Dealing with the pain and anguish of losing a loved one

Carol Forster
Carol Forster

Bereavement affects different people in different ways. Here, columnist CAROL FORSTER, from Lancaster, tells us her very personal experiences of losing her mother

Losing a parent is absolutely devastating at any age, and more so I’m sure for children.

Carol Forster's late mum Kathleen Forster, pictured in the 1980s

Carol Forster's late mum Kathleen Forster, pictured in the 1980s

When I lost my mother Kathleen Forster nearly seven years ago, I really didn’t know what had hit me and had been in no way prepared for the emotional impact it would cause.

Although I knew she was ill, and had been ill for some time, I was still living in that bubble land where you think your parents are immortal and will be around forever. So, when I received that 7am call telling me that she had died, it came as a complete shock.

The days that followed are now somewhat of a blur, I guess because it’s nature’s way of protecting us from the psychological blow of such news.

In slightly robotic fashion, I recall doing normal things, such as going to the shops, but I was clearly not myself.

Caro Forster with brother Michael and mum Kathleen in the 1960s

Caro Forster with brother Michael and mum Kathleen in the 1960s

As I don’t come from a large or close family, I didn’t have the comfort that comes from shared grief either so I pretty much bottled it up and carried on.

The first week, as I said, was a blur and then came the day of the funeral.

I don’t think I will ever experience again a moment so sad as seeing my mother’s coffin there before me in a hearse.

It was a beautiful spring day, the flowers were really taking on that vibe of seasonal beauty and this made it all the more poignant somehow as it was my mother’s favourite season and she loved gardening and flowers.

The funeral passed in sombre sadness with uncontrollable tears.

However, I should say that it was the days, weeks and years to follow when the grief really took hold.

Memories would be triggered by the most mundane events. Visiting shops would remind me of her; being in my old school would remind me of when she’d been there at home after my day; sitting on the bus would remind me of my childhood which then made me think of her. I missed her homely presence and her quiet love.

I missed everything about her. The first two years were the worst.

I would be okay sometimes and wake up without immediately thinking of her but then I’d see a loving mother with a child or a beautiful garden and be reminded of her.

Mothering Sunday and her birthday became very poignant days for me and ones which would see me in bits.

However, it is nearly seven years now since she passed. Sad days have stretched into long months and time has proved to be the key in recovering.

Of course, we never forget our loved ones nor do we ever completely get over it, but it does get easier and better.

The feeling of being terribly old starts to diminish and you begin to appreciate life again and come to terms with the inevitability of loss.

If you have recently lost someone, take heart, you will be sad and you will struggle, but you will also emerge the other side and be stronger for it.

l Cruse Bereavement Care supports grieving people. They can be reached on 0844 477 9400.