Today it’s been 11 years since we (my family and I) lost my eldest sister. Her battle with cancer was short but it was lethal. Within being diagnosed a month later she was gone.
Each year I find the anniversary of her death difficult. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one will agree that the loss, the pain and the hole within your life never goes away.
I write this article as a way to celebrate her life, acknowledge the pain and also with a hope that by writing and sharing with you my experience, you will allow yourself the ability to feel how ever you want to, without any apology.
“Bereavement is the action or condition of being bereaved. Bereaved is being deprived of a close relation or friend through their death.”
Deprived we are. I felt deprived of the ability to talk to her, feel her presence or even talk about her because I never felt I could. I felt if I talked about her I would be upsetting someone and hurting them further.
There were a lot of reasons why her death was difficult some being that we never got a chance to save her and the decision was taken out of hands. I also I felt a lot of anger towards her. I felt abandoned and betrayed by her because she had always been my protector.
“Why didn’t she take better care of herself?!” “Why didn’t she fight harder?” “Why hadn’t the doctors caught it sooner?!”. I recognise now that I was suffering from grief.
At that moment I felt I had to finally grow up. I felt insecure all of a sudden, I felt like If I fell no-one would catch me. Like she used to.
Grief does weird things to our minds. It can distort our reality in such a way that we don’t know what or why we are doing it. The pressure we put on ourselves to be okay, to get over things quickly can cause us to suffer later down the line.
I felt like I was drowning and no matter how much I tried to swim I was failing. I couldn’t be there for others who relied on me. I withdrew and tried to act like I was fine. Everyone had their own way of dealing with the loss within my family. My focus went on my parents and their wellbeing.
I only felt like talking about her to the people that knew her, straight away I was closing the door on seeking comfort from people who were close to me. I had learnt to compartmentalise a lot earlier in my life so this was easy for me to do or so I thought.
But there was an anger brewing deep inside of me that I kept squashing deeper and deeper.
Years later I realised that it wasn’t the best way to deal with her loss.
I found solace in sitting with my parents and talking about her, which was something we did often. Sometimes we would laugh, sometimes cry but we would talk. Talking about her at times is bittersweet.
Regardless of what your faith may be, death does not discriminate, it is inevitable who ever is born will experience death and whoever is left behind the loss.
But now by acknowledging such pain, loss and sadness I find that I’m being more true to myself. This has helped recently with the sudden death of my mother. Where I am allowing myself to feel the loss. I am not forcing myself to be okay.
I think of my sister and mother with love and sadness but also the knowledge that a part of them both will always be with me. The years I spent with them, the love I experienced and the memories will always be something that I carry with me.
Dealing with bereavement can be lonely. You will feel like you don’t have anyone to share your pain with. You feel like you are alone in the darkness that you feel and no-one can understand. By talking to someone, anyone who will listen and be there for you, can help.
By seeking support you are recognising what you need, you are being true to yourself. Each experience is different, just like all relationships are different. But what brings us together as humans is the ability to be resilient.