“Grief is universal; it crosses all boundaries and is something that we will all share.”

“Death is something that’s personal to everyone, but when you engage with other people who have lost someone, they can really empathise with your thoughts and feelings,” writes Online Community member Nilesh Makwana. In this blog post, Nilesh recounts how losing his parents, Subhadra and Ramniklal, prompted him to join our online bereavement forum in 2017.

Nilesh with his mother as a baby
Nilesh as a baby with his late mother, Subhadra.
Nilesh Makwana's parents
Nilesh's parents married in 1964.
The Makwana family on holiday in Tunisia in 2004
The Makwana family on holiday in Tunisia in 2004.
Nilesh Makwana's father
Nilesh's late father (left), Ramniklal.

My parents had so much stamina.

During the summer when I was growing up, the house was always full of children playing; there would be at least five – sometimes ten! – of us, and Mum would come home from a day at work and cook for all of us. We were a close family and those were really happy times.

But everything changed in June 2007 when Mum died from cancer at just 63 years old.

Losing Mum

She knew she was going to die. As the bedrock of the family, she called all of us from her hospital bed and told us we must come and say goodbye.

Later that morning, she died. It was tough but we were all grateful that we got to see her before she passed away.

Mum’s death hit us all hard but we came together as a family and this network of support made a huge difference to me.

Losing Dad

Her death affected my father the most; my parents married in 1964 and had been together 43 years so it was understandable. Following Mum’s death, he was offered bereavement support and, while he did go to a couple of sessions, he never really got used to talking about it.

Dad suffered a stroke in 2004 and a heart attack in 2017 that transformed him from a very mobile man into someone whose walking was severely affected. He would still get out to the local shops with my help or by using our local Dial-a-Ride, but it was very difficult for him.

Following a few falls at home, in September 2017 he was taken into hospital. After four days of treatment, he passed away at the age of 75.

Both my parents died at 9.30 – Mum in the morning and my father in the evening. Funnily enough, after Dad’s death I went to get his watch from the drawer and couldn’t believe it when I saw it had stopped at exactly 9.30 as well.

My doctor gave me a number for bereavement counselling following Dad’s death but I didn’t really pursue it. I think that, initially, it’s a shock to the system; there is so much going on at once – it’s like a whirlwind.

Looking back, the two worst days of my life were when my Mum and Dad died.

Finding common ground

In October 2017, I started using the Sue Ryder Online Community. I was aware of the charity and had heard about the online help through my local shop, so I went online to have a look. I found the discussion boards useful and it really helped.

I often post online and another member, a lady who had recently lost her father, responded by sending me a private message; she was inspired by something I had written and we have since struck up a friendship. We message each other weekly and have been doing so for the past eight or nine months.

It’s nice to know that I can help someone. It actually helps both of us as we can share our experiences and try and make sense of what we are going through together.

A shared experience

Using the Sue Ryder Online Community is my way of coping with grief. I would encourage anyone coping with bereavement to give it a try.

Death is something that’s personal to everyone, but when you engage with other people who have lost someone, they can really empathise with your thoughts and feelings. You can relate to them because grief is a universal thing; it crosses all boundaries and is something that we will all share.

I’ve heard that you never really get over bereavement, you just learn to live with it, and I think that’s very true.

Although they may be gone, I feel my parents are still with me, looking after me, and always will be. They are part of my DNA and make me who I am.

If someone you love is dying or has died, you may find our Online Community helps you too.

Author

Nilesh Makwana

Online Community member

Nilesh Makwana

Nilesh’s parents, Subhadra and Ramniklal, died in 2007 and 2017. Since then, he has found comfort in joining our Sue Ryder Online Community and writing fiction.