Mourning is often something we think of in relation to death, but mostly the death of a physical being. That isn’t the only thing we mourn though. Is it?
We can mourn mundane things, like the end of a club, the end of school, the end of a relationship but also the end of the life we anticipated we would have. Personally, I’ve mourned so many things in my life.
My first ever memory I can think of when the word mourning is mentioned, is the loss of my great Gran. I didn’t know her very well, but she would always have the little money bags from the bank, filled with five pence pieces for me when I went to see her. We would more often than not go to the shop around the corner to buy her bits and pieces and I would ask for a wagon wheel. She’d make us tea, or offer when she was too poorly to make it herself. Her bedroom smelt of lavender, because she had little token bags of it in her clothes draws. She would sometimes ask me if I wanted to call my cousin Matthew to talk. I didn’t spend a lot of time with her, but I remember these things vividly.
When she started to deteriorate, she moved to a nursing home. It was a very busy environment. I remember her always calling me the wrong name, often thinking I was my mother. I was scared around her then. I didn’t like the nursing home. I didn’t like having to almost shout so she could hear me. I didn’t like the stench of death around nursing homes.
When she was taken into hospital my Grandma called my mum and asked for her to come, I cried and pleaded to go with her, but she said something like ‘Now isn’t the time, I need to go on my own.’ So, she drove two hours, and my Gran passed away.
That was the first time I mourned.
I sat on my bed, facing the wall in my room, the smallest room in the house, and I wept. My heart hurt. I went to the funeral home, listened to everyone organise the ceremony. I remember going to a Tesco nearby, not fully understanding what was going on.
Then I remember going to the funeral. They sung ‘He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands’, I remembered it from school, except this time it wasn’t fun to sing. This time it was surrounded by sorrow and goodbyes. I placed a rose on her coffin, and we went outside. I think that was one of the first times I saw my Granddad, he waited outside the building and said very few words. Little did I know a decade later, I would be at the same crematorium for his funeral.
My Grans funeral was the only funeral I let myself openly cry at, that was the only death anybody saw me cry over. It was probably the only death I truly mourned properly for.
The death of a person isn’t the only thing we mourn for though.
When I found out I was ill, I mourned then too. Differently, I admit. I don’t think I mourn like everyone else though, I get overwhelmed and shut down. Sometimes I don’t cry I just sit with it.
I think I did that when I got ill. I fell into depression where nothing could console me, and I would fight with everyone. I know now that I was angry at myself and not those I took my anger out on, but I didn’t know how to appropriately manage my feelings. I had to mourn the life I wanted, the life I anticipated and prepared for. I now had all these guidelines and boundaries holding me back, but for such a long time I pretended they weren’t there. I fought myself and my illness so I could live a life like everyone else, because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t live a life like everyone else.
It took a long time for me to realise that my illness wasn’t holding me back, but it was my attitude towards it that was. I slowly learnt to make allowance for myself and plan, so that I could do the things everyone else could do. I started to accept that my life was going to be a little bit harder and a little more complicated, but that was okay. Before I reached that point, I did hit an extreme low in my life, where I couldn’t function very much at all. I think that pushed a lot of people away. Very few people stuck with me through the anger and confusion, but once I was at the stage of acceptance I think I bloomed as a person, and salvaged some of the relationships I’d destroyed with people, while making new relationships with others.
It was only then that I realised everyone lived a life with limits. My limits were different, but wasn’t everyone’s? I learnt about the Spoon Theory, which helped me a lot! So I could go for a walk one day, but I would have to rest and focus on self-care for a few days afterwards. I knew I needed boundaries set before getting into close friendships and romantic relationships. Before I accepted myself fully, I was an extremely private person. Nobody knew about my struggles and I couldn’t communicate what I needed or how I felt. After I accepted myself, I found it much easier to be open, but of course I overshare at times! But I can communicate things I need; I can explain a lot of the time what I’m struggling with and of course, I’m very open about how ill I am so people are aware.
That’s probably when I realised, I could advocate for myself and others about mental and physical illness, I wanted to talk about it. I probably talk about it too much actually. I love educating people about illness, I enjoy supporting others and being able to guide them towards the best kind of support for them while also being part of their support network.
I’ve mourned other things too, like the end of relationships. It takes me a while to let go and heal from those. I find it hard to accept that someone can walk away from me so easily, but I’m working on that.
I’ve mourned places I’ve lived.
I’ve mourned college (which might be weird) when I realised I was too unstable to study, I struggled to let go. I tried and tried but eventually I had to walk away, because I realised it wasn’t something I could do now, but it was something I could work towards.
I mourned losing jobs and eventually having to stop working altogether, that was a huge journey for me and took a long long time. I had major mental breakdowns because I worked too much, I worked 3 jobs, I worked at a care home and worked seven full days straight with 7 sleeps, I committed too much to it, I tried to do as much as I could all at once. Eventually I accepted I needed to stop, my mind and body couldn’t take it.
I think a lot of us have a real struggle when it comes to letting things go, I know those with Borderline Personality Disorder may struggle more than most on occasions, but it’s a learning process and it does eventually get a little easier. You learn that some things you must let go of, and you learn that the things you didn’t want to let go of have taught you more than you imagined. You begin to see that sometimes its better to let go and move forward, than to suspend yourself in some eerie memory of the past that has no benefit to you and that’s when you truly begin to progress.
Some things, however, you cannot let go of. For me it’s the death of my Grancha (I’ve made a blog post previously about him) I never truly mourned his death, and that will probably stay with me forever. I don’t think I’m exactly sad about that though, I carry him through my life with me. He was the closest thing I had to a best friend as a child, because he just understood me. He knew I was mentally ill before I did, and he was the comforting hand who guided me through many years of my adolescence, and he probably still has an influence on my decisions today. I take some comfort in that.
Even if my Nana (his wife) no longer has contact with me, I still appreciate everything they did for me. I do feel sad that my connection to him through her is no longer an option for me, but sometimes it’s the way life is. I miss my Nana. I hope she’s doing well and I think about her a lot, I miss our silly conversations and her home cooking, but I had to let go of my relationship with her. It wasn’t healthy for either of us, especially me.
I also mourn my growth throughout life, the changes that take place and the mindsets I progress from. I mourn for the person I’ve been, and I’ll most likely mourn the person I am now at some point in the future, and now I know that its okay.
See, I am getting better at letting go, hopefully one day I’ll get better at mourning. Maybe some day soon I’ll be able to process my grief in an emotionally productive way, but I guess we’ll see.
Love and light