My mum died in October 2011, nearly two years ago. God, that makes me feel sick to write that. Some times I still want to turn around to someone and say “My mum died you know”. I want to put everyone on pause, for life to stop, just for a moment, just so I can take comfort in a collective recognition of this enormous, eternal loss of the most important person in my life. People often mistake this desire for a need for sympathy, or pity. It’s not; far from it. I don’t want a sympathetic look, hug, or apology. I just sometimes want to go “fucking hell, my mum is dead” and for someone else to share that moment with me.
It has been an extraordinary year and a half, for all sorts of reasons, but not least in seeing how the response to grief and death has changed. In my small, limited experience, it feels like since my mum died and I started writing a book about grief, everyone is suddenly talking about it. Obviously that is not true, but there has been a rather big leap made in society in the last year or so in its’ dealing with death and bereavement. There’s an article in almost every Sunday paper about someone’s experience of grief. People are talking openly about it on radio shows, blogs, twitter, exhibitions; In fact, the one at the Wellcome Collection had a skull as its marketing poster. If that’s not shoving death in the face of society then I don’t know what is. It’s amazing, it’s a brilliant, necessary and positive thing.
My version of this confrontation was to start volunteering at the hospice where my mum was a patient. Most people who know me will know that I really like to understand everything at all times, even if it’s a film that’s just started and that no-one else has seen, I will ask questions about the story from the moment the opening credits start. Without actually dying, which wouldn’t be very helpful for anyone else, volunteering at the hospice was the next best way for me to get to confront death and dying.
So this is my way of recording and sharing that process…this is where I shall tell you about the work at the hospice and the lessons I learn from the patients. This is where I get to know death.
5 thoughts on “Lets talk about death baby”
Death is a part of life that we will all take. It’s not just us to have to take it but those that we live behind. It’s the only certainty in life and should not be feared nor embraced but accepted when it comes.
My mum passed away in September 2011 and I have the same feelings you mention at the beginning. “My mum died you know” and I also want to “put everyone on pause, for life to stop, just for a moment, just so I can take comfort in a collective recognition of this enormous, eternal loss of the most important person in my life.”. If English was my first language I could write every single word you just wrote. Thank you for sharing your experience and your feelings. I’m at work now (mum passed aways after having ALS and now I work with patients with parkinson’s disease) and you’ve just helped me to recognised another person who has the same feelings I experience every single day. Big cuddle from Madrid 🙂
Annie, I love your post. I totally get the feeling of wanting to talk about your mother’s death, but not wanting others to feel you are awkwardly trying to solicit pity. I think that’s what makes blogging so therapeutic for me. I can put it all out there without anyone giving me the sympathetic head tilt.
Also I think it’s really brave of you to volunteer at the hospice where your mother was a patient. My mother died in hospice and to this day I say this is the one job I could never do…it’s still just too painful.
Loosing your Mum is a huge thing, yet to happen to me but I can begin to imagine as I lost my Dad last year.
Totally with you. It may be over two years now since my mum died unexpectedly but on the 2nd anniversary of her death last year I still couldn’t believe my company had the gall to be holding their Christmas party that night of all nights (the last Friday before Xmas – a date booked long before I’d even joined the company. A pretty good day for an office party. They’d done pretty well really!).
For me it was still such a momentous occasion that I really struggled to understand how the world expected me to be in a party spirit that night. For that time all I could think was “how did these people not magically all know how significant this is?!”. I stayed for a drink but made a swift exit, feeling impressed by my ‘bravery’ before something random – a lady wearing the same purple coloured scarf my mum was so fond of – triggered off a train journey of tears.
It’s only in the last 6 months I’ve even felt comfortable telling people she died . That’s progress at least. So I’m hoping the 3rd anniversary will be easier…