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Death is a funny thing.

Except it’s not. It’s not funny at all, and whoever first said it has a warped sense of humour.

Yeah, I know, they probably meant funny peculiar as opposed to funny ha-ha, but I don’t care. It’s still a stupid way of describing it.

Because death is not funny.

Death is a cloud. A big, black cloud.

It creeps up on you little by little. Sometimes you notice it, sometimes it springs up out of nowhere. In both cases by the time the cloud makes its presence known, it’s too late. You can’t do anything to stop it. It swoops down, shrouds you in this big, dark mass, causes havoc for five minutes and then BAM, it’s gone and all is peaceful again.

The cloud has gone, but it’s taken somebody with it. Somebody you love.

For a while, although the big black cloud is gone there’s a greyish haze lingering.

It’s the kind of haze you see in your typical horror movie scene. You know, the car breaks down in the middle of a misty forest and they get out to try and flag down that extremely suspicious looking truck that’s hurtling towards them with headlights fully lit. And the mist outside is really, really creepy.

It’s like Dementor mist.

This mist, it causes confusion, turns everything upside down and inside out for a while. Things that used to make you happy suddenly fill you with sadness, and the things which used to bring tears now bring cackles of laughter. It’s bizarre. Totally and utterly bizarre.

I think a lot of people subconsciously associate funerals with the end of death. I mean, that’s what a funeral is, right? It’s symbolic. You’re putting someone to rest, eternal rest. So on paper that should be the end of it.

But the mist hangs around long after the funeral.

It’s still here now two months later, though nowhere near as strong as it once was. Do you know what’s not here anymore though? The support. The little messages from people saying they’re thinking of us, the condescending looks and questions of “how are you doing?” and the offers of “if there’s anything you need, just ask“.

I’ve never understood why people say that. And now I’ve been on the receiving end of offer after offer after offer, it’s even more confusing.

If there’s anything you need…anything at all…

What about a car? Will you buy me a Mercedes? What about if I really, really want authentic Spanish chorizo? Will you fly to Madrid just to bring some back for me? How about a trip to Vegas and a million pounds spending money?

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, because I do. But in almost every single case of people making this empty statement, it doesn’t have any substance. It’s just words. Words we’ve been conditioned over time to say when somebody loses someone they love.

When you lose a parent, people want to take care of you.

They can’t help it – it’s human nature. But take it from me, as somebody who does not deal well with affection or public displays of emotion, not everybody wants to be taken care of.

Some people cope the best when they’re alone. Completely and totally alone in every sense of the word. Physically, emotionally and mentally.

From the outside it may seem selfish and kind of messed up that I went on a two-week holiday completely alone just three weeks after my mother passed away.

But it was exactly what I needed.

Being constantly surrounded by people dropping in and out of my house without pre-warning, the phone ringing at least once an hour, non-stop messages on Facebook from people I haven’t spoken to in almost a decade – it wasn’t an ideal situation for me. It was stressful and annoying.

There was one day in particular where all I wanted to do was catch up on an episode of This Is Us. I was home alone and started watching at about 11am. Do you know when I finished this one hour long episode?? 5pm the next day.

So those two weeks? They were absolute bliss.

I was able to do what I wanted, go wherever I wanted and eat at whatever time of day I wanted. Because in case you didn’t know, when somebody dies you will be asked at least seven times a day “Have you eaten?” And let me tell you, the death of the whole entire human race would not put me off my food.

Travelling alone means that, most importantly, I was able to grieve. Because being surrounded by everybody else’s grief actually made it more difficult for me to process my own.

Wandering through the Balkans completely solo, switching off from life back home, was the best way for me personally to deal with everything.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.

I’m 24 years old and now I’m motherless.

Actually no. I have a mother, she’s just not on this Earth anymore.

Either way, I didn’t have anybody to buy flowers or chocolate or even a card for yesterday. And it actually wasn’t that hard. Apart from a bit of shaky moment when Supermarket Flowers came on radio on the bus (on Mothers Day of all days – really?!), it was fine. I worked the lunch and dinner shift at the restaurant I work at, served table after table of families out for a nice Mother’s Day dinner and didn’t want to punch a single person in the face. I surprised myself. Good job me.

I scrolled through status after status on Facebook, tweet after tweet on Twitter and photo after photo on Instagram of people celebrating their mothers, dead and alive, and didn’t want to punch any of them either! In fact, I even liked some of them.

It seems somebody has kidnapped Bitter Resentful Rhiannon and replaced her with Nonchalant IDGAF Rhiannon.

In my non-annoyance of Mothers Day and all it represents, I realised that in the grand scheme of things one highly commercialised (albeit lovely) day isn’t that big of a deal. It doesn’t bother me too much that she wasn’t here for it.

I’ve never celebrated my father on Father’s Day and, call me a rebel if you wish, but this year I didn’t even have pancakes on Pancake Day.

Woah en. 

What does bother me is the behind the scenes things she won’t be around for.

