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A Personal Story of Grief

by Founder and Principal Clinical Psychologist,

 Karen Martin

I am typically a very private person on social media platforms and feel uncomfortable being in the spotlight. We decided to highlight grief and loss for our community, as we commonly support clients who have experienced loss. I feel that writing about my loss would be healing for myself but also helpful for others who have gone or are going through something similar. 

Five years ago I lost my mother, who was my best friend and my confidant. My whole life my mother was 

the person who was always there for me, knew me the best, my personal cheering squad and someone who always had my back. When my mother died, I was a mother to a 2.5 year old and a 9 month old baby. The world just didn’t make sense ….  how does the sun rise and set each day without her??? I was struck by grief and completely at a loss of what to do. I wasn’t able to sing to my children for a couple of months, I experienced invasive / overwhelming images of her final hours whenever I closed my eyes, and I felt completely overwhelmed by my loss. I had never experienced loss or pain like this before.

In those early days I made a series of appointments with a psychologist to help guide me through my shock, confusion, overwhelm and grief. Being a mum, a wife, a friend, a psychologist in those first six months was really rough. Internally, I fluctuated from feeling disconnected, to feeling pain, to being so angry at the injustice of losing her, to completely numb and deflated, to feeling completely alone and like a part of me was missing – I just didn’t know how to make sense of any of it, or the world.

Last week was the fifth anniversary of my Mum passing away. Five years on I still miss my mother terribly and always will. I have had to work very hard to heal, to move forward, to try and minimise the impact my grief had on my family and myself – I am still a work in progress. I know mum would want me to heal.

We have photos of my mum around the house, I talk to the kids regularly about her and their experiences with her, we listen to her voicemail messages, and we sometimes have a good laugh or cry together. 

Whenever my son sees stars in the sky, he points to the brightest star and says “That one is Moma” (that’s what her grandchildren called her) and he believes that she is looking down at him and sending him so much love.

I was going through my drawers last week and found the eulogy I gave at a service one week after she died:

Thank you everyone for coming tonight and for all of your love and support over the last week. I know we are all in shock and never expected to be here.

I consider myself lucky and beyond privileged to have been raised by my Mum. The one constant in my life has always been my Mum’s never ending support, love and acceptance. She was always my role model.  We were always the best of friends. Seeing the world in similar ways.  Without her here, my world doesn’t make sense. It’s hard for me to think about any important moments in my life that do not involve my mum, and heart-breaking to think of all the future moments without her.

Not only was my Mum an amazing Mum to my sister and I, she was also an amazing Mum to all of our friends.  They would all confide in her.  Years ago I even remember a boy who asked my sister on a date, seeking out comfort and support from Mum when she said no to the date. I honestly believe that I chose to become a psychologist after seeing the positive impact Mum had on everyone around her.  Not only was mum there for our friends, but she also looked after all of her friends and family. I grew up hearing mum spending hours comforting and supporting friends and family. She was our rock. Words cannot express how much she meant to all of us.  

Mum’s priorities were her children and her four grandchildren. When Mum wasn’t travelling the four corners of the globe, she was shopping with Claudia, playing games with Dylan, having tea parties with Chloe, and snuggling baby Nate – she cherished being a grandmother. They were her absolute pride and joy.  Anytime she spoke about her cheeky grandchildren, her face would light up.

It was wonderful seeing her so happily married; over the last seven years they built a strong and meaningful relationship, full of love, where every night was filled with friends, laughter, concerts and endless cultural experiences.

When I think about mum I think about an elegant, family focused, strong, hardworking, intelligent, determined, warm, and genuine woman. Mum was always selfless. Putting everyone’s needs before her own. Often to her own detriment.

Mum had a way of always knowing what was best and right for us. Even when we were confident she was wrong, she would somehow always end up being right.  

She did everything she could to always shield us and protect us from the moment we were born until her last breath. If Mum were here today she would tell me not to give a speech – saying it would be too hard for me and she wouldn’t want to put me under any pressure.  The last time I gave a speech was during the rehearsal dinner for my wedding.  The majority of that speech focused on me thanking Mum for just being her and for making all of my dreams come true.

She has left behind a huge void that time will never fill. 

If I manage to be a tiny fraction of what she was to me, to my children, they will be so very lucky. 

Mum enriched all of our lives.

I love you so much mum, and miss you more than words can say.

If you’re feeling an overwhelming sense of loss of grief, make an appointment today or read about what to do when you’re struck by grief.

Keep reading about Grief Support Therapy
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