1. Time Heals.
I feel it’s important to say this first, for those reading who are not so far along the path of grief: the pain has become easier to bear. Early on, I felt like a fish on a hook: thrashing, torn, broken, trapped. Now, though I will always be sad, I am also (deep breath) happy. Sometimes guiltily, sometimes reluctantly, happy.
2. Time Hurts.
Fifteen years is a long time to grieve and heal - but it’s also a bloody long time to not see someone you love with your all heart. I miss my sister Helen as much as I ever did. She was one of the best people I’ll ever know- and sometimes the realisation that I will never see her again, and that she won’t get to live beyond sixteen, still punches the breath from my body.
3. Acceptance is complicated.
I no longer think about what would have been, or who Helen would have been now, because that “would have” doesn’t exist. She’s gone; no caveats. I know that now - so I suppose I have acceptance. But it isn’t exactly positive. It was soothing when part of me believed that, somehow, our grief could magic her back to us.
4. Grief is a lifetime’s work.
I am only just starting to unpick the mess of trauma and loss that exploded fifteen years ago - finally pulling apart the strands of shock, and grief, and anxiety it left me tangled up in. Following a sudden loss like my family experienced, I honestly think it can take this long to start to make any real sense of how it has affected you. And that’s OK.
5. There is life after loss.
I live my life poised for the worst to happen. And I am blessed with the knowledge that when it does, it is possible to live. It is possible to dance, and smile, and feel joy beam from my soul when I look at my kids, and be annoyed that they have nits again, and to care about lipstick and music and telly. I will never take all of this - the everyday-ness of life - for granted. It’s sweeter than you ever know it can be, before the unthinkable happens.
About Becky Garrod
Becky Garrod is a TV producer and writer. Her youngest sister Helen drowned in July 2004, when she was sixteen. You can follow Becky on Twitter.