Who knew as a kid that a New Year would be a cause of further pain & grief?
While grieving as I learned to take a day at a time, I was surprised to realise that the idea of New Years & Christmas did intensify the grief.
I had heard of people who hated Christmas. My own mum had always told me that New Years was just another day.
I knew there were so many ways to approach and think about these times. I just didn’t realise that grief could be the catalyst to change how I felt about them.
New Year holds a promise of a fresh start.
Only trouble is that a fresh start, a new year, means beginning again without someone who made our family whole.
It means the first of many years, that he won’t continue to write his own story.
Every time I think of the finality of that statement I am also reminded that his memory is always with us.
My family are always telling his story. His impact grows with each new person who learns about his story and the legacy we create for him.
You see every day my little girl talks about her brother – her family:
Mummy, Daddy, Shane & Matthew.
Just yesterday she followed me around her room telling me:
“I’m Violet, you’re elastigirl.”
I might have said “that’d be nice.”
She continued, “Daddy is Mr. Incredible, Shane is Dash, and Matthew is Jack Jack.”
Today, she told my dad “Matthew went to kinder. Matthew went to big boy school, but he’s in heaven now.”
Matthew’s body may have failed him, but his story is always with us.
Last night before I ran a fitness test I asked a dear friend of mine for a pep talk. A friend I would never have met without Matthew.
When I passed she said, “Matthew was looking over you, giving you that final push.”
While I don’t quite believe that philosophically, it made me smile.
His story is always with us
So whenever the thought of a fresh start and new year that doesn’t have him in it, occurs to me that it will never really be true.
Matthew’s memory will also always be with our friends. They feel their own grief for losing him. They will treasure the way he touched their lives. I will be grateful that he brought us together.
What will I do with the pain of grief?
- I will not deny it. I will not push it down.
Because I know that the things we avoid feeling or put them off often come back up, in another time and another place.
I also know that if I’m prepared to show my pain an vulnerability with others – especially my precious Shane and Mackenzie – that it gives them permission to express and feel their feelings, to share their grief.
It has been a weight lifted not to have to be strong all the time. They don’t need that from me.
2. I am going to cry when I need to.
Sometimes when I cry, my kids are worried. They see pain and hurt they can’t do anything about.
One of my support network, perhaps my psychologist or my support working from Very Special Kids advised me on this.
She told me “Abigail, all you need to do, is just say to them ‘Mummy will be okay’ because you will, maybe not today, maybe not soon, but you will be okay. They just need a little bit of assurance, and that’s all it takes.”
3. I’m going to hold onto hope that this is only a season.
Right now the memories come thick and fast, lots of them are painful.
New Years last year we spent in hand over with a doctor admitting Matthew to a hospital.
When I think of Christmas at Luke’s parent’s home, I think of the year he was discharged home for only 6 hours. 2 hours at their home before calling an ambulance.
I am going to work on remembering the good memories. They might make me cry too. That’s okay.
I am going to take a day at a time, just wait and see what happens next.
4. I am going to take care of myself.
Try to eat well, take extra something to cover me when I don’t. Concentrate on keeping my sleep schedule, so I don’t drop off into insomnia.
Exercise a few times a week.
Plan ahead. & not take on too much.
When I don’t I know I feel even worse. I can sink into a crappy cycle that makes me feel like things are so much worse than they really are.
5. Look for the joy!
What you look for you find.
Like when you start thinking about buying a car and then you start seeing every where.
The same happens when you look for proof that life is bad, you’re going to find it.
Grief isn’t the only thing the new year will hold.