Monday, 1 August 2016

Guest Post: Empty Chairs by Amber Bensted

There's no right way to start this post. My story won't resonate with everyone, my experiences won't fit into other peoples ideas and the things I went through won't be the same as the stories you've heard before. Because that's the thing about grief, there's no cookie cutter process. . .

Imagine your average 18 year old girl. Working in a job she hates because she didn't want to deal with school anymore, living at home with her parents and spending her weekends doing normal 18 year old things (drinking, hanging out with her boyfriend, you know the deal). I was pretty sure I had life sorted. Sure my job was kind of rubbish but it paid enough for me to enjoy my plentiful free time and in short everything seemed to be going great. Then it changed.

No one tells you the extent to which your world will change when you lose someone close to you. So when my Dad, my superhero vanished from my life there was nothing that could prepare me for it all.

When someone dies it doesn't feel real for a while. I remember coming home from the hospital, I wasn't crying or screaming I was just walking. Putting one foot in front of the other with my family behind me, minus one person. To the people walking past me I probably looked like any other girl. Your brain doesn't always remember that you've lost someone. I would slip up, start to call out goodmorning to him before I remembered he wasn't going to reply. I would instinctively turn the radio to his favourite station then be confused as to why it made me cry. Things that were normal before turned bitter and it always took me a moment to figure out why.

You don't cry everyday. I always thought that if I lost someone I wouldn't be able to stop crying. In the films, it's all dramatic tears as you stare longingly out of windows but in reality grieving isn't necessarily tears, for me it was just an emptiness. It was an empty chair, a strangely quiet room and an inbox of unread text messages. It was thinking "I can't wait to tell Dad about this" then realising he wasn't there to tell. It wasn't a flood of tears it was a drout of all emotion.

One of the hardest things for me was hearing people say it'll be ok. Being told that it would make me stronger made me want to scream! I didn't want to get on with life, someone had hit pause in my world and I wasn't ready for it to start again.

The truth is yes the pain does fade and eventually you learn to keep going without the person you lost. One day you stop saying goodnight to an empty chair and as terrible as it sounds you might even go days without thinking about them. But it will still hurt sometimes, there will be days where it hits you like a wave and it's like you lost them yesterday. That's ok. It hits everyone differently; Dad died 2 years ago and there are still days where all I want to do is crawl into a hole and stay there or scream until my lungs run out of air. But there are days where I smile and laugh like any other 20 year old.

If there's one thing I've learned it's that you don't stop missing someone. There's no magic solution or time limit when it comes to grief. But as hard as it was to believe in the beginning it does get better. You'll learn to re-evaluate things, to prioritise your life in a way you couldn't before. You'll begin to accept the things that have changed and in a way create something good. It might not be what you imagined but it's life and that's pretty damn impressive.

If you've ever lost somebody, I hope you're ok. But remember if you're struggling it's never too late to reach out for help. Speak to those around you, if you think you need it go and see a counsellor. You don't need to go through this alone.

Amber x

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No judgment, no hate, because it is already tough enough being a girl.