In my mind, I’ve kept reminding myself it’s just another day without her but my heart feels differently.
Strange to say it is one year and two days since my mum and I had our very last conversation. It was partly a practical one about a care home and making sure she had a sea view, but we always ended our visits with ‘Good night, I love you, goodbye,’ a little tongue-in-cheek ritual in case that was our last chat.
She was back in our local hospice for the third time and had terminal lung cancer, not that you would have known. She had secondary bone cancer in her forehead (she called it her unicorn horn) that was causing her to have seizures and ahead of that third stay she had just suddenly lost her mobility.
The doctor assured me that afternoon that she was in for observations and the likelihood was that she’d be there for a couple of days until a care home had a bed.
The hospice was beautifully decorated for Christmas and my children had drawn Christmas pictures for Grandma that were displayed on the walls. I’d popped her Christmas cards up around her. She had a great view of the tree outside, adorned in festive lights. She was very content there.
The next morning, as I was sat on the bottom step putting my boots on ahead of my daily visit, I had an unexpected call from the hospice. Mum had started having a seizure and it had gone on for an hour already. They didn’t think she’d pull through.
In a flap, I grabbed my keys and dashed off to the hospice. Fortunately, my in-laws had come over for the day and were there with the children. Mum wasn’t to regain consciousness and after nine hours she was calm and peaceful for two days while she gently slipped away. I spent the last night with her holding her hand as she took her last breaths.
On her table, she’d doodled on the doily on her tray. When I found it, I burst into happy/sad tears. It was like a farewell message and such a joy to find. I was grateful nobody had thrown it away.
Fast forward 12 months and it feels like it was yesterday on the one hand, and a long time ago on the other.
Having used the tools in the Grief Recovery Method before she’d died and managing to say everything to her in person, and ask everything I wanted to know, I felt very at peace when she died, and that has carried on. But this last week has left me feeling wobbled, which has thrown me a bit. I know it’s a normal and natural reaction to loss and it’s ok. In my mind, I’ve kept reminding myself it’s just another day without her but my heart feels differently.
I hadn’t intended to mark mum’s ‘deathversary.’ I made a conscious decision to celebrate her birthday in July with fish and chips by the sea (she would have approved!). But maybe this first year we will get the photos out, share memories, light a candle, and pick the last of the alstroemerias to display (her favourite flowers), and raise a glass to remember one remarkable lady.
If you’re struggling with ‘deathversaries’ then please reach out and send us a message on our social media pages. We’re here for you and our grief specialists will always listen.
Maria Bailey is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist based near Torquay, Devon, where she lives with her husband, three children and two dogs. Maria uses the Grief Recovery Method, a short action programme via Zoom, to mainly help people who have lost loved ones to cancer and Covid-19. In her spare time, Maria is also a school governor and preschool chairman.