Be you.

This blog is not an easy read, it’s a tough read but I hope if you do read it, you’ll find it is worth it. If you want to skip it then do it and don’t feel guilty!

It’s been a hard post to write, not least because I worry about how it affects those I love and know but also I have to write it …. for the people I love and know and also for those I don’t.

When your child dies…..and I’m sure for many other people who have lost a parent a sister, a brother a friend, a husband a wife, any loved one……but dare I say it…… maybe  even more so when your child dies and I put more emphasis on this because the point is so important……. for a parent…. our future is changed, forever, in that second.

When the consultant came into the side room of the hospital where we waited, in a part of the hospital I never knew existed, when as he opened the door in his blue gown, we held on to the one percent of hope, despite what we’ve seen, we hold on to the sliver that a miracle might happen, a miracle that might mean our  fourteen year old daughter has not died.  But.  When the door opens and you see the look of despair on the clinicians face, you see that despite his difficult job that this is one of his hardest days.  As he begins to spill out the words that begin with… I’m sorry…. you scream silently inside while at the same time inexplicably feeling empathy with this man who has had to tell two parents that their daughter has in fact, died.

In that second it isn’t only death.  It isn’t only loss.   As a parent it’s your whole future. Changed in that second. Gone. Altered. Disappearing dreams. Vanished.

I have mourned and continue to mourn for what I have lost, what future we have lost and this blog is about how I almost was not able to face the future without her.

Suicidal thoughts. Not something we talk about. Not something I’ve talked about much. I have a son who fills my heart and I would never ever ever leave him or hurt him and he is primarily why I struggled with the idea of writing this but equally young people need to know us older people aren’t perfect despite what we try to let them see, it’s not right not to talk about the deeply dark times – how else can they know it can be totally normal at times to feel this way and that there is a way out of it.

On occasion, over the years, I’ve allowed myself to imagine how it’d feel to be without the constant pain. Without the ache. Without the heavy tsunami of grief.  I have lived with the enormous guilt of these thoughts for the best part of the last five years until a very courageous person (thank you for letting me share this) confided their feelings of similar despair.  Of feeling suicidal.  Of not wanting to go on.   This person then gave me the confidence to share with them how I have felt on occasion and then during the last few months I have also shared these thoughts that I’ve had with three other people.  I have shared with them that sometimes the thought of not being here has passed through my mind.  I talked about the guilt.  I talked about the fact I would never do it to those around me.  I talk about how I wouldn’t do it but I had imagined it. I talked about how awfully guilty it feels just to have those thoughts at all.   I talked about how glad I was that I had eventually, talked about it.

Do you know what astounded me? Out of those people, every one confided in me that at some point in their lives they too had fallen to those levels of despair. Every one.  So, it’s either a huge coincidence or the truth is there’s a lot of people out there that have felt similarly and just don’t talk about it.

I thought long and hard about writing this blog. I know how it can affect my friends and my family and people I love but this is bigger than that. Suicide obviously kills. Predominantly it kills men and it doesn’t take much to work out why because men in general don’t share, don’t talk, don’t reach out. We have to find a way of talking about our mental health just like our physical health and we need to treat our mental health alongside our physical health. Understanding that what we eat and how we exercise and who we talk to and how we interact doesn’t just make us physically well,  how we live keeps us mentally well and sometimes we are all not mentally well, just like we can’t always be physically well.

When we are physically unwell we look after ourselves better, our friends and family help us or we visit a chemist, maybe a GP if it becomes worse and perhaps further on we may even need to go hospital. Our mental health is and should be treated just the same, however it isn’t . People don’t know if you don’t tell them and sometime people don’t know what to do so they stay away or they misinterpret your mental health problems for something else.. being quiet, being reserved, being moody.  Sometimes we need help for our mental health, that isn’t embarrassing to admit. It’s brave.

I got help.  Lots of it.  From multiple people – professional and not.  I still do.   I am very fortunate to have people who truly love me for the whole person I am. However had I not talked to them, they would never known I needed that help.

So talk please or if you are on the other side – listen please, because from my experience there’s a huge amount of people suffering in silence and sadly we probably all know at least one person who didn’t make it, someone who decided and went through with their thoughts.  Talking can’t solve everything but being silent solves nothing.  All it needed was for one brave person to open up to me about their feelings and I now feel I need to be open to others.

