The last normal day

The title of this post just about sums up my feelings and thoughts at the moment. Sorry it’s a bit long!
Since my mum died suddenly 13 weeks ago today I have been trying and struggling to get back to some sort of normality. I have been back to work for a few weeks now although day to day my performance is just not what it used to be. My eating has suffered a bit and so has my exercise.

Tonight I went out for a walk just like I used to along some of the usual routes. In times gone by, this was a regular good way to keep in shape, get out of the house and get some fresh air. I would think about all sorts of things, the past the present and future plans and it was lovely to do. These days getting out for a good walk has become more of a trap. My mind is allowed to wander just like it used but the thoughts are now not pleasant ones so it’s almost better to just stay indoors. On my walks I consider in depth what has happened and where my life is now. I have realised that mourning is a multi faceted,multi directional thing and missing my mum is just one small part of that. I am mourning the past I cannot have again when things where normal and happy, I am mourning the present because I miss my old self and cannot see that part of me returning and I’m mourning the future that I planned for which now will not happen like I imagined.

Some of my thoughts are now fixated on the last time life was normal and happy and I really can’t shake them off. That time was the day before she died. For those that don’t know, I was on holiday with my family and my mum and staying on a tiny idyllic island off the coast of Cornwall.
The day before we got up as normal and had a lovely leisurely breakfast. It was our penultimate day so we wanted to really enjoy it. For lunch time we all walked to the pub at the other end of the island and sat outside in the glorious sun eating and drinking without a care in the world. Well we were on holiday after all and I had a nice pint. On the way to the pub I had to detour to a beach where mum thought she had lost her camera on a previous day. I never found it and it remains lost to this day, her camera with all her holiday photos. I would dearly love to get that camera back. That’s the last text I sent to mum asking her about the camera and where she last saw it. Mum wandered back from the pub to our holiday cottage with her granddaughter while I went to a jewellers so that my wife could pick another silver charm to add to her bracelet for her birthday. Afterwards we headed back to our cottage and passed my mum and daughter on the way as they were quite slow. Eventually we all arrived back together for a nice cup of tea.

A bit later on I made up a flask with tea and some cake before leaving again for a nice walk with my wife. We ended up sat on a rock watching the seals while drinking our tea, eating cake and watching the sun set. Bliss and a perfect way to end the day. It was started to get dark so we headed back to see our daughter and her grandma relaxing in the cottage. After a nice evening in the cottage with something to eat, we all decided it was time to go to bed and get some sleep since the day had been tiring. Going to bed that night was the last time life was normal and happy and I remember it like yesterday.

The horrible future that I never wanted started as soon as I got out of bed the next day when in the space of an hour or so my mum lost her lovely life. I can tell you, I thought about jumping off a cliff that day, I was afraid to admit that at the time but shock can give you crazy thoughts of despair. From bliss to nightmare.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my last normal day with you and I wondered if anyone else has thoughts dominated by the past normality as well as the lost future? What’s thoughts dominate everyone else? Every day is a new challenge and I don’t know what I’ll think about on my next walk but I can guarantee it’ll include dreams of my last normal life and that day and other days all over again. Thanks for reading this far!

Hi Shaun, Thank you for sharing your poignant story. I understand the trauma of sudden and unexpected loss. My beloved sister had been winning her battle with cancer for a year. She never wanted to be seen as “a cancer patient.” She told us “everyone just keep acting normal.” We continued sharing our lives, and doing all the things we loved doing together. We laughed and talked on the phone every day, between numerous texts throughout my work day. Two days before she died she was shopping all day. There was no indication of the horror that was to come. One night she said she was feeling unwell, and thought she might be dehydrated (as a nurse, she knew the symptoms). Within hours of getting to the hospital she worsened. Before dawn, she coded. They brought her back, fighter that she was. she was not about to give up. Then a second code, they worked so hard to get her back again, but this time it was not to be. My brave and beautiful baby sister, died with me holding her hand and praying our favorite prayer (the 23rd Psalm), I shall never get that image out of my mind’s eye. It was two days before her birthday and we had plans to attend a play. I had her gifts and card ready to give to her beforehand, but she said to wait until the actual day so she’d be surprised, She never got to see them. We also lost our Mom in 2012, and we had plans to attend a New Years Eve party right before she fell ill. Now holidays, birthdays, have taken on a foreboding feeling. Like you, my “normal” no longer exists. Activities I enjoyed with my Sister (and Mom), I now avoid. Certain places, foods, stores, all remind me of my Sister or Mom, and I can be in tears for reasons only I am aware of. I also mourn my past, and the future I will not share with them. I try to hold on to all the happy times we shared, but then I realize I will never have those moments again. :broken_heart:
So sorry for your loss Shaun. This is a living nightmare.
Take care. Sister2

