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. 

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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!

The Hardest Day Of My Life

The Funeral.

So in a flourish of stars, sunflowers and hats we laid our Jonny to rest.

It was an amazing turnout, the crematorium was packed out almost everyone had bought single sunflowers as requested and customised their outfit in some way to include stars. Everyone was in hats, including silly, mad and homemade headpieces. It was quite a wonder to behold.

The funeral service itself was awful and wonderful in equal measure.
I was travelling with the family in a car behind the hearse. Waiting to see the coffin with my own eyes was my worst nightmare. I was most scared of seeing that box and knowing my baby was inside and I couldn’t touch him or see him. It’s bringing me to tears just writing this.

The florist messed up my flowers. The family requested no flowers and allowed me a special wreath; so that it would stand out (considering everyone was bringing single sunflowers to carry they didn’t want hundreds of bunches to bring home).
A week ago I ordered the most beautiful customised star shaped wreath with sprays of sunflowers throughout. It cost me a lot of money…
The hearse arrived and my flowers weren’t there.
It wasn’t like I needed an extra reason to cry, but I really started wailing and gasping through tears. The coffin just looked so bare without my flowers. I was so angry and sad and I just kept thinking how much I was letting Jonny down. All I wanted was for this day to be perfect and now it felt ruined.

The hearse was followed by the car with the family (his parents, sister, her boyfriend, myself and my mum for support). A second car followed carrying his band mates and their girlfriends and behind them was a smaller car with his 3 childhood mates and a close friend of the family.

The hearse parked up in front of the family home. Jonny had always wanted to come home and this was as close as we got to fulfilling his wishes.
I was on edge the whole way to the crematorium, silent tears flowing constantly as I stared blankly out the window.

Just before we arrived the boys from the band, their girlfriends, and Jonny’s childhood friends got out and flanked the hearse, sunflowers in hand, as it proceeded to turn into the crematorium followed by the family car.
That was when it really got me. I just kept thinking how wrong it was to see 21 year olds walking their beside their best friends body to pay their final respects.
We turned the corner and it was such a sight to behold people lining the road, a crowd of mourners in funny hats and a sea of sunflowers swam into my teary vision.

It’s not right when the amount of young people at a funeral almost outweighs the proper grown ups…

The service was incredible, as a musician Jonny was carried into his own song. There were 5 speakers including myself. Though how I managed it I’ll never know. I only said a few words. I faltered completely on the first line and all I could hear was the celebrant asking if I wanted him to read it. I choked through it because it was so important to me to say it. I stood with his best friend who read after me and then I kissed the lid of the coffin because I knew that was the last time I’d ever be that close to my boy.

The closed the curtains and he went out to Johnny B Goode.

I don’t think there was a single second in that room that I wasn’t in tears. Everybody remarked on what a lovely service it was and how rock and roll and joyful it had been, for a funeral.

It was a lovely send off for a lovely boy.

It was also closure and finality, and that scares me. Everything changes now, more so than before. It still blows my mind how the love of my life is now ash and dust. I got through yesterday because I had to, not because I wanted to.

I hope that wherever Jonny has gone he’s sleeping tight. 

But more than anything, I hope it comes across on this blog, in my everyday life, and when I spoke yesterday, just how much I loved that boy. I would’ve done anything and he was worth it.

Rest peacefully Jonny Walker. ❤

Okay, I Hope.

I’m okay. 
Kinda.

I’m still going.

Though my friend put it beautifully when she suggested that life right now is just a series of distractions to keep our minds occupied from reality.
I spend my time either thinking about Jonny, or not thinking about him then feeling huge waves of guilt that I let him, somehow, slip my mind…

I’ve been making my own funeral dress. I don’t know if that sounds weird to some people? Jonny wanted stars and I wanted to give him everything. Turns out stars are quite hard to come by, especially black, funeral appropriate dresses also featuring stars in an equally sombre colour like white, that will be delivered in time AND fit me…
So I decided I’d make my dress. And I’d cover it in stars. And it would be completely appropriate and perfect and fitting and a unique tribute for my boy.

