I recently wrote about bereavement here. This prompted the following guest post by one of my followers on Twitter. He is 28. He has written about what happened to him and his family in the hope of helping some-one else. It is an honour to host such an honest and open piece of writing from one of my Twitter friends – who I haven’t even met yet! He is only 4 years older than my oldest child. Which kind of makes me think a bit!! Anyway, please read, and as ever, if you wish to comment, please do, and I will ensure your comments are passed to the author.
I take a pride in helping other people and after being encouraged and then given the opportunity to write this for @Mrsnige’s blog it is an honour and if just one person reads it and it helps them over come their traumatic experience then it will have been well worth it.
People who know me well will be aware that I lost my mum to a Subarachnoid Haemorrhage (brain haemorrhage) on December 9th 2013. This is my story of the week that changed my life and how I have dealt with it to enable me to move on.How old were you when your Mum died, and does your position in the family affect how you have had to react to things, plan and organise things?
It was December 3rd, I was at home just finished having a shower and eating some toast when I had a text from my Dad, and it said Mum has collapsed at work. That was it, I phoned him and he said it was ok, she was sat up in the ambulance and they said she didn’t need to go to hospital. I breathed a sigh of relief and didn’t think much more about it, the ambulance left her work and Mum went to get her things to go home. Within five minutes my phone rang again, this time I was told to go to the hospital. Mum had collapsed again and a second ambulance was on the way for her, little did I know they were fighting to save my Mum’s life on the floor of the supermarket where she worked.
I headed for the hospital, half way there my phone rang again, it was my sister, I remember her saying for me to hurry up, I asked what had happened and all my sister would say is there will be a nurse waiting at the front of the emergency department for you when you arrive, straight away I knew this was bad. I arrived at the hospital and as my sister had said a nurse was waiting, she approached me, I still wonder how she knew I was Rob but she did, I was taken to a relatives room and then on to see my Mum. She was in the resuscitation room on a life support machine and surrounded by doctors and nurses. I went and gave her a kiss, I was in shock, I was upset but I couldn’t take it all in.
Then the consultant said we all needed to go back to the relatives room, he and two nurses followed us in. They shut the door and told us all to sit down. I remember Dad saying so what’s next. The words I heard next will stay with me forever. I looked at the nurse and I knew but I needed him to say it. The consultant said ” it’s not good news I’m afraid, this is the most serious haemorrhage that can occur” “I’m afraid she is going to die” I had only seen my Mum two days previous and she was fine, had cooked me dinner and we had a nice day, this just couldn’t be happening.
By now my Grandad had arrived. He was on his own he didn’t bring my Grandma for some reason. He was in bits, my Dad was in bits and my sister was motionless, this couldn’t be happening. I walked out of the relatives room and a nurse followed. I said to her “please don’t let her die”.
I decided I should phone my Grandma, she should be here with her daughter. I walked outside and a paramedic told me to go and sit in her ambulance, I sat there and phoned my Grandma, I didn’t tell her Mum was going to die, I just said to her to phone a taxi and come to the hospital now. She said she couldn’t as she hadn’t done her hair, I was angry but stayed calm and said once again you need to come to the hospital now. She said ok. I sat there and the lady from the ambulance was talking to me, I remember saying it’s a mess in here. There was equipment all over the floor. I said “did you have my Mum in here?”, she didn’t answer but I knew this was the ambulance that had been used to try and save my Mum and by the looks of it they had worked extremely hard.
I waited for my Grandma to arrive outside the hospital, her taxi came and we went on in. Before we got to resus I gave her a hug and said I’m terribly sorry but she is going to die, there’s nothing that can be done. I needed to tell her that before she saw Mum in the state she was in. I still remember the shriek now. It was awful, I had just told my Grandma that her daughter was going to die.
