‘My daugh­ter made me happy again’

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Real Lives -

When Joy Bor­rows lost her mother, she felt lost and un­able to carry on. It was the sup­port of her own daugh­ter, Vic­to­ria, that helped carry her through

Joy says...

It wasn’t a sur­prise when my mum, El­iz­a­beth, died. She was 96 and had been liv­ing in a care home. What was a sur­prise was my re­ac­tion – I to­tally fell apart. I would cry for hours, I aban­doned all my hob­bies and I stopped see­ing friends. I could hardly

It must have been hard for her to see me cry­ing so much, but her sup­port never wa­vered

[con­tin­ued from pre­vi­ous page] bear to leave the house. Part of it was the sud­den change to my rou­tine. I vis­ited Mum most days and I would of­ten take Max, my baby grand­son. I didn’t know what to do with my­self. On one oc­ca­sion, I even got as far as putting my coat on to go and visit her, only to collapse in tears when it hit me again that she was no longer there.

In the end, it was my daugh­ter Vic­to­ria who helped me. She spent hours lis­ten­ing as I talked about Mum. It must have been hard for her to see me cry­ing so much, but her sup­port never wa­vered.

I think she found it dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand why I was so up­set, as I’d had a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with my mother. We were com­pletely dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. I’ve al­ways been quiet and cre­ative, whereas Mum was an in­cred­i­bly strong, no-non­sense woman. She was a nurse and met my fa­ther, a doc­tor, in Cyprus, where my sis­ter Paula and I were born. In 1956, when I was eight, there was a guer­rilla up­ris­ing against the Bri­tish and Dad was shot dead by ter­ror­ists while tend­ing pa­tients. Mum de­cided it was too dan­ger­ous and we moved back to Eng­land.

She never got over my fa­ther’s death and would get up­set when­ever he was men­tioned. So we learnt not to talk about him and were never able to grieve prop­erly. I sus­pect that might have had some­thing to do with my in­tense re­ac­tion to Mum’s death.

The first Mother’s Day was par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult. I kept think­ing how we would nor­mally visit her and, of course, all the cards in the shops set me off. But Vic­to­ria brought hap­pi­ness to the day when she came round with Max and his younger sis­ter, mak­ing me feel loved and cher­ished.

She en­cour­aged me to carry on look­ing af­ter Max, which helped to lift me out of my de­spon­dency. Iron­i­cally, I’ve worked for the be­reave­ment char­ity Cruse for years in the fi­nance de­part­ment and I had a coun­selling ses­sion, which made me re­alise my grief was nat­u­ral.

Seven months af­ter Mum died, we went to Cyprus, as she had asked to be buried with my dad. It was cathar­tic and af­ter­wards I started to im­prove. Los­ing her was one of the hard­est things I’ve faced, but Vic­to­ria’s sup­port made all the dif­fer­ence. It’s made me ap­pre­ci­ate her more than ever.

Vic­to­ria (left) helped mum Joy get over the loss of her own mother

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