Bowie made me think differently. He gave me permission to read literature and philosophy and like abstract art. Then later, inspiration to leave my small Northern town and try my luck in the big wide world. Aged thirteen I never anticipated that my schoolgirl hero would have such a huge influence on how I learnt to deal with death and mortality, through a cancer diagnosis and the loss of my father.
Even if it is painful, even if my heart will be tight and heavy, I will wear my sparkling festive clothes, I will smile, and most importantly, I will do all I can to pass on the Christmas magic to my own little bundle of joy, currently growing inside me. And who knows, maybe this little angel will bring me back the magic...
Over the years I have met with thousands of bereaved parents who never cease to shock me with their tales of horror and lack of support following the devastation that is the loss of a baby. In some trusts, stillborn babies are still being delivered in delivery suites to the sounds of babies crying, excited visitors arriving with bunches of flowers and congratulation balloons.
I don't know why you have been on my mind so much lately, it's twelve and a half years since you died. Perhaps it is watching your small, wobbly granddaughter achieving her small significant steps, and hurting that you never met her or knew of her struggles. Perhaps seeing her adoration of her own doting Daddy.
When a child enters the Play Therapy room for the first time, they can choose to play with any of the toys: puppets, sand tray, musical instruments, dressing up clothes, paints, crayons, clay. In non-directive play, the therapist respects the child's choice, and plays along with them, to build up rapport, trust, and attachment.
24th September, Mum's 54th birthday (or do you stop counting when someone dies?) passed, just as every other day has. People often say that they hope their loved ones are celebrating wherever they are but I'm not sure I believe in heaven, or an afterlife. I'm not sure I believe that Mum is alive in another world, space or time. I think she's probably just dead. But her spirit and everything she's taught us will live on in us.
I was open minded, but couldn't help but feel that the whole experience would be incredibly awkward. Thankfully, Aly and her co-host, Gina Awad of Exeter Dementia Action Alliance, made it relaxed, friendly and thought-provoking. Here are just a few things I learnt in my two hours discussing all things death, dying and bereavement.
Currently, the three people I would like to reach out to, say goodbye to and make peace with before I die, they have gone before me. They are dead. No more explanations. But I am taking their memories with me into every new day. I am trying to avoid repeats by speaking the truth and asking for the truth, even if I do not get an answer, even if the answer hurts.