Bereavement & Me

This is where my story with mental health began...

I am a mother of two and grandma to five beautiful children, we have always been a very close family & my family is my whole world.

I have always thought of myself as a strong person, someone who is always there to help others be there to listen and help wherever I can, I have always put other people’s feelings and well-being before my own. It came as a huge shock and made me feel like a rubbish friend and an unkind person that during the events that followed, I found myself worrying more that they would see me crying or not being that person, they could go to and rely on, my world was crumbling around me.

It started really in 2017 when my very close friend passed away from cancer, I found it really heart breaking for her family, and struggled to come to terms with her loss. I started having this physical pain in my chest, I thought at the time I must have pulled a muscle or something, but while dealing with my grief for this lovely lady I was also dealing with the fact my sister in- law was battling cancer and seeing her suffering on a daily basis. I was trying to be there for her lovely daughters and support where ever I could.

She sadly lost her fight in the January of 2018, devastated the family and we all came together to say our goodbyes to a wonderful woman.

I thought constantly of the poor girls left without there mum, how was this fair she didn’t do anything to anyone, life felt so unfair. I did what I could to help support the girls wherever possible and keep in touch with them.

"I made a promised to there mum I would always look out for them"

It was a really difficult time for me and I struggled in my head, lots of mind talk going on.

Then in the April of 2018 my whole world fell apart my son had passed away suddenly, no illness no accident just gone, gone from my life, snatched away from me. I wanted my world to end too, we had to tell his children that his dad would never come home again, it ripped my heart from my chest I couldn’t breathe I thought I was having a heart attack from the pain I felt. I couldn’t sleep I couldn’t eat I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone, I just wanted to curl up and die but I tried to keep it together for my daughter, my husband, my grandchildren, everyone, but inside my head was exploding.

"Life would never be the same again"

My pain was so intense I was going to ring the doctors, (I later came to realise the pain I had was grief). My heart had broken.

In between all this my daughter had joined the police force and we had her passing out parade, I felt guilty because I was so happy & proud of her but then I was still so sad & unhappy my mind talk was none stop I couldn’t shut it out.

It was four months before we could have the funeral for my son, all that time, I worried about him being on his own, I worried about how his children will cope how will life go on how will I go on!

I chose to go back to work to help my mind, it was really hard because I couldn’t understand how people could still be so happy when I was in so much pain, I wanted to scream at them, I felt I was stuck in this limbo of sadness and pain, people just didn’t understand they didn’t know I don’t want to talk about what they did last night; I don’t want to know what they had for tea, I didn’t really care.

Before this nightmare I was in we had booked a cruise to go away with some friends and it had come the time to go, I didn’t want to go I didn’t want to enjoy myself I didn’t want to laugh and have some fun, it didn’t feel right I felt like I was disrespecting my son. we went on the cruise because I didn’t want to let everyone down and spoil there fun, we were on the first day of the cruise when my sons funeral song came on, I left the room to go cry I felt I shouldn’t be there all over again ,my mind talk was telling me all sorts of things, that night in my cabin my husband was sleeping and I went out on the balcony, I thought if I just fell into the water the pain would stop the mind talk would stop, but as quick as that thought entered my head in left as I thought about my family haven’t they been put through enough, who would look after them who would be there for them and my friends.

My daughter was also struggling to deal with the loss of her brother, and we talked about her going for counselling, she went, and it really seemed to help her, she started to do better which was great I felt relief.

Some time went on and my daughter said she thought I should go for counselling too, I was so upset because I thought I had hidden to her and other people how I had been feeling, I was upset she was worried about me upset that I wasn’t this strong person who fixed everything for her, I felt I had failed being a mum, I had failed to keep my son safe and now I had failed my daughter. The one thing I thought I was good at in life I wasn’t I had failed.

 I went to the bereavement counselling thinking there not going to be able to help me because I felt I was doing ok and what I was feeling was normal.

The councillor helped me understand and face some of the thoughts and feelings I was having and really helped me move forward, helped me deal with my mind talk, it wasn’t an instant fix it took lots of tears and hard work but eventually I could see a way forward I could see a tomorrow, it didn’t stop me feeling a huge loss or feeling sad that I missed my son so much but I could talk about him with bursting out into tears I could talk to other people and hear their problems, I could start to help other people again.

"I guess what I’m trying to say is its okay to not cope its okay to feel sad but by talking it though it helped me come to some sort of balance with my loss"

I was on Facebook one day when I saw one of my friends had got involved with a group called Unmasked, I thought maybe this is something that I could get involved with maybe what I have been through could help someone else, help them realise that is a good thing to talk through how we feel talk through our thoughts and feelings.

I guess what I am trying to say is that there are horrible times, truly horrible times in life but there is a way forward there is a future, there is a tomorrow, we just have to reach out and find our way forward, Unmasked has been my way forward helping others is what I do best, but don’t get me wrong there are still dark days where I want to curl up and not see anyone but I know there is a Hub meeting every Thursday where I can go and off load in a safe environment where I am listened to and not judged ,among people of similar struggles .

Its good to talk

Angela Wood xxx