Notes on Grief: What I’ve Learned

Since the start of 2022 I’ve not been able to write a thing really. In fact, this week is the first week I have properly, wholeheartedly, fully, and intentionally sat down and written something that is creative, over one year later. In 2020 the pandemic Covid-19 started this really changed life as I knew it, my son’s school closed, strict lock downs, curfews,  it was crazy. No doubt many of you in your part of the world experienced some of this too.

Then in 2021 my dear mum fell ill with cancer, and eventually passed away. I did write about it, during my experience of her dying I wrote a small memoir as I had a paranormal ‘afterlife’ experience following her death. However, the grief stopped me in my tracks, it impacted me in ways that I never imagined. Mainly my ability to really do my job and write. My mind was pulled in so many different directions about death and I had so many questions. I did learn a few things about managing grief, how to handle a love one who is dying, and trying to remain as ‘normal’ as you can once they have left you.

Get Prepared:

This may seem like such a strange thing to say but, ‘get ready’ literally in every way you can for your loved one’s departure. This will look and feel different for everyone. For me, as mentioned I had many questions about death that I had pondered before, such as the process and if there really is life after death.  When I learned Mum was ill these questions became a real focus for me, and I found that seeking the answers to them helped me to ‘get prepared’.

The best way for me personally to manage this stage of grief and prepare myself for my mother’s death was to read, read, read, and read more about the process of death. I didn’t focus on cancer and how this eats away at the body, for me part of my preparation was to understand what actually happens when someone dies, regardless of how they cross over. I found a wonderful book that put my mind, heart, soul, and nerves at so much ease. It’s ironic, the night I randomly came across the audio version of this book on YouTube, was the night Mum passed away. About no more than one hour after I started to listen. The Journey of Souls, by Dr. Michael Newton is a recommended read for anyone who has questions around the process of death.

Another way to get prepared mentally and emotionally for the physical departure of your love one is to remind yourself that, during their last days, weeks, months, and hours your job is to make them as comfortable as possible. Meaning, helping them to prepare for their own transition from this world. There were times I doubted the doctors, or  thought, ‘there must be something they can do.’ I had a real struggle with moving my mindset from ‘let’s keep Mum alive’ to ‘ let’s get Mum ready to leave us and make her comfortable in her journey’. This is a really hard thing to do, almost impossible at times, but one thing I have learned about managing grief is that you must shift the mind and emotions from battling to keep them alive  and caring for them in a way that you expect them to recover, to caring for them in a way that allows them to feel peace, at ease, and that it is okay for them to let go and cross over when they feel too  weak to battle themselves. This will of course look different and feel different for us all. For me, this meant trying to keep the peace with my siblings and not allow Mum to hear anyone in disagreement, stress, upset, etc. The last thing a person who is dying needs is to know that those who are caring for them in their last days are at war with each other. Things like forcing ( in a nice way of encouragement not physically) a person to eat who is literally dying and their body is shutting down, is something I learned  about as part of preparation also. As a person is dying clearly, they may want or even need the food and drink that may be prepared for them. Try not to be too pissed off about this, and allow them to take what they need and leave the rest.

Basically, when it comes to getting yourself prepared in the grief stage mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually one must prepare themselves to let go, and accept what is happening. I found that I did this a bit too late! And it hit me very hard the morning I learned that Mum had passed, as I left it to the last moment to accept what was happening, but comfort came from the book I referenced above as I listened to it the night Mum was leaving us behind.



It’s Okay to Do Nothing, Literally:

Like I said, at the time Mum passed I lost the will, desire, focus, need, and dare I say it even dedication to continue to do my job and write. Just before I learned she was ill I was in the throws of writing my last mystery novel published in 2021. I dead-ass could not find the creativeness that I had before everything happened. It was like I just lost it overnight. I was very hard on myself, so hard that I forced myself to write and ended up writing a load of rubbish in the process, and even abandoned a novel I was about 30,000 words deep into. I scrapped the whole thing. What I have learned is that grief will grip you in the areas that you are most strong in and tear you down. For me creativity clearly. Allow this to happen and if it means you do nothing, literally, then so be it.

