A little over two weeks ago my mother in law passed away. She was ill, and we knew she was going to die but it happened incredibly suddenly when none of us were expecting it. We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, to give her one last hug, or let her rub my belly for the last time.
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. We’ve had family and friends visit and leave, we had a tangi for three days in what was our bedroom (we sleep upstairs now), we buried her at the most moving service I’ve even seen, and we’ve tried to adjust to life without her.
People keep asking me “how’s Guy doing?”. And I never know what to say. How do you find the words to explain that he’s locked in an invisible cage with bars that are sometimes there and sometime aren’t. He’s learning to live in a world where his mum doesn’t exist, one of the most influential and important people in his life isn’t here anymore. He’s struggling to accept that he didn’t see her on her final day, that he wasn’t with her when she died, that he didn’t tell her he loved her enough, that she’s never going to meet his children. Maybe those words exist in some language but I don’t know it so mostly I just tell them “he’s okay”.
The strange thing about grieving is that it’s so personal. No one feels exactly the same way that you do. No one has the same triggers, or the same reactions. There are periods, long stretches of the day where I forget and feel happier and more carefree than I have in a while, but eventually something will remind me and it hurts all over again. Sometimes it feels like it will hurt forever and there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. But other times I know it’s getting easier. I’m not crying anymore, there’s laughter in the house once more, we’re looking to the future and making plans.
Through the pain I have learnt and am still learning some lessons through all of this. Lessons that I will treasure for the rest of my life and that Guy and I will instill into our children as best we can.
Don’t assume that you have more time, you don’t. I thought I was pretty good at living in the moment but I realise now how many things I put off waiting for the ‘right time’ or just waiting until I had more time to do them. There were things that Lynn asked me to do that I put off doing thinking I had more time. Now I know there is no guarantee of more time, do it now, just do it now.
Accept people – flaws and all. There were many things that I didn’t like about Lynn, and many things that she did that I didn’t agree with. I don’t want to speak for my husband but I know he felt much the same way. Sometimes we focused on those negative aspects of her personality too much and they got in the way of us seeing all of the wonderful things about her. Her deep love for everyone in her life, her unwavering loyalty, her humour, her kind spirit…those are the things that really matter and those are the things that we remember now. I wish we had of remembered them, appreciated them and celebrated them a little more when she was still alive.
Love fiercely and deeply, and let it be known. You will never regret giving your loved ones a tight hug, a squeeze of the hand, a kiss and telling them how much you care for them. Even if they know – do it again, and again.
Let it go. Life really is too short to hold grudges, to cling onto negativity, anger and hate, to worry about things that you can’t change, to stress about things that aren’t important. Live life with an open and happy heart and surround yourself with people who love you as much as you love them and let everything else go. It really doesn’t matter.