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Hi Sister2. Thank you for your reply and personal story, it means a lot to me. I just wanted to try a slightly different perspective on things to somehow work through my emotions better by sharing something I haven’t shared before, that being the time before. I am very sorry for your double losses of the people most dear in your life, I have read some of your other posts on here so I know how difficult things are for you. I also have an appreciation for the effects of cancer after seeing my wife at war with it a few years ago. The treatment sessions were devastating I remember and I really thought about losing her at the time and bringing up our young daughter alone. The most heart wrenching thing she said to me at the time was ‘Do you think our daughter will remember me?’ I can see that your sister meant the world to you and I so wish I had a magic wand to stop our suffering and bring them all back. Alas I don’t and life continues to do its cruel thing.
I’m going to go out for a walk now before I start work today, the mornings are slightly less of an emotional prison when I’m out but I’m sure I will still think about the last normal time. Let’s just hope we can all work towards a new peaceful normal, I’m still in search for it, whatever it is.
Look after yourself.

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I loved reading your story about the last normal day in yours and your mums life.
I think about mine all the time but not in a frame of mind to write it out.
I often wonder if my mum knows she is dead. Does she miss us or does she have mo idea at all? I hope you know nothing after you die and your light just goes out, full stop.
I hate the thought that my mum has any idea of what goes on and that’s why I avoid all the threads about signs, feathers, the afterlife etc.
It makes me happier to think that mum doesnt know she died.

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Hi Cheryl,
Thank you for your reply. I totally understand you not wanting to write about that time in your life. I didn’t want to say anything until yesterday and then I had to urge to get it off my chest and somehow put it into words. That’s what’s good about this site, being able to just dump thoughts and emotions any time when you need to.
I wonder the same things, it’s really odd these feeling I have on her behalf. I think I’ve mentioned this elsewhere but I try to simplify where she is now by thinking about my life before I was born, before I existed. I find I have no thoughts or recollection about it, time didn’t happen for me then. So by that logic that must be where we end up? I have actually looked for signs and asked for them despite thinking this logically way, and so far nothing has been apparent to me. It’s back to that concept of nothing and forever. So I don’t know, I’m just confused most of the time! Just another ‘normal’ day today.

I agree.
The way I think is that I was close to my dad and ridiculously close to my mum. If it was possible to make contact with the living then I think they would have done so. I’m happy with that anyway. I don’t need signs just to reiterate to me that they are dead.
Try and have an ok day.
I’m just off for my last counselling session then I would normally come home and mope. Today I’m going straight to work and going to stay as late as possible to distract myself.
Cheryl x


I assume you have checked lost property offices or the local police station for your mums camera?
It must be do upsetting for that to be missing. I often look at the last photo I took of mum. It was at a garden centre a month before she died and i wonder how she can have been so close to death and none of us had any idea

Cheryl, I may try the tourist info office again. There is a lost and found group for these islands which we’ve posted to. The good thing is that because it’s a small place, things don’t normally get stolen and there is no crime to speak of so anyone finding anything, even valuable, it gets handed in. It could be buried in the sand or in the bushes somewhere for all I know. It was upsetting when she said she lost it but now of course it’s a whole different meaning. I’m trying not to dwell on it
I have my own photos which is good, one of which shows her taking a photo of her granddaughter. Poignantly, the last photo I took of her was two days before and unusually was taken from behind her looking out to sea. as she sat on a beach rug. It ended up on the back of the funeral service sheet. She had no idea did she. It’s strange looking at those photos now isn’t it? Like a window to the past. So normal at the time.
I hope your counselling session goes well. I’m still considering if I should do it. Let me know how it goes and if you think it has helped. Good luck with the work day too!
Shaun x

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I would have to say my mums last normal day was her 70th birthday. After that is when her back started to hurt. I’ve got photos of us all on that day. And we cremated her in her clothes she wore on her 70th. Like you I think. Crikey little did you know the next time you would wear those clothes. I’ve got to stop now as it’s too painful to go further. I hate this.

