The Stages of Grief

Today I’m going to try and write something a little more positive! 
(Amazingly I’m not angry ALL the time!)

I’m going to write a little about the stages of grief, from my point of view, and direct you to a few places that can help if you identify with my blog and need some more support.
The most valuable piece of information I was given after the death of my partner was that you don’t necessarily feel the stages of grief in the order they’re commonly presented.

Although there’s much debate on what and how many stages there are; it’s commonly suggested that death is followed by: 
– Denial –
– Anger –
– Bargaining –
– Depression –
and
– Acceptance –

I felt like I was supposed to fit into this model of grieving, I didn’t realise that our journeys come in all shapes and forms. I naively assumed that if I could just get through these stages systematically I could achieve acceptance and it wouldn’t hurt anymore…
I now realise that it’s possible to feel all of these at once, or in combination with each other, with the exception, perhaps, of acceptance.

Chances are you’ll feel depressed through most of those stages.
A feeling of anger may lead to denial or vice versa.
You’ll also probably find that the stages re-surface a little way down the line. I, for example, often finding myself relapsing (for lack of a better word) back into the denial stage. Although, I guess, it’s different types of denial. In the immediate hours and days following Jonny’s death there was a real sense of not actually being able to comprehend that he was gone and therefore not believing it. Whereas now, a few months down the line, I find myself struggling to understand how it can have been so long since I heard his voice… It’s so normal now to wake up in a state and then continue my day knowing Jonny’s gone that I almost don’t believe he’s actually dead…
That might not make sense if you haven’t personally felt that way.
It’s hard to articulate some aspects of grief.

Here’s a few things that helped me when I lay awake the night of Jonny’s death and struggled to cope:
Hello Grief – The Behaviour of the Bereaved by Emily Clark – this post is just an extension of the topic I’m trying to write about above.

It Happened To Me, My Boyfriend Died by Lela – This article is more specific to the loss of a partner. It’s a beautiful and heart-wrenching read that deals with the ‘he was JUST a boyfriend…’ remark that I’ve often had thrown at me.

Coping With Bereavement, NHS Choices – This is a more general outlook on the basics of dealing with grief.

Also, it’s important to remember there are resources available to you if you are struggling to cope such as Samaritans who offer confidential phone calls 24 hours a day.
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
I’ve used them myself, at 3 in the morning, drunk and alone, crying my eyes out, and take it from me: the lady on the other end listened to me cry, she didn’t judge, she didn’t ask for any details about me or my situation, she just listened and offered advice where needed.
They are a fantastic service if you’re based in the UK and Ireland!

So there, proof I can write posts that aren’t bitter and angry!
I’m going to try and be a bit more objective in my posts and not just rant about things… But from the start I wanted this blog to be honest about the process of grief and sometimes I just don’t have the energy to sugarcoat things…

Stay strong everyone, it’s going to get better.
It has to. 

Fake Friends And Fickle Feelings

Lately I’ve come to realise that some people were only friends with me because my boyfriend was dying.

Now that might sound harsh, but if you’re reading this and you were mutual friends with both Jonny and I yet you’ve not been in contact with me since… Maybe step back for a second and put yourself in my shoes.

The way I see it there are a whole load of people who were shocked, upset and heartbroken at Jonny’s death but I break it down a bit. There’s the inner circle – the people who’s hearts will never fully heal: family, I include myself in that group.
Next there’s the friends, radiating outwards like ripples; the best friends since childhood, the best friends from adulthood, the mutual friendship circles, the college buddies, old school friends, etc.
And lastly?
There’s the ‘hanger on’s.
These are the people that don’t quite fit into the ‘acquaintance, old friend, mutual friend of a friend’ group. These are people that like to think they’re in the inner circle. These are also people who use Jonny’s death to their advantage.
I’m talking about people who get a little kudos from being part of charity things inspired by Jonny’s memory because it makes them look good. People who know if they post something about Jonny on social media it’s going to get a lot of attention.
People who think they know how I feel because Jonny once got drunk and let slip a little emotion about his illness.
Worst of all, these people (and they are few and far between, obviously, the majority of people are understandably and legitimately grieving) like to think they know how I feel.

