Living with Grief

Mary's story: a whole new world

Witnessing your mum go through such a tough battle makes you realise many things. Those hopes and dreams of having her there on your wedding day, being the best grandma to your children, your first heart break and many more are all taken away.

Portrait of a Motherless Daughter
If someone told me when I was a little girl that I wouldn’t have my mum around in five years time, I would have shaken my head in disbelief. My life and my mum’s life changed when I was just 13 years old, my mum, Lucia, was diagnosed at the age of 52 with stage 4 bowel cancer. Our world came crashing down, I was just a teenager who had to go from kid to adult in a split instant.

I had to witness my best friend suffer fiver years of countless surgeries, chemo and radiation therapy, sleepless nights and constant infections all to give her that slight chance to survive. Witnessing your mum go through such a tough battle makes you realise many things; one being that you won’t have your mum around for those special moments in your life anymore. Those hopes and dreams of having her there on your wedding day, being the best grandma to your children, your first heart break and many more are all taken away.

I remember so many times my mum would come up to my room, lie in bed with me and we would just talk about our life and the future she knew she wouldn’t be in for me. We were both so scared of losing each other. We were soulmates. Even though we knew what was going to come, we kept our heads held high. We would laugh and joke about it all because in a way, it’s a comfort for most to know even in our darkest moments we can still find the bright moments too.

I was 18 when my mum passed away and we were lucky she was able to pass away at home as my two sisters and I helped nurse her in-between palliative care nurses. After my mum passed away, the world I knew came crumbling down. I felt as though I was on my own. My dad and I don’t have the best relationship and my mum’s extended family never reached out to me, even though they knew how close Mum and I were. It was isolating and daunting.

I always had my mum to seek guidance from and all of a sudden I didn’t. I thought grieving Mum was hard enough until six months later when my dad and I had a physical encounter, forcing me to move in with my sister. I didn’t really have a stable income as I was a fulltime Uni student and now had to deal with the trauma of losing my mum and physical abuse from the only other parent I had. Not only that, he was also moving on with another woman and it made my blood boil at such a thought to disrespect my mum’s memory. The way he went about it was awful, and to this day I don’t forgive him for it. Although we have a slightly better relationship, he made my grieving harder and still does.

The one way that helps me process my grief is talking about my mum; her story, her life. It helps keep the memory of her alive, but when I’m around my dad and his partner she is no longer spoken about, it becomes this awkward abyss.

Although it has been the hardest five years of my life, the one thing I have always had is my sisters. They are my rocks. We have been through this journey together. Not everyone is so lucky to have siblings, but for those who don’t, know that a group like this is the next best thing to a sibling. We understand, we feel you and you are never alone in feeling the way you do.

The few things my mum and her passing taught me were:

1.    Always put yourself first. Prioritise your health and wellbeing.
2.    You are strong, independent and bloody brilliant at what you’re doing.
3.    Remember to find your way to express how you feel, whether it is painting, journaling, writing a letter toyour mum or writing about your journey, etc.
4.    You’ll have your good days and your bad days, and that’s okay.
5.    If you need to know she’s around you, talk to her and ask her for a sign to know she’s with you.
6.    Know that you make your mum proud every god damn day
7.    And remember, she will ALWAYS love you and will ALWAYS be there for it all.
8.    Lastly, you are your mother’s daughter.

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Motherless Daughters Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional owners and custodians of the land, sea and nations and pay our respects to elders, past and present.
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