How to Heal a Lost Heart

It’s taken me some time. Somewhere in the middle of last week, I realised just how numb I have been. Last year was hard. Losing our Granny this January was harder. It doesn’t make it easier knowing that someone is fading.

She was the first woman in my family to die that I was close to. It wasn’t the kind of closeness you have where you tell someone everything about yourself. It was the kind of closeness where you know all these different aspects of someone – their grumpiness, their humour, their likes and dislikes, their opinions and their habits – and yet they accept you and you accept them. It is only in the past ten years that I have come to know all these aspects of her. It doesn’t make it easier knowing that she had a long life full of love. It dulls the pain, but her absence is a great unbalance in our lives.

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I was there when she was dying and when she slipped away from us. She was ready to go. I sat with her on my own for a little while that day, and I stroked her forehead to soothe her. I felt both grateful that I could make her feel safe but also the weight of sadness that she was in pain. How difficult it is when you come face to face with your own mortality and the mortality of your loved ones. It was both heartbreaking and beautiful. That is what life is.

There are some things I wish I could have told her. That I see her – I see her grace and her stubbornness, her strong will and her gentleness. I wanted to thank her for showing me her impish side, her cheeky smile and for knowing that I would never hold anything against her. She gave me so much when I was young – my first cinema trip to Snow White, her lullabies when I was afraid of the dark – and as an adult I always felt myself feel more confident in life with her pride in us all. I know that she would always be proud of us no matter what we do or where we go.

So healing a lost heart takes time. It doesn’t work getting lost in a crowd, being anonymous or in a group of people. It needs space, time, nature, people you can just ‘be’ with. It requires unplugging from Facebook, a place of noise. Reading, cats, writing and taking up yoga – dancing in the kitchen as you make a cup of coffee. Especially writing, the kind of writing that you don’t show to anyone. Reading books makes me feel: I need to feel things. It requires kindness with yourself, patience and trusting yourself to know what is best for you. Even if some days that is back to back episodes of something on Netflix. Some days that might be taking a duvet day. Other days it might be going for a walk, taking photos of things you see. Just being in the world for once, with no pressure.

Losing yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t still there. It just means you need time.

‘I also believe that when people are going through difficult situations in life… it causes them to search a lot more. They search life and search their soul. When you’re searching, you’re suddenly a lot more open to the world around you, to the possibilities, to things you never thought about before. — When you’re happy, you don’t question the world so much. When you’re lost, you question everything. The very reason why it is so essential to human self-discovery.’ – Cecilia Ahern.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. bikerchick57 says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I still miss my dad, although he’s been gone almost three years. There’s so many things I would have liked to ask him and I would have made it a point to spend more time with him. I guess we all have to remember to make the most of the time we have with our loved ones.

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    1. Liz Ward says:

      I’m so sorry about your Dad. Time doesn’t really make it hurt any less, although we learn to live again. I’m grateful for the fact we knew she may not have much time, and that my Mum made sure my sister and I knew when it was time. I think we made the right choice to go and be with her for the last 24 hours, she was relieved to see us. You’re right – it can be difficult to remember to make the most of the time, but I am much more grateful for each day I get with people nowadays.

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  2. cardamone5 says:

    Dearest Liz:

    I am sorry for your loss. Grandmas are irreplaceable, so crucial to our formative years, and then, if we are lucky enough to still have them when we become adults, they encourage us not to take ourselves too seriously because they’ve done it all, and have the wisdom of being on the other side. What a loving, and hard decision to be with her when she died. It is the kindest thing you can do for someone: be there so they are not alone. Your granny would be so proud of you.

    I am facing the loss of my 95 year old grandma, and I am shocked by how much it is impacting me. Like yours, my grandma was there for me a lot when I was growing up, providing a safe haven during some tumultuous times. She showed me how joyful monogamous love can be when I was around her and my step grandpa, who just passed. Their love gave me courage to find my husband and become a mother. There are no words to describe that gift. Like you, I feel I know her good and bad parts, as she knows mine, and we love each other unconditionally. I will miss having her in my life, but I also know she is ready to go and suffering, and missing my step grandpa.

    That said, my anxiety is out of control and unpredictable, which increases it. My moods are all over the place, and my choices reflect that inner turmoil. So many strides I thought I’d made with my mental health seem to be falling away. I am trying not to beat myself up, as I would have in the past, and just take care of myself, but old thinking patterns are hard to break.

    I also feel the opportunity in this suffering, as your quote describes. Perhaps I can truly break old patterns and be happier in the long run, although it feels like hell right now. I am thinking of going to therapy. Maybe I can finally benefit from it.

    Anyway, thank you for this post. It means a lot to me.

    Love,
    E

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    1. Liz Ward says:

      I’m sending you so many healing hugs. And thank you for this lovely comment, it helps me so much and I’m very glad my post helped you too. I understand about how easy it is to beat ourselves up for how we are feeling and thinking – I face this battle often. I’ve also learnt that there are going to be bad, difficult days, and sometimes on those days all we can do is let ourselves be – look after ourselves and be kind. Do what you need to do to look after yourself. I’m thinking of you xxx

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  3. fmonk says:

    Wow, great post. I’m going on five years, six, lost track. It’s been a blur of despair. This helps, thanks.

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  4. thedailymiacis says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s hard to lose someone close, and I cannot imagine how it must, like a space that it’s missing, that’s used to be so full.
    A heart heals at it’s own pace, no matter how much time it takes, it will heal. You just need to take your time, at your own will.
    Hope you get better, kisses *

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  5. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother! You must have been a great joy to her.

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