When I was told that someone had driven head first into my brother’s van on the night of July 12th 2014, killing him instantly, I honestly thought my heart had stopped beating. I don’t mean in a symbolic way, I mean in an actual physical way. When people say their heart has been ripped out, I now know what they mean. It felt like there was an actual hole in my chest, where my heart had once been and if you looked down you would just see a black cavernous hollow. I have never felt anything so earth-shattering or so devastating before in my life, and I hope I never will again.
The first few months were consumed with the funeral, what to do with my brother’s business (Fingerprints Delicafe, located in Clarendon Park, Leicester), how to get up every morning and how to look after my heart-broken parents. But after that, after a certain amount of time had passed, I felt a shift in the people around me. I felt them willing me to ‘move on’. I understood what was happening, this is social convention, right? You get a few months to grieve, but then it’s time to ‘get over it’ - time to get better. Before this loss, I was one of those people. I had no idea of the ways in which grief strips you of who you are and forces you to re-think your entire being.
I felt my friends wanting things to get back to normal, to start socialising again and being interested in the trivialities of life. I tried very hard, I thought there was something wrong with me when I wasn’t ‘over it’, when I hadn’t ‘moved on’. I went out for dinner with friends one night and someone said something that made me think of my brother – so I mentioned my memory. The atmosphere changed and I saw, out of the corner of my eye, one friend roll their eyes. I barely spoke for the rest of the evening.
It was then that I realised, except for a very few close friends and family, society had had enough of my grief now. My time in the ‘grief sin bin’ was up and if I wanted to come out, I had to look better and be more like my old me. So I fought a battle constantly between what I thought I should do and what I actually wanted to do. I put my mask on every time I went out of the front door, I tried to engage in life again but I couldn’t keep it up for long. It was exhausting, I was not robust enough to maintain this approach and every time I was alone I crumbled.
The alternative option, however, was one of isolation and loneliness. Friendship groups change and I found, things separated into those who had suffered a traumatic grief and those who hadn’t. I felt like I had become a member of an incredibly exclusive club - however, I didn’t want to join and the price I paid for membership was way too high.
Eventually, I became ill and had to rethink everything. I was trying to live a life that my brother would be proud of, I was trying to be the best daughter and wife I could be. On top of this, my husband and I were going through multiple IVF cycles which kept failing and I was most definitely struggling to understand who I was, who I’d been and who I wanted to be.
I then read a book on grief, which talked about the path of life. It said that the original path I was on, with my brother, was bright and sunny and I was comfortable with where it was going and what the future held. This new path I had been forced onto, was dark and scary, I had no idea where it twisted and turned and I desperately wanted to be back on the other path. I envisaged myself like Alice in Wonderland, when she’s lost in Tulgey Woods. The book explained that I could not get back to the original path, no matter how hard I tried… that path was now shut, forever.
So I finally stopped fighting to be the old me. I let go of everything I was, I took a deep breath and I started to investigate who I actually wanted to be. I let go of the pressure to ‘move on’. To expect me not to have changed following the traumatic death of my younger brother is absurd.
The handling of grieving people, whilst very well meaning, is centred on fear. The fear of upsetting them, of saying the wrong thing, or of making them cry. This fear surrounds the friends and family of the bereaved and forces an invisible divide between them. The reality is simple. Making someone cry is not a bad thing – sad does not mean bad. Saying nothing is far, far worse than saying the wrong thing. I can forgive the wrong thing, I cannot forgive my brother or my grief being ignored. I think about my brother all of the time, mentioning him does not ‘remind’ me – he is never far from my thoughts.
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/please-dont-tell-me-its-time-to-move-on_uk_5a61c0ade4b02f8c234197c8