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Column: 'I felt a wave of guilt come over me. How was I laughing in a world my mum wasn’t in?'

There is no guide to tell you how to cope with life after loss, writes Mairead Doyle.

Mairead Doyle Journalism graduate

LAST YEAR ON 2 February I lost my beautiful mum. With her being sick for seven years there was always an atmosphere of uncertainty. But it was never something myself, my sisters or my thirteen-year-old brother gave in to.

My mum was a fighter and she did not give up. She simply moved onto the next chapter of her life and sadly her physical presence isn’t here anymore.

There are plenty of events that I wish my mum was here for, particularly the family ones. Easter is here and as my family prepare to celebrate by eating copious amounts of chocolate and spending quality time together, it forces me to reflect on how far we’ve come in the last year.

Journey of loss is strange

The journey of loss is a strange one, there is no guide book to show you the right or wrong way of doing it. Mainly because there is no right or wrong way.

I have found since saying goodbye to my mum that no matter what time of year it is, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Easter, her birthday… you will always have bad days BUT you can also have good ones and these are the real hurdle.

The bad days are inevitable and, in the short time I had to mentally prepare that she was dying, I knew that life was going to be really tough for some time. If I’m being completely honest, I thought life was going to be awful, forever. I am happy to say that isn’t the case.

There has yet to be a day where I don’t find a great sting in my chest thinking of my loving mum and what I would give to hug her or chat to her. But I find myself connecting with her in other ways and discovering traits of her’s I have in me. These little joys fill that mum-shaped hole in my heart just ever so slightly.

For other people life goes on

The whirlwind began the minute the funeral did. My family were lucky to be surrounded by some incredible people and we got through it with this help and adrenaline. But afterwards for everyone else life goes on and sadly we were left to deal with this life-altering loss not really knowing how to put one foot in front of the other.

I can only discuss my own experience and through time and multiple important conversations with friends I have discovered grief is so different and unique. It must be shown respect, especially from yourself. This is initially why I found any good days so hard.

I remember a couple of months after my mum passed away and something my boyfriend did made me laugh uncontrollably, my tummy hurt I was laughing so much, and swiftly that laughter turned to tears. I felt a wave of guilt come over me. How was I laughing in a world my mum wasn’t in? I was in mourning. I wasn’t allowed to laugh.

In hindsight it’s a crazy rationalisation and I am proud that I can laugh today without feeling guilt and knowing that my mum would not want a world of sadness. I think the mere idea of it would make her embarrassed that we were making a fuss.

I’m getting there

When people ask me how I am I say ‘getting there’. I’m not sure where I’m going. But I know that sometimes I’m not good or great but I’m not awful either.

There are days when I feel like I’ve been hit by a big red bus, but more importantly there are days where I laugh and it doesn’t turn into tears. So for now, I’m getting there.

Mairead Doyle is a journalism graduate and actress.

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About the author:

Mairead Doyle  / Journalism graduate

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