Losing My Mum
At the end of July, my life changed, and not for the better…I lost my mum very suddenly.
No warnings. No health scares. No hospitals. Just gone – leaving behind a lifetime of memories.
Today is day 171. Some days it still feels like yesterday, I’ll tell someone “I just lost my mum”, the next minute it feels like an eternity since I could lift the phone and ask her a simple question. Grief is hard. It’s suddenly becoming part of a club you never asked to join. Similar to giving birth – nobody ever tells you the real truth about that either, and grief is very similar. At least when you give birth they offer drugs, and when the pain goes you have a beautiful baby. There’s nothing very beautiful about grief.
My passion (obsession) is capturing memories. Recognising the tiniest of moments and holding on to an emotion and memory…it’s my tagline after all – I make memories tangible! I see people celebrate the happiest moments and I also capture some of their saddest. Now it was my turn. I’ve no idea why I hadn’t even contemplated the thought of losing a parent, but I hadn’t. Having spent many years helping families capture their final memories, now it was time to switch roles…the teacher just became the student.
Every snowflake that has ever fallen and ever will is unique, one of a kind and our fingerprints are too. They form while we’re in the womb and are one of the few parts of ourselves that never change throughout our lives. Some people believe your fingerprints can even reveal your personality. Impressive right?
But these weren’t just fingerprints. These hands had held me since I was born, picked me up when I fell, gripped me tightly to cross over roads. They’d waved me off to school, and hugged me when I got home. They’d taught me to bake, sew, knit, decorate, draw, cook and write. I’m sure they were clenched as I drove off in my first car, and I recollect them skelping me for being cheeky once in a while too. They’d clapped for me as I graduated, and they always pushed me forward in whatever I chose to do. Without those hands, I couldn’t and wouldn’t be the mum I am today. Those same hands that taught me, were there for my daughter too, every step of the way. All too suddenly our snowflake was gone.
I didn’t want it to feel like work…
I worried that I would treat this like work, and I didn’t want this to feel like I was ‘working’…this was my mum. These were MY memories. I knew exactly what I needed to do. I’d done it many times before for others, but now it was time to do this for me.
What Would I Make?
I knew I wanted to make myself fingerprint jewellery. I’ve made fingerprint memorial jewellery for many people over the years and they always told me it brought them comfort…I sure as hell needed some of that! I have lots of favourite pieces I make, but I wanted this to be different.
I am very lucky to still have my Nana. My mums mum, now 96 (very nearly 97) and an absolute inspiration and gem of a human being. It does feel totally wrong that nature didn’t follow the expected path, but we can’t change that…nor would I want it to. Losing your mum is horrendous, but for a mum to lose her child is just incomprehensible – no matter what age you are, you never expect to outlive your children.
I decided I wanted to make myself a necklace with Nana, Mum, myself and my daughter Erin. Four generations of amazing ladies, four fingerprints that bond us together. Each of us unique quietly determined and forever connected.
We each have our own teardrop with our own prints. Nana is largest and we all follow after her.
I made it within days of mum passing and I haven’t taken it off since (I’m not sure I ever will). The comfort it brings is hard to describe, but it has without a doubt helped me.
When I panic and think ‘fuck my mum’s died’ (which happens a lot by the way…in the strangest of places and at the most awkward of moments. Another joy of grief that I never knew about…) my necklace actually helps calms me down again. It reminds me that there’s always a little part of her with me, she is still here beside me, and I know she would want me to keep going.
What does all this have to do with my business – Impressive Memories?
I have a much clearer understanding now than I ever did about what happens when we lose a loved one. I genuinely had no idea about the amount of work involved. It is physically and mentally exhausting and you’re expected to make so many important decisions.
It is easy to see why capturing a memory like a fingerprint might be forgotten or missed.
My mission now is to help as many people as possible. So many times I’ve been told that families wished they had known this was possible, but nobody told them…so, it’s time to let people know.
What I’d like to do –
- Help raise awareness of the variety of memorial work that can be done
- Offer the best advice to help families make the choices that are right for them now and in the future
- Make the process as straightforward for grieving families as possible
I know grief makes your head fuzzy and just functioning feels virtually impossible…but if you can, please consider capturing all that you can. You might never need or want to use these for anything more than a memory box but it’s better to give yourself every opportunity that you can.
Don’t ever be left wishing you had. I am so glad I did.
Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing ideas and suggestions of how to capture memories before and after we lose loved ones. Don’t worry…it won’t be all sad and gloomy…far from it. This is about celebrating and recognising awesome and impressive people!
As well as giving me a lifetime of memories to hold onto, my mum also gave me the strength and tenacity to always keep going…which is exactly what I’ve been doing, as best I can, since the day she left us.
Already I’ve been inspired to design a new range of memorial jewellery which I hope to launch in springtime – they’re all being road tested just now, and I look forward to sharing them in the coming weeks. If you like the teardrop necklace I designed for myself it will be available soon too in different shapes and sizes…more about that later…that’s another exciting development that’s happening in 2018!
I’d like to thank each and every person who has been patient, understanding and incredibly kind to me over the last few weeks and months.
Finally, I want to thank my mum for being the most Impressive Mum I could ever have asked for.
Love Jen x