Wendy's Story

Updated: Sep 8

Grief doesn't play by the rules. It's difficult, unpredictable and can catch us out at the most unexpected moments. Each person's experience, and the way in which they process their loss, is different. This series of grief stories aims to shine a light on those differences.


To tell you more about the loss of her son and then her mother, here is Wendy.



"Grief is a very personal journey that changes who you are forever. It’s impossible to be the person you were before grief entered your life.


For me, my life changed forever on the 24th January 2008. It was the day my son entered and sadly left this world and I will never forgot the few short hours that I got to spend with him. I consider myself lucky though, as so many parents don’t get to meet their beautiful angels so I was fortunate that I did.


However the pain of losing him is like no other and something I truly hope few people ever have to endure.


Initially I think I was very much in shock. Everything felt so surreal, like it couldn’t possibly be happening and I would wake up and it would all be a terrible dream. But then, you would wake and the realisation that it was very, very real would hit like a ton of bricks all over again.


I was lucky that I had my family around me and the many cards, messages and thoughts from friends and all those around me very definitely helped. I remember receiving a beautiful display of flowers from a group of friends and feeling so blessed and touched by their thoughtful gesture and then immediately bursting into tears as all I really wanted was my boy back.


The other thing about grief is that it’s constant, particularly in the beginning. There’s just no getting away from it. You can distract yourself for a short time but it’s always there and it’s tiring. I can remember kind folk telling me the old adage of time heals, to just give it time but right at that moment I just wanted to scream at them that I didn’t want to wait or give it time because I just wanted the pain to stop.


The best advice I was given, looking back, was that the time between the truly horrible days would lengthen and that I would find a way to live my new life and carry the pain with me. This was indeed true. I still get days when the pain is as raw as it was all those years ago, but fortunately these days, they are few.  


Unfortunately my struggle with grief that year was not to end there.


Less than 4 months later I lost my mum to cancer. The grief from losing my son, that had been put on hold to care for her, came rushing back and hit me with full force. Having to endure two funerals in such a short space of time was almost more than I could bear. I can vividly remember sitting in my lounge, willing my brain to think about my mum, and literally not being able to keep even happy thoughts of her in my head. I believe it was my brain's way of protecting me and recognising that I simply had to process one lot of grief at a time.


After losing my son and knowing she was soon to join him, my mum always told me that she would go and find him and take care of him for me. There was a time where I struggled with this as I felt so envious of her and would have given anything to trade places with her. I was so conflicted by these feelings as I knew it was wrong to be jealous of someone who was dying and it just added to my pain and grief. Today, however, I find great comfort in the certain knowledge that my mum and my son are indeed together, looking after each other and watching over me."


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© 2019 by Alex Collis

(Portrait photography by James Murray-White, Logo by Carla Keen Design)