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Mum, front row right, with my brother John on her lap. Standing next to her is my brother Richard. This photo must be from 1944. Also in the picture are: Back row R-L: Auntie Jacqueline, Uncle Len, Auntie Cynthia. In the middle: Auntie Greta. Front row left is Auntie Barbara holding cousin Martin.
Getting married and later getting pregnant were new stages on the grief – yes, I’m going to use the ‘J’-word – journey. Its incredibly hard to go through those experiences without your Mum and Dad. Every good thing that happens to you has a bittersweet tinge. My daughters will never know them, and vice-versa. Mum would have been such a wonderful Grandma, such a support to me when I needed it, and it’s hard knowing that we’ve all missed out on that. My parents both died in their early fifties, and probably with the treatments available now, they would have lived longer, which only makes me feel sadder. I admit I find it very hard not to feel bitter when I see selfish people live long lives, when Mum and Dad, who both worked hard and served their community, were robbed of a comfortable retirement together…
Often, the first impulse of the kind-hearted is to offer practical help, especially if they are not particularly close to the person. This is a very positive reaction, but please, don’t say “Let me know if you need anything,” because they won’t. In those first terrible few days and weeks, just getting through the day is hard enough, so you will not be getting any calls for help. Instead, offer something specific, such as walking the dog, taking the kids to the cinema or a football match (a friend of my Dad’s took me to Portman Road and it started an obsession that lasted for years), or cook a meal, or take mother-in-law to her appointments…