But lets get this straight, yes?
This is aimed not only at ‘hanger on’s but also all Jonny’s friends who were sad for a week or two but now don’t even acknowledge me in the street:

Do you wake up every morning and feel your chest tighten when you remember that someone you love is gone? Do you reach over in bed only to realise the one person you want isn’t there? And will never be there?
This isn’t a break up. My boyfriend is NEVER coming back. 

Do you spend each and every day biting your tongue when someone mentions something vaguely related to Jonny?
Because if for even a second you let your guard down you will cry.
Again.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night because you’ve had such vivid nightmares, stemming from the post traumatic stress of having watched someone you love die, that you can’t even cope anymore?
Do you still send Jonny texts or call his answerphone in the middle of the night?
Do you say goodnight to his picture before bed and cry?

But lastly…
Do you think what I’ve written above sounds crazy?
Or like I’m not coping?

If the answer to that is ‘yes’ then I have news for you, my friend: you don’t actually know how I feel…
(shock horror!)
And you’re not actually grieving on the same level because you’ve already got through that bit.

So maybe I’m glad no one talks to me anymore, because maybe it saves me from having to keep explaining myself…
But take it from me – if this was the other way round I would make sure you ALWAYS knew you were loved and supported and looked after.

Because it feels like shit when you realise no one wants you around without your other half…
That’s how I’ve been made to feel.
Because some people were only really my friend because my boyfriend was dying…

Time To Change

Last night I drank like a 16 year old having her first taste of rebellious freedom.

I drank until I was sick.

And then I drank some more.

And do you know what?
I’m just not okay.

I feel like I’ve spent a few weeks wanting to be ‘fine’ so badly that I started pretending I was ‘fine’ and then I started believing that I was ‘fine’. But I’m not.
Not yet, anyway.

I didn’t plan to get drunk. I’m not a party person, I rarely drink, I don’t abuse alcohol or drugs. That’s not my release.
I don’t know what is.

I started with a harmless cocktail after going to the cinema with a friend. I had a pint or two in a local bar and then I went home. I picked up 2 bottles of wine on the way and when I got in I went and found a bottle of whiskey I bought for Jonny’s funeral.
I was buzzing, non stop chatting to my sister; talking so fast and changing the subject so often she couldn’t keep up.
That’s a combination of my medication and alcohol. It’s not a good mix. It’s why I don’t drink. I feel terrible enough every morning I wake up, why would I want to add to that?

And then I was hysterical. I don’t remember much but I was inconsolable. I was screaming Jonny’s name in between vomiting. I was begging my sister to let me die, to help me die…
The rest is pretty cloudy but I woke up this morning, half dressed, in a sick stained bed. My floor had vomit over it. I’d spilt a cup of water across the things I’d saved from the funeral; my notes, the service programme, sympathy cards. My hair was greasy and my make up was smeared. My face was puffy and blotchy from crying. Everything stank of vomit, alcohol or stale cigarette smoke.
That was a low.

I’ve gained perspective (and a hangover).
For someone who’s the polar opposite of any generic ‘skins’ character, I’m not used to waking up in a state after a wild night of excitement….
This was just waking up in a state having drunk myself stupid to try and drown out the pain in my head.

In that moment, I hated myself more than I ever thought I would.

I’m not okay.

This has to change. 

Everything Changes

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my so called ‘friends’.

Now Jonny and I were surrounded by wonderful people.
And I, of course, still am. Though that has dwindled considerably. His family are still an amazing support and I adore them all. My family have been incredible also. There are a select few close friends who have done an incredible job and I think it’s important to highlight how much they’ve done for me; phone calls, cheer up tweets and endless rants on facebook chat. 