Shaun such wonderful memories which will surely one day give us pleasure not pain

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Our last normal day was the 29th September,the day we went on holiday.Rob looked forward to it so much every year.He was fine when we arrived,ate burger and chips and had quite a few pints!The next day,he didn’t want his usual full English so he just had Weetabix.Then he didn’t want beer anymore,said it was to gassy so switched to orange juice.This continued for 2 weeks with him picking at his food.He must have been in pain but said nothing.He said this would be our last holiday abroad which I found worrying.When we got home,he lost his appetite completely and would only have a small bowl of soup.Two weeks on and he wanted a doctor to come out but he refused,saying he was too busy so we called an ambulance and 2 weeks later,he was dead.Why didn’t he tell me how much pain he was in?I remember him having a few pains last Christmas and he couldn’t eat his dinner.He just blamed it on indigestion.If he had seen a doctor then,there may have been a chance to treat the Pancreas and gallstones but he never took it seriously.They say hindsight is a wonderful thing but we never act on it!

Hi Shaun,
Counselling hasn’t been much of a help to me I’m afraid. However, it does give you another another person to talk to and who listens at a time when your friends and family have lost interest.
When I started counselling my partner was fed up with talking (in my opinion. He says that isnt true) and my daughter no longer wanted to talk about her nan as it upset her. My friends had drifted off and were no longer calling me much.
It felt good to get everything off my chest to the counsellor on session one.
Sessions 2 to 6 haven’t been much use although I have taken away some useful stuff from her. For example, I have stopped saying ‘mum should be here enjoying this restaurant with us’ or ‘mum should be on this holiday with us’. What I now say is ‘I wish mum was here’. I think that has helped me. Also I have cut down on the would have, could have and should haves. These are pointless and my counsellor has made me realise that we don’t know if the would haves would have made any difference at all.
A colleague at work died this week. He was 53, super super fit and healthy. He suddenly collapsed and died.
There should be no would haves, could haves or should haves

For his family but there will be because that’s what grief is it’s about trying to process the unexplainable


Half my message disappeared.
What I had said was that I think you should give counselling a go because you never know. You may think it’s been great for you. I dont feel it has but maybe I wanted it to bring my mum back and it hasnt done that.
My expectations were high and that’s why I’m a bit disappointed. In truth I’m pleased I’ve had the sessions because I gave them a go and I have taken some stuff away.
My guilt is definitely subsiding and my grief is becoming easier to deal with. It may be the passing of time which is doing that but just perhaps the counselling has helped a tiny bit too.
Cheryl x

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Thank you for the reply @Jooles45. Thinking back to these last normal times is so hard I know so don’t feel like you need to explain any more than you have. These are some of thoughts that’s bring my mood down every day and I struggle to escape them especially when I’m walking out and about on my own. I felt I wanted to express these thoughts which others may be having to deal with as well.
There are some wonderful memories of the past which once brought joy but now bring pain. One day, the sun will shine again and I hope I’ll be able to leap out of bed and start the day with enthusiasm and a smile on my face.

Thank you @Jill. That’s shocking. It’s scary that things can change so suddenly without any significant warning. As you say, hindsight is a wonderful thing but it’s also a curse. Everything is so easy with hindsight. I certainly look back and think, yes well, all the warning signs were there so I should have acted but of course at the time obviously I never thought of the outcome otherwise I would have hit the panic button. I guess I could be the same and ignore a pain or something. I know I’ve done it before ignored an abdominal pain that went on for several weeks. Why did I do that? It’s mad and looking back I was lucky it just went away never to return so must have been muscular or something. Maybe it’s me being a typical bloke or just irresponsible as a parent. Feel free to tell me off. My mum never considered that a pain might end her life so didn’t make a fuss.
Hindsight, I hate you.

