Archive | November, 2012

Secrets of a grieving mum

21 Nov

I am at the fairground. It is bright and colourful. The lights are flashing and there is the sound of fun and laughter. Toby’s friends are there and so are mine. Slowly the rides start as I stand watching. They are spinning, circling round me faster and faster. I can hear everyone having fun and it makes me smile. It is the sound of life moving on without Toby. I can only stand and watch for a short time though and then I turn and see my boy smiling, watching as well and we walk away together. I am not ready for the fairground or for life to move on. I need to stay with my boy a while longer yet.

Some mornings I get up, I stroke Toby’s door and say good morning as I walk by. I pretend he is in bed. I can still picture Toby there, feet sticking out and looking very untidy. He is fast asleep, dreaming his dreams that were never to be. I can spend a whole day pretending. Some how I always manage to just miss him as he goes out to college or work or to see his friends. Some days it is easier that way as the pain just gets too much. It is impossible to imagine that I will never see him again, never hold him, laugh with him, tease him, never meet him for lunch or visit him in Topman. Sometimes I read through Toby’s texts to me, reminding myself of the little things we said and did, half conversations that will happen no more. It is like torturing myself, allowing myself to dream that they may happen again when I know they can not.

I nearly managed a whole day with out crying the other day. It was the day of the chickens! Distraction is a wonderful thing, it gives your emotions a rest. There is only so much that a person can take. I have worked out what the trick is. Its to always be planning something. Whether is is Pete the parrot, chickens or new floor tiles. It gives you a focus, something in the future to work towards. It is hard to maintain though as there is nothing else that I want, at least nothing else that I can have.

In Tesco today I walked passed some one who smelt just like Toby. It was so powerful. I wanted to run up and hug him but luckily I just stared. He looked at me and smiled and walked on, bless him, I wander if he knew?

You never know, one day I may walk past Toby’s heart, still beating away, having fun, living life to the full. I like to think that I will; how magic would that be!


Pearls of wisdom

9 Nov

I wanted to share some things that have helped me.

I remember going to see our GP after Toby died. He sat and he listened. Most of what he said I can not remember but some bits stuck in my mind. I remember asking him if it mattered that I did not want to eat. He told me no, when my body was ready it would let me know. This piece of advise freed me from the nagging and allowed me to ignore the pleas for me to eat. The GP was right as sure enough gradually all my senses returned and along with them the desire to eat.

The GP also told us that some people would step up to the plate and be there for us. They would not necessarily be the people we expected. Other people would not visit, would avoid all contact. They too would not necessarily be the people we expected. Forgive them he said, it is about them not you or Toby, it is about how they deal with death and extreme emotion. He was right. I am continually amazed at the strength of some of our friends (and they know who they are) who keep coming back for more no matter how bad my company is. Without each of them I would not be where I am today. I do not know if I would have had the same strength had roles been reversed, I hope I would as it has meant everything to me. There has been some people who have disappeared from our lives. I do forgive them, and also thank them. I do not need people coming out of duty or through guilt. That makes it such hard work for me. I find it so hard to make polite conversation and to be honest I do not always want to do it. I do not want to have to make other people feel better. I will say to them, if they read this, when you are ready we will welcome you back in our lives, but only when you truly are.

I have spent a lot of time at the church, wandering the church yard, chatting with new people in our lives. The vicar one day said to me – if you want to do it and you can afford it then just do it, you above all others know now just how short life can be. To that I would also add as long as it does not adversely impact on others. Grief can make us very selfish, and rightly so, we are so caught up in out own emotions that at times we forget those of others, either because we do not register them or because it is just too painful.

We have been seeing a counsellor since Toby died. My immediate reaction was NO, but I soon changed my mind, I soon realised that there was no way I was getting through this on my own. About a week after Toby died we met a couple who told us that there own child had died some years ago. They looked at us with great pity and said ‘it never gets any easier’. At the time I was so annoyed with them, it was the last thing I wanted to hear but now I am grateful as it motivated me. I knew then what I did not want to become. It has made me determined that there will be a good life ahead for me Graham and Stephen. Toby will always be with us and guide all we do but he will not paralyse us.

The counsellor does not make things any better, he does not take the pain away but what he does do is provide some one with whom we can share our worst thoughts without fear or judgement or causing distress. He makes us feel ok about how we feel and what we are doing but also checks out our reasoning and helps us ask ourselves the right questions. He has helped us not to fight the feelings but to go with them, to allow them to happen and develop as they need to in whatever form that has been. He has prepared us for things to come. He has provided us with a crutch to lean on and will do so for as long as we need it.

I know a lot of people have found it very difficult to know what to say to us, especially in those early days. The thing I learnt was that words really do not matter as there really was no words, just knowing people were there was enough. People who were willing to listen, over and over again, people who fed us, took us out for a coffee, just came and sat. I admire all those people, I am not sure I could have been so strong.

Another great source of support for me has been Twitter, from that very first night when I tweeted my way through it, to today when I consider some people who I would not know if I bumped into them to be very good friends. They have provided positive words at my most miserable moments, they have always been there when ever I have needed to ‘talk’. I have said it many times but the support of strangers is really one of the most powerful and moving things.

We were told very soon after Toby died that his death would change us. This is so true, it has and keeps doing so and you know what? #Tobysgift to us is that its not all going to be bad!


3 Nov

It is so very hard when your big brother dies. He is your protector, some one that is guaranteed whatever to always be there, he is the person who for no reason buys you a PS3 game, he is your world and your universe.

For Stephen though he was so much more. Stephen does not have the ability to make friends as you or I do, he does not get to go out and play. He is never invited round for tea. For him his universe is very small. It is very black and white. Stability and predictability are everything. We had never prepared him for the possibility of loosing Toby, well you wouldn’t would you?

When Toby died, Stephen’s world fell to pieces. Not only did his big brother not come home but he also saw his mum and dad fall apart. He did not like us crying, our pain was too much for him to cope with or to understand. He loved all the visitors though, all those teenagers that would come and spend time with him. They made him laugh, something that his parents were not able to do. I remember Stephen kept saying ‘its not fun any more without Toby’ and he was right. For us it is now very hard work to put a smile on our face and be cheerful. But for Stephen it is all he wants.

Stephen sees the world quite simply. I love that he still believes in the tooth fairy and Father Christmas. That complete faith has allowed him to create a whole happy place for Toby to be. He has no doubts about Heaven, the world has not had a chance to confuse this or create doubt. For Stephen Toby is in Heaven. He is with his grandma who makes him his tea. He has his pets with him – Theo the dog and Bertie the cat. Stephen just accepts one day he will be with Toby again; he is there waiting so when Stephen dies Toby will be able to look out for him once more. Stephen can totally accept that a rainbow really is Toby shining down on us.

I think we maybe all have something to learn from Stephen, don’t we.