Grief shows itself in many different ways. Some people keep their loved one’s room exactly as it was when they were alive, never moving anything, simply keeping an immaculate ‘shrine’ to them. Others, clear out everything, until there’s nothing left (and sometimes regret it later). The truth is that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve.
When my sister passed away, I was the one who found her. The silence was a strange sort of one. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, but it’s sort of like your whole world around you freezes for a moment. It’s a little like it is in the movies.
My sister had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, among other illnesses. Her breathing was very poor, and you could generally hear her wheezing from across the room. When I came downstairs that morning, I couldn’t hear her breathing. I think I already knew then, that she’d gone. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I actually went back upstairs, without going into her room. I closed myself in my room, and I cried, and prayed that God would bring her peace. I prayed for strength to be able to accept His answer, even if it meant that she wouldn’t be with me any more, and I prayed that His love would surround us all in this situation, because throughout all of this, I know that He didn’t want to see me hurting. I choose to believe that her hurt was just too great, and that she was too tired. She went to sleep on Friday the sixth of October 2017 and just didn’t wake up again.
That day is not one I choose to remember, but it is one that is indelibly marked on my brain forever. It is a moment in time that I revisit every day, sometimes, multiple times (thank you PTSD), and one that I analyse to try and work out whether there was anything I could have done to save her. I don’t know if that feeling will ever go away, but I really hope that one day, it won’t hurt quite so much.
The people we lose, leave scars on us. They impact our lives, and leave a mark. There’s no avoiding this, and it is up to us to try and make sure that these wounds heal into scars. The what if’s, and the why’s all try to make us doubt ourselves, and we (I) need to summon up enough strength to be able to accept that this is something that is beyond our control.
I spoke to someone about my sister’s numerous suicide attempts throughout the years. I was always the one that found her, (thankfully, in time), and it got to the point where I blamed myself whenever she attempted suicide. I felt that it was down to me to prevent her from even trying, a fact that I never shared with anyone before today, but the truth is that only she could make that decision. Only she could decide whether to take those tablets or not. That responsibility was not mine.
I’ve spent months, six, to be exact, waiting for the inquest into my sister’s death, feeling on edge and terrified that it would either be ruled a suicide, or that I would be blamed for it. I’ve agonised over this for months. On the day of the inquest, I had to go under oath and give evidence before the coroner gave a verdict of accidental death.
The relief that shot through me when I heard those words. It’s been almost a month since the inquest now, and I still find myself wondering if it can really be true. I sometimes wonder if I will ever be over this, but the more I think about it, the more I realise, I’m not meant to be over it. I’m just meant to learn to live with it, without torturing myself with what if’s.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that, no matter how far along you are in your journey of grief, you aren’t alone. If you ever need to talk, just reach out to me, and I’ll listen. I’m no professional, and I certainly don’t have it all together, but I do have a listening ear.