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Ask Anna: 'I'm lonely and sad since my mum died – how do I rebuild my life?'

Anna Williamson
·5-min read

Got a burning question about relationships, sex, parenting, dating or mental health you feel too embarrassed to ask? Qualified counsellor, life coach and Celebs Go Dating’s resident expert Anna Williamson is here to help.

She’ll be answering your burning questions for Yahoo Style UK – find out how to submit them below.

This week Anna reassures one reader who’s embarrassed about never having had a boyfriend at the age of 22, and gives her advice for entering the world of dating.

Watch: Anna Williamson gives advice on rebuilding your life after the death of a loved one

Q: I’m 27 years old. I had a really close relationship with my mum and four years ago she lost her fight with breast cancer

My mum’s family and my friends have pretty much abandoned me and my immediate family don’t speak about my mum because they find it too hard.

Two years after my mum passed away, I was blessed with my son. But I feel quite lonely and sad because of my family.

I would really appreciate advice on how to rebuild my life and confidently speak about my mum, as she was a huge part of it.

Anna says:

Losing someone so important to us is one of the worst things we can ever go through – particularly when it’s a parent we’ve had a close relationship with.

You’ve also been through some huge life changes over the last couple of years, losing your dear mum and having your beautiful son.

So, it’s been a very bittersweet time for you – a huge emotional rollercoaster of grief and then joy – and that can be very confusing.

When we’re going through these difficult times, the important thing is to have that support network around us, so I’m really sorry that your family haven’t been there for you and that you feel abandoned by them.

Grief can do some very strange things to people.

No one person ever grieves the same as another, it’s a very unique experience. Some people grieve seemingly easily and others take a lifetime.

A woman looking sad, resting her chin on her hand
People experience grief in a variety of different ways (Getty Images)

Read more: ‘My husband left me and filed for divorce – how do I tell our three kids?

I wonder if your relatives have been struggling to deal with their loss of your mum, in the same way that you have.

People’s needs can be very different in grief. Some really need others around them, they need to build that support network and talk about the person who’s just passed away to feel that connection.

But a lot of other people find grief very difficult. They can’t process those feelings of loss very easily and their way of dealing with it is to push people away and remove themselves from the situation.

I wonder if they even realise they haven’t been there for you, but you say that you’re lonely so I think we should do everything we can to bring them back into the fold.

Let your feelings be known, tell them what you would like.

Is there anyone in your family you have a particular connection with?

Perhaps you could write them a letter or an e-mail. They are usually good options because they’re less confrontational.

Read more: How do I move on with someone else after a nasty break-up?

A letter allows the recipient to read through it in their own time and have a think about their response.

I would suggest you get in touch with a family member, or family members, in that way, explain how you’re feeling and what you would like from them and what you would love to do - in this case, to talk about your mum.

You can also empathise with them. Acknowledge that they might be grieving and struggling with the loss, let them know that you are there for them.

Suggest that perhaps as a family you can all work through it, embrace and celebrate your mum and move forwards.

Regardless of how that goes, there’s always a way that you can speak confidently about your lovely mum.

I can hear how important she is to you, and it is important to express your emotions and keep those memories alive.

A memory box is a really good idea. Get a box and fill it with all your favourite things that remind you of your mum – her favourite perfume, photographs, little trinkets – all the things that make you feel close to her and happy and warm.

Woman is packing things of her dead husband into a box
Memory boxes can help us feel connected with those we have lost

Read more: Why you shouldn’t ignore feelings of stress during the coronavirus pandemic

Perhaps you’d even want to go to her resting place, or somewhere you used to go together, where you want to take out this box.

That is your time to be ‘with’ your mum. Embrace everything about her and fondly remember her.

That can be really helpful and cathartic when someone is grieving and missing somebody.

Lastly, nothing can replace the fact that she’s not here, but you have been blessed with a beautiful little boy and your mum is very much alive within him and you.

She is still very much a part of your life. Just take a look at him.

You’re doing absolutely the right thing wanting to talk about your mum. It’s the best way to keep those wonderful memories and the people we love alive - by celebrating them every possible way that we can.

Sending you love and the very best of luck with your family.

Watch the video above for Anna’s full response on this issue.

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Submit your question for Anna

If you would like to submit a question, e-mail it to nicola.oakley@verizonmedia.com with the subject line ‘Ask Anna’. Want to be anonymous? No problem - just let us know in your message.