I haven’t blogged for a while, not because I’ve been too busy, but because I couldn’t. Something was stopping me from writing about the events of the last few weeks and I didn’t know what it was.

Grief is a funny thing, Some people say it is the price we pay for love. You love something, someone, and when you lose it, you grieve. Doesn’t matter how you lose it, death, separation, divorce, theft, accident…you grieve. When Mum first had her stroke in May 2012 I used to come home from the hospital and then the rest home and cry my eyes out. I missed her being at home with me so much and I didn’t think she would ever come back, I missed talking to her and I was so distressed by her pain and suffering. It was my wonderful vicar who suggested to me that I was suffering a form of grief, for the life we used to have and the woman she used to be. When I understood that I coped better.

Then she started to improve, we got rid of horrible tubes and she could eat food and drink liquid and she understood more and laughed and seemed to get real pleasure out of things. We shared stuff, we sat in the garden and watched the birds flying around the water tower.  She was fascinated by them and I know she wished she was free to fly away, like them. We shared jokes and laughed a lot. She was tactile and loving and used to roll over and stretch her arms out for a cuddle and stroke my face and touch my hand to her lips in her form of a kiss. I told her I loved her every day, twice a day, when I left her. Just in case.

On Christmas Eve my brother and two of his children came to see her and we had a lovely afternoon, she was in good form and laughed and hugged them and walked them to the door when it was time for them to leave. I came back that night and we talked about how much fun it had been. I’d cooked some trout he’d brought and she ate trout and some sweetcorn fritters for tea. I’d cooked a whole pile of fritters for Christmas Day the next day and we laughed at how I couldn’t cook them the way she did. I kissed her and told her I loved her to bits, more than anyone in the world and that we would have a lovely day the next day with family. Then I left her.

At 8.30am the next morning, Christmas Day, she died. Quickly and peacefully and I am so grateful for that. Carol from Resthaven came round to see me and when I opened the door and saw her standing there, I knew. Straight away. Instantly. I knew. And my mind froze. I went into a sort of frozen state and I have remained in it until yesterday.

I told my brothers.  I helped organise her funeral and I knew exactly what she wanted. I met with the vicar and told him about her and the family. I went to dinner with two of my close church friends. I talked to lots of people on the phone. I had Mum home and I stroked her hair and talked to her and read my eulogy to her. I cut a lock of her thick grey hair and put it in a little box. When the undertaker came I helped him to screw the lid down and load her into the hearse.

Then I went to our church and said goodbye. This was the church she was christened in, married in and had come home to. When we moved to Cambridge she insisted that we go. “If we’re going to go, then we’re going to go every Sunday,” she used to say on Saturday nights. So we did. And during the last two years we both found God again. I have been enfolded by my church family and I thank Him for them every day. And Mum took communion at Resthaven and when we talked about Heaven her eyes would glow and she would smile. She was looking forward to it.

I talked about her during the service, not as well as I would have liked. I wish I had abandoned my speech and just talked about her, about us. But I didn’t and I felt fine during the service. I helped carry her out and put a poppy on the coffin and away she went. Then I had conversations and lots of hugs with family and friends and repeated again and again how relieved I was that she didn’t suffer at all. “She was ready.”

Since then I’ve had the odd time when I’ve cried and wished she was here, but I’ve finished my book and sent it off to my agent and a couple of other people. I’ve planned a trip overseas that I can now make and will write a book about and I’ve started swimming at the local pool and walking in the park and stopped eating sugar to get my blood-sugar more under control.

Yesterday I felt sad all day, different, just sad. And last night a dam broke and I cried and cried. I remember when Dad died a very wise woman asked me how I felt and I told her I was standing on the edge of a deep black lake and I couldn’t even dip my toe in. She helped me to plunge in and swim to the other side where I could miss him and think of him and talk about him and actually FEEL something. It took six months to get to that place.

This time an equally wise woman wrote to me and told me that grief was like an ocean and sometimes it is gentle and sometimes it drops you down into deep holes. So now I am riding the ocean, at long last I have pushed my boat out from the shore and started this journey that is grief. At long last I am feeling. So, I know that eventually I will reach the shore and I will be able to think about her without crying, remember the good times and all the years of fun we had. How fortunate I was to have the amazing love and care and devotion of that beautiful woman, my Mum.


Tarawera 2013


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tui Allen
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 12:38:34

    Beautiful, thank-you Julie. I’m glad you are doing so well. This is beautifully written. It was a privilege to meet your family at the funeral. I spoke to your brother.


  2. Stephen Stratford
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 21:17:43

    As Tui says, beautifully written. Also my experience of a parent’s death. I don’t know how one rates vicars, but Andrew is up there. I’ve been to two funerals he has done in Cambridge and told him he could do mine – not soon, I hope..


    • jmt4159
      Jan 24, 2014 @ 21:22:04

      Hello there. I don’t know how you rate Vicars either, but he makes me laugh and his sermons are entertaining and interesting and he always knows exactly what to say, which makes him wonderful in my book. I hope he does mine too, not soon either, I hope. As my dad used to say, never promise to go to someone’s funeral unless he promises to go to yours.


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