Thursday 17 May 2018

4 years since Grace's Funeral

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of Barry. I don’t know Barry, I have no idea what he looks like, what he did with his life, was he tall or short? ... I know nothing except 2 things
He died 2 years ago and Esther misses him.
Yesterday I spoke about Grace at a bereavement study day near Southend. As usual when I speak I wear my grief proudly, I let my tears speak as much as my words and I let my words leave you in no doubt as to the fact I’m still working out who I am in the light of my daughters death 4 years and 2 weeks ago.

Today marks the anniversary of Grace’s funeral, the day I walked my daughter down the aisle in a white willow coffin, the day my wife and I sang Amazing Grace past the ache in our hearts and throats, the day a congregation joined us in singing with such love and gusto that it almost blew us of our feet. Today marks the anniversary of watching my little girl being lowered into a hole in the ground that My brother Peter helped me dig, the day I watched that tiny coffin being covered with dirt.

Today marks the day that we went to a local pub and celebrated Grace’s life with friends and family. It was actually one of the best worst days of my life.
Today marks the day that we went home, looked at each other and thought - what do we do no? For 2 weeks we were consumed by the immediacy of her death and the arrangements to be made. But now what? In a few days time my 2 week compassionate leave would be over and I’d have to face going back to work and explaining over and over again what had happened as well meaning and lovely people would ask me wether we had a boy or a girl. (incidentally our new child was in our arms for a full 10m before we knew the gender - who gives a damn about pink or blue when your just revelling in the fact that your child is alive.)
Now that Grace was buried came the task of realising how different we were, that we had changed. No! That we were changing, becoming something new and we didn’t know what that was going to be. Not realising how much we would need counselling, Not realising that 4 years later, there would still be days where grief racked our bodies in uncontrollable tears, not realising that we could be joyful again, not realising that the ripples of Graces death would never go away and that grief would literally become part of our DNA.
Here’s the thing...grief and it’s attendant symptoms are NORMAL. They are not to shunned or put in a box, they are to be welcomed and embraced. Doing so allows you to grow around them, to process, to move beyond the trial of simply functioning to living again. You won’t be the same, you can’t be because grief doesn’t go away ever, you just get better at living with it, through it, in spite of it.
I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote a spoken word piece dedicated to Barry because of Esther. She approached me after my talk and spoke through sobs she was trying to contain. Her husband Barry had died 2 years ago.
“Listening to you made me realise that the way I feel is normal” she said “why don’t they tell you it’s normal”
Here’s a link to what I write on my blog that day 4 years ago -…/today-i-will-bury-my-…
and the central message remains true - grab the joy and have #amomentforgrace

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