real life

"I stumbled across Lisa Curry's Instagram post this morning. Suddenly, I was in tears."

I stumbled across Lisa Curry’s Instagram post this morning as I started work. And before I knew it I was crying.

Not only because of the tragic story of her daughter, but because the way she wrote about grief rang so true to me.

I was instantly transported back to a moment six and a half years ago when I lost a close friend of my mine very suddenly. 

I was freshly 21 at the time, and was in Paris with my family on a big family holiday we had been planning forever. I still remember the shock. 

“You can’t test for heartache” Lisa writes after the tragic loss of her daughter, so sick from the grief she’s in hospital. 

Instantly, my own memories came flooding back to me. 

When I found out about my friend Maddy passing away, I don’t think I really believed it for a few days. I continued our trip almost like nothing had happened. 

Then I got sick. So sick I was basically bed ridden for close to a week. 

There was nothing technically ‘wrong’ with me. It was purely my body's reaction to the grief. I’d never experienced anything like it.

What I learnt through this, and something that has stayed with me, is the fact that grief can feel different for everybody. And that in itself can be quite isolating.

As Lisa writes on her Instagram, the stages are never linear.

"In the (written) stages of grief, there is shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and working through, and, acceptance and hope. You don’t go through each one and tick it off - they overlap, they come and go constantly."

The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ can be surprisingly true. There are weeks that go by and I don’t consciously think of my beloved friend. Before you know it you are just - living, coping. 

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It’s been six and a half years and for me, sometimes it feels like a distant memory. Not even my life. 

But that doesn’t mean it leaves you. There are moments where it all comes crashing down again like a tonne of bricks. It still hurts, or the guilt feels fresh. 

Listen to Mia Freedman's interview with Nikki Boyer, who speaks candidly about grief. Post continues below. 

This year I forgot her birthday. And I only realised when my close friends and family messaged me with love. For a split second I was confused. I thought it was weird that I’d gotten more than one ’Hope you have a good day’ and ‘Thinking of you’ messages in a day. Then my stomach dropped. It was the afternoon and I’d been so preoccupied with work and mundane life things that I’d forgotten.

I instantly cried. 

A little out of grief, but mostly out of guilt. 

How could I forget while my biggest supporters around me remembered? Does that make me a shit friend? Does that mean I don’t care? 

I feel like the way I have grieved is very different to those around me, and to the traditional representation of ‘grief’ you see on TV and in the movies. It can be an incredibly lonely and strange experience. 

Growing up I was very fortunate that until that day six years ago, I hadn’t ever experienced the grief of losing a loved one. And what you realise once it happens is that there are lots of different ways to process it.

Some people show it through an outpouring of love and tributes on social media. Some have their own private rituals. And for some people like me, you don’t do much at all. 

The day I found out I went on a cheese and wine tour that was already planned, in an attempt to feel 'normal'. The next day I went shopping. On anniversaries or birthdays I don’t really do anything anymore. I don't look through old photos. 

And I cannot get rid of the nagging voice in my head that tells me it’s the ‘wrong’ way to grieve. That I need to show that I care. But what I do know is that every person's grief is different. 

For me, what it taught me was that I owe it to my friend to live my life to the fullest. To be present, find joy and experience the life she never had a chance to live.

And that means I don’t think about the sadness that much anymore. I don’t always remember the key days. Instead I made a promise to myself, and to her, a long time ago, to fill my days with new memories. Ones I know she would be so glad that I am experiencing. 

And all of that is ok.

It’s ok to cry lots, no matter how long it’s been.

It’s ok not to cry at all.

It’s ok to have moments where you forget. 

It’s ok to remember it everyday.

No journey through grief is the same. 

And that's what Lisa Curry's post so powerfully reminds us of. 

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