This might sound like a super weird analogy, but working in Early Years Education for nine years has exposed me to lots of theories and research surrounding development. Early Years research has found that the first 1000 days of a child’s life (which counts from conception to age 2) is a critical phase for the foundations of a child’s development to be laid.
Today is my 1000th day without Mum.
The research suggest that exposure to stress or adversity during the 1000 day period can result in a child’s development falling behind their peers. Experiences left unaddressed, such as abuse or conflict, can stay with children throughout their lives, cause harm to them and to others, and might be passed on to the next generation.
Is it also a crucial amount of time for grief? Are the ideologies of “stiff upper lip” and “put on a brave face” in the first 1000 days of grief as impactful as the first 1000 days of life?
A lot of the older generation aren’t as open and vulnerable with their grief and how it manifests itself, is this because the experiences and conflicts they had in their first 1000 days of grief remain unaddressed? Causing the emotional pathways to be interrupted, blocked off, possibly creating future trauma. This may cause harm to the griever and future generations for their grief journey.
I asked my lovely instagram followers to weigh in about this and 98% said that they have an older relative who has lost someone close. Out of those older relatives, a whopping 84% who had lost a family member were not very open about their grief. They suppress their grief, keep their feelings in, and don’t open up about how they feel around their loss. They act like the person they lost didn’t exist, they never talk about that person, they have a stiff upper lip, they shut down their emotional responses, and have a desire to keep their grief to themselves. Was their first 1000 days of grief very much like this? Don’t show your emotion, move on, or perhaps even get over it?
In my 1000 days of grief, I’ve been through some real ups and downs. I’ve been to counselling twice, I’ve lost my positivity (and found it again). I’ve had disagreements, arguments, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I have felt vulnerable, useless, and at dead ends. I have also felt positive and I have had incredible experiences. I have felt isolated and unsupported, and done something about finding my place again. I have made some incredible connections and friendships and really found a purpose within the grief community.
I think that 1000 days is a crucial time for me personally. I have recognised, modified, and implemented attitudes and behaviours for myself when I’ve realised that something is or isn’t working for my well being. At the moment I’m in a positive space within my grief journey. Nearly all of my days recently have been positive and enjoyable. I will always miss Susan and she is on my mind every moment of every day, but my current state of mind is that I am so lucky to have had 23 years of an incredible relationship with her. My life is infinitely better for those 23 years with her than it would have ever been without her.