When I was 14 years old, my two grandmothers died within a month of each other. Christmas was but a few weeks away and it is one of the saddest times I can remember!
My maternal grandmother (Grandma) had been diagnosed with throat Cancer and had fought it off to the point of remission, but the tumor in her brain had not yet been diagnosed; she sadly died in November 1992. My paternal grandmother (Nanny) died unexpectedly from a heart attack just four weeks later.
I never went to either funeral. I didn’t want to remember them that way, I didn’t want a funeral to taint my memories. Instead, I chose to keep them in my head and heart the way I always want them to be – strong, feisty women with warm, soft arms hugging me, their wicked sense of humours sending me into fits of laughter. Their dresses, the smell of their perfume, the way they did their hair… all those memories that bring me comfort and squish my heart for a beat, each time I recall them. I can honestly say that, even now, 26 years on, they still feel alive to me, and I am so grateful for that!
After Nanny died, I had a visitor who came to see me every single day for over six months. This visitor sat beside me in my classroom for over an hour at each visit and without saying a single word to me, seemed to be able to communicate such peacefulness, and a feeling of spiritual upliftment which I couldn’t explain, and never shared with anyone else. As I sat next to the visitor each day, I would feel words, rather than hear them, and those words felt like my grandmother’s hugs. They would feel familiar, comforting and reassuring. Some days, my visitor would be late, and I would feel desolate, what if the previous visit was the last visit? I would feel a fresh sense of loss each time and realise that, that day, was likely to be the day I start grieving… and then my visitor would arrive and calm would wash over me once again. My visitor was a Robin and he visited me until the day came when he was late, and I discovered that tears never fell. The next day, he never came at all.
Some would say that I am being ridiculous, some might scoff and tease that perhaps I needed to believe that my Grandmothers were reincarnated into birds, others might say that it was a child’s silly notion which I should grow out of – whilst others may have similar stories to tell. Does it matter?
Some people have a religion and take comfort in a God, or in spiritual readings for guidance; and, had I gone to the funerals of my Grandmothers, then that is where it would have been socially acceptable for me to find solace. Some people find temporary comfort in alcohol or drugs, which society expresses understanding, though not always tolerance. Then there are some people who turn to Spiritualism, and seek comfort in contacting their dearly departed through Mediums, whilst there are others who meditate and hope to find comfort within their own thoughts. There are those who have no beliefs of any kind, and seek comfort from the affection and empathy of friends, family or their pets. I ask again, does it matter?
At my lowest point in my life, a friend gave me a book. It was The Cosmic Ordering Service. Although I myself identify as a Spiritualist, I am one of the most sceptical Spiritualists around! This book though was less about spirit and more about ‘what you put out into the universe is what you will receive’. My initial thought out into the universe was ‘bollocks’. Then a day came when I had literally nothing left and couldn’t summon a single shred of will from within me. I saw the book nearby and with arms and heart so heavy that I could barely move, I opened the book at a random page. The sentence I read asked me what I want in life. Tears streamed down my face and I said aloud, to myself, “I just want to feel. I want to feel happiness” I looked up out of the window, and there, in mid-June sunshine, a Robin flew down and stood in the path in front me. My heart surged and felt ready to burst within that very moment, and I smiled a massive smile. I asked and I received.
Whether any of this is a huge coincidence doesn’t matter. If I am a bit of a div, doesn’t matter. Whether you believe any of this or not, doesn’t matter. My grief, my solace, my beliefs, my needs and my resolution affects nobody but me. For anyone out there who is grieving right now, now matter what kind of loss you are suffering, don’t let anyone tell you how you should grieve; its not their grief to bear! How long your heart aches, for whom your heart aches and how you ease your heartache is nobody’s business but your own! My dining room has 12 robin ornaments nestled near to my window and serve as a reminder to me that my Grandmothers are always just a heart squish away, and I truly hope that for anyone hurting out there right now, a ‘robin’ of your own making, visits with you soon.