This may sound strange, I can imagine people thinking, ‘ how can I allow myself to do nothing I have kids to feed, bills to pay, a job to do etc.’ yeah, I hear you. I had and still have all of that too.  However, you must be kind on yourself and allow yourself that time to do less than you normally would, without feeling guilt, regret, fear, or any negative emotion that may come along with this. How long this will last for will be different for each person.

 For me, that process and part of managing grief took about a year. I tried, failed, and then just let it be and didn’t write, market, or do anything with regard to my writing. Damn, I didn’t even post blogs, share other author’s work, or take part as a host in book tours for about a year. Today, was the first time I signed up to help out other author’s as a tour host and share their work.

The point I wish to get across here is that, you are going to possibly feel like you can’t go on, you can’t do anything, or that you don’t feel in the mood to focus on whatever you were focused on before your love one fell ill, and/or passed away. If this happens just know it is okay, part of the process, and you need to allow this stage of grief to happen. If not you will hit a state of burn out. Which, yes, you’re correct if you guessed this happened to me. I pushed through and really tried to continue to write to the point that I burnt out. Not only that, at the same time I was trying to home-school, manage my personal life, and managing all that happens when a parent dies and you need to manage their estate,  it was a mountain of stress! Don’t burn yourself out, it will prolong your period of grief, and prolong the feeling of ‘I don’t want to do anything.’ Just be… simply be… get out in nature a lot, reflect, go inward during this time of ‘I don’t want to do x’ and allow the healing to happen. You will emerge on the other side full of beans and ready to get back to whatever it was you were focused on, and even be more engaged, inspired, dedicated etc.

Make Note Of Your Anger:

Depending on the circumstances and how you learn about your loved one’s illness/and or death you may find you are angry. So angry that you could possibly do or say things you regret. You don’t want this. Anger is a normal human emotion, when a person is ill emotions run high ( for those who are caring for them), confusion, upset, there’s a lot of negative energy that can surface depending on situations. For me, as Mum had kept her illness from us of course I was naturally very angry and shocked. One thing I learned is that this emotion directed to an ill person, or anyone else for that matter is a hindrance  and does not help with managing grief.

 Anger can also be expressed between loved ones who are not ill, siblings etc. Make a note of why people are angry, yourself as well, try to understand why and then work through the anger to find resolutions. It’s not an emotion you can avoid totally but it is one that you can manage, so that it is not detrimental to family relationships, and the person who is currently ill, and your own emotional and mental health.

Once you can (try) to understand the root causes of anger, try to see what would reduce, ease, or even remove feelings of anger. In some cases nothing can be done, and if so the best advice in my experience is to acknowledge anger don’t dismiss anyone’s feelings of anger especially your own! Write down why your angry and explore the reasons privately if it is your own personal anger you are managing.

Then it sounds cliché but you really need to let that shit go! Burn some sage and clear the air! I’m not joking. Let it go. No one wants to pass away knowing people are angry at them or over them, especially if you love them. It’s also not a great environment to have anger resonating between those who are not ill, but are experiencing the same emotional upset over a loved one’s passing or ill health. Let it go, once the reason for the anger  has been established… I seriously mean it… let that shit go!

Allow Yourself to Think of The Future:

It can feel very strange to even consider ‘what next’ or the future once a loved one has departed. It’s almost as if you are frozen in the very state of mind, situation, place, location, etc you were when they passed. It is hard to see the future or even plan for it. I get that and this was my experience. Looking back, one thing I learned was when I thought of Mum and what she would want following her physical death, I know for a fact it would not be for me to remain frozen in time! In fact, one thing she made me promise was to ‘keep going’  literally she told me, ‘ if J.K Rowling can do it, so can you!’ meaning she wanted me to keep writing and follow in the footsteps of the famous British author’s success J.K Rowling. As I write this and look over at Mum’s picture to the left of me, I actually am smiling so much. I remember this conversation well, it was one of the last ones that we had before she lost her ability to speak. My point here is that it’s likely that your loved one also would want you to go out and be your best self, work on your goals, dreams, hopes, and passions just as you were (or with increased motivation) before you learned they were ill and/or about to pass away. You should do this. Clearly, allow yourself the time to be idle as mentioned above, then you must, must, must, return to your goals and dreams and create the future you want for yourself.

