I’m sure many of us remember the old BT advert with the strap line, “it’s good to talk” and yes I completely agree. I’ve always been an advocate of talking, sharing problems and opening up about feelings etc in order to work through life’s twists turns and rollercoasters. But what about when you can’t?
When I first lost my Dad all I wanted to do was talk to him, I kept wanting to say things, tell him things, I wished he knew things. Some daft and trivial, some really important like how annoyed and angry I was that he’d not looked after himself properly, how hurt I was that he wasn’t going to be Poppa M to my children like he had been to my brother’s. Now people said to me I could still talk to him in my head or even out loud but it just wasn’t the same. Then a friend who’d lost her dad the previous year told me of how she’s written her dad letters, how she still does when she felt the need.
So that’s how I started writing. I wrote to him and then sealed up the letter in an envelope and tucked it away somewhere secret and I’ve added to them since. No one knows where these letters are stashed, they’re in a secret hiding hole sealed up in their envelopes never to be opened by anyone. This really helped and alongside my sister-in-laws blog was the catalyst for writing this blog.
Writing the letters made me feel like a weight was being lifted as I grieved (and continue to miss) for my dad, they helped me open up and say what I wanted to, to him. Still to this day they help me feel like I can connect with him on a spiritual level. I guess it’s similar to religious people praying or visiting a grave or memorial and talking or meditating and thinking of someone. Similarly, writing this blog has evolved into also reflecting on motherhood and the journey I’m on taking care of Baby P. I think that angle is slightly different and more about memories and moments that I want to share with her, for her later on to see how much joy she brings as well as strength and determination to learn how to overcome the little challenges, trials and tribulations motherhood brings. For her to see that as much as sleepless nights, feeding concerns and endless dirty nappies are tiring but totally worth it and completely out weighed by the butterflies her cheeky grin brings (even at bedtime when she’s fighting sleep and trying to play). For her to read when she’s a mum and see that these little challenges are not mountains but mole hills in the midst of motherhood that she can totally handle as long as she’s a cup of coffee and her village to raise a child with.
I love writing this blog and letters to my Dad, it’s therapeutic. It’s also selfish, as much as I share what I write, I write it for me. It’s some me time and an escape, I let the words just flow and keep raw and real, I don’t proof read and reflect back. I just let the words rolls off my fingers onto the keyboard. I’ve said I’ll never have anyone open the letters to my dad either but maybe one day I will, maybe one day Baby P and I will read them, or I’ll read them back again alone. For now though they stay sealed, they’re my connection to my dad, my thoughts and feelings that I wanted to share with him.
So why have I felt the urge to write about all this? Well recently I feel like a lot of people around me have lost someone close, I’m seem to have been reaching out to friends and family who have lost a parent too. I’ve wanted to help, helping people is in my nature. I’ve wanted to know what to say or do for them to ease the mixed up feelings of pain, sadness, anger and love that you feel all at once when losing someone. The truth is though, there’s nothing I can do, I can offer practical support and some understanding but ultimately they have to go through the grieving process just like I did. It’s made me reflect on how I coped though and I do find myself suggesting to them that they start by writing letters to the loved one they’ve lost. Writing my letters really helped, it made me feel like everything I didn’t get to say to my dad before he died still got said to him, like it got through to him somehow and that things still can.
So as much as it’s good to talk, I think it’s also good to write. I suppose it’s similar to people keeping diaries and journals. It’s writing and keeping my own diary, my own reflective log and documenting memories to look back on in the future should I wish to. A new one I want to try as recommend by an ex-colleague is when Baby P starts to talk, to write down funny cute things she comes out with along with the date, time and location and hide these notes in books and books and crannies around the house for her to find when she’s older. This friend did this with her children and said it was really lovely when they’d randomly open a recipe and find a note about something funny they’d said or done three Christmas’ before!
In short, talking is so important but I also think there’s a lot to be said for writing.