Jonny always loved when I was making things; over the years I’ve knitted him hats, made him personalised cards, customised clothes he already had in his wardrobe. He loved it, and so did I. Before he died I’d got into quilting. Jonny commissioned a big London themed quilt he could snuggle in during his winter months of chemo. Months we still believed he had ahead of him….

I didn’t finish the quilt. 

It’s one of those things now, that I use against myself. When I’m feeling bad, or down, I remind myself how excited Jonny was for the quilt that I would NEVER finish in time…. I bought it to him in the hospice, it was about big enough to cover his torso but had pins sticking out of it and no padding. I laid it across him whilst he slept each night just so I knew in a way, he’d had it.

He must have known something was going on.

He didn’t understand why everyone was coming to visit him or why I’d bought in all these things for him when I was supposed to be back in London going to uni each day…

No one ever told him what was going on. Not directly. He rarely asked. He knew. I’m sure he did. He knew he was dying and that upsets me a great deal.

I just hope he wasn’t scared. Or regretful. Or sad that his life was coming to an end. I hope he wasn’t worried about us; his family, me. I hope he wasn’t thinking about all the stuff he’d miss out on. I hope he wasn’t panicking over whether he should’ve been more religious. 

I hope, with all my heart, that he was’t frightened. That if he really could hear our voices that we soothed and comforted him. I hope he heard me repeatedly say I love him towards the end. I hope he heard us give him permission to let go.

I hope he’s happy now, I hope he’s safe and at peace. I hope he isn’t missing us and can’t see the pain and destruction that’s been left behind in the wake of his death.

I hope I see him again one day.

And I hope there’s a future where I’ll be okay.

I Just Want To Feel Something

I had my first big break down today.
My first mental moment.
And I know it won’t be the last…

This morning I did my best to smash up everything I own. I didn’t get very far. I’m staying with my mum so I don’t have many personal possessions on me. What I did have was a lot of hair and makeup products which I threw at walls. Not nearly as satisfying as I feel breaking something would have been.

I totally lost it. One minute I was brushing my hair in my mums room, the next minute I’d gone crazy; punched every available surface and was effing and blinding my broken heart out.

I shouted at everyone to get away from me and get lost. At the top of my voice I announced, to probably the whole street, that I was ‘done with life’ because it was ‘too hard’. I roared and wailed and shouted as much as my lungs would allow and then I cried. I curled up on the floor and howled whilst trying to carpet burn my wrists.

I crawled into my room and repeatedly bounced my knuckles and wrists off the wall until I’d bruised most of my hand.

Then I got into bed with a framed photograph of Jonny pulled up to my chest and sobbed silently with every ounce of energy I had left in me.

I just wanted to feel something.
I needed to be angry and I needed to hurt because what I was feeling inside was too much.

I thought my mum would be furious at me for having a melt down, but when I eventually found it in me to get up again she just came and gave me a hug and we said no more about it.

I had read that people tend to lose it now and then during the grieving process but what struck me was how seemingly out of the blue it had come. I don’t know if I had been repressing something, not allowing myself to be as angry as I was or trying to stay dignified.
Whatever it was hit me like a train and bowled me over completely.
It took any glimpse of positivity, hope or future from within me and slapped me round the face with it.
It winded me, floored me and completely annihilated any rationality inside me in that moment.

My anger took everything from me. 
And left me to fend for myself in the big wide world of adult emotions.

Worst of all? I feel like I didn’t let enough out, I feel like I still forced myself to try and stay restrained, trapped in my own messy mind.

I want to be angry, I desperately, desperately do. I just don’t know how to let it out. In a country where the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach has been shoved at us from all angles it’s no wonder most of us are bit loopy from the pain we keep locked up in our own heads and hearts….

Be angry, be whatever you want to be.

There’s no set way of doing things, I hold too much in expectation and that’s not how this works.

Grief is hard.
And it’s unpredictable.
And it pulls us down at our very worst.
But this is the process of loss, if it wasn’t this hard it would mean Jonny hadn’t meant all that much to me.

He was someone worth crying over and that sure as hell means something.