We all walked back into see Mum, we were told she would be taken to intensive care very shortly, we walked behind as they wheeled Mum up to the intensive care ward, they said she would be monitored for 24 hours but they didn’t expect any change. After about six hours the consultant came in and said there had been a slight improvement, they had sent Mum’s latest scan to Southampton and they said they wanted to transfer her as they wanted to try and operate. It felt like we had won the lottery, I had earlier been told my Mum would die, now there telling me there was hope. We got to see her very quickly before they started to move her. An ambulance crew were up on the ward and they said we couldn’t go with her as there would be a doctors and nurses going in the ambulance as well, there wouldn’t be room.
I remember we all ran out the hospital to the car, we would follow. But they were gone so fast it was untrue.
We arrived at Southampton Hospital a long time after the ambulance that had had my Mum in it, by the time we arrived we got to see her for a matter of minutes. She was taken into surgery and I knew this was it. This was her chance, we spent the night just sitting in the relatives room on the neuro sciences unit, very little was said we just sat in the room waiting, laying across chairs trying to get a bit of sleep, walking laps of the hospital trying to kill time. I think it was only Costa Coffee that keeping us going. 8 hours had passed, she was still in surgery, the surgeon came in and said he couldn’t do the procedure he wanted through the groin, they would have to open up her head and do a very invasive procedure, he went back into theatre and we carried on waiting, after 18 hours the surgeon came in and said they had just finished. We waited at the door of the relatives room as mum was wheeled back past us, she was still on a life support machine. The consultant came in and said they have done all they can, they had clipped the bleed and he said the next 24 hours would be critical. I said to him “tell us how it is, I want to know, don’t hide anything”. He said “it is likely your Mum is going to die” he then went on to say “we give everybody a chance” the nurse then booked us in to Mellor House, that is the accommodation at the hospital where relatives of patients can stay. That was to be home for the next week. We spent all our time either there, with Mum or back in the relatives room, I remember counting the ceiling tiles in that room, there were 96. We used to just sit in there, light on, light off trying to sleep, light back on again.
It got to the Friday. We were asleep in Mellor House, the phone rang, it was the nurse. They said Mum’s heart rate was dropping, we knew this was it, we ran through the hospital and onto the unit where Mum was, it was a false alarm. She had stabilised again, they reiterated to us how sick Mum was. We knew then she wasn’t going to win this battle. The consultant came and spoke to us again. He said he didn’t believe anything would change, he said if Mum survives this she would be so severely brain damaged and that she wouldn’t go home. I think we had all accepted that Mum wasn’t going to win this battle, I knew it was game over. I went and sat with Mum again, the beeping of the machines used to make me jump out of my skin every time something changed or the alarm sounded. I knew what every bit of that equipment did, I asked so many questions. My eyes didn’t move off of the monitors with her heart rate on, seeing it go right down and then praying it would go back up which it did. The consultant said to us it was likely that we would need to make a decision on Monday.
It got to Monday morning, I knew this would be the day I would lose my Mum. She was taken for a scan, we yet again waited in the relatives room for an eternity, we didn’t get to see Mum for most of the day as they were doing various tests.
This was going to be the hardest moment of my life. The consultant came in with two nurses and another doctor. I remember speaking first before I gave them chance to speak I said “Is this it?” he didn’t need to reply, his face said it all. One of the nurses came over and held my hand, I was sat on the floor leaning against the wall, she came and sat next to me.
He said that there was no chance of a recovery, no chance of her just having brain damage. It was over. Very little more was said, we went back to see Mum, I remember telling her how proud I was of her and thanking her for everything she had done for me. We all had some alone time with Mum. Then at 4.45pm on Monday afternoon they said to us “were we all agreed?” We nodded one by one and the machines were switched off. This was it, I was numb, my world had ended. We left the room while the equipment was removed, drips taken out etc. Mum was pronounced dead at 5.02pm on December 9th 2013. How had this happened? I had only bought her Christmas present the previous week.
We sat with Mum for ages, just talking. Even the lovely nurse who had spent the week by Mum’s side was in tears. I kept saying but she wasn’t even old, it just wasn’t fair.
We then were taken back to the relatives room, we were told that Mum would be taken from the ward to the mortuary we were advised against going to the mortuary, we sat in the relatives room a bit longer and then headed to Mellor House to tidy our room and get our belongings. We left and went home.
