please cleave to your wonderful allotment – it is so beautiful and reflects all your strength, creativity and resilience to weather storms and losses ….) – and besides, we would all dreadfully miss your inspirational updates! xRx
Dear Ruth, what a lovely comment, it means a lot. Leaving the allotment would mean finding a new one in a new town – just not sure I’ve got that in me… xx
My sympathies. Undoubtedly this must have been a difficult post to write, and I admire that you’ve done so as you have. Don’t let guilt consume you, as it so easily could, and take care of yourself. It will get easier over time, but there will be days which will be hard, as I know all too well.
Don’t rush any decision to give up the allotment as you may well regret it. Have what I call a holding year whilst life hopefully settles down and moves on positively for you. Take care. xx
Thanks Mike and you’re right, the allotment is continuity – just need a bit of financial magic!
So sorry for your Mum. Try to keep strong for her memory. Believe me, things get better. Take care.
I’m really sorry to hear about your mum. I think guilt is always part of grief. What you actually mean is you didn’t want your mum to die. That is all you need to focus on.
I’m sorry also to hear about your divorce. I have been through it, and gardening kept me sane, and connected with joy.
Thanks Ali, gardening has been my sanity for a while now…
First, sorry to hear of your mother’s death and your feelings around that. Second, divorce is hard but if you can hold onto your allotment, I would suggest you do. Continuity in the face of change is grounding and soothing.
Thanks Helen. You’re right I do need some continuity.
I’m so sorry to hear this, sending love x
Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to this honest and tough post. Not for want of trying, but tech problems with logging in for no reason I could fathom (prob at my end I’m sure).
I’m so sorry to hear about your losses. Losing your mum, your marriage, your home and your sense of your future all at once – just dreadful. I hope that you can let go of the guilt though. We all do what we can at the time, and we help neither ourselves nor others by mulling over what we think with hindsight we could or should have done.
As for the future, I expect things feel quite bleak right now. But if you can, you may find it helpful to have a (fantasy) picture in your head of how you want your life to be in 5 years time. It will take you a while and hard work to get there, and there will be many compromises along the way, but having have a sense of where you want to end up may help you with some of the choices you’re going to be needing to make.
Regardless of how you manage it, you have my very warmest wishes for you as you go through this most difficult of times, and my thanks for daring to share it with us. Deborah xxxx
Thanks Deborah for taking the time. Such wise words. I’m working on getting a picture in my head; I know the future is there – just working on keeping it in focus x
I’m so sorry for your loss. I do hope you are not too hard on yourself, as you had no way of knowing that you would not be able to be there when your mother died. That happens so often, despite our best intentions. Just let yourself grieve for your mother and you marriage, and know that it will not always hurt this badly.
Thanks Ann, much appreciated x