I’m well now.  Really well in fact. Happiest I’ve been in a very long time, I’m a little giddy on life and the reasons are many (x), with honesty brings clarity.  What I feel more than anything at the moment is that I am being me.  Truly me.

Be you.

Happy Sunday xxx

 

happy face

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7th May x 

It should’ve been my daughter Tes’s 19th birthday today.  My blog really took off when I lost her just over 4 years ago yet as I had an incessant need to write.  Over time my writing has moved away from the rawness of my grief and shock,  as anyone who follows it will see it mostly unintentionally focuses on a moment from my week, an observation, usually something hopefully encouraging.  


It is has been the oddest experience to feel unimaginable pain on a daily basis, to carry what feels like an immovable heavy stone in my heart and a permanent ache in the centre of my stomach but to also be overwhelmed with the desire to make the most of life.  

It’s just a little blog from me today.  I could write a thousand words about the awfulness of grief, birthdays are the hardest I feel – it’s a reminder of what isn’t here.  In Tes’s memory though I accept the utter hardship of it but I refuse for her memory to be about her end.  She had a great and fantastic life. One filled with love, books and passion. A life that made me proud and one that I remain grateful for.  It is hard to accept that was her life but that is…. life.  Unpredictable.  Not straight forward. Not as you expect it.  Which is why the urge within me to keep living and not just surviving is so strong.  

Tes had a poster on her bedroom wall – ‘make everyday beautiful’.  The meaning of that will be different to so many of us – be it getting under the duvet with a film, walking on the beach, reading your book, running through the woods, being silent, being loud, being alone, being with friends – whatever it is that might make our day beautiful, it’s worth trying to make it that day.

Have a beautiful Sunday xx 

Happy Christmas!! 

A short one today. Firstly whatever your religious persuasion.  Merry Christmas! I’m not religious. At all. For me Christmas means one thing… a time when people get together that little bit more often. Work colleagues gather. We all don hats and a dash of tinsel. Friends that haven’t been seen in too long visit and families give time for walks and games.  Communities gather and we keep an eye out for those that might not be so fortunate.

To finish, going forward I’m going to try  (hey don’t forget I’m not perfect I’ll slip up!!) … anyway I’m going to try and be a bit more vocal about what’s good about people around me and how they make me feel. I’ve had two or three cards this year from colleagues and friends that went that extra mile to say what I meant to them and I was so overwhelmed  at their kind words.  So I’m going to try better about being vocally kind! And I’ll start with you…. Thank you so much, particularly to those who’ve commented and messaged and to those that read in silence. It’s hard to put into words the depth of gratitude I have for you allowing and encouraging me to write. 

Lastly today will be one of sadness and an exacerbation of a void for some, I know for me my heart hurts that little bit more today as I visit Tes in a place I never thought I would. Love and hugs to all of you. Be kind to yourself. As I said to a very brave woman yesterday this getting older lark … And life itself…..certainly brings with it trials and the occasional mountain to climb, the thing is to make those bits in between the best you can. 

Lots of love to you all.
Happy Sunday, Happy Christmas Day xx 

What do you want to do when you’ve grown up??

Yesterday I wandered to the local garden centre. I’ve recently taken on a bit of an upcycling project at my new house in my overgrown garden.  I’m recycling old tins, spraying them and plonking plants in, hoping that it’ll divert eyes away from the patchy brown grass.

 

At the garden centre I of course got distracted and ended up buying coriander and parsley, I’ve a new love for coriander (have you tried it in a salad?!) and then I made my way to what I’d actually come for, some pretty little pots that would do the job in hand.

 

A young boy leapt out of his parents car, one parent spoke English to him the other Welsh. I marveled at his ability at the age of about four to converse easily swapping from one to the other.  He was very excited, he ran past the lavender and as I was smelling the coriander he shouted ‘hi’ in a very loud, excitable voice.  I turned around to his grinning round face and said hello back.  Loving his sparkle.  His innocence.

 

That’s when I thought.  In about 11 years time, someone is going to ask you a question and then you’ll be asked that same question over and over and over until you make something up just to stop them asking.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

 

What is grown up?

 

Aren’t we always growing?

