I never really understood death or grief until Mum passed away. I’ve had people pass away in my life before Mum, but it never really hit me. That’s not to say I didn’t grieve or felt sadness, it was something that I could accept or found easier to deal with.

My Nan passed away back in 2009 and I remember feeling sad but as she was in her 80’s, it was a different type of pain. Like I was sad but it was expected? It’s hard to put down into words I guess. I’ve also lost a couple of friends to suicide (this is something I find difficult to talk about) and friends have passed tragically but I’ve found death after Mum has hit me a lot harder.

The past 12 months have really showed me what it means to lose someone. Not only did I lose Mum, I lost my Uncle, my mums best friend, two of my friends died suddenly and another committed suicide. To say it’s been tough on my mental health is an understatement.

It was tough enough losing my best friend but then two months later, Mum’s younger brother - my Uncle Phil, contracted COVID and became ill very quickly. I was speaking to him on Facebook on the Wednesday and by the weekend he was gone. He’d only gone to the bank to cash in some money.

A month or so went by and I received the news that a friend from the local pub back in the UK had terminal cancer. It was after Mel died that grief really hit me. I couldn’t deal with all this death on my own and my Husband Jason had recognised this. So I booked an appointment with my doctor. As soon as she asked me what was going on, I broke down. It was like a huge relief in a way and a sense of release - she asked me questions about how I was feeling and it was determined that I was just really really sad - not depressed just upset and sad that this was all happening. She put me in touch with a counselling service and also started me on some meds - I’m still on these at the moment.

A couple more months went by and I was talking to Dad about Mum’s friend Kate. He seemed a bit confused as to why I was asking about her because unbeknown to me, she had passed away a month before. Dad had completely forgotten to tell me - he even went to her funeral! She had terminal cancer - mum was actually helping and caring for her up until the day she died. I still don’t know why Dad forgot - possibly because he just blocked it out? I’m not sure.

In September, my friend Cate left us. She had lupus and apparently had stopped taking her medication. I still don’t know the full story but to hear she had passed away was also a big loss. She was only 38 - we have the same birthday - she was just a couple years older.

After Cate I thought surely that’s got to be it? Surely there can’t be any more? And then January came and Chereè. Chereè was one of the most beautiful talented people I had ever met. She was intelligent, bright, funny and had such an amazing artistic talent it was unreal. She had all of these things but was also secretly suffering with depression. I won’t go into details of how she died but it was a way that wasn’t a cry for help, it was a “I’m done with life and that’s it” way of suicide. I think about her so much - just because it doesn’t make sense. Well none of it does really.

Losing all these people in such a short space of time has definitely made me a stronger person but it’s affected me in a lot of ways that I’ve only recently come to terms with. I’m not able to juggle so many things at one time like I used to - I just don’t have the mental capacity for it and that’s ok. It’s ok not to be superwoman all the time. Not only am I dealing with all of this, I’m a mum, a wife, I work part-time, I look after the house as much as I can (Jason helps a lot with this as well) and I try to have a social life. But at the end of it all, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last year amongst all this grief and I’m so lucky to have the support and network around me that helps me on a daily basis to be the best me I can be.

My relationship with death will always be a strained one because it took my mum too soon but I’m understanding it more and I guess that’s all I can ask for.