Covid19 has forced me to face my feelings without the option of running away

I hide my feelings. I think I always have and I’m not sure that it will ever change. My mum has always been a brick wall. Nothing can hurt her. Nothing can faze her and I think in a way I believed to be any different was weak. In July 2019 my Uncle and family’s world changed forever, one day he was fine, the next he was driving my Aunty somewhere and curbed his car (he never did things like this). My Aunty convinced him something wasn’t right and he should go to the doctors. The next week we get a phone call to say that he had been told he had an inoperable brain tumor and he had six months to live. The next day he was told he could do radiation and chemo and it would give him those 6 months or if he did nothing then it would be less time. He was determined to fight, he refused to believe what the doctors were telling him. He had just turned 60, he had just retired, he had just got his free bus pass! No way was he going to give all of that up. The next week after that they told him he was too weak, he couldn’t have chemo and they were sending him to a hospice. My brother and I went to visit him in the hospice. I convinced my brother we would regret it if we didn’t. He was the shell of the person we had grown up with, but he was still cracking jokes and taking the mick out of the hospice workers. He fought for as long as he could but it was just too much for him. In November we got the call that he had passed that morning. My mum was broken. I have literally never seen her like this, She’s not an emotional person and I’ve only ever seen her cry once but she was crying every day asking, “why him?”.

On reflection, I think this is why I still hadn’t mourned his death until this lockdown. I had to be the strong one. I had to be there for my mum and dad like they’ve always been for me. My Aunty is broken, they didn’t have kids. She moved away from home at 18 and never came back. She has no family where she lives, few friends and like my mum was raised she doesn’t want to show weakness. I had to be there for her. I asked my Aunty if she wanted me to do my Uncle’s eulogy. She didn’t want to inconvenience anyone so she was going to get the priest who didn’t know him to do it. I can’t read very well, I stutter when I am nervous and miss out whole paragraphs sometimes, but I had to do this for her and for him and I had to do this for my family. I think this is another reason that I couldn’t stop to think about him not being here anymore, I had a job to do and I put so much pressure on myself to do it successfully.

It is now March and only now am I sitting here emotional about his passing, and I realize that I have purposefully been running away from my emotions and my feelings since November. That I have been doing that with everything and I always do this. Reflection in these times is good, but they’re also really scary. I don’t reflect on my past, but now that I have had no distractions from doing just that I have realized how truly terrified I am of losing someone else.

I used to think that death didn’t scare me because I myself am not scared of dying. I have had so many times when if just one thing was different I would no longer be here. I have an autoimmune disease that I have had since I was 8 years old and that will never go away. So many times if that one person wasn’t there to call an ambulance or I was in a different location I would no longer be here. So I have had to face that reality and be okay with the here and now. But in this time of reflection, I have realized that I am terrified of the people I love dying, which scares me to a point of crying just thinking about it. It has caused me to pull away from the people I love the most so that if that happens it won’t hurt as much. But I have also realized pulling away and losing time with those I love because of what-ifs is the opposite of what I should be doing.

I hope that this time, although it can be extremely detrimental to our mental health can also give us the time to really sit and think about everything we do have and all the ways in which we can show everyone around us that we care and that we are here.

This is not going to be forever, one day, and hopefully, it will be one day soon we will walk outside and see our neighbors again with smiles on our faces. We will hug our friends and family and hopefully, this time will bring us all closer together.

(That is my Uncle with my Mum in the picture, the big divvys)

This story of facing fears was shared with us by a human named Kirsty.

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