 

I spent the best part of 48hrs this week with 16 year olds facing exam results, decisions about their future, stress, tears, laughter and of course adults continually asking them ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’.

 

I’ve done it myself but the reality is there’ll be a lucky few – a footballer, a doctor, a musician, a vet that’ll have it in their bones but the rest of us meander from one thought to another and worse than that we probably do know what we’d like to be but we mostly don’t think we’re good enough.

 

When I went to my career advisor at 16, he eyed me up with a look of boredom.  I didn’t do ‘well’ in school.  I wasn’t one of the naturally clever ones.  I didn’t sing particularly brilliantly either. I was ok at sport.  I was ok really at most things. I didn’t shine.

 

You’ll probably be a secretary he said.

 

And that’s what I ended up doing for the first few years of my working life. Nothing wrong with that but in my panic and viewing this adult as someone who knew exactly what I could do I didn’t aim for anything different.  I didn’t aim to be a lawyer, a journalist or a run my own business.  I became an office worker.

 

I still actually don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

 

What I do know is that most of the 16year olds, particularly the more miserable ones, did better than I did at that age at their GCSEs.

 

I did go on much later to do A levels and my degree in my 30s, finally accepting and believing I wasn’t ‘that stupid’ after all and actually I could be anything I wanted.  Anything!

 

Trying to get this through to young people is mostly impossible, particularly if they don’t fit in with school expectations and more importantly perhaps not fitting in with the needs for education establishments to fulfill their status.

 

I wish for a system that also focused on the abilities away from academia,  for those that take pleasure in planting a seed or that kid reading a book on astronomy, the child that relaxes while painting or another who is swinging a golf club at 4. What about the potential of the dreamer staring out of the window or the quiet one with an amazing imagination?

 

In my 4th decade I’m only just getting there in knowing what I might want to do….. and I expect that’ll keep changing as I keep growing up!

 

The truth is – we can be whatever we want to be when we grow up.

 

Don’t let anyone tell you different!

 

Happy Sunday everyone x

 

dice

 

 

A day

This week has been a roller coaster. 

A level results day meant I found myself on a warm Thursday morning finishing my walk at 7am with Tes. Pooch runs through the gates of the church and bears left.   She knows her way to where I sometimes sit to hold the silver teddy bear inscribed with a T as I chat briefly to the open air.

Tears involuntarily appear but are kept at bay all day.  I couldn’t help but feel hard done by, deprived. Today I felt sorry for myself.  

With that I genuinely was excited for all her friends who were starting new journeys.  But I wanted her to be on that journey too. As I said. Today I felt sorry for me. 

A person can change all of that though.  It was an exchange of messages that day that also simply said …call over if you like. I declined saying I planned to spend the evening under a blanket.

However at about 9 I decided to wander over and found myself at a mini gathering of family and friends. We sat out, giggled a lot and of course consumed a few vinos. Children played. Adults laughed naughtily. Presents were opened. Dark chocolate brownies were consumed.   

Like that, one person changed my day. 

It made me think how we can change a persons day. We can even change a persons life. 

On the radio this week I heard about a guy who had been hospitalised for 5 years with huge mental health problems.  His life has completely recovered. What changed him? Understanding.  Listening. Believing.  Compassion. Love.

I reflected on my week and wondered had  I had made a positive change to someone’s day this week? 

I did catch a large spider for a receptionist that was about to faint!! I also made mum a filled burrito and we sat in the sunshine with a large pot of tea. Hopefully I made the new person at work feel comfortable and I’m trying to be a listening ear to a friend in need. 

The great thing about trying to make life a bit better for someone else, as cheesy as it sounds, is how much better we feel about ourselves. 

I can change someone’s day. You can change someone’s day. Imagine the world we could live in!!

Happy Sunday everyone X 

Which way?

I was walking early (again) this week.
The sun was just rising and its burnt orange body partly hid behind lit up grey clouds.  We passed the spaniel without problem but a gang of rebellious younger sheep were in the corner of the field looking quite mischievous. Their heads poked through the fence as far as they could stretch. They clearly felt that the grass was certainly greener on the other side. For pooch this gathering was too tempting and in order to protect me from these hungry animals she quickly gathered pace and began barking at them from her side of the fence. 