Without this forum I’d be talking about stuff a fraction of what I’m doing now. It’s been great to converse with so many in similar situations. Friends and family just don’t talk about it now and yet my head continues to beat me up every day. I have to release it somewhere and if not here then I don’t know where.
I have been trying the wish rather should approach but it’s very hard because simply I think that she really should be here doing this or that and why the hell isn’t she? I can’t avoid it completely. Of course would haves, could haves, should haves make not a jot of difference to the current situation. It’s just a fantasy world that my brain conjures up and gives me the ability to change things in the past. But that’s just it, fantasy, not the real world.
The whole counselling thing is tricky because really I don’t know what I want apart from the obvious. It’s certainly good to talk to someone. Do I want to be happy? Probably but then I feel guilty about being happy so maybe not then. The guilt emotion has eased slightly over the weeks so that’s something. Grief is not a quick process so maybe it’s just going to take a long time and that’s that. I’m certainly not writing the counselling idea off just yet but wanted to give it some time to see where my head was going through the process of the initial stages.

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I guess we all want to be happy again,Shaun but I’m finding it hard to be happy about anything.I can’t remember the last time I even smiled at something.It’s going to take a lot to make me laugh again.Rob was such a comedian,always making me laugh.That’s why I fell in love with him.It was second time round for both of us.We always said our first marriages were just a practice run!I might give Cruse a visit after Christmas even if it’s just someone to talk to.I feel so lonely at the moment.x

I should have made him go to the doctors when it first happened.He made me have all my medical check ups but he didn’t think it applied to him.

Could you have ‘made’ your husband go to the doctors? Ive thought the same thing time and time again about my mum. If only I ‘made’ her go to the doctors she might still be alive. My mum was of sound mind as I’m guessing your husband was. I begged her to let me take her to the doctors or hospital. She told me to stop treating her like a baby, told me she was fed up of me treating her like a child. She insisted her arm hanging by her side was arthritis. Told my partner she had no headache and was feeling otherwise fine when he was trying to see if she needed medical help.
I believed her and stormed off to work. 12 hours later my partner rang to say he was taking her a straight to hospital. It turned out she had suffered a stroke and the best bit was when she told me she knew she had suffered a stroke but decided to sleep it off!
I wanted to have a real moan at her but as she was about to have surgery I thought I would save my nagging till she was better. She never woke up from surgery.
As time has gone on I realise that my mum was a grown woman who didnt want help. Maybe at 74 she was of a stubborn generation who refused to think they needed help. I also think that hindsight is wonderful and although it seems obvious now, I wasnt to know that mums symptoms weren’t arthritis related. It turns out she had a terrible headache for 2 days and hasnt eaten anything either but she lied to us about that. I just have to accept that I loved her and that what happened, happened and I couldn’t change it.

Jill, I’ve been on this site for nearly 2 months reading everyone’s thoughts & feelings and it’s given me comfort to know I’m not alone so I’ve finally decided to write. Reading what happened to your husband is exactly how I feel. My darling husband passed away 2 months ago he had just turned 53, I’m 48 we’d been together for 27 years and have 3 children. The week before he died he lost his appetite, was tired but carried on working as normal (he worked from home) the night before I took him to hospital he had a restless nights sleep (nothing unusual) and kept going downstairs, unbeknown to me he had been falling over during the night but didn’t say anything to me and just came back to bed, it was only the next morning when I saw a huge black bruise from his chest down to his waiste that he told me but still didn’t make a big issue of it. He agreed to come to the hospital where I was informed he had huge internal bleeding because his blood wouldn’t clot because his liver was failing. He died 3 days later. I told him numerous times to go for a health check as he was over 50, he always said I will when I’m ready. If there was anything even small wrong with me he made sure I went to the doctors. I’m torturing myself with “why didn’t you ever go to the doctors” why didn’t the Doctors ever call you in for a blood test & review for the prescriptions you’d been on for years" why didn’t I make you go to the doctors a simple blood test would have picked this up, it goes on and on. I’ve spoken to my sons (not my daughter she’s only 14) about this, they say “Mum if Dad didn’t feel ill why would he go to the doctors, and he’d only do it if he wanted to”. So now he’s not here and the “if only’s” dominate my head. I’m devastated he was my world. It’s the suddenness and the knowing that it didn’t have to happen