Apparently, there’s no time limit on grief. I was told this by my counsellor a few days ago.

It was while I was telling her that today would’ve been my Nan’s birthday, that I got really upset. I got that lump in my throat and the tears started falling. I felt silly that even after nearly four years, I can’t bring myself to talk about what an amazing person she was without crying. (I also know that there will be tears writing this).

2016 was a bad year. It didn’t start off that way but that’s how it definitely ended up. In fact, we had some of our best memories in that year. I went on some amazing holidays to Australia to see my sister and then to Florida with the folks. My other half went to the Euros in France with his brothers and had the best time. That was all until September hit and changed our lives.

The beginning of the month saw the heartbreaking and sudden loss of Karl’s brother. He was such an intelligent and funny guy. I didn’t get to know him as well as I’d liked and that was really sad. While I was trying to help his family with their loss and arrangements, my Nan was taken into hospital. She was pretty sprightly considering and the few weeks she was there, I went most nights to see her. We had some good quality time together and we laughed a lot. Weeks went by and she deteriorated. She was looking weaker by the day. The last time I saw her, she was saying how much we all meant to her. She was put in a special room by herself and even had the joy of a blind man in the next room singing her songs. My sister, brother-in-law and I sat and chatted to her. She drifted in and out but was still telling us that she loved us.

A few days later, Karl and I had to go to New York to help sort out his brother’s affairs. It was such an emotional time. The days were long and spent trying to convince authorities to help us, which they were reluctant to. On the Friday, at about 7am New York time, Mum rang to say that Nan had passed away. She said they’d popped to get a cup of tea and when they came back, she’d gone. She thought Nan had waited until they went to slip into a peaceful sleep.

The weeks that followed were so hard. We were making arrangements for two funerals which ended up being the day after each other. Despite all the sadness, we got to celebrate how amazing they both were and share memories. Our families became stronger and even closer than we had been before.

It’s strange looking back at it now, it feels like it was yesterday. I think that’s what I struggle with. It feels as painful now as it did then. I thought maybe it would get better after each birthday or anniversary but it hasn’t so far. We were supposed to be getting married a week today but that’s not happening thanks to COVID. On the bright side, it gives me a bit longer to see if I can listen to my ‘walking down the aisle’ song and not cry. It reminds me of Nan.

I did get a little comfort the other day when I kept seeing a little robin sitting on our garden fence. Then, we went for a walk in the woods and I saw him again. Admittedly, our loopy dog was trying to chase it but it kept returning to a branch near us.  Nan hated robins, she always thought they were bad luck. However, I like the idea that ‘Robins appear when loved ones are near’. I love the idea that someone isn’t truly gone. Although seeing that robin made me cry, I tried to find comfort in it.

The reason there is no time limit on grief is because there is no time limit on how much you can love someone. You’ll always love them a ridiculous amount, so much it makes your heart hurt. But that’s OK. Instead of being sad, we celebrated her birthday by visiting the crem with some super bright flowers, had an egg custard tart (she loved those) and then went for a walk somewhere nice. I guess if you can’t get over the grief, you should embrace it in any way that you can.