Although for me it’s felt like the longest two and a half months of my life, it’s important to remember it hasn’t even been that long since Jonny passed away. So much has happened in that time it feels like forever since I last saw him walking and talking and smiling.
But in the grand scheme of things I’m still on the first leg of a very long journey.
And I don’t expect people to remember every little thing.
And I don’t expect people to always be treading on eggshells around me.
But it’s definitely hard that for some people; they literally cannot understand why I’m still so sad all the time.

It’s become abundantly clear that some people were only actually friends with me because my boyfriend just died and really that’s what this post is about.

In any life situation where two people become separate; whether best friends fall out, relationships break up or someone dies, it’s inevitable that some of your mutual friends will take sides or drift away.
But it’s still come as a shock that some people have gone as far as to exclude me completely from their circles now that Jonny’s gone and it’s all over and done with (in their eyes).

I thought I’d be spending the new year with a close group of mine and Jonny’s mutual friends. But what actually happened was they all had a party and I wasn’t invited. They spun me some silly excuse about how they thought I’d find it too hard without Jonny. But in actual fact I felt like the stupidest person in the world thinking that I’d be able to say goodbye to the hardest year of my life with people I thought were my closest friends. Instead they said good bye to the year (and not Jonny, because luckily for them they’re able to move on faster than lightning) and I sat alone at home and cried my heart out for half the night until I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.

This is just one of the many cases where people have backed away now that I’m not ‘interesting’ anymore.
I’m clearly not worth their time as a unique individual person, without Jonny.

In the spirit of the new year I am course going with a ‘f*ck them’ attitude and trying to leave it all behind me. I have far bigger problems in life that some silly, ignorant youngsters.
But it’s easier said than done.
It still hurts.

Sometimes I go all day without even speaking to anyone out loud.
I feel so abandoned lately.
I know that, on the most part, people haven’t set out to make me feel that way.
And I know I isolate myself.
But I feel there are so few people left I could turn to in confidence. Because evidently those I thought would always be around were only really in it when it was dramatic and interesting. Now that it’s just heartbreak, grief and the very real world of depression it’s not much fun for them anymore… *sarcasm*

But there we go. A slightly bitter post about friends, or lack there of in my case. My life is all change at the moment and I’m sure I’ll blog more about things as they become relevant. At the moment I’m just trying to get out of bed each day and not sleep til 2:30pm…. 
It’s a start, I guess.

I’m Still Here

Morning wordpress…

Sorry it’s been a while. I hit a low point, lower than ever before. I didn’t even want to be part of this world let alone part of a blog.

But here I am; still here. 
Somehow.

I lit candles for Jonny last night, I placed them around his picture and in that moment I felt lower than I’d ever felt before. I hit depths of sadness I didn’t even know existed. I curled up in bed and I was distraught, completely. A mess of tears and snot and hair. I just couldn’t stop. Eventually I cried myself to sleep and woke up this morning with the heaviest heart full of disappointment at the fact I was still here.

I don’t think anyone ever really prepares you for the fact that grief just keeps getting worse. I’m sure there’ll come a point where it’s reared it’s ugly head so much that I start to move forward again. But for now the analogy that grief is like the sea; it comes in waves, has never been more apt.

I got myself a job.
I went straight into full time work and didn’t look back. I didn’t tell them why I wasn’t at uni or hadn’t had a job for months, I didn’t tell them anything. I just got up on my first day and went in like I was the happiest girl on earth.

But sure enough, that took it’s toll. Going from nothing to everything was not the soothing distraction I had been promised. Everyones chorusing of ‘get back out there, get a job, it’ll give you purpose, a distraction’ was, quite frankly, a load of crap. Yes, it is a distraction, but it just means the come down when I get back home and realise I am alone again is even bigger than before.

I find myself crying on the bus in the morning, crying during work, crying in starbucks as I order my coffee. This is certainly not the life of strength and forward moving that I was led to believe it would be.

