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My strategy for coping with grief

Grief is something no one is really prepared for. Maureen Meredith tells us how she coped with losing her mum and dad as well as her son in the space of 16 years. She talks about navigating stages of mourning and ways to bear the sadness.

My mum was an angel on earth. Everyone flocked to her side like bees around a honey pot, like moths around a lamp. Her warm, loving nature was a sense of comfort to all; she was the vortex of all communication, especially between her six children.

My dad supported my mum and all of us throughout our lives, joining the army to fight for his country.

When my mum passed away peacefully in her sleep, they had just celebrated 64 years of marriage. We suspect that she knew about her heart condition but would not have wanted to worry us. The kind words at her funeral were a testament to how much she was loved.

The care choices for dad

Now what? Who could answer the question – where will my dad live now? He couldn’t live in his family home. With three children living overseas, interstate and country and the other three working it became a problem that needed to be solved urgently.

My dad was in a daze, he had just lost his lifelong partner and wanted to join her, how could he live without her?

A nursing home was the only option. The guilt that we all felt was unbearable. We just had to accept that for his health and safety, this was the only option.

In the four years that followed, we as a family discovered the amazing qualities of this man. Determination, courage, love and loyalty were the traits that were revealed to us.

We tried to keep him part of our families with home visits, routine and lots of treats. He tried equally as hard to stay with us even though his body was breaking down.

Coping with loss

When my dad passed away, I felt like an orphan even though I am the youngest of six, my siblings still alive. I had put so much into looking after him, my family and working full time – my husband said that he didn’t get the real me back until six months after my dad’s passing.

I don’t regret anything. I might have taken away hours from my children because of my commitment to my dad but I would do it all again. I now know that you don’t get a second chance.

I now realise that the same qualities of determination, courage, love and loyalty were also evident in my son who passed away with cancer one year ago.

Inadvertently, my dad had shown me how to keep going despite all odds as did my son. My dad passed away in a nursing home, my son at his home hospice.

Again, I realised that what I had learnt through the years – from my mum and dad and losing eleven people that I was close to – would prepare me for the worst thing that can happen to a parent, the loss of their child.

My dad and my son were rewarded for their dedication and the love they showed to their family and friends. They were cared for in the toughest days of their lives. They were given time, hugs, head, back and foot massages and copious amounts of love. We did everything that we could for them and in return we got their unconditional love

Time is the greatest gift

I have learnt that when you are well supported you can give the greatest gift, your time. You are in a privileged position of caring for a loved one; you will never get this chance again so you don’t want to live with the regret of not helping when you could.

My son was a warm, loving and funny person who would go out of his way to help people so helping other grieving people is the only thing that now makes sense to me.

I am not an expert in grieving. Many people have helped me on my journey and I have learnt a lot from them and from my experiences.

I learnt most from my son and my book is dedicated to him and is his legacy.

Maureen has written a free eBook called Onwards and Upwards – Strategies for Grieving and Supporting about the process of grieving and how she made her journey through it. Visit her website or get in touch for more information.

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