Saturday, 17 August 2013

The isolation created by parental bereavement.

There was a time when I worried that I might be overwhelmed with people trying to help me “get over” Mum and Dad’s death. That certainly didn’t happen; it was a lack of support and normal social contact that was so horrible. Neither Nan nor Granddad was in favour of expressing emotions. Their way of mourning for their daughter was to never mention her name and if I mentioned Mum, or, far worse, mentioned Dad, is wasn’t long before I got a warning or a slap or both from Granddad. Even the weekly phone chat with my Mum’s sister was very heavily monitored by Nan.

I had never had a proper boyfriend but I used to get quite a lot of invitations to birthday parties or social trips to the cinema or the pub and if it was an event that needed a partner there was never a shortage of lads from my year at school willing to take on the job. After the accident the invitations pretty much stopped coming. I suppose people thought that I wouldn’t want to come or that I would suddenly burst into tears and spoil things for everybody else. Of course what I really wanted was the chance to feel normal, if just for a few hours, but knowing that a party was happening but that I hadn’t been invited made me feel like a total freak. I almost stopped going on Facebook for this reason. All the pictures of people having a good time just made me feel even more isolated.

Mum and Dad’s friends were the same. I saw lots of them at the funeral but then most of them just vanished and I have had no further contact with them. Mum’s best friend – a good enough friend to be an “auntie” to me – hasn’t had a conversation with me since a week after the funeral!  I see her in town sometimes and although she might say “Oh, hello Sally” it is never anything more than this.

Once I moved out of Nan and Granddad’s house and back into the family home I had inherited things improved a bit. The neighbours knew I was living there on my own and although if I ever needed to ask them for help they were fine they absolutely never initiated contact with me.

In year 13 at school when we were doing small group projects we sometimes used to meet up at somebody’s house to do extra work. It wasn’t long before I realised that one or two of the Mothers were unhappy about their sons being unsupervised in my house. I never dared ask if they worried about what their son might do to me or what I might do to their son!

It wasn’t until I started at university, 18+ months after the accident, that I felt that the social side of my life was starting to get more normal.


  1. Your new photo is lovely!

    My Mum was saying that a lot of friends she had mutually with my Dad have disappeared since he's been gone. It's sad, and a real shame.

    I'm glad your social life is getting back to normal

  2. Thank you. Yes going to University made a difference. I wasn't "Sally the Orphan" but "Sally the Student"!