Last year was another troubled year for many people, and I feel like it hit our family particularly hard.
Whilst there were positives to be found in the nooks and crannies of 2021, we found ourselves saying goodbye to far too many loved ones.
Covid had stopped us from getting the extended family together for a while, but last year we found ourselves thrown together for all the wrong reasons.
Although many of our losses were distant on the family tree, they were people who had played an important role at some stage in my life.
It wasn’t just family members we lost either. The beginning of 2021 saw us say goodbye to a family friend who had quite simply always been there. He had been poorly on and off for some time, but his death still came as a shock. And as would be the case for my Dad’s cousin, who passed away later in the year, covid restrictions played havoc with who could and couldn’t go to say their goodbyes in person.
There were occasions when there were funerals to go to, but wakes postponed until we could all get together later in the year to remember our loved one’s lives in the way they deserved.
Dealing with grief during a pandemic has been challenging. I’m not sure any of us have really had the chance to grieve properly.
The most difficult losses for me, on a personal level, came towards the end of the year.
Losing a Hero
Two days after my boyfriend and I returned from a week away, we lost my Dad’s second cousin, Paul. Paul was only ten years my senior, and he was always there when my brothers and I were growing up. Dad’s cousin would often come and visit, and she would bring Paul with her. I’m not sure he ever realised, but he was someone I always looked up to and admired. In a way, Paul was probably the first hero I had.
As I looked up to Paul, I knew it was ok not to conform. He always had a massive grin on his face, which with his Mohican, his tattoos and various piercings, always made him stand out in a crowd. He had a love for rock music which would bring us together many years later as we used to frequent the same pubs, as I too developed a passion for rock music.
Whilst our lives took us in different directions, I always looked forward to seeing Paul, and his brother Steven, at family get-togethers.
Sadly, Paul was diagnosed with cancer in 2021 and passed away in November following a mistake made by the hospital whilst he was undergoing surgery.
I will never forget the call from my Mum to tell me Paul had passed away. I was heartbroken.
His funeral, which was held the week before Christmas, was a difficult day to get through. The music choices were perfect and left me sobbing into my face mask.
Losing a Pet
Just two weeks after Paul passed, I also had to find a way to deal with the loss of my beloved cat, Wigsy.
Wigs had been ill throughout the year, and I knew she would struggle to make it through to the end of the year. Just before my boyfriend and I went away, she took a turn for the worse. She still looked ok but was hardly eating and became weak.
I felt torn about going away, but I knew I needed the break. I had been through my own health scare in October after finding a lump in my breast. Thankfully, it turned out to be a cyst, but my stress levels had understandably soared through the roof, and I knew we both needed a week away to recover from it all.
Thankfully my parents offered to look after Wigsy for me whilst we were away. We all knew there was a chance she might not survive the road trip, let alone anything else.
However, Wigsy was always a tougher cookie than she looked. Mum sent me daily updates while we were away, but it was becoming evident that the end was near.
Sadly, I didn’t see Wigs again before she died, but I know she passed away surrounded by so much love and care. My parents were as heartbroken as me when she passed. She’s now resting in peace in her favourite spot in Mum and Dad’s back garden.
Losing a pet is never easy, but I’m grateful that we had so many adventures together. Forever by my side, Wigs was with me through so many highs and lows.
I’m not sure death gets any easier to deal with as we get older. Grief in itself is a funny thing. For every loved one that passes, we react differently.
Sometimes it feels easier to bury our heads in the sand; other times, we find it hard to stop grieving.
Remembering Loved Ones
This summer marks ten years since I lost my best friend, and it’s already playing on my mind. I’m conscious of making sure the anniversary doesn’t consume me. I keep reminding myself that ten years is no more significant than nine, but I do want to find a way of remembering her in my own way.
Even after all this time, grief can play little tricks on you. I don’t very often remember my dreams, yet I had a vivid one recently about my friend.
Whilst the dream didn’t upset me, it made me question, why now? Whilst I think about her all the time, I don’t think I’ve dreamt about her at all over the last nine years.
Whilst everyone deals with grief differently, as someone who loves to write, I find it incredibly therapeutic to write my way through it, which is why I decided to dedicate this blog post to all of those loved ones we lost in 2021.
To all those we lost in 2021, may you rest in peace 🙏🏻