The Odd One Out

“I won’t mention Mum unless I have to” I say to Evee before meeting someone new. 

I am prepared for when someone asks me what my mum does, “She was a clinical nurse specialist, in rheumatoid arthritis”. I skip over the ‘was’ so much so it almost disappears in the sentence. “Did she say was or is?” the listener might think. But I don’t pause to allow for any more questions, I simply add, “which has been a big influence on my own career”. From there I can easily navigate the conversation and steer clear of anymore Mum questions. 

Sometimes people are surprised that I drive quite a nice car – “yeah it used to be my mum’s”. One time, I even added “she doesn’t need it anymore” …. I can’t believe I said that either, I just panicked. But you must admit, there is something a little bit funny about saying that. And it’s the truth (!)

People are interested in my hobbies – “Oh, you write a blog, what is it about?”

I don’t lie – “Mental health and lifestyle”

New people wouldn’t know that my mum has passed away. I don’t pretend that she is still alive, I omit that she no longer is. I don’t want them to know, until I know they deserve to know. Until I know that our friendship can handle that weight.

It does feel wrong to avoid conversation about someone who occupies so much of my mind. I wonder whether they can tell that I am acting, can they see that this costume doesn’t fit me very well? Did I avoid eye contact when I said that?

But why does my grief have to be dressed up in a costume and lead its audience to think that my mum retired from her job, she got a new car, or, most heart breaking of all, that we just aren’t very close?

I say these things because it drains me to see a potential new friend flounder and not know what to say. It makes me uncomfortable when my grief makes other people uncomfortable. People stammer “I’m sorry”. I don’t always have the energy to save the conversation by skipping over it with “it’s okay” because it’s not okay to have lost my mum at 23.  Most of all, I don’t want to be the odd one out among a new group of friends. So, I avoid the conversation and protect them, myself, my mum, and my grief. 

When the curtain comes down and I return home, I finally let out a big breathe. Just before I go to sleep I tell her all about my day. I thank her for putting me on this path and sending me such lovely people. 

~

Since the creation of this blog, Evee and I have been so passionate about writing about grief or speaking with you at our cafes. But it is still jarring to have those conversations infiltrate into our everyday lives where other people don’t necessarily know our past, like when I moved to a new city not so long ago.

I used to treat my grief as a secret in my everyday life. A secret that, at then end of a heavy day, I could come to you, dear reader, and share. In turn, each and every one of you has taught me so much about what it means to live with grief, rather than despite it.

I can’t believe how fast life is moving, the strides I am taking and how many new people I am meeting. I am learning that when people get to know me, they get to know my mum too. I am learning that with the right people, grief isn’t too heavy at all – but that deserves a whole post of its own.

Thank you dear reader, for being such a fundamental part of my journey. Thank you also for choosing to entrust us with your As Told By You posts. I hope you know how much of an honour it is for us that you don’t avoid the conversation and that you trust us with your grief as we trust you with ours. I think that is what I am most passionate about here, in the community we find ourselves in – no one is the odd one out.

Lovingly,

Katie.

23 thoughts on “The Odd One Out

  1. Dearest Katie (for whom I pray every day when my Lord and I “tour” England),
    In time you will not have to protect yourself from light or new acquaintances knowing your mum died in your young age. When my mother passed away, it became an awesome witness of God’s grace to us who are so undeserving of His love. Now when asked, it actually opens up opportunity for me to put the uncomfortable questioner at ease; “I will see her again, because Jesus lives and He promised eternal life to us if we just believe in Him.” It has opened many doors of communication, and established deep friendships with what began as acquaintances. Kind of like your and Evee’s blogs do. But like all things in your life, take the time you need to find peace. He loves you even more than your mum did, if you can imagine that!
    yours and His,
    c.a.

  2. I am jealous of you, that how much you love your mom, these talkings and these words are evident to that. I really want to love someone that much, but sometimes I feel I am just not upto it, anyway, I am sure your mom was lucky to have you as daughter

  3. Thank you again for this post and all your others. I am so much older than you but identify so clearly with your sentiments and thoughts on your / my grief. Thank you – it helps.

  4. My mother died the year I turned 70. Since that was not unexpected and we had a wonderfully long time together, it is surprising how much I can relate to the words you write so well.

