This month has been the hardest month of my entire life. My Mum passed away in the first week of February and so we’ve had a February full of painful grief.
Losing my Mum to COVID has opened my eyes up to many realisations and has taught me even more about myself that I didn’t understand before. One thing that I’ve certainly learnt is the strength I have. The courage to keep on going for my three daughters has certainly got us through these past few weeks.
I will write about my own experiences of grief when I’m ready to delve into those emotions but for now, we’ll focus on my beautiful daughters and the month they have had.
Freya has shown huge amounts of bravery this month. She’s been opening up to me and talking so much more than she did before. My Mum and Freya had a unique bond, whenever I felt that something might be upsetting Freya I knew that I could send her my Mums way and she’d help to figure it out. The realisation that she won’t be able to seek my Mum’s comfort has helped to strengthen the bond we have.
Being the eldest and in secondary school, we gave her the option of whether she’d like to attend the funeral in March but also whether she wanted to visit my Mum in the chapel of rest. The answer was yes to both of those.
Going for that visit was a bit of an unknown to me, let alone Freya who is only twelve years old! It was a sad experience for both of us, Mum definitely didn’t look like my Mum and I think Freya put it very well saying to me “our bodies are like costumes. We take them off and leave them behind when we go to heaven” and that’s exactly what Mum looked like, a flat costume left behind. We hugged and cried, for Freya it was about accepting that this was real, that Nanny is gone.
Here in the UK, we are still in a lockdown with schools closed and virtual home learning taking place. Freya has been taking it in her stride, working well independently to get her school work done. It’s impressed me actually. Although she’s been coping quite well, she is desperate to get back to school and see her friends.
Freya also had a physiotherapy session this month which was the first since before the pandemic begun. As expected her legs have deteriorated, most likely due to not exercising/walking as much but also puberty plays a factor too. We came away with the usual sheet of more exercises to do at home and the hope to see the physiotherapist in a few months time. Who knows!
Eva prayed so hard to have her Nanny better for her birthday but sadly she passed away the day before. This meant that Eva’s birthday was a tough one emotionally for all of us. We’d promised to make it the best lockdown birthday and I think we did a brilliant job. It certainly feels crazy that Eva is now eight years old though! Where does the time go?!
Out of all three of them, Eva was the one to show her emotions following Nanny’s death. She was so devastated and cried most of the first evening. Then a few days later it hit again. She became quite obsessed with putting together a memory jar and trying to speak to people that knew Nanny like our friend in America. I think she has the best understanding of what has happened but obviously none of us can truly understand why this is happening to us.
Mentally this lockdown has been hard on Eva. She doesn’t adapt well to the home learning. It’s so sad to see her get so frustrated with her work or put up a wall. The most common saying is certainly “I don’t understand” and that’s usually before she’s even taking the time to read what she’s meant to be doing. However, she’s been able to get some amazing support from her teacher throughout the day which has helped keep her going.
Eva’s personality is certainly one that is always on the go. I’ve always thought she may have ADHD and when she’s stuck at home, I see it even more! She flits between activities and finds it difficult to focus on one thing for too long. Eva thrives from being outside and wearing off some energy, so now the weather is a little warmer and dry, I’ve been sending her in the garden for her breaks. It truly helps!
Eva’s been on a bit of an asthma review this year. I think that we are getting to grips with the new routine of having her pump in the morning and at bedtime, then using a different one before going outdoors. Her breathlessness and coughing has been significantly less, however I’ve noticed that the cats do aggravate it. The nurse has given us lots of tips and I am hopeful it’ll be something she grows out of like my brother and Hubby have.
I love the confidence that Elsa has right now. The hilarious conversations that we have or the cheeky things she does because she knows it’s either going to wind me up or just funny. At home she thrives, she isn’t too keen on being out of the house and that definitely showed on our first trip outside when it snowed. She just complained about wanting to go home the entire time. Bring on the next day and Elsa was more at ease with the situation.
The enthusiasm Elsa had for virtual learning last month has certainly worn off. It’s got to the point where I’m writing things down and she’s copying. The fun side of it has gone, being replaced by frustration and reluctancy to engage in any learning. We battle our way through two or three pieces of work each day before giving up. Admitting defeat. Where is my Mum for a Zoom lesson when you need her?!
Elsa took the news about my Mum the easiest. I think she has her age on her side for that. At six years old, her understanding of the situation is basic. She knows what death is but probably not the aftermath it’ll have on everyone or the things that are being missed. Instead, Elsa has been asking important questions about it and getting her knowledge and understanding that way. I just hope she isn’t too young to forget the love that they shared together, the experiences and memories.
I’ve been really excited about getting Elsa back to school, I want her to overcome selective mutism as quickly as we can in order for her to be more confident in life. But now the time for them to return is rapidly approaching, I’m beginning to worry about how much I’ll miss her. Elsa is such a beautiful little character and not having her demands all day long will be such a weird change.
I could not have got through these past few weeks without my three girlies. The love they have for me alone has pushed me to keep going. They each care so much in their own little ways. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many cuddles from them in my entire life. Even Freya is dishing them out regularly.
February has had some odd weathers that have pushed us to venture into the real world again. We’d been stuck in the house most of winter, mainly due to our adverse reaction to cold weather but also from fear of getting ill. The snow certainly enticed us out which followed by warmer spring-like weather too. Our favourite thing to do right now is visit the local National Trust sites, they are restricting numbers so it’s been very quiet. Especially on the more drizzly weather days.
My husbands Nan and Grandad wanted to do something nice for the girls to remember my Mum. I spent ages trying to find something to do with bereavement that was suitable for children. I failed. Everything just made me feel so sad. Then I found a beautiful artist who so lovingly created a big Nanny flamingo with her three granddaughter flamingos. I still need to hang it on the wall somewhere, but know this will be cherished forever. One of my Mum’s favourite animals was the flamingo.
This month has certainly been a rollercoaster and one focused on just surviving each day as it comes. Freya, Eva and Elsa have become so much closer. They are playing more – Freya more reluctantly, but still playing together. Next month will see their bonds shifting again as they adjust to being apart during school hours. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks ahead!
Check out our previous Siblings Project posts here!