(To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.)
“We don’t want to overpromise – we want to be honest”, she said.
That comment was made just a few days ago during a conversation with someone I am currently working with. I first heard from this lady by email. She was messaging from London as I was standing under the clock at Grand Central Terminal in New York last year, during my postcard mission. It was a moment that will always stay with me.
She had stumbled across an article about 60 Postcards and, as her project was born from her own experience of loss, wanted to reach out to find out more. Since then she has become a mentor, a confidant and a friend.
Her words about overpromising and honesty have also stayed with me as I realise that on this very blog, I often tell you how frequently I plan to post when I should simply explain that I will do it when I can.
So – speaking honestly – It has now been 3 years, 4 months and 6 days since my mum died and I still had an unexpected meltdown over the weekend. The fact that I have just spent so long trying to work out how long it has been is another horrendous blow. One minute you wish you didn’t have the monthly reminder of ‘that’ date – the next, you hate yourself for having missed it.
60 Postcards may have started as a tribute of handwritten notes scattered around a city but it is now about sharing stories and connecting with people. I have previously mentioned how powerful it can be to find yourself nodding in agreement and feeling a great sense of comfort while reading something that you can relate to.
There have been two profound articles shared online recently that have that effect.
Journalist, Sali Hughes, with the experience of losing her dad nine-and-a-half years ago, offered her thoughts on an article for The Pool:
Image source via The Pool
“Grief is not a choice, a project to manage or a course of medication to take. It just happens while you’re unable to form a single, sensible thought.”
“…within the hangover of grief, you will still be able to experience the joy of a great joke, of a kind gesture, of an excellent meal or a Sunday morning in bed.”
“And if a dear friend you care about loses their parent first? Say, “This is horrible, this is complete and utter shit, this is the absolute pits of the pits” – never identify any silver linings in an utterly ghastly situation.”
Read the full article HERE.
The second was Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s open post about her husband’s death:
Image source via Facebook
“Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not.”
“I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel—and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning.”
“I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted.”
Read the full article HERE.
I have mentioned my vision for a Tribute Collective before. These articles (amongst so many others) fuel my passion for making it a reality as soon as I possibly can. Despite grief being a totally unique experience, there is also a resounding, underlying sense of a society; a collective.
Until next time (whenever that may be)…
9 thoughts on “Grief: Let’s be Honest…”
2 very profound articles that I can completely relate too – thank you for sharing these. As you know, I certainly needed (and still do) somewhere to help me and share my grief and openly talk about my beloved Mum.
in the immediate days after Mum’s death,I couldn’t believe that there was nothing available, nothing that I could relate to anyway, until I came across your book.
At times I feel like I want to scream from the depths of my stomach, but nothing comes out. It is empty, like me, empty. Empty like a cave – dark, echoey, lonely and ever lasting, but somewhere there is light….. I suppose it is just knowing how and where to find it.
Look forward to your next post, whenever that maybe 😉
Saw your book on a shelf in Tesco’s, which proved to be like finding one of your postcards. What a journey, what a joy to read. The timing was so perfect as I find myself struggling with losing my adopted ‘Mum’ to cancer over 2yrs since. Saddened that she’s not with us to celebrate her only granddaughters 30th birthday but we’ll reflect on her v unique love still being part of all our everyday life’s. I count myself exceptionally fourtunate to have experienced her unconditional love for over 50 yrs. Keep posting. EJB xx
Hi Rachael, I just finished your book today which was sent to me by a dear friend who saw it and thought of me. This may be because my Mum died after an 18 month battle with cancer when I was 20 and she was 45 (I am now 47 so it is a very strange thing to now be older than my mum was). I am the oldest of 5 (my youngest brother was only 14) and now the mum of 5. I eventually got to grips with my anger at losing mum so young when my goddaughter’s daddy died when she was just 10 months old – I have learnt to be grateful for the 20 years I had mum and in turn extremely grateful to have a healthy active dad who is now 78 and still a hands on dad when required. I’m a New Zealander living in the Yorkshire Dales and still (after half my lifetime in England) getting my head around how the pommies deal with some stuff, includiing grief. Us kiwis have a very different approach to life, and it would seem, death. And thats ok of course. Life in our house is approached with an ‘every day is an adventure’ attitude (its a survival technique in disguise!) Anyway sunshine, I enjoyed your book and wish you well as you continue your journey. Big kiwi hugs to you from me (Kelly aka kiwi mum of five!)
I just read your book and it reminded me so much of my own story. I lost my father in a similar way you lost your mum. His cancer spread in his body within three weeks. I know what it feels like to watch somebody you love die infront of your eyes. What you did is great and a great way of celebrating your mums live. I lost my best friend 7 months after my dad died and I can’t deal with the grief. Loosing the two people I loved so much in such a short period has pulled the rug from under my feet. Your book is an encouragement to get in touch with my creative side and channel my grief to do something positive.
Hi Rachael, I feel I must have met you at some point as I am Beccy’s aunt by virtue of being Tony’s sister. Beccy was visiting my daughter Dawn and her family; so Bill and I drove up to Dallas from Austin to see her, and it was after she left Dallas that she met you in New York.
Tony flew to Austin around Easter and spent three weeks with us, it was wonderful to have him here especially as we flew to Miami to visit friends and took a weekend trip to Key West to visit Kevin, a cousin whom he had never met.
The memorable part of trip was the fact that Tony’s mother Rose, was Kevin’s aunt and I believe he had met her at some point. Kevin and another cousin, Tricia, who was visiting from Ireland while we were there, knew what a wonderful person Rose was and told Tony that she was one of six children and although she had only one child, Tony, four of her siblings had sixteen children between them, including Kevin.
In other words Tony went from thinking he had one cousin finding out he had another fifteen.
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Mother. We never get over the death of a loved one, over time we just learn how to live with the grief. I think what you are doing with your blog is very selfless, it gives people an avenue with which to tell the story of their loved ones, so just ignore the naysayers.
You will always have the support of your friends and loved ones.
Best wishes always,
Rachael, you have been so kind and generous with your time and energy when you yourself are going through the terrible grief of losing your mum. I know just what you mean about marking the days, months and years and feeling guilty if a milestone goes by and you’ve been too busy to realise it.
It’s just all so hard isn’t it?
Give yourself all the time you need. Be kind to yourself and take it easy. Thank you again for giving me a positive way to honour my mum’s memory and please don’t feel you owe anyone anything.
Take care of yourself honey. Best wishes, Fran x
Monday was the 6th anniversary of losing my dad. I’ve found that remembering specific dates and what we were doing etc more difficult to remember as time passes. These days apart from the actual date of June 15th other dates such as his birthday, wedding anniversary, Christmas and Fathers Day all strike a chord. But also for me the one thing etched on my mind is he died at 10:45 on a Monday. For me Mondays will never be the same again xx
Rachael, my thoughts are with you as you ride the roller coaster of grief. My best friend lost her mum just two months after she got married. It has been a long journey over the past 4 years. Know your loved ones support you any way they can and they will be there for you through thick and thin. I’m thinking of you. (Wingnut817 from Instagram).