My grandparents are in a cemetery; my Dad is in the same one, burial spaces decades old. I don’t visit them often, not because I have forgotten them, or I am finished missing them; their cemetery is just outside of our town, it is not always easy to pop out to visit them.
I talk about them; share memories. People listen and they too share memories of their missed loved ones.
In the years since I have lost my grandparents, since I lost my dad, since my mother lost her husband; it never ever occurred to me that there was a time limit of how we grieve.
Of course the loss of these people, were – are very different to losing our daughter. Losing her and watching others go through the loss of theirs; the way in which society brushes off our losses.
When we visit our daughter, which we don’t very often these days; we do at least for special occasions; like her birthday, anniversary and Christmas; more often than not carnival and Halloween too. As we walk through the cemetery and see beautiful fresh wreaths places onto graves whose names have faded, or are decades old; still loved and still very much a part of whoever tends to said graves. I would never judge, or have ever thought of this as an odd thing to do.
I certainly would never question their grief, or that they still tend or speak of them. Every single person’s grief is individual, we all wear it differently.
What has led me to here? Well I came across a news article about a Mum wanting to decorate her baby’s grave. This isn’t an issue to me, or to anyone other than the family. But I made the mistake of reading the comments from the general public – our society; whilst I have no idea who the family involved are I think it effects every single bereaved parent.
There were comments after comments about the Mum needing help, counselling; how she should concentrate on the children she does have. That seven years is too long to be grieving or visiting a grave.
I don’t think it is because I am a Mum who has buried her child; but it would never, ever cross my mind to question the grief of anyone – to judge another person visiting a lost loved one.
Can you imagine going to someone and passing comment about how they visit their husband too much? Or that they talk about them too much now that they’re not here.
I genuinely cannot understand why society feels the need to judge on such a personal thing, an emotion often raw. I am five years down the line – almost six; but there are some moments that will catch me off guard and take me back to that raw emotion of hearing the words. “She isn’t going to survive.”
With me being five years down the line, I have questioned myself about whether I talk about her too often; whether I visit “too much.” I have also often wished this had never happened, that she wasn’t my daughter; I have also debated about never visiting her grave.
But I can’t simply block her out; and I am no one of those people who doesn’t believe she lives within us, if you have followed over the years; you will know this is something I have always battled with myself about.
When I don’t visit I get that huge guilty feeling, especially if it has been weeks on end; I also feel guilty if I don’t take her something; I know she doesn’t know any difference – and I am painfully aware that she is dead. But I am her Mother; just as I feel guilty when I can’t watch my son’s choir concert, or forget his University show.
The times when I can’t afford to buy my eldest the latest Now album; or the days when I accidently don’t treat them all the same.
So, when I read how society believes I should be how they think I should be over her by now; how visiting however many years is unhealthy. Let me tell you, the only thing that is wrong here; is not that I cry for her occasionally; that I miss and talk of her. Please help me to understand.
It is that she IS dead; there is absolutely nothing I can do about that; but I will forever be her Mum. I can’t cuddle her or tuck her in to bed, I can’t see her walk across a stage ready for her Nativity; or hear her sing out of tune.
I can’t have a school report; or see Christmas Cards for her from her friends. I’ve never held her hand to walk across the road; just like she will never have a sleep over or taste ice cream.
She, we will have never experienced any of these things.
So if I am still visiting her grave; or including her this year – five years on or in 25 years; please don’t judge; be kind; don’t assume that I am ill.
I am her Mum; the only thing that is wrong about this is that she died.