Five Things I have learned during fifteen years of grieving for my sister, by Becky Garrod.

By Becky Garrod   whose youngest sister drowned in 2004 when she was 16

By Becky Garrod whose youngest sister drowned in 2004 when she was 16

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.    

Becky Garrod

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