She won’t meet the person I end up spending my life with (unless of course I go back and end up marrying my childhood sweetheart from when I was 4 years old but the chances of that are slim to none). I won’t have a Mother of the Bride on my wedding day. I’ll never taste her spaghetti bolognese ever again. I won’t be able to borrow her clothes and annoy her by never putting them back. My future children won’t be able to get excited at the though of going to Grandma’s house after school. There won’t be any Mother-Daughter shopping days or lunch dates.

And that’s what I’ve been grieving for. The lost opportunities, the things that won’t ever happen.

I’m not grieving for the fact she died, because in all honesty she wasn’t living much of a life towards the end, and at least now she doesn’t have to suffer anymore. But in her no longer suffering, those of us left on the Earth take the burden. But it’s a different kind of pain, and this pain won’t ever heal.

But, just like the Dementor mist, it will fade.

I can already feel it fading. More and more I find myself thinking on memories of her with a smile instead of a grimace, the knot in my stomach reducing with each day that passes.

And these days I strangely take comfort in the words of Ed Sheeran, which is something I never thought I’d ever say.

A heart that is broke is a heart that’s been loved

My heart is kind of broken right now. Nobody will ever be able to do an Atomic Kitten on me and make it whole again, but that’s perfectly okay because for it to break, it needs to have been whole to begin with.


  1. What’s funny is perhaps the way we deal with death – that you’re seemingly allowed a period of mourning, before people start fully expecting you to get over it. A friend of mine lost her father a few years ago. They were close. She was devastated. She still is. She’s never not going to be. And that’s just how it is. But people don’t understand that.
    I’m glad yesterday was not too shit for you. And oh I wish you had made senseless requests of people who asked if there was anything they could do to help. It is a pretty stupid thing to say, really but it’s not like society has any idea of how to deal with death… which is also a bit strange as it plays a starring role in the human experience.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I used to think it was absolutely crazy when people would take time off school because their cat/dog/goldfish died. Now I get it…kind of. Until you find yourself in a similar situation, I don’t think it’s easy to comprehend exactly what it’s like, and so from the outside you just expect everything to be tip-top once the funeral’s over. I hope your friend is a dealing as best she can, even all these years later!
      Oh, I did make some requests! But most people took my bitter sarcasm as a joke and alas, I have no Mercedes or trip to Bora Bora.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Aww of course! And I will gratefully receive the random hug 🙂

  2. Wow, these words brought tears to my eyes but I’m so glad you wrote them. I lost a good friend a few years back and I think you’ve managed to perfectly put the feeling into words. Thank you for being brave enough to speak out about this. Sending you a virtual hug from across the pond!


    • rhiydwi Reply

      I’m so sorry for your loss Diana! Thank you for reading and commenting, it means a lot! As does the virtual hug – sending one right back at’cha!

  3. 🙁
    I think I would be the same about wanting to be alone, and finding it annoying to be constantly checked on.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      It’s the worst kind of annoying, because you feel bad being annoyed by it!

  4. Well said. This really resonated with me. I lost my mom in November and the initial pain and shock has left. But the the grief is never ending. Its like a gnawing toothache that won’t go away. A couple of people still check on me here and there, but a after the funeral it was business as usual. And I’m so not looking forward to Mother’s Day.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Oh Stephanie, I am so sorry for your loss! Describing it as a gnawing toothache is SO apt. It’s bizarre, right, that the majority of folk simply assume once the funeral’s over everything’s fine? Totally and utterly mad. Keep yourself busy when Mother’s Day comes around, surround yourself with good people and eat lots of cake! It won’t take the hurt away but oh, will it help!

  5. You (and surely your mom) were too young for this to happen, and my heart hurts for you. I hope each day brings a little more mist and, ultimately, some sunshine.

  6. Reading this made me well up – even when the initial shock and pain has faded, a dull ache lingers. I was fairly young when my grandpa and auntie died – a year apart – so at the time I don’t really recall taking it all in, but sometimes there are little things that trigger it, like seeing border collies, which were my grandpa’s favourite dog. I think the trouble with “if there’s anything you need…” is that, despite people’s good intentions, it’s too vague and open-ended; in that situation, I’d much rather someone made it specific. The end of your post made me think of The Proclaimers’ “Sunshine on Leith” – I hope there’s some sunshine on Wales for you in due course 🙂

  7. Your words always have the power to move me to literal tears through a screen because you can articulate things so well. I can completely understand why you would want to get away and have space, I think knowing what best to do for yourself in a given situation is so important. Who cares what anyone else thinks? I hope the mist continues to fade and the good memories continue to keep coming to the forefront. X

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Yeah, it took me a little while to think of it that way. For the first few days of my trip I sort of distanced myself from social media because I was having an incredible time and didn’t want people back home to judge me for it! So silly I know. Thank you! I hope so too 🙂 x

  8. What a great tribute to your mum! I don’t think you are terrible for running away to grieve – I think I would do the same thing! Talking about it all the time, even to well meaning loved ones, can just make it harder for some people to heal. Take care

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time to read it Josie 🙂 You’re absolutely right – complete solitude was the way forward for me.

  9. I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I lost my mom when I was 31 and it was shattering. I understand your need for travel and solitude though. I started travelling afterwards because I didn’t want to keep putting this off, no time is guaranteed. The important thing is to recognize what you need for yourself and keep true to that.

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