A lovely lady from our SHONA Community 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 jewelry 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 traveling 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 centers, the local pool and sauna, the golf course, the beach, and 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 to 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 seafront 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.


So, what do we want you to know if you ever experience grief? 

When someone you know passes away, grief hits hard, and there are lots of emotions tied up in the whole experience: sadness, anger, despair, confusion, and disbelief. It’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently, and all of our experiences are unique to us.

Unfortunately, it hurts. Really, really hurts. But the pain you experience is a testament to the love you shared with the person who has passed away. If the scar runs deep, it means the love ran deep too. And you will never, ever regret that part.

There is no formula for grief. It is a process that will pass at its own pace. It comes in waves, and some days all you can do is float and wait for things to calm down. Other days, you will need to cling to something, or somebody, because you are tired, and you can’t do it by yourself. One day, you’ll find that you can touch the bottom of the water with your toes, and eventually, your two feet will support you completely. The waves will never completely disappear, but that’s okay, you will become an expert swimmer. You will get through it. We promise.


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