Yesterday, the news reported that Cilla Black – one of the UK’s ‘national treasures’ of entertainment, had died. The Media was ‘shocked and saddened’ by the news. Then social media saw a flurry of posts as people shared their own ‘shock’ at her death.
Today is Remembrance Day and war memorials all over the country are displaying poppy wreaths in memory of those who lost their lives serving our country. The Tower of London featured a magnificent and moving poppy tribute this year.
It got me thinking about the symbolism of memorial flowers and what that means to me now.
[I didn’t post this blog about Halloween at the time, I suppose to avoid offending anyone or to put a damper on the fun, but reading back on it, it’s certainly worth sharing. It’s not a major worry for me now, and who knows how I’ll feel about it in the years to come, but it’s a classic example of how trauma and grief can distort things.]
Ever since I had children, I’ve been bagging up clothes and toys for either car boot sales or charity shops, although it always seems the more I ‘recycle’ the more ‘stuff’ comes back into the house!
It’s been a long time since we did a car boot… I say ‘we’ as normally Abi and I would get up at dawn to go and do one together, she really helped with setting up, tidying and selling – it was fun.
To those who are grieving (and those trying to understand grief) please read this incredibly insightful article. I found myself saying yes throughout reading it. It speaks for so many.
‘…the first year is supposed to be the worst. It’s all still raw. …in some ways, the second year is harder. That’s when you realise they really aren’t coming back. It’s a horrible epiphany that can coincide with everyone else imagining you’re over the worst. But as someone once said: “Grief lasts longer than sympathy, which is one of the tragedies of the grieving.’
I decided to change my blog name to something more hopeful and settled for Chasing Dragonflies. So, what is it with all the dragonflies anyway?
While we were researching readings for Abi’s funeral, we came across the story ‘Water Bugs and Dragonflies’ (I’ve posted the full story here). As the story explained, we can never see what waits for us outside this world until we get there, but it is more beautiful than we can ever imagine. We are content, perfect and free…
At times in the past year, I’ve heard it suggested that at least we have our other children to keep us going. It’s never said to mean that Abi’s death was any less distressing, but as a way to comfort and reassure.
I’ve often thought this myself too. When I feel mournful, I consider how it’s my two children needing me that gets me out of bed, that stops me feeling too sorry for myself and gives me a reason to live on. But it’s a constant struggle between the despair of my loss and being ‘thankful for my lot’.
The death of a child, quite naturally, has a huge impact on an entire family and the aftershocks can be widespread and ongoing. In my case, my immediate family (husband and other two children) were emotionally torn, yet we had to find a way to continue to live our lives together, finding new routines and ways to be without pausing.
It’s without doubt that our relationships with one another have changed in some ways; thankfully, we are strong and this has bonded us further together, but it’s certainly no smooth path as each of us battles with our individual feelings, worries and fears.
[Taken from notes written around July 2013]
After Abi died, we kept people informed via Facebook, which was a great help to us as it saved having to contact lots of people at an impossibly difficult time and also prevented any misunderstanding about what had happened to her – many people who knew Abi were incredibly worried… Very soon, someone had set up a dedicated Facebook page in Abi’s memory, which rapidly spread and had around 700 likes.
One of the shortest sentences in the Bible has had a great impact on me and shows us that, despite all that he knew, Jesus didn’t gloss over the harsh reality of grief:
Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus, as He had arrived too late to save him, before He then resurrected him. He shared in the unquestionable sorrow and pain that Lazarus’s death brought to those closest to him. He understood that death is a sad thing, but, most importantly, he made it okay to grieve. He mourned with the mourners. Belief in eternal life isn’t all glorious, Jesus knew we had to die in order to be with the Father and he felt the sorrow of parting just as we do.