How letting it all out helped me cope with grief
Rhiannon bottled up her emotions after the death of her brother, and it led to depression. Here she blogs about how sharing her emotions has liberated her and given her a new lease of life.
Rhiannon is an author and life coach helping others to live a more fulfilling, happier life.
My brother passed away in his sleep at 30 years old. He was perfectly healthy as far as we were concerned and it was completely unexpected.
Grief is a fickle thing, and it hits you in ways that you aren’t prepared for. I’ve always been a fairly confident person so the shift in my mental health that came with grief took me by surprise.
I became extremely anxious about being alone in public and even, at times, with family members. I used my husband and children as my security blanket and didn’t like being away from them.
"Because my brother passed away in his sleep, I worried that every time I put my children to bed it would it be the last time I saw them."
Because he passed away in his sleep with no explanation (at least not to begin with), I worried that every time I put my children to bed, it would be the last time I saw them. Would they die in their sleep too? Would I die and leave my children motherless?
I put a lot of pressure on myself to be ‘perfect’ and tried to take away the pain my parents and children felt. I tried so hard to fix everyone around me and didn’t have enough energy left to look after myself.
"I knew where and when I should smile and laugh to not draw attention to myself. I didn’t want anyone to know the hurt I was feeling."
I became a shadow of my former self, but knew where and when I should smile and laugh and put on a show to not draw attention to myself. I didn’t want anyone to know the hurt I was feeling.
But I was crumbling under the pressure and was consumed by anxiety and depression. During my darkest moments, it felt as though I should just accept that this was my life now. But I also had another more positive thought - my brother’s life was cut so how dare I waste mine? Why should two lives be ruined?
It was an epiphany of sorts. I made the decision to at least attempt to live a better quality of life than the one I was currently experiencing. After all, I now had to live for me and him.
I decided to do whatever felt good for my soul to get out of the dark place I kept hiding in. I tried meditation and yoga, which I loved. I fuelled my body with better foods. I read loads of books about improving your life and living fuller.
I began writing and expressing exactly how I felt. I poured my deepest emotions and darkest feelings onto the paper. I carried my notepad everywhere and kept it nearby just in case
But I still wasn’t talking to real live people about it. And it got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I was sick of pretending I was coping.
I had always felt that no one understood what I was going through. But I was so wrong.
I don’t know what made me finally decide to speak to a professional. Maybe I was just fed up of feeling so down. Maybe I was sick of crying to my husband and using his sleeve as a tissue. Maybe I was sick of seeing my miserable face. Whatever the reason, I’m glad it happened. I’m sure my husband’s sleeve is too.
"The counsellor made me realise it’s OK for me to speak to my loved ones about how I was feeling about my brother."
I only had one session with the lovely lady I saw. But it was enough. It gave me permission to speak. Not just to her, but to anyone. She made me realise its ok for me to speak to my loved ones about how I was feeling – and about my brother.
He was my brother and I didn’t want to erase him from our past and memory. Let’s talk about him. Let’s talk about the times he made us laugh and the silly things he would say. Let’s talk about the time he tried to make a cake in a saucepan or his ridiculous impressions of us all. Let’s talk about it all. Including how much we miss him.
After that one counselling session, my mental health rapidly improved. I carried on doing all the things that helped me previously and they have now formed into daily habits that have improved my life.
I even wrote a book, The Web of Grief, to share my story and help others. The feedback has been incredible and it’s made putting myself out there vulnerable, honest and exposed, so very worth it.
If you’d like to read more about my journey, the book is available on Amazon.
By being honest about how I feel and what I experienced, I no longer had to struggle to push my emotions down. I felt lighter and liberated and now had space in my mind for new and exciting things.
If you’re going through a difficult time, please try to keep your mind open. I now love doing some things that I would have previously turned my nose up. Take my attitude of “why not?” If it doesn’t work, at least you can say you’ve tried. I promise you there is help out there – and people who have not only been there, but have got through it. You can do it too. You just need to find the way that will work for you.
Information & Support
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Visit our information pages to find out more.
Share your story with others
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.