I made my Aunty cry a couple of nights ago.
It was my singing that triggered it, but hopefully not because it was so bad, as my Dad would once have joked.
I’m very happy to be back at singing lessons now I’m home in Melbourne and I was sharing with Aunty D and my Mum one of my favourite songs – Angel, by Sarah McLachlan.
My Mum and Aunt are visiting from Western Australia for a couple of weeks to give Aunty D a break from her normal routine. She’s finding it a welcome distraction from the big hole in her life after Uncle J died in February.
My Aunt and Uncle were together more than 30 years before he died peacefully in her arms, so when I got to the chorus of the song, which talks about being carried away in the arms of an angel, it was quite emotional for Aunty D.
In truth, she loved the song so much that she held back the tears until the end in case her crying made me stop. Afterwards she asked me for a copy of the lyrics and because the song was so special for her, I’ve given her a Sarah McLachlan CD to take home.
It’s precious to share this time with her, just as it was to be there for Mum when she visited in the six months after Dad passed away in early 2010.
Mum and Dad were together more than 40 years. It was Mum’s idea to invite Aunty D to join her on this trip because she remembered how good she found it to get away for a while after losing Dad.
Not that Mum remembers much about that visit. She was in a fog of grief, although she says she didn’t understand that at the time.
They say you live your life forwards and understand it backwards. It’s only now looking back that Mum can see clearly the phases of grief she went through.
As sad as it is to watch two sisters dealing with this profound grief, it’s also beautiful that they can share what they’re feeling with each other.
While I try to imagine what Aunty D must be going through right now as she bravely navigates each day alone, Mum has been living it herself and she truly understands.
I would never seek to compare losing your job with losing the love of your life.
However, as I’ve thought about grief this week it has reminded me of something I heard when I was made redundant. I was told that because it’s a form of loss, I should expect to go through some or all of the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I certainly felt a sense of disbelief on the day I was told, followed by sadness – particularly during my final two weeks in the office.
But if there was ever any suggestion I would have a rush of anger or depression, it never came. While I think I’ve been through the worst of it, perhaps there’s more to come?
As Aunty D, Mum and I have discussed this week, the death of someone you love makes you focus on what’s important in life – and that includes getting on with living.
I pinch myself that I have been given this opportunity to focus on some things that feel important to my life. To spend more time with my family and friends, to travel and meet new people, to do some volunteering (I’m getting this organised in the next few weeks, so there will be more to come on this), to reflect and write, and run and sing.
Who knows how I will see things after all of that, but for now, I feel incredibly fortunate and surprisingly busy.