Do We Ever Deal with Grief?
Whether it be loss of a family member, friend or beloved horse, This is something I’ve asked myself for years.
I was 10 years old when Nanna died. She was literally my world as I was hers. she taught me everything when it came to baking, cleaning and also the morals and values growing up and perhaps as I was the only girl, technically I was spoilt. I remember even now 38 years on, the night before she passed away she called me into her room and said “my princess, tomorrow don’t cry because I will always be with you”. Can you imagine a 10 year old girl’s mind when something like that is said? It rocked me.
I don’t think even now aged 48, I’ve ever gotten over her death. I probably never will but what I hold in my heart is the memories and the love she gave me.
In 2008, I lost my riding buddy Carolyn. We met through the love of horses and she adored Gypsy at the time, so sometimes we would even swap horses. I remember this particular day riding along, she told me that she had breast cancer and it was terminal. I stopped in shock. She just carried on. She continued talking but for me, nothing was registering.
She asked me to do one thing - if I ever had any health concerns / doubts, get checked out. I was with her the day she left this world. I was heartbroken once again.
However, I did keep my promise and if I had a concern, I would religiously get checked out. Over the years, I’ve battled breast cancer 5 times.
Carolyn’s horse Mack died 6 months after her - perhaps of a broken heart. I remember going to the yard to fetch his stuff, when his ashes came back. Gypsy and I took them to "our gallop track" and scattered them. The loss of Carolyn and Mack hit me so hard.
In 2012, my worst nightmare came true, Gypsy my beloved mare of 23 years, purchased for me by my Pappa and Poppa, was ready to take her wings. This was the hardest time of my life. While I had Saffy at the time, Gypsy was my dream horse and despite over the years of her being mare-ish, she brought me so much joy.
Gypsy came into the barn the night before she died with Saffy beside her. I stayed at the yard all night until the vet came and the tough decision for her to gain her wings was made. I remember looking at the vet and hearing "you know it’s time. She won’t suffer I promise you".
I lay beside her, comforting her whilst Saffy overlooked. Poppa's tears broke me. Gypsy took her last breathe on my knee. The pain searing through my heart, tears flowing and then Saffy shouted - as if to say "bye my friend". Gypsy was brought home to me and remains at home with me until I go. That horse gave a 14 year old girl confidence and a woman her strength and courage to tack up and go.
I will never forget the loss that day. It will never leave me.
Recently, after losing a much loved family member, grief has hit me hard once again. I've been here before. I know that I will go through this grief process step by step and I will probably never get over it. I will learn to live with it and swim.
“Grief is a most peculiar thing we are so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room browns cold and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time, and a little less and one day we wonder what has become of it”