On 28th August 2022 my Mum died. Since that day I have felt traumatised, lost, alone, loved, grateful, angry, frustrated, sad, distraught, hopeful, most importantly uncertain. The time between her death and her funeral on 20th September feels unsettling and uncertain. I am mourning the loss of the life I had with my mum in the world and adjusting to my new life with my mum as just a memory.
I returned home a few days after her passing, after being away from my home for nearly a month, helping care for her with my sister, I was desperate to be home to surround myself with familiar sights, sounds and smells. Since I have been home however it does not feel familiar. I find myself waking in the night transported back to my mums house, and sometimes I wake not sure where I am at all. What once was comforting seems somehow distant.
I understand that this is just a period of adjustment, so to this end after a few days I arranged to access support through work. Talking about the strong emotions I was feeling to someone who is not feeling it themselves certainly helped. Hearing my words helped me make sense of what was happening. As I was speaking to my listener a metaphor came in to my head which made perfect sense, a metaphor I read in a Brene Brown book. “Talking about what troubles you, is like shining a light on the monster in your childhood bedroom and seeing it is just your dressing gown hanging on the back of your bedroom door.” It certainly felt like that, after speaking to her on Wednesday I slept much more soundly that night.
The next day Queen Elizabeth died, it was as if the rug had been pulled out underneath me. I did not expect the Queen’s passing to have such a profound effect on me. I never had a strong connection to the monarchy, I quite enjoyed the spectacle of royal occasions, but otherwise I was quite indifferent to the comings and goings of the royal family. However as a lot of commentators on the TV and in the papers have said the Queen has been an ever present in our lives. I have known nothing else other than being British and having a Queen as our head of state. Her image and title is ever present. During a time when I was going through upheaval and uncertainty, losing another ever present knocked me sideways. Now all of us felt disoriented. It seems irrational but I feel unsafe, a little lost trying to grasp on to another anchor, something to give me certainty again. I crave familiarity, but nothing feels familiar at the moment.
I was thinking about this last night in the shower. The need to see patterns in our life, to create stories about the world around us and how we fit into that world are so strong. That is why King Charles’ address to the Nation was important to reassure and provide certainty that life will carry on. Also the delicate balance between coverage of the ceremonies and traditions of state and broadcast of normal TV and radio consumption is important to create endings and familiar patterns of life are vital for people to feel socially safe and complete their stress cycle. From my perspective I have looked for a constant in my life that I can anchor myself to, and it is nothing new, it is something I have been practising for a few years now. I am not always successful at attaching myself to it, when busy looking for something to grab onto.
My anchor is me and what I value, as I reflect on the last few weeks of my mum’s life, I know I lived up to my values of courage and usefulness, and I found I could live up to them because of the love I feel for my Mum and my children. Those 3 weeks with my Mum were the most difficult weeks of my life, but the most important 3 weeks in my life. As I reflect back on those moments of tenderness with my Mum show me what my constant is, where my anchor is. My anchor is love. I show my love by being useful, through warmth and kindness. Sometimes being useful in this way requires courage to continue, but when I dig deep into that courage I strengthen the one certainty in my life.
Thank you Mum for everything! I love you to the moon and back.