My Grief Journey

By Tanya G


Five years ago my mum died suddenly from a massive stroke. She loved to cook and asked my dad to hang out the washing while she finished up in the kitchen. When he came back into the house he found her on the floor. I had seen her the night before, we had celebrated my 40th birthday.

I always knew when Mum eventually died, I would miss her. I spoke to her almost every day and saw her several times a week. I thought I would miss the daily phone calls, but apart from that, life wouldn’t change much. How wrong I was. Everything I did, I told Mum about, so I figured if I didn’t do anything, I’d have nothing to tell her, so I wouldn’t miss her. For many months I would drop my boys off to school (they were 12 and 10 at the time), go home and either sit on the couch or in bed all day, get up at 3pm to pick them up, then play happy families at night and on weekends.

But life went on. My eldest son graduated from primary school and Mum wasn’t in the photos. Then he started high school and again she wasn’t there. I expected the first of everything would be hard - the first birthdays and Christmas without her. But the 2nd was just as hard and the 3rd was harder still, especially my birthday. I thought this would never end. I constantly wished she was here so I could pick up the phone to speak to her, tell her what was happening in our lives.

I have an incredible relationship with my boys. One day my eldest was working on a building site for work experience and when he heard a song on the radio he knew we both liked, he texted me. I got all upset and realised that was something I would have shared with my mum, the little things that meant nothing to anyone else, but were special to us. Quite a while later my youngest son called while playing golf to say he had witnessed someone get a hole in one. Neither of them wanted to wait until they arrived home to share those things with me.  

Even though I had been their mum for many years by this time, I realised that I had to stop being upset that my mum wasn’t here to share in the things I was doing, to the point where I missed the things that my boys wanted to share with me. I had to step up and create for them the special memories they will remember, I had to be their mum, not just a daughter who didn’t have a mum.

I have learnt, and continue to learn, many lessons during my journey of grieving. It’s good to share with others who will look out for you; it’s okay to miss the people who are no longer physically here; it’s okay to be able to smile without feeling guilty that you are dishonoring their memory by being happy; and it’s ok to move on. It has taken me five years to learn these things. It doesn’t mean I don’t still wish I could pick up the phone and talk to mum. But my husband and my boys are my life and I want to enjoy what I have with them, not spend my time wishing for something that I can no longer have, so that I miss out on what is right in front of me.