"I’ve never been one to talk about my feelings," writes Ryan Judson, one of our London Marathoners who is running in support of Manorlands Hospice in West Yorkshire, where his mum was cared for. "I’ve thrown myself into marathons, held fundraising events and had a total change in career in my attempts to cope with my mum’s death, but talking has never been one for me..."
Sometimes feelings aren't the easiest things to talk about.
That’s not to say I don’t have things I’d like to say, or feelings I’d like to share. It’s just that, for me, it’s never felt the right time to share them – quite the opposite; it’s too difficult. I also worry that it comes across as a little self-indulgent.
After all, lots of people have lost the person they loved the most.
As I prepare to start my training for the 2019 London Marathon (not something to look forward to in these cold and wintry months!), I’m finally ready to put my feelings on a page. I wouldn’t be taking on the Marathon if it wasn’t for my mum, so it seems apt in many ways to start talking about these feelings and my motivations as my training begins.
They say that over time, dealing with loss gets easier.
And there are times when I genuinely believe that to be true. When spending time with great friends, or doing something you love (playing cricket, in my case), it’s easy to enter a little bubble and focus entirely on the task at hand.
But, if I'm honest, the loss never gets easier to handle.
I have a glass pendant holding Mum’s ashes that I wear around my neck every day. Mum bought me and my sister Lucy matching teddies for Christmas following her brain tumour diagnosis in October 2015, each bearing the precious words ‘Love Mum’ and, at the age of 27, this bear still takes its place on my bedside table: the last thing I see each night before switching the light off. Mum’s pillow cases still grace my own bed – a metaphorical comfort blanket more than three years on.
Whenever I drive through my home village, I pass the church, which holds positive memories (my sister’s wedding, my goddaughter’s Christening), yet all it makes me think of is the day we held my mum’s funeral there and of her gravestone, which lays in the gardens there.
None of this is to say I’m miserable, nor is it a cry for help – I’m fine, I promise!
In the year following Mum’s passing, most nights were spent crying myself to sleep – that’s not the case anymore. The dark days are far less frequent, and it’s much easier to focus on the many positive memories I have.
I think what I’m trying to say is that, as time passes, dealing with loss doesn’t get any easier. But you do develop a coping mechanism to help you deal with the void in your life.
Following Mum’s diagnosis, we threw ourselves into fundraising as a family.
Mum actually passed one week after my sister Lucy performed in a concert and I ran my second marathon – we think she made sure to fight on long enough to see us both achieve something special that weekend.
After Mum’s death, my motivations in life changed.
My focus became doing something that would truly honour mum; something that would make her proud and create a real legacy for her. This started with walking the 128-mile long Leeds-Liverpool canal in 2016 to raise funds for Sue Ryder Manorlands, the hospice that so wonderfully supported Mum and our family both throughout her illness and after.
The next step in honouring Mum was my career change. Having spent three years in financial services, I took my first step into a career in fundraising by taking a job at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice. After 14 wonderful months there, I moved to brainstrust, the UK’s leading brain tumour support charity.
To work for two such wonderful charities – both so relevant to my mum and the illness she had – has helped me so much. Sure, there are days where things feel a bit close to home, but knowing that I’m doing something to help people going through the same things that my family did makes it all worthwhile.
The next thing I’ll be doing in memory of my wonderful mum is running the 2019 London Marathon.
Having tried for years to get a place in the race, I was lucky to be given a charity place by Sue Ryder.
I can’t wait to take my place on the start line in Greenwich Park on Sunday 28th April 2019.
If you’d like to sponsor me, make a donation in memory of my mum or support Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, I'd be forever grateful.
London Marathon runner
Ryan Judson is running the London Marathon 2019 for Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Leeds, who helped his mum live as comfortably as possible at home after she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in 2011, and supported his family following her death in 2015.