Wednesday, 16 September 2020

When Life Becomes Bittersweet


Since I last posted on When The Waves Come life looked just a little different didn't it? I've never heard the word unprecedented more in my entire life, and despite everyone's world shrinking temporarily over the last 6 months, we suddenly have more in common than ever before. 

A whole population of people who I imagine can in some way understand grief a bit more. 

Whether it is because you have so sadly lost a loved one during this time, have lost your independence or job, or even simply your big plans for the year. Many of us have been, and are still grieving. 

Grief doesn't only appear after a death. You can grieve for a life, or a future that you thought you had mapped out. 

So firstly, I sincerely feel for anyone who may be struggling with life at the moment. You are certainly not alone. 

I wanted to touch on an adjective today. One that during grief, and especially after a loss of a loved one, becomes a part of life. This word is bittersweet. 

Bittersweet: containing a mixture of sadness and happiness

In just under 2 weeks it will be five years since my mum died, which honestly I cannot get my head around. Half a decade without just simply still does not feel real to me. 

During these years there have of course been lots of joyful moments, and naturally being a woman in her twenties when it happened, there have been lots of monumental life events for those around me. 

Some of my best friends have got engaged and married, have welcomed babies and I have started a business and climbed a mountain (Perhaps just a regular thing for some, but for me this was definitely a life event!)

In all of these moments I have felt genuine happiness, but unfortunately this is no longer the only emotion that I now feel. 

You see grief is so complicated that I can experience multiple emotions at the same time. I have now accepted this fact, and can anticipate in advance that my mood is likely to shift, but to start with it was all very confusing, and something that I felt so guilty for. 

Take an engagement, hen weekend or wedding for example. When you hear the news and attend the day it is unbelievably exciting, and you feel all the love throughout.

Sure, depending on who you have personally lost, there will be specific moments that give you the awful sinking feeling in your chest in the day. Speeches are a definite one if you have lost a parent, or watching the family photographs take place.

They are a physical representation of what you now don't have, and what you never will be able to experience for yourself. 

However I find that the true bittersweet feeling comes either at the end of the celebration, or the day after. You have been on that high, riding it with your friends, being swept along and distracted beautifully. 

So I think it is only natural that the fall down to reality comes afterwards. The happy faces of others keep playing through your mind, the mother of the bride beeming with pride, a complete and undamaged family. The one thing that you wish you had, but now never will. 

As I said I know to expect these down days, and don't feel guilty for feeling envious and sadness after the joy. They live hand in hand, and as time goes by the sadness isn't so acute each time.

The truth is I will not have my mum with me on my wedding day. She will never know my children, or get to hear about that mountain that I climbed, and the skincare brand that I built in her memory. 

However I will still feel happy in those achievements and I can absolutely hear her cheering me on. I talk to her all the time to tell her about what I have been up to anyway. 

But if you too are feeling that life has become bittersweet, and tinged with sadness and envy, just know that this is normal. It doesn't make you a selfish or cruel person. You can still feel true happiness for others, but planning in a day to allow yourself to feel sad for what you don't have afterwards is sometimes necessary. 

Grief brings a whole host of emotions with it that set up camp in your mind, but remember that every feeling is valid. They can live separately, and just because the sadness appears briefly, it doesn't mean that the happiness was not real. 

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