Some things are easier to let go of than others.
The hardest thing I ever had to let go of was all dreams of mothering my daughter Hannah.
Hannah was born and died in 2004.
Her birth was long anticipated.
I had waited 10 years.
I was in the process of closing down my counselling practise to spend all my time with my new baby.
I had bought new baby clothes for her.
I had washed and ironed all the baby clothes I had saved from when my 10 year old was a baby.
My friend had given me a cot and a buggy.
I was ready.
Then Hannah died.
Suddenly I had to say goodbye to Hannah.
And I had to say goodbye to all my dreams.
The funeral process helped me to say goodbye to Hannah.
But much later, I had to say goodbye to my dreams of mothering Hannah.
As time passed I realised that I was skirting around that dreadful pain.
So I gathered her pictures and those baby clothes,
I played the song 'In the arms of the angels' by Sarah Mc Loughlin,
and I cried the unpretty tears.
Alone, because I couldn't cry in front of others, I wailed and screamed.
I stormed around my house.
I argued with my fate aloud.
I went down and down and down into my grief until I felt empty and hollowed out.
I faced the stark reality that Hannah was gone and she was never coming back.
I looked at my life which had been bleached of all joy and meaning.
I realised that fighting this reality would drive me insane.
I realised I could become one of the walking dead.
I realised I had a choice.
I resolved then and there that somehow I would find a way or make a way to crawl back out again.
I began to accept 'that which I could not change.'
And over the following weeks and months I learned that I could soothe my pain with simple activities like walking on the beach or writing down my thoughts and feelings.
But I needed to do those things EVERY DAY.
Every day I had to get up and make a decision to do something, anything which gave me some pleasure.
Even when I didn't feel like it, I had to do something.
There was a huge effort involved in this.
But one evening, I could see that there had been no effort that day.
I had absorbed the habit.
It had become something I did like brushing my teeth or combing my hair.
I didn't have to think about it.
And I was grateful.
Now this doesn't mean that grief cannot ambush me even still.
But I stand before you now a bereaved mother, AND a woman who has joy and meaning in her life again.
I stand before you certain in the knowledge that if you go down and down into the heart of your grief and loss something amazing happens.
You find an empty space.
And you find that you have a choice.
You have a choice to seek out those things that soothe and heal.
Only by trial and error will you find what works best for you.
But if you persist, you will find what works for you.
There will be many days when you feel discouraged.
There will be days when you feel that you are wasting your time.
There will be days when you are so angry that all you want to do is break things.
But if you persist, you will find your way.
There is a strength inside you that you do not see because you feel so frail and vulnerable.
You can uncover your strength.
If you would like some help to do that you will find suggestions in the Happy Book which is currently on sale at cost price.
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Growing up in a white world
When people say genealogy is boring
Anger and Truth
Where do you come from?
The House on an Irish Hillside book review
Mammies for Mariage Equality
Aw go on, say YES
Homeless in Ireland
When wide sky opens poem
I love my work
Celtic New Year
This small house
Rhythm & Rest poem
The Hidden Self
The Lonely Road
Kerry Pride 2013
Letting the Light in after Loss
Letting go is hard
Pick up the phone
Her name was not Magdalene
Do what you love doing!
My small granny
Praise the child and boil the dishcloths
My invisible brother Michael
I don't want to be Irish anymore
Alone on Valentine's Day
I love my country but I am not blind
Truth no. 2
How we tell the Truth
From Clare to here
Mother's Day is bittersweet
I will not be part of that
No Blacks No Dogs No Irish
Thank you for the days
Baby Marion Howe
My Irish Identity
When my Mam was dying
Violence against women
Take back your power
Draw the line
My small granny and other stories