9: An Introduction to…Saying Goodbye.

When I enter “Diabetes and Grief” into google, I am met with many results comparing a diabetes diagnosis to the stages of grief. Links to Blogs about the loss of a life without injections, guides about going through the motions as you mourn the death of your functioning pancreas and the ability to eat without a thought, scholarly articles linking the psychological and physiological impact of a diagnosis. I will be reading all of these, I’m not entirely sure I’ve grieved my non diabetic life; yet I suspect it is something we all need to do more than once during our lifetime with Diabetes. However, when I typed those three words into google on this occasion, it wasn’t my life before diabetes that I needed grief guidance on.

I’ve experienced loss in my life, permanent, semi permanent, expected and unexpected; sometimes you lose touch with people, other times you lose people who’ve touched you. Recently I wrote about my exquisite friend Anna Swabey, sadly, shortly after publishing the post, I heard that Anna’s condition had drastically deteriorated and she was being kept comfortable, surrounded by her family & fiancé. Following my Aunt’s passing late last year, I understood what this meant; Anna was coming to the end of her time with us. This devastated me! My aunt had told me that someone is assessed as being “at the end of their days”, when it was believed they would not survive beyond 11 days; Anna held on for 13.


Anna Louise Swabey 25.07.1991 – 16.09.2016

I felt both a struggle and a gratitude for the updates from Anna’s family during those 13 days, they provided both a comfort and a sadness, some posts warmed my heart and gave me hope, others felt like they were preparing us for what was to come. I marvelled at the strength of this amazing family unit, particularly taking the time to share with us their experience of what was happening; even if that meant taking moments away from what was happening. I suspect it fulfilled a need to do something at a time when that calling could not be easily answered, the one thing everyone who knows & loves Anna wanted to do, was to take Trev on for her, to give her time to marry Andy & build their life together, to see her fundraising efforts rewarded by meeting her target & seeing the promise of more funding into research come to fruition. Sometimes it felt a little voyeuristic, but it also felt right that this part of Anna’s journey be shared. Aside from raising funds and awareness, Anna wanted Inside My Head to be an honest account of what living with a brain tumour was like, unfortunately that also had to include the unhappy bits….and the devastatingly unbearable bits. I kept a journal during this time, mindful of how affected I was and am, by this; emotionally, physically…Diabetically. I questioned whether I should share this, how much I should share. Reading through what I’d written, I felt completely lost with the need to address which tense, parts of this should be in, choosing to focus on the Anna that will be with us always… but in the spirit of my beautiful friend, if by sharing this I can help my fellow diabuddies with the effects of grief on their Diabetes then I’ve done her a bit proud. But I hope this can help others beyond that too, after all; Loss is something everyone experiences….

My google search did tell me that (as I suspect most of us know), there are commonly 5 stages of grief; the Kübler-Ross model.

I once heard someone describe grief as “a multifaceted response to death” and as such, I’ve decided the best way to write about this, is with a “multifaceted approach”. It’s a heavy subject, it’s an emotive one, it’s something I’m still going through – and I’m not sure if tears and a macbook are very good friends. This post is an introduction for the posts to follow, it offers a little back story and it’s enabling me to organise my thoughts and feelings to do this sensitive subject justice.


You can read more about Anna’s journey on her blog, and also donate to her just giving page here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/InsideMyHead

The world wide web provides lots of wonderful resources on bereavement and grief, some that have proved valuable to me are listed below; click to visit their sites.

  • Much Loved – The tribute charity. Provides a list of support agencies that work with different types of loss.
  • Macmillan Cancer Support – Always an invaluable resource, I don’t know a single person whose life hasn’t been impacted by cancer. The work of Macmillan to support those people makes the biggest difference.
  • Marie Curie – Similarly to Macmillan, the work of this charity makes a huge difference.
  • Dr Kate Granger – I began following Kate’s story on twitter (@grangerkate) a few months before she died in July. Reading her blogs and tweets about dying were a mammoth source of comfort to me. Her husband, @PointonChris is continuing her #hellomynameis legacy.

Before I sign off, I would like to send my utmost appreciation to those from the #GBDOC who helped to share Anna’s story following my last post.
So many of you took her to your hearts and welcomed her into our little corner of the universe, and I know she was so very grateful, as am I.





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