Dealing with grief

They say grief gets easier with time but I sometimes find that hard to believe. Four years ago to the day Sharon, one of my closest friends, died of cancer. This year has been particularly hard and my grief has at times felt as raw and emotional as in the days and weeks just after her passing. Huge feelings of sadness and loss and missed opportunities. So much has happened in the last four years, both good and bad and it’s been really tough not being able to share these moments with her. We used to message each other pretty much daily and although I don’t have that urge anymore to reach for my phone to send her a message, I do miss the closeness we had.

This post is in memory of Sharon. She was the most incredible person, so positive and caring, and always had a smile on her face. Nothing ever seemed to faze her; she would just soldier on despite the horrendous journey she was on.

We met at work seven years prior and hit it off straight away. We shared an office for most of that time so we got to know each other really well. We became good friends both inside and outside the office. We grew closer as the years passed. We told each other everything. When things got tough for one another within the office, we had each other’s backs. We understood why the other one was feeling pissed off or hard done by. We had so much fun together and despite being different in so many ways, we just connected.

I remember one time when I was going through a particularly difficult time and was in a very bad place mentally opening up to Sharon once again. A week or so later, she got the devastating news that her cancer had come back. I was so sad for her. I stopped confiding in her, after all how could I possibly tell her that all I wanted to do was end my life, when she was fighting to save hers. Not long passed when she asked me how I was. I tried to brush my feelings to one side and tell her I was fine but she was having none of it. I opened up to her and apologised for being so selfish but what she said took my breath away. She told me that mental health was an illness, like cancer or diabetes – you wouldn’t stop treatment for either disease and nor should you for mental health as those tablets were essentially keeping me alive. She was always so selfless and had the most caring heart.

The weekend before she passed, I had flown to England to go and see her as she had been having a tough time of it with her cancer and had spent considerable amounts of time in hospital. We had a blast together. She was her usual funny, positive and caring self. Even asking her husband to pull over the car so she could buy her weekly copy of The Big Issue and give the vendor some extra money for their child’s birthday. I thought about him/her for a long time after Sharon died wondering if anyone had told them what had happened. She touched so many people’s hearts.

The next morning, she was excitedly telling me their plans to go camping and the house renovations they were going to start in the summer so she could build her own holistic studio as she had been training in this new field. She didn’t want to just treat people, she wanted to teach people how they could heal themselves.

The following day I flew back to Spain and we texted back and forth over the next few days. On the Thursday she told me she had been admitted back to hospital and on the Friday came the devastating news that she was at the end. On the Saturday morning I got the call from her husband telling me she had died peacefully the night before. My world just crumbled. I was physically sick. How could she be dead, we had just been together not a week before.

The grief that followed in the following weeks was a pain I’ve never experienced before. It would hit me in waves when I would least expect it. I’d be riding my bike in Barcelona and the tears would just stream down my face> Or I’d be meeting with friends and feeling overcome with sadness. That summer we travelled around Greece and I would find myself bursting into tears randomly. I just felt so sad. When I found out I was pregnant with Amelia, my sadness turned to anger. Anger that she wasn’t around to share my news. She would have been so happy. That first year was intense with a mix of emotions running through me. The following years were easier except for when it was her birthday or the anniversary of her death. They’d be weeks of feeling sad and emotional until the event had passed and then I would breathe easy once again.

This year has been particularly tough and in many ways has felt like the first year of her leaving us. I have felt lots of sadness and pain and have cried so much. I have a photo of the two of us which never moves from its place and I often go and talk to her. My daughter has on a few occasions asked who she is and I have replied, “That’s Sharon, my special friend”. Thank you, Sharon, for being such an important person in my life. You will always be missed and I will always love you.          

6 thoughts on “Dealing with grief

  1. Only just read this Sarah. Thank you for writing it. Grief at losing a friend is often not talked about, but as you so eruditely describe can be as enormous as losing a close family member. I knew you both a little and everything you say about Sharon is spot on. 🥰

    1. Joe, thank you very much for your message. This article helped me so much and was probably one of the most therapeutic pieces I have written. The build up of emotions coming up to the anniversary of her death was overwhelming this year but I felt peaceful and calm once I had written everything down. Thank you again. Sarah

  2. Hello Sarah, l’m sure your writing has touched many people’s hearts.You have certainly touched mine, your pain is my pain also for the loss of a close friend of many years.In spite of living in two different countries, our emails were constantly keeping us in touch, we had so much to share!Her sudden death was such a masssive shock to me!our special friendship will stay in my heart for ever and now five years later has become a soothing comfort whenever l think of Rosa. Sara, l do wish that the passing of time will help you to heal the emptiness your dear friend has left.Your article is so well written, your grief so deeply felt and expressed that l am sure they will become God’s blessings to you.That’s what l wish you with all my heart. Antonia

    1. Antonia, thank you very much for your touching reply. I am sorry for your loss too, it’s a hard thing to deal with and to go through. As you say with the passing of time, it will become a soothing comfort. I can look back at our friendship and smile at everything we shared and be thankful to have had Sharon in my life and also to know she will always be present in my memory. Sarah

  3. This is so well explained Sarah. I am sorry you felt so desolate afterwards but not surprised. I was with you the morning she messaged you to tell you she didn’t think she would make it and that her life was slipping away. I remember the shock you got and I remember the shock I got. For Sharon, whom I only knew through your words and your love for her, and I knew the positive and generous person she was and also a tremendous and brave fighter. And I was shocked for you because I knew that you were devastated and I love you.

    She too was lucky to have a friend like you. One of the most caring and genuinely concerned person for the welfare and happiness of others. Often putting them before yourself and always spreading happiness wherever you go.

    I always see that photo on your wall when I come to yours, she’s not alone. She is amongst all your other loved ones and it’s good that Amèlia gets to know her as well.

    Very well written Sarah.

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