One of our readers submitted this post in the hopes it would help anyone who is experiencing loss. Grief is a very difficult thing to understand or articulate and we felt that this reader told her story beautifully. Please read to the end for more advice…
I have a box of Ikea sandwich bags which are starting to weigh on my mind. They are nearing the end and I am torn between using them and putting them away as a keepsake. The logical part of my brain is screaming “they are bags, why are you even thinking about this”, but the emotional part of me is stuck. And that’s the thing about grief. The person who gave me the box of plastic bags has passed away and they are the last thing I have that she gave me. She was in Ikea a little over a week before she died and she texted to see if I needed anything. Despite how ill she was and how wretched the illness was making her feel she still managed to think of other people.
I have plenty of more permanent things that were gifts over the years like the piece of jewellery she gave me for my birthday or the beautiful green leather handbag and the picture of Perth beautifully framed by her Dad to remember our year travelling in our twenties. I have all of her letters and cards since we were twelve and hotmail messages for the past twenty years but it’s the Ikea bags that are becoming an issue. I can’t seem to finish them and throw the empty cardboard box in the bin. A little like another friend, who has an Easter egg, given to her by this same friend, in the back of one of her kitchen presses, still wrapped in its shiny gold paper, which she will never bring herself to eat and will find it hard to throw it out, when it eventually reaches its expiry date. Grief. It messes with your brain.
In the first few weeks after her passing I made a point of going to all of the places I had been with her over the previous four months. I had a list of coffee shops, shopping centres, the local pool and sauna, the golf course, the beach, restaurants and I methodically ticked them off my list, afraid that if I didn’t do it soon I wouldn’t be able to go back. She had been sick you see and I had been bringing her different places to try to ease her pain.
There is one place I haven’t been back to yet, the last place we spent a lovely day out together, a few days before she died. I have wrestled, illogically, with the thought of asking the coffee shop if they still have security footage of that day so I could see her, to see the signs I missed that day. I saw her twice after this day but my kids were around and I was distracted so this day in a nearby fishing village was the last full day out we had together. We had coffee, followed by a walk along the sea front and then lunch.
Grief is a complex beast. And that brings me back to the silly box of plastic bags stuffed at the back of a drawer, where they’ll stay, until I reach another stage in my grief and the logical side of my brain has kicked the emotional side back into check.
We asked our friend, Psychotherapist Stefan about Grief and here’s what he has to say…