One thing death will teach you is that life really is short, I’m telling  you it is! Not a moment should be wasted. Mum was fit, healthy, and did not look any of the seventy years she was when she passed away. She could have passed for late fifties early sixties, apart from the odd ache here or there Mum’s health was good. Her time ran out, and it can happen to any one of us. Therefore, you must use the time you have here to create what you envision. Slowly, get back on your horse and look to the future. That new job, house, car, hobby you have had your eye on, allow yourself time and then go for it. I found it helpful to have something that you wish to complete, work on, or return to ( in your own time) as you go through your grief. In the moments when you feel ‘okay’ and not focused on the sadness that you’re experiencing, turn to this happy thought, goal, task, whatever it is even if it’s just in thought. Meaning you don’t have to take action yet, just think about it, contemplate it, write down what it is you wish to or need to do. Let me make it clear again, there is no need for action at all … I took no action hardly on my writing goals, instead I made notes, collected ideas, read a lot, and thought about ‘what’s next’ so I had something to return to. I hope you can find something that you wish to return to also, or even if the mood takes you during your down time or period of doing little to nothing while you process your loss.


Keep Their Memory Alive!

 I touched on this a little in my memoir  My Mum and Me, Messages From Beyond The Grave keeping a loved one’s memory alive, who has passed is a very personal thing. By this I mean how you go about it. Some religions, faiths, practices dedicate steps to this, for myself this is true my African-Caribbean heritage does not allow for those who have died to be forgotten. In my case, I have an area dedicated to Mum’s memory which is just to my left as I write this now in my new home! Before this it was in the room Mum slept in when she stayed in our old house. If this is something that appeals to you do keep your loved one near, pictures, personal belongings etc. Don’t hide them away, proudly display your loved ones who are now ancestors in your home, or even carry their pictures with you.

I have found this a great source of comfort and often talk to Mum’s picture as if she were in the room with me! Birthdays, Christmas, and special occasions may be hard for you emotionally. The year Mum passed just a few months later it was Christmas without her, and before that it was her birthday, my own birthday was just a few weeks before she passed also. It was hard, and it does not get easier I will not say that, but it gets more manageable if you keep their memory alive and not forget them.

I have had two Christmas celebrations without Mum, the first one I didn’t even put up a tree. This was so unusual for me and for my son to experience. At his young age he has never not known a Christmas without this. Last year, I went all out, I did not forget Mum, I remembered her around the celebrations, but I tried to continue as she would have ( and no doubt your loved one) would have wanted during the second Christmas without her.

I managed to do this by having her memory around our home already, keeping her alive so it felt as she is with us. Like I said, grief does not get easier, it gets more manageable. Looking back these steps mentioned have helped me on my journey to managing life without Mum, and processing her sudden and untimely death. I really hope they help someone else too.


5 thoughts on “Notes on Grief: What I’ve Learned

  1. 1st— I am so sorry for your grief, and heartship. 2nd— bless and thank you, for this. In the past 2.5 years I’ve lost 13 family members to Covid-19 and Cancer. We lost my dearest auntie Nita due to hospital nurse neglect and prejudice. 3rd— my son and Grandson both have a rare form of diabetes, that’s deadly. My heart has broken far to many times, to count. Last but not least, on top of all this I found put a week ago, that my brain fog might be the onset of early Alzheimers. There has been sssooo many days of grieving, like you mentioned. Your blog gives so many of us, suffering in silence… hope!Bless and Thank You, For This.🙏🙏🙌💜✨️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that is a lot of loss over a short space of time. I too am very sorry for your loss. Grief and loss are two things that I have never really experienced until now and I am glad the post helped some what for you. I am also praying for your personal health, you mentioned an early onset of Alzheimer’s. I have you in my thoughts, keep well and thanks so much for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I too am sorry for your loss, to lose them so close together must have been a hard experience. I really found comfort in the book I mentioned, it goes into a lot of detail about the death process, and depending on your views and how open minded you are there can be a lot of comfort and reassurance to be taken. The books is free as an audio version on YouTube also, check it out.

      Liked by 1 person

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