What happened next was a lot of paperwork, we had to register the death, luckily there was no need to do a post mortem so we got to bring mum back to Poole very quickly. She was taken to Tappers in Poole and we got to see her a couple of times in their Chapel of Rest which was really nice.
I was sat in an office at Tappers planning my Mum’s funeral, how could this be happening? I thought these things only happened to other people. It doesn’t, it happens to everyone and anyone at anytime.
The day of the funeral arrived, I woke up after a decent nights sleep surprisingly, it was all arranged perfectly. I remember arriving at the church and being surrounded by people who were hugging me and saying how sorry they were. I didn’t recognise half of them, over 50 people from Mum’s work, over 250 in total. We walked in and I held it together until the end of the funeral, that’s when it hit me. We went on from the church to the crematorium, it was a weird atmosphere, a happier one. I felt guilty because I smiled a bit, at the end they played “why why why Delilah” one of Mum’s favourite songs. I kissed the coffin and left my flowers, I whispered “I love you so much” and then I left.
We went on to the wake and had a good few drinks.
The hardest day out of everything was the day we buried my Mum’s ashes, I held the urn and just melted, I couldn’t let it go, I held it all the way from Dad’s house to the burial ground and then held it the whole time there. If this was going to be the last time I held my Mum I wasn’t letting go any time soon. Choosing the words for Mum’s head stone wasn’t easy. I said straight away I didn’t want the word ”Tragic” I don’t like that word, this isn’t tragic it is a fact of life, there is one thing that is certain in life and that is we will all die at some point. As hard as it is, that is the truth, Mum was taken far too soon and at a young age, it makes you realise that if you want to do something in life get out there and do it. Enjoy every day like it could be your last, when Mum went to work on that fateful day she wouldn’t have been thinking this is my last day, she would have been thinking about finishing work that night. Mum never got to return to her home,
We buried the ashes with a small ceremony, close family only. I felt worse than the day I said goodbye at the hospital, this was so final. It was the end.
Its been five months since my Mum passed away, I still struggle from time to time, I have good days and bad days. The first year after a bereavement is hard, so many anniversaries and so many firsts. We had Mother’s Day recently. The first year I haven’t had to buy a card. Seeing it all advertised in the shops. I remember walking through the shopping centre with a lump in my throat, it just didn’t seem fair.
Every day I go over what happened in my head what happened during that week, quite often I have stayed up until the early hours of the morning just watching rubbish on television thinking about what happened, could I have done more. There is still one thing that really bugs me, and I will never be able to get a straight answer to my question. How did the ambulance crew not pick up what was going on? why did they say she was fine? I feel they should have taken her to hospital instead of just leaving her at work, as not long after they left Mum collapsed again and I feel this was time wasted and they should have spotted something, they didn’t until they got called back again. That’s what made me angry and frustrated more than anything, I feel more could have been done. At times I feel angry, most of the time I am frustrated, this is all natural and will pass with time I am told, if it will or not is a different question
There are so many things I miss about my Mum, her hugs, her advice and her roast dinners were amazing. Whenever I go round to Dads house it just isn’t the same. I walk in there expecting to see her and it obviously is not going to happen, her things remain un touched, the house immaculate as she always had it. There is a big part of me missing and it will always will be.
BUT – Mum wouldn’t have wanted me to mope, be angry or feel sorry for myself, she taught me to be a fighter. She would have said get up, get out there and be strong. That’s what I intend to do, I try my best every day and put my heart into every challenge I face, its what Mum always did and its what I will always do.
I hope that anybody else going through a bereavement can take something from this. As I said, I like helping people and if just one person can make use of this then it will have been worth it. I have found writing this helpful and I would advise others in a similar position to me to try doing the same.
I am very lucky I have a supportive family, I have the best friends in the world, you know who you all are. I couldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for you. People who I haven’t even met texting me late at night to see if I’m ok, I’m very fortunate to have you all and I love every single one of you to bits.
Well that’s my story, I know it’s quite long but it’s been a long journey.
Thank you for reading