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3rd March has a lot of mixed up felings for my mum and me. So this post is in loving memory of my stepdad, Neil.
For those who have lost a parent they will know how I am feeling. Or anyone that has lost anyone will know how I am feeling.
They say time is a healer, and for this, I’d have to disagree.
Time does make it better but it doesn’t ever heal this kind of pain.
I still remember the day my mum called me to tell me the news.
I was 21 and living in Glasgow at the time, trying to make in into Glasgow School of Art to pursue my passion for art. I wanted to be the next Frida Kahlo and had visions of walking down the Charlies Rennie Mackintosh building surrounded by arty friends that could feed my creativity and broaden my horizons.
I was living in an old building on Morrison Street and I was standing in the kitchen… I got a call from mum and I was used to her weekly sometimes daily phone calls for a catch up, or to remind me of something I had forgotten, to check I remembered to eat etc but this call was different.
She was very quiet and her voice was so shaky… I could remember was her saying the two words that shook my whole body.
And I laughed.
I mean, she HAD to be joking.
She couldn’t be serious, could she?
This had to be some weird joke that I didn’t get.
I know that was a stupid thought, cause who would joke about something like that? I just didn’t want to believe it. Neil had been the only stable father figure I had in my life since I was 13, yes he was a pain in my ass and we never got along whilst I was an obnoxious teenager.
But he loved my mum, had helped her through so much and put up with so much shit that I had thrown at him.
And hes gone.
As I am typing this up I still can not believe how much pain I am feeling, how much this loss hurts. I will always miss Neil. And I will always feel guilty for how I was with him.
Because my blog is all about honesty here it is; I used to severely dislike him (This is the part my mum wanted me to edit). I was a spoiled brat that was brought up by my single mother and I didn’t want to share her. I thought he was trying to take her away. But in hindsight he was helping her more than I ever could.
Mum has tried to explain to me over the years that my feelings were normal that my hatred against him was just teenage angst that i would grow out of. Which I did, but not soon enough. I wished I had more than a few months of getting along with Neil.
My partner at the time, LF bonded with him. I had always wanted a dad to vet my partners; to do the whole is he worthy of you bit that you see on tv, that embarrass daughters but they secretly appreciated it. Thats what I wanted. Which Neil did, in his own way. Since technically he wasn’t my dad I know he didn’t want to step on anyones toes. LF and I are another blog post all together but LF is so ingrained in my memory of Neil that I always think of LF whenever I think of Neil. And I know that time had an affect on LF as well, so I hope your ok too LF.
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Times not always a healer, 7 years later and I still feel the loss as I did back then.
They say there are 5 stages to grief;
They say each stage has a next stage and then goes onto the next, like flicking the page of a book. But for me I regularly go through these stages repeatedly, sometimes all at once or in the wrong order or a few at a time. They anger stage is said to be the one that seems never ending… that it “has no limits” and for me towards Neil passing away my anger has been replaced by guilt.
I feel guilty that I did not have enough time with him, because of my own immaturity.
I feel guilty that I did not see him for what he was; a man who loved my mum more than anyone and treated her like a queen. She deserved that, after everything she went through, all the pain and struggle. (That is another blog post again, I might even ask her to let me ghost write her story)
And that guilt comes from my anger at myself.
I have never pretended to be perfect – everyone that knows me knows I have made my fair share of mistakes. I am embarrassed, ashamed and guilt-ridden by some I’ve done. But not allowing Neil to be the stepfather he’d always wanted to be in my life is by far the biggest. I will always feel that way.
In a positive note I have found this experience is something that I have grown from. It has made me stronger, given me some hope.
Whenever people talk about loss or going through loss, I just feel this deep well of empathy. It takes me back to that time when I got the call of Neil’s death and I just want to help them. I know when that happened I leaned so much onto LF and those that Neil knew who also happened to be my age or old friends.
I want to help others, unlike my mum I know I did not have the patience or brains to be a nurse or doctor, but I did grow up in a family that wanted to help others; my mum, auntie, granny and even step sister are/were nurses.
And this is how I hope to help others; sharing my story. Knowing that when you loose someone time is NOT a healer, it does get a little easier with time but there will be certain times/situations that will trigger you back to that moment.
The most important aspect I found during this time was LF who would listen to me and hold me when I couldn’t talk anymore and all I could do was cry. LF was my person, LF was my go to when I felt overwhelmed.
But at the time what was more important is that not only did I loose my father figure, my mum lost her husband and it was more important for me to help her.
This is what I found helped;
- Listening; I don’t think people really understand how important this is for someone grieving. They are confused, lost, not knowing how to process it and sometimes to help them get there is to listen and help them reflect and find their own answers.
- Understanding; during this time people will say/do things that would be out of character for them. It is important to not judge them on this. This part is the hardest cause people need compassion but this part can take a long time, and sometimes people need a little tough love to help them snap out of this crazy phase to help them get back to their ‘normal’.
- Strength: This is so important cause when you are supporting someone during a time like this, there will be periods when they are feeling weak and can not fight battles that arise during this period. Everyone has family traditions that help with the grieving process. My mum’s family had a tradition of the body staying in the home until the funeral. My mum was worried about people finding that weird or talk about her and my reply was ‘screw them’ this is our family and if she needed to do this to help her then thats what she needed to do for herself. Or this can come in many forms.
Thank you so much for reading and hope it was not too much for you guy.
Hope this has helped you lovelies.