  5. I understand completely your conundrum. One of my sons died a few years ago and when people ask me how many children I have, I never exactly know how to answer. I don’t feel like baring my soul to the acquaintance that I barely know but I feel terrible if I leave Andrew out of the count. It is sort of like denying his life.

  6. Grief can be an interesting thing. You could even be grieving and not know it. There us no set time for how long it takes to heal. Little by little, specs of light come in. You realize your loved one is at peace and wants you to.move forward. You start to heal.

  7. 💜 Perfect, that is ALL; very good, carry on Soldiering, YOU!!! ARE Both Doing Great

    …💛💚💙…

    …💛💚💙…

  8. How strong are you to bare your heart here especially after reading that it is so difficult to talk about?
    Hugs from another who is grsteful for the blogging community.

  9. Thank you for sharing!!…. 🙂

    “Portrait of a Friend”

    I can’t give solutions to all of life’s problems, doubts,
    or fears. But I can listen to you, and together we will
    search for answers.

    I can’t change your past with all it’s heartache and pain,
    nor the future with its untold stories.
    But I can be there now when you need me to care.

    I can’t keep your feet from stumbling.
    I can only offer my hand that you may grasp it and not fall.
    Your joys, triumphs, successes, and happiness are not mine;
    Yet I can share in your laughter.

    Your decisions in life are not mine to make, nor to judge;
    I can only support you, encourage you,
    and help you when you ask.

    I can’t prevent you from falling away from friendship,
    from your values, from me.
    I can only think of you, talk to you and wait for you.

    I can’t give you boundaries which I have determined for you,
    But I can give you the room to change, room to grow,
    room to be yourself.

    I can’t keep your heart from breaking and hurting,
    But I can cry with you and help you pick up the pieces
    and put them back in place.

    I can’t tell you who you are or who you will be
    I can only love you and be your friend
    (Adam Clarke)

    Until we meet again..
    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)

  10. Thanks for sharing your stories of grief here. Everyone grieves differently. Finding humor in situations and conversations is how you both heal. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that!

  11. I don’t think it matters at what age you are when you lose your parents, it’s heartbreaking. I remember feeling almost a little abandoned and I was in my 30’s with a family of my own. I felt bad for that too…I don’t know why.
    May 24th was 10 years that my mom has been gone and it still feels like it was last year. My dad passed 18 months after. I was so incredibly close with them and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of them, talk about them or still feel the tears start to well up because I miss them. I recently was telling someone about my first Mother’s Day without my mom. I went to the cemetery and there were about 12-13 lady bugs all around her headstone. My kids checked all over the other plots nearby but only my mom’s had ladybugs. I used to buy her ladybugs from a certain Farmers Market every year for her garden (back when she was in better health she kept an amazing yard full of beautiful plants and flowers). I’m not sure if it was coincidence or a message that she knew I was coming and letting me know. I still cry thinking of that day.
    I know I talk about losing my oldest of 4 a lot. I still have a hard time leaving the house for too long so people I usually see already know and I haven’t had to mention his passing with that unexpected question until the other day. A new gas station opened within waking distance from my house. My girls will walk over to grab snacks or drinks. When I went in the other day the cashier mentioned my girls and asked how many kids I had. When I said 4 and mentioned their ages he said….”Oh, your oldest is 26?? Probably has their own place and doesn’t stop here.” I told him that my oldest recently passed and I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. Of course I got the awkward condolence from the cashier and I just thanked him and hurried out. The second I closed my car door I burst out in tears and really sobbed. I felt like a rush of reality that I haven’t felt before…I can’t really describe it. I guess I never really thought about how it would feel or how I’d react when the time came to answer that.

  12. I work in a nursing home and when one of our residents passes it’s difficult. There are times when there is nothing to be said to make people feel better. The best thing is to just be in the moment and let the person know that you hear them.

    Thanks for your blog it helps me to understand how people who are grieving feel.

    1. Your comment is perfect! I wish everyone understood that. I went back to work only 6-7 weeks after my oldest passed away (way too soon…I know). My boss would tell me to move on, get over it….just every insensitive thing you can imagine. No matter how many times I told her to stop. I finally left for good. She really made my grieving process unbelievably difficult. My oldest was 25….for me, 25 years of my life feels like it was ripped from my heart. I’ve never needed supportive shoulders to cry on than I do now.

      1. Losing a child is a different kind of grief. I used to think that when people said that it was over stated but then someone I’m close to lost their son. It changes a person.

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