Sudden loss – shock and grief
On this day, back in July 2014 our family was catapulted into grief when Cliff, my brother-in-law, suddenly died after feeling vaguely unwell for a few days.
He was only 55 at the time, married with two young teenage children at home, parents, an older brother and a younger sister, nieces and nephews, in laws, friends, colleagues…..
Just a few weeks before, Cliff had participated in a team Rogaining event and won, despite being older than many of the entrants. He was fit, happy, competitive and yet just weeks later he had passed away. Right at the very end he was diagnosed with Leukaemia.
My husband, his older brother, saw him on the weekend before, as we were in the area for me to attend a Rotary meeting. As we don’t live nearby, it has always seemed a fortuitous meeting and I’m grateful to Rotary for the chance for my husband, and one of our daughters, to see him one last time.
Just days later I sat down and wrote down my thoughts in this post, which I shared at the time. It is still one of the rawest, most honest posts I have ever written.
For obvious reasons.
It helped to get the thoughts out of my head.
We are all in shock.
It was so quick, so unexpected, so sudden, just too awful to think about.
It was all over so fast.
He was too young.
His body was sick but we didn’t know it until too late, and neither perhaps did he.
Seeing ‘signs’ all over the place that I wouldn’t normally notice. Ads for Funeral directors, health checks, cancer council car, bye bye miss American pie on the radio – this will be the day that I die – way too soon to hear that.
Family rallying, travelling from all over
Talking over things, over thinking things
Memories flitting through my head
Crying, consoling, grieving, laughing, thinking, talking, remembering.
Trying to be strong. His wife, his children, his parents, his sister, my husband (his brother), my children, family, friends, colleagues, team mates and everyone else who knew him – all sad, all shocked feeling the loss already.
He lived an active life and he was liked by everyone,
not one for the limelight, a quiet ‘get on with it’ sort of guy.
He was fun, he was competitive, he was sporty, he was involved in many community groups.
He was a caring, gentle, happy, thoughtful man and he was one of the nicest people I have ever known. More like a brother to me than a brother in law.
Writing helps, words and thoughts tumble and fight to be written.
Running helps, although my heart is in so much pain I don’t know how it manages to keep on beating at times.
Wishing it wasn’t so, remembering that it is.
Live each day as if it’s your last, because you just never know.
Five years on
It still doesn’t feel real, although it’s now five years ago.
We all miss Cliff and there are times I forget that he’s not here anymore. In some ways he’s still with us, we share stories, laugh at old jokes and remember his spirit!
I’d love to be able to bring him up to date on our weddings, our baby news, our travels, our losses and what I wouldn’t give to see his slow, easy smile light up his face one more time.
Something I have learnt over the years, is that we all grieve in different ways and no way is any better than another.
Some want to express their grief and others want to keep it private.
We are all entitled to grieve in our own way.
Christie, a blogging friend, recently wrote about coping with grief after the sudden death of her brother, and I could relate to all she said.
This quote has helped me, as I’ve navigated the death of my father and my father-in-law, in the years since Cliff left us:
If you know someone who has lost a very important person in their life and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you may make them sad by reminding them that they died – you’re not reminding them, they didn’t forget that they died. What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived. And that is a great, great gift.
Cliff was a major part of us all and lives on in our memories. And in his family.
My only advice to you is to take a moment to cherish those who are dear to you, and don’t be afraid to live your life fully – it can be over far too quickly.
And be kind – always!
With much love.
Linking up with Denyse’s #Lifethisweek
It just so happens that Day 22 prompt for #JournalinginJuly challenge is Thankful
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