A pain I've never had before

For anyone who is bereaved or no longer providing care.
Alex, another thought.

One of the things I did after my mother died was write a letter to her. I can remember the exact circumstances, I was having a cup of tea in a department store café, one where we'd so often gone shopping together, and the memories of her were very, very strong (it was only a few months after she'd died, I think), and my heart was very sore with memory.....

I simply sat there, got out some paper from my handbag (I always carry pen and paper!), and wrote a letter to her, saying how much I loved her, and how unbearable it was that she wasn't here, and then went on to tell her what I'd just bought, and recalling other visits to the store, and so on. I cried and cried and cried as I wrote....

I can't remember now what I did with the letter in the end - I will probably find it going through boxes of 'stuff' at some point, or it maybe in a suitcase of hers I've kept with her bits and pieces in it.

But it did help me - it was my 'testament' to her, my 'bearing witness' to the love I had for her, and she had for me.

I've always been glad I wrote it.
Dear All

Much progress made today. University have given me a new deadline for my dissertation. September, and I won't lose any marks on it. To refresh you, my dissertation is based on my mum, who I lost 4-weeks ago, so it's a massive deal to get the extra time, both in terms of my overall degree result and the personal satisfaction of writing something based on my mum, that could help other mental health nursing students, professionals and family carers, and all carers of people with mental health problems.

Thanks to all of you I was able to be more assertive, rather than "begging" for extra time. I laid out all of the graphic details of mum's cancer and the impact on her and me.

Juggler - I did exactly what you suggested. E-mailed multiple people today! It worked!

Pet66 - Without wanting to sound patronising, I've used dementia to keep perspective on my issues in caring for mum. What I mean by that is that my heart truly goes out to people affected by dementia, especially the family carers. I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I've always thought that two of the toughest jobs ever were single parents raising children with special needs/challenging behaviour (I know a few), and husbands/wives/children caring for someone with dementia. If you feel like sharing, I'd like to know more about your situation and how you are coping

Bowling Bun - I really liked what you said about "seeing some good in every day". So true

Jenny - "Common shared emotions" making me a better nurse. Totally agree! Thanks! Also with regards DSM and mental "illness" totally with you on that. I read once that mental "illness" is the result of misery rather than brain chemistry/biology. I'm also a big believer in the stress vulnerability model of mental health problems. Also, I like Thomas Szasz stuff (and so probably would you!). With regards your letter to your mum. I feel super lucky that I actually did that while she was still with us. A few days after she got her diagnosis I wrote a letter and took it up to her in hospital. I said things to her in that letter I'd never imagined saying. All good. Me and her were not exactly close for the first 37yrs of my life. Only in the last 4yrs when she become mentally very unwell and then had the cancer. There were times when I actually hated her when I was younger. I felt totally disconnected from her when I was younger and was very jealous of friends/girlfriends who had close relationships with their mum. When she very nearly took her own life about 4yrs ago things changed. I become more forgiving. We both tried harder to get closer. When she got the cancer diagnosis then all was totally 100% forgiven in my mind. She could do no wrong. All the memories of her causing me grief vanished, and still remain vanished. They were literally wiped away from all existence. Never to be referred to again. This was the theme of my letter to her. I just expressed love throughout the letter and reminded her of all her qualities that she never thought she had.
Hi Alex
Am so pleased you've been given a new deadline.
If you go into my many posts 'new to dementia journey' you will see how the journey is going. I don't think you are patronising. Every ones pain and heartbreak is unique for whatever reason. We are just united in knowing emotional pain. It's learning to adjust really.
You take care
Hi Alex, well done for getting an extension. I have learned that doing difficult things - and writing about mum so soon after her death will be very tough - it helps to have something nice to look forward to afterwards. So book a holiday just after the deadline, doesn't have to be exotic, just a few days away from home where you can recharge your batteries, will help rebalance you after all that's happened this year, with someone else doing the cooking and cleaning! Soon after my husband died I went away to Devon for a short break. I meandered around doing not a lot, but had my little organiser with me, and each time a thought occurred to me about the future, I jotted it down. This was an idea in a book called Starting Again by Sarah Litvinoff. Published by Relate, it's primarily aimed at newly divorced people , but I liked the exercises it contained, which seemed much more about positive steps towards the future rather than wallowing in loss. Good luck for the future.
Pleased to hear you got a deferral okay. Make sure you keep in touch with your tutors and let them know if there's any problems with meeting the new deadline. They will find ways through the university's regulations. Grief treats us all in different ways so don't beat yourself up if there are some days where your brain just doesn't work. Good luck with the dissertation!
Jx
You will make an amazing nurse, the depth of empathy you will be able to engage in now is of so more value than an essay.
There are few words to heal this pain, I read your hope of recovery in between the lines.
My mum (hello beautiful lady) took her last breath at home with me on 28 April, cancer is so cruel and unexpected. That's whats hurting.
A little further on than you in the grief cycle, a few things have helped:

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all

Every hour someone has lost and it is earlier for them, their hurt is more acute than yours, you are always a little further on in healing.

The kindness of strangers.

Memories.......

Julia x
Thanks for all your kind words.

Actually Bowlingbun, my dad wants us to go to Malta when my course finishes in September. Malta is a special place as my mum and dad lived out there for a bit. This is probably the first year in a while my dad's health would allow such a trip. No doubt, it will bring up some emotion going there but we both want to do it. It's a chance for me to have a break between finishing the course and all the deadlines/placement and starting full-time employment!

Julia - I agree with everything you wrote :)

Thanks everyone for encouraging comments about dissertation!
Alex, that would be a lovely break. I go to Crete in September, the weather is usually dry, fine and settled. Perfect!
Alex. Enjoy Malta.! I did. Another good memory. The first accommodation was awful but we soon found somewhere else. It was lovely. The sea actually looks blue doesn't it xx
Thanks Bowlingbun! Even today my dad is still talking about Malta in September, so hopefully it will happen!

Pet - Yes, the sea can be very blue and crystal clear, especially around Comino island. Like paradise... is paradise!!! :) :) :) :) :) :)