The Power of Grief Written By Max’s Mum
I’ve had various encounters with grief over the years, the first being when my Dad passed away. He died suddenly aged 47 from a heart attack. At the time I didn’t realise how badly it had affected me, I was in shock for a year or more. Looking back now I realise that it caused me all sorts of issues, I barely ate, drank a lot and did everything possible to avoid the process of grieving. I caused more harm than good. It took years to get back to my happy self, because I never really understood what was going on or what coping mechanisms I could have used.
When my Nan passed away a few years later, it brought back memories of our childhood spent in Spain where she lived, she was a wonderful, loving woman. She’d recently moved over to England with her husband Paul so they could have a bit of support as they were getting older and every day activities were becoming more difficult. The last time I spoke her she told me that she felt cold all the time, she died a few days later. In a way I felt that the universe had looked after them, they’d moved over here for their final days and that’s exactly what happened. I find some peace in knowing this.
My Grandad passed away at the age of 90, he was an incredible man, so positive despite having several heart operations including a heart bypass. He found joy in every day and was an inspiration to many. I am very fond of my Grandad, he with my Nan looked after us (my Sister Lou and I) a lot when we were growing up while our parents were at work. I have so many fabulous memories of day trips out and holidays down the seaside with our cousins. We have such funny stories and memories to treasure forever. When I write about him I smile. I last saw my Grandad in hospital, he was very emotional, he thanked me for being part of his family and said how grateful he was for the wonderful life he had lived. He knew. A couple of days later he passed away. We all knew that this was coming, it was of course still extremely sad but after hearing how happy and grateful he was with his life I found it easier to accept.
Max, my precious first born. When Max was diagnosed with cancer in February 2019, I was absolutely terrified but somehow, with the support from Barry (Max’s Daddy) and our family and friends, I found the strength to hold it together and make the most of every day with Max with an uncertain future. He was a heaven sent little character, always full of joy and smiles, he was, still is my world.
It was only one week before Max passed away that I actually believed that he may die, as we had now tried everything in our power to cure him.
11th August 2019, the day that Max found peace. We had finally got on top of his pain that morning and then at 8.37pm he took his last breath cradled in our arms. It was a bittersweet moment, I felt a relief that it was over yet knew that there would be devastation to follow.
The following couple of months I ran on adrenalin, ticking by each day, keeping busy, I was in utter shock when I think back now. I went back to work very soon as I craved some normality and for a while it was great, but it was just a distraction. I gradually started to experience a dizziness, I’d had a cold so thought it could be a sinus infection. I took various over the counter medications but nothing seemed to work.
After 6 weeks of feeling dizzy and nauseous I went to the Doctors and they gave me some antibiotics, I finished the course but was still dizzy. I began to feel a sense of panic everyday, I lost interest in everything yet still put on my makeup and tried to behave as normal as possible. Then one day I was walking around the shops in this bubble and I began to feel really unwell, the world sounded different, the floor felt uneven, I was sick and trembling. I went home to lay down and passed out briefly then awoke suddenly with chest pains, chills and sweats. I couldn’t walk or talk. I was terrified. I stopped leaving the house. I began to think that this was a physical illness, there’s no way you can feel dizzy 24 hours a day without having a brain tumour or something right?
I went back to the Doctors, he could clearly see that I was unwell but tried to reassure me that in time I would feel better. He checked me over and I had blood tests and an ECG that all came back fine. Was I going to die of some unknown, undetected illness? I Googled things like “can you die from a broken heart?”. I decided to take up the offer of a counselling session to see if this would help, a lady came to the house but in all honesty made things worse. I went over the whole story and (I know it’s her job) all she did was listen. It was a surreal experience, almost out of body, I couldn’t wait for her to leave.
Determined not to give up I seeked more advice, I Googled (as you do) every symptom I had, I then spoke with a psychologist who gave me a scientific breakdown as to why I may be suffering with these panic attacks and the triggers that caused them. I now have reason behind these symptoms so I can generally keep a lid on it. I now have an understanding as to what is happening and why. It’s hard to accept that grief can have such a physical effect on your body but I feel that it is something I have to go through after suffering such trauma.
I experience flashbacks daily which will haunt me forever but I am beginning to feel much stronger. We saw terrifying procedures and watched our baby suffer in immense pain. As any parent knows any pain your child feels you feel too. I still feel it. I accept that I will always have my moments but these flashbacks are with my son, they are my memories and not all of them are bad.
I often feel like a failure as a mother as I couldn’t save my baby, this isn’t the way that life is supposed to go. I try cope by writing to Max, I tell him all my feelings and emotions. I started writing to him when he first became sick in the hope that one day he would be able to read the letters and hear about his tremendous journey, now they are letters that will sadly never be read. I find comfort in that he may feel my love and emotion while I write them so I will continue to do so forever. I would recommend journalling to everyone, it’s a great way to cope with life, whatever your situation may be.
Spirituality has been my saviour while looking for answers. There’s more to life than meets the eye and I find comfort in my spiritual journey. Whether you choose to believe in God or spiritual energy, I have found truth in both. The signs are always there when you need them.
Fundraising has been a life line for me, it’s a great focus and allows me to feel closer Max, I feel like I am making a difference. It would be very hard to not do anything after seeing the amount of children and families childhood cancer affects.
I will be touched by the loss of Max for the rest of my life, he’s changed me. I am a better person and for that I am grateful, perhaps he was only sent for short while. He was too perfect for this world, we all end up there one day so save me a seat little guy and in the meantime I will do you proud.
Emotions are temporary and there are many different ways of coping without causing more harm. Everyone is different and every story of grief is so unique.
Grief is all the love that has nowhere to go.
I am so grateful to have experienced a love so deep as a Mother to her child.
Thank you for reading.
Love Suzie. X