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The First Hours and Days....

lightning storm

At the very beginning it can be hard, even impossible, to take in the terrible news that the person you love has died. At this point, shock takes over.

I will never forget the call from my youngest son Stefan on 21st December 2019 saying that his brother was "gone". I didn't understand what he was telling me. Bizarrely, my mind pictured Anton leaving his flat with a suitcase; an image that has also never left me. When I did finally comprehend what I was being told, I simply could not take it in. My brain just seemed unable to compute that information. Wherever you are on your personal journey, those first moments will always be with you. They are not something any of us could ever forget.

The shock is protective to an extent; it shields us from what our minds cannot bear to know. We shut down. Our brains cease to function. There's a sense of unreality; a sense of "This cannot be happening to me". I remember thinking for a long time that I had woken up in someone else's nightmare. I kept shaking my head, as if to say "No! No! I will not allow this to be true".

We all find our ways to survive those dreadful hours and days following the cataclysmic news that our loved one has died. Without the capacity to think constructively, we simply act in ways that feel right to us at the time. From obsessively cleaning the house, to not leaving our bed for days on end. From talking non-stop to being incapable of uttering a word. Anything and everything is possible. Our minds and bodies are just coping in the only way they know how. We all have different needs and different ways of expressing what we need.

Sometimes we don't even know what we need... that's ok too. In time that will come.

There is only one thing we all need to remember at this stage, and that is self-compassion; If you're not sure what I mean by self-compassion try Dr Kristin Neff's simple test

Don't feel you have to do anything you don't absolutely need to do.

If the future seems overwhelming, try not to think about it today. There will be time for that later. For now, just try to take care of yourself, one tiny step at a time.

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