When a loved one is lost and no longer present, how do you keep their memory alive?
If you’d have said to me before I got pregnant that my mum wouldn’t be there to meet my daughter there’s no way I would have believed you. Nothing was going to stop that woman from being with her granddaughter, she would have torn every brick down of my house to be with her.
I can say my mum loved my daughter before me.
Except she would be stopped from being with her by the only thing that could and that is the hardest part of losing her.
Losing my mum at the time when I probably needed her the most has been the worst experience of my life, but what torments me is not about me ,it’s about her and my daughter.
I know how devastated my mum would be to have left me at this time. She would have been so angry not to have been here to look after me and help me navigate motherhood but more so, to not meet her granddaughter and watch her grow up would have destroyed her. Family was everything to her. It is this which has caused me the most anguish. I hurt more for her and what she has lost rather than what I have lost. I hurt more for the fact that my daughter had already lost a significant figure in her life before she was even born and didn’t even get to love her the way I know she would have. They say you can’t miss something you never had- I miss the future my mum and daughter never got to have.
That we didn’t get to say goodbye and that they didn’t even get to say hello is excruciating.
So now we have a job that I never thought we would have. It is our job to make sure that my daughter knows her nanny and here are some of the ways we’re doing that.
Wish upon a star.
At Christmas my cousins bought my daughter the most wonderful gift. They named a star after my mum so my daughter can look to the sky every night and talk to her nanny, know her nanny is always there for her and is always watching over her. That my mum has a fixed point in the universe again is just wonderful. Every night we look to the night sky and say goodnight to nanny.
You are here with us.
We never talked about my mum dying, we never talked about what she would want when she did die, why would we, we thought we had years before that conversation needed to happen. So when it came to planning her funeral we didn’t have a clue what she would have wanted. We were being asked questions by the funeral home, basic questions and we had no clue. We knew our mum and we did what we thought she would have wanted but there was one thing I categorically knew she would want and that was to be here with us. We chose not to bury her, I know she wouldn’t have liked being in the ground cold and on her own, so we brought her home and here she sits in the centre of our living room with us day after day.
You are everywhere.
This is our feature wall in our house and it is full of pictures of our family, friends, special moments and above all my mum. I always show my daughter the pictures and point out who everyone is including nanny. When a loved one dies all we have left are pictures and memories, she may not be here but she is certainly everywhere and very much an integral part of our household as she would have been. My daughter will look at those photos and know her nanny’s smile is just for her.
When my mum died we were half way through decorating and furnishing the nursery. I was devastated that she never got to see it finished and because of this I distanced myself from the whole thing. My husband was amazing, he took charge of sorting everything we needed and finishing the nursery, he didn’t bother me with questions or demand decisions from me,he did what he knew I would love. So when he had finished I was blown away by what he had done. Not only had he finished it beautifully but he had incorporated pieces from my mums house. He had used my mums curtains and used plaques which she had had hanging in her house as curtain holders, it was just enough to make sure that my mum was still a part of us and that she had been involved in finishing the nursery.
There will be many more ways as my daughter gets older that we as a family will include and remember my mum, making sure she remains a part of daily family life as she would have been were she still here and celebrating the special occasions. For me having reminders of her and parts of her around the house allows me to feel like she is still here, that she has in some way got to be a part of our new family life and to be with my daughter. I completely understand those who choose not to do this and that’s ok. With grief you have to do what feels right for you and not what you think you should do. I openly talk about my mum and encourage anyone who didn’t know her to ask me about her. Those who did know her I ask them to share their memories of her as I get to know more about the woman I love more than life.
This way and through some of the things I’ve mentioned, is how I keep my mum in the present and how my daughter will know her nanny.