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Cathy’s Story

I haven’t been very vocal within the Sibling Grief Club since its inception but I’m realising that’s because I haven’t been very vocal about Triona since she died. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about her and hearing people talk about her and sharing their wee stories but I’m just not very good at putting my feelings in to words and I will only talk about it with a few people who know me well. That’s just me. I’m blessed to have a very understanding family, friends and clients who accept me as I am, who I can talk openly with and rant to when I’m cross and God love them they still put up with me. When people ask me how I am coping with Triona’s death I generally try to cover it over by saying things like “I’m the best” or “all’s good” when that isn’t always true.

Coping or not…

For those of you who don’t know me I am a self-employed hairdresser and I owned my own salon in Dromore, my local village, when Triona died. I felt I had to go back to work a week after Triona’s funeral because I assumed it was expected of me when I was running my own business. From the very beginning I always answered peoples “how are you?” question with one of the above answers! (usually “I’m the best” and I still say that).  That was my way of saying I don’t want to talk about my loss, because what I really needed to express about how I was feeling was so much harder for me to deal with. I could not have gotten through the day if I answered that question truthfully every time one of my concerned clients asked me.  It was only when I was back at work a few weeks that I discovered I wasn’t kidding anyone with my pretence, least of all myself. Throwing myself into work and other distractions only masked how much I was struggling, it still needed dealt with and it very much was a case of the sooner the better.

The big decisions

The pressure of running my own business, running the family home, looking after mum and dad, rearing three kids and all that entails, combined with my overwhelming grief was astronomical.  I was a ticking time bomb, something had to give.  That something was my pride and joy, my hair salon, it had to go.  Choosing to leave wasn’t an easy decision as I had poured my heart and soul into it for nigh on 11 years.  I had employed an amazingly talented stylist and equally amazing friend in Bronagh and of course the clients who were the beating heart of my business but had become good friends to me as well.  So I agonized about it for weeks but I have always been great at talking myself into believing what I want to. I had to chose between dealing with my horrible new normal or working myself to the bone in a desperate attempt to ignore it. I just couldn’t cope with talking to so many people and giving them the attention they deserved when I was feeling so angry, distraught and just basically lost. I felt I was beginning to take my grief out on my poor clients and turning in to someone I really didn’t want to be. Deciding to downscale my work load helped me focus on what’s really important in my life and that was surrounding myself with the people I love, who understand me and accept me warts and all. Earning money and the materialistic side of things went way down on my list of priorities. I had accepted that I could live with less if it meant preserving my sanity and spending time at home healing with my family.

Faith in me

I really hope that by telling this part of my story I might help people who are struggling with making hugely important decisions in the aftermath of loss and trauma in their life.  The people around you, who care about you, will be looking out for you and may even try to talk you out of taking big steps whilst you are grieving but my advice would be just trust your gut instinct…. your own heart knows you best and what is best for you.  If something doesn’t feel right, then usually something isn’t right and it needs to be addressed.  For me, the decision to step back from my business was a massive relief. Immediately a tremendous weight was lifted from my shoulders and that alone has been worth every sleepless night and head wrecking conversation I had with myself. I hope you all have the faith and courage within yourselves to do what is right for you too.

Grief is Love 💜

Cathy  x

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