Mainly I think I get upset because a little part of me knows that I am, in fact, moving forward.
And I don’t like that.
It’s not fair.
Why does my life get to continue when Jonny’s didn’t?
The more normal everything slowly becomes the more the guilt weighs heavy on my shoulders. How can I be normal? How can I get up and go to work and pretend nothing is wrong when Jonny is dead? HOW?!

It’s such a long road, and it just stretches endlessly in front of me.
It’s relentless.

I’m sure it gets better eventually. It must do.
Surely….

Candles In Memory

Are You Over It Yet?

Things have been tough lately… Which is probably the understatement of the century.

Since passing the month mark the majority of people, most who didn’t know Jonny that well, have got back to their own lives. The obligatory ‘here anytime you wanna talk babe’ moment has passed and I now get flashed the look of ‘well really you should start just being fine again now….’.
It’s maddening.

It’s obviously completely understandable that those who didn’t know Jonny or who weren’t as actively involved in his life as I was have moved on completely now. That’s just how it works and I’m not angry at people for checking I’m okay once and then never mentioning it again.
It’s just frustrating when some people feel the need to point out the fact that I’m still upset about it….
Some people just can’t get their heads around the fact that grief is a lifelong thing…
You don’t get over it, you get used to it.
I spent three years with Jonny, and two of those were caring for him through terminal illness. I gave up my university ambitions, I gave up on nights out, I pushed friends away because I was never around. And then in the last few weeks I sat by his bedside 24 hours a day; panicking at every struggle for breath, kissing every inch of him while I still had the chance, cleaning his own sick off of him and crying so much my eyes were raw. It’s ridiculous to expect me to ‘get over that’ in a month.

So that’s where I am at the moment. I guess some people might think I’m in the ‘angry stage’ but honestly it changes on a daily basis right now.
I am trying, despite what some people think, it’s just hard. 

And I won’t let anyone take the struggle away from me – I’m hurting and it’s been a horrible, tough journey and I’m allowed to be a bit down about that!

Time

On Thursday it was a month since I said my final goodbyes to Jonny.

At the 24 hour mark I genuinely thought I’d never make it to a month.
But here I am.

I’m ticking along. Just. I still find it near enough impossible to get up in the mornings but I know I need to move forward. I’m completely broke and the lease on my flat in London runs out next week. I need to get my act together. I don’t want to.
But I don’t really have a choice.

I’m still staying at home with my mum. I sleep all day and agonise over memories all night. I talk to my picture of Jonny rather than talk to people in real life. At one point I hadn’t left the house in five days and I hadn’t even got dressed for the majority of that.

I was going to spend a night in Jonny’s room at the beginning of this week.

I know some people feel that I got the better end of the stick because Jonny’s illness allowed me to say everything I wanted to.
It doesn’t matter how much time you have…. You can never say enough. I still regret almost everything I did and didn’t say.
Because of the nature of his illness I spent a lot of time sleeping awkwardly curled up in a chair by his hospice bed. I never got a last cuddle because he was so ill. I think when someone dies suddenly, for all it’s cons, you’re more likely to remember the lasts of things. Whereas with Jonny getting progressively more ill, odd situations like half sleeping in a medical chair with all his beeping machines around me became normal.

I can’t remember the last time I spent a normal night with him. He was so ill in the last month or two I often wasn’t able to stay at his as I’d be up all night caring for him when I did.
I almost felt I owed it to myself to sleep in the bed we shared for 3 years one last time.
But when I got there, the reality hit that I would be sleeping in a big cold bed.
And I’d be very, very alone. 

So I couldn’t do it.
Five minutes standing in his room had me in floods. It was cold and empty even though it’s full to the brim with his belongings and possessions.

It’s still something I’d like to do.
Maybe eventually.
Maybe one day.
Just not yet.

It all takes time. An awful long, bloody time…