 She’s about 12 inches tall. She thinks she’s 112 inches tall.

The sheep for some reason are scared of tiny dog and run away. However one is a bit naughtier than the rest and I hadn’t realised this leader of the pack had managed to squeeze it’s woolly oversized body under the fence. Panic set in and rebellious sheep made a run for it down the narrow leafy road towards the village, followed by tiny pooch. After a promise of a treat pooch strolls back towards me and I get her pink lead out while we sort out this sheep situation. Pooch is far from impressed.
I walk towards the corner bearing left and see the sheep about 25 yds away, it has stopped and is staring at us trying to make out whether the threat still exists. I squash us into the hedges as I try to create as much distance as I can trying to pass but sheep decides we’re too close and makes a further dart. We’re now at the periphery of the village. I don’t have time to walk all the way back so I have to keep going, playing the game with the sheep.
Finally the sheep takes a right and decides to run into the drive of a bungalow. I quicken my step in the hope that I can get by and the sheep will feel safe. Just as I get to the house the sheep has got its timing wrong and started to come back to the gate. The sheep literally has a look of surprise (somehow) on its face and takes a quick step back to safety. Pooch and I pass without further crisis and sheep then makes a run for it all the way back to where we first met this morning.
As I walk on it made me think about decisions we make. Decisions we have to make on the spot or decisions we linger about. The fact being that quite often there are only a limited number of choices and that we either have the choice to face up and make a decision, to hide and hope the decision goes away or to let that decision be made for us.

I had a conversation with someone this week about the age old saying glass half full or glass half empty. I was questioned about my positivity. Why be positive, I was asked. It felt clear that based on what’s happened in our family this positivity wasn’t really understood. What’s do you get from making a decision not to be positive, I asked. 
These days there’s so much stuff about mindfulness and positivity that it can sometimes feel we’re being dictated to being a perfect  all practicing yoga eating kale and drinking green tea with the gaze of *smug* oozing from our perfect natural eyes. Rubbish! 

Positivity to me is making that choice to *try* to be positive.
Decisions can be tough. 

This week I walked across a park and saw a toddler with golden brown shoulder length curled hair. She held her mums hand tightly. Trusting. She looked just like Tes at that age. I was in the middle of a field and for some reason in that instant my whole body was in pain from grief. I stood and looked. I didn’t move and my brain was tempting me to stay put. I imagined briefly not going back to work and just sitting in the field until someone asked why. And then I would tell them why. Instead I decided to take one last look. Then I decided to walk back to work. 

Just like the sheep we have big and small decisions all the time. Making it as positive a one for you as it can be has to be the best option. 

May Sunday be very good to you!
Lots of love x Dwysan x

 

Tes.

It’s an understatement to say I’m no royal family fan however this week it was hard to read how prince Harry hadn’t spoken about his grief of losing his mum until the last 3 years. I’m on holiday in Spain when I read his words and it pinches at my heart.
We’re on holiday. Without you. Again.

We laugh. We swim. I take pictures. I walk alone through graffiti walled narrow lanes. We play cards. We do the crosswords and we literally jump through (inflatable) hoops. We devour books. We sleep without covers and we sit on balconies. We find  new ice cream. We try different restaurants. We eat chocolate for breakfast. We get on trains. We take in the beautiful turquoise sea. We watch people. We drink coffee overlooking the beach. We buy a ball. We chat to strangers. We walk on the hot sand. 

None of this I do without thinking of you Tes. Yet it’s still hard to stamp on the guilt rising in my stomach. I read prince Harry’s words and I worry do we talk about you enough?  Sometimes I stop myself. I don’t want to hurt or saddened anyone but I’ve learnt people aren’t saddened or hurt or even if they are they’re glad to hear about you even if sometimes they don’t know what to say.
I was lifted to hear your nephew talk on holiday about how you were good at sucking up ice cubes from a cold drink and balancing it at the end of a straw! You come up in coversation a lot. Some of it doesn’t hurt. Some of it is painful and I find myself on the train wiping silent tears away as a memory catches in my throat. A young boy sees me and stares. I look out of the window.
It was a lovely week Tes. You’d have loved it. 

Whether you’re spoken about or not spoken about you’re in our hearts and minds all the time and always will be.
I love you darling 
Mum

x x x