Yesterday was an important day in our grief journey and I made big strides, as it is the first time since Mum died that I thought that we will actually be okay without her. She has trained us well and we are stronger than we look , so we will survive and go on to make her proud of us.
Everyone and everyday will be different, but yesterday, I needed to keep busy, so cooking Sunday lunch for seven of us, was just what I needed. I baked a cake in the early hours of the morning , then from breakfast onwards, I was busy clearing the dining room – which has not been used as anything other than a store room since Christmas! – and preparing a feast of roast chicken with all the trimmings. My sister and her family arrived around 12.30 and we shared tight, lingering hugs with each other, showing how much we cared, without words.
Joshua was delighted, if a little overwhelmed, when our guests peeped into his Den at him and he leapt off his settee, giving me a bear hug then sharing them around. we have a sociable shared kitchen/snug space and so I was able to join in with the chat while finishing off the cooking. We toasted Mum as we sat down to eat together and I felt her presence there, enjoying the family party and being pleased that we were carrying on without her. As we ate, we shared stories about previous family occasions and exchanged memories together, it was not a sad meal, it was all about sharing. While I sat talking to my sister, my husband cleared the table and began washing up, which is the helpful role that Mum and Dad always took, whenever they stayed and ate here – there was always a rule when growing up, that whoever cooked, did not have to wash up – , so I was happy to let him do that.
Then most of us retired to the snug – two of the party had a siesta in the lounge – where we shared more stories, played with Joshua and gently began to explore some ideas for Mum’s funeral – nothing specific, but just exploring what we each liked and disliked in funerals and more importantly, what Mum would have liked. We drank endless cups of tea and didn’t move very much, but it was just what I needed. Our guests did not leave until after 7pm, with more bear hugs and cheeky waves from Joshua. Joshua played his part in the day perfectly, he seemed to sense that something different was happening but he took it all in his stride and he offered his Aunt many bear hugs of comfort. Luckily she only cried briefly, so he did not need to smack her, although he did give her a warning glance when she started to weep at one point.
I did not want to let them go, I wanted to keep what immediate family I have , close to me. But when they did leave, I realised that we will survive this shock: we are made with Mum’s strong character, and we will pull through and come out the other side. It will take some adjusting and there will be some dark days ahead, but we will survive them and emerge even stronger.