My Mothers’ Story
During this pandemic many of us have felt loss, I am one of those people. It was not a loss to Covid-19, however, my Mum was diagnosed with cancer in May 2020 at the age of 68 years old. To this day the doctors weren’t able to tell us, which type of cancer my mother had. They suspected it to be a gynae or gastric cancer but had been unable to confirm what the primary cancer was despite presenting as ovarian cancer.
My mother was a natural pessimist, but ironically in her battle against cancer, she truly believed she could beat it. For once in her life, she chose to be positive. She embarked on her journey with vigor and followed a strict regime which meant significant lifestyle changes. She went on to fight cancer for another eleven months but lost her
battle due to how aggressive the disease was, having ravaged her body, during that short time.
Coping with Being the One Left Behind
She left behind two beautiful grandchildren whom she adored and hated to think she would not see them grow up and would miss out on those special milestones in their lives. The most difficult part was telling my children they would not see their beloved Nana again. For my five year old this was tough as I didn’t know if he really understood death in the months that have followed I have found myself questioning their behavior regularly, was this normal 5 and 10-year-olds behaviour, or was this a sign of grief in my child? Reading about this has really helped me identify signs and quickly talk with my kids about what they are feeling and how they are behaving.
Recognising and Understanding the Stages of Grief
We will never get that time back where we should have had a chance to make a few extra memories. To come to terms with this I’ve done lots of reading and research and found understanding the five stages of grief really helped me to know how I was going to feel and what my children were feeling. I’ve found that I haven’t moved through the stages one at a time;
I seem to move between them depending on the day and what might trigger me. In the early stages, there have been some days that I have woken up in tears and have felt like I can’t even get out of bed. But life and routine make me carry on. I’ve found comfort in the belief that my mothers’ spirit lives on in butterflies that visit us. My children love this idea and we share these moments each time we are visited by a peacock butterfly. It gives us an opportunity to talk about her, sometimes it makes us cry together, but most of the time we smile.
So What Now?
We decided as a family not to ask the experts for a prognosis as we felt knowing an endpoint would reduce my Mums’ positivity. What pains me most was what she missed out on during those eleven months due to the restrictions placed on us all due to the pandemic. Sometimes, I question if this was a sensible decision for us and our children, given how quickly she was gone. Would it have changed how we adhered to the pandemic lockdown for us as a family? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that and choose not to question us any further as I can’t live with regrets. Life is too short! In contrast to my Mum, my glass is always half
full. And so, I choose to go on and continue to create new memories whilst abiding by some beautiful family traditions. Yes, they might be without her but I know she is looking down on us and delighting in every smile, laugh, or excited screech she hears from my kids.
Life Goes On
It’s my daughters’ 10th birthday next week, every year before this, her Nana would lovingly bake her a birthday cake and we would have a family party. She would blow out her candles and I would take a photo and place it in a photo frame in her bedroom. That photo frame has 9 beautiful pictures in it of each cake, but there are three empty spaces that haven’t been filled yet. In fact,
the year Mum was diagnosed, my daughter delivered a sketch to her of the cake she had designed for her to bake. It was a three-tiered chocolate cake with butter icing, her name written on the top with a secret middle which had M&M’s hidden inside that would spill out when the cake was cut. This year we have discussed what we will do for her cake, she has asked that she and I bake it together. So, this will be the start of a new tradition, where she and I will bake a cake. Believe me, I am not a natural baker, so it will be a simple Victoria Sponge cake.
I know as my daughter blows out her candles my Mum will be looking down on her and smiling. Perhaps when she plays in the garden with her brother after the party a butterfly may flutter by, just to confirm what I know, that she will always be there with us watching her grandchildren grow.
I’m 42 years old and have two children. My daughter is 10 years old and my son is 5. I’ve been married fourteen years. Before all this came to my career, I was an ambitious salesperson carving out a career within the tech industry but I found my family life was coming second and took the bold decision in February 2020 to give it all up having got to C-Level status. It was, bittersweet, as I made the decision in order to be able to spend more time with my husband and kids. Within a month we were in full lockdown on top of one another 24 hours a day and in May my Mum was diagnosed with cancer. Not working enabled me to devote myself to the care and support of my kids but also to my Mum who had recently been diagnosed with Cancer.