Grief has no rule book

Grief has no rule book

Today we finished clearing out Leah’s wardrobe of her clothes and footwear.

Certain items of sentimental value were picked out and placed in our Memory Box – her Girls Brigade hoodie, her LOST polo shirt, her favourite pyjamas while in Bristol, the extra pretty socks she wore to theatre in Bristol when they were removing her Central Line because she was critically ill with a “line infection” that was antibiotic resistant, the fleecy monkey poncho that so many admired, the dress she wore for the photo shoot with Nic a few weeks after her diagnosis, the top she wore on her first trip out of hospital after her transplant.

Leah in Costa Sep 13

I encouraged Leah’s sisters and some others who were close to her, to pick out the items that they liked from Leah’s wardrobe for themselves.

Seeing people that Leah loved wearing her clothes, brings me far more comfort, than seeing those items gathering dust. The remaining items went to the N.I. Hospice Charity Shop.


There’s no timetable for grief, no right way or wrong way to remember our loved ones and to let go of personal possessions. Everyone has to find their own path through the sadness.


Paradoxically, Leah’s medicine drawer lies untouched. I still have a need to gaze into it on a regular basis and look at the many drugs that kept Leah alive after her transplant. The ‘innohep’ (tinzaparin) is the anticoagulant injections that I had to give Leah every morning. She used to wince at how cold my hands were.


The staff in Belfast City Hospital constantly complained that Bristol Hospital had discharged Leah home on ‘innohep’ as it’s apparently a drug they never use and they had to order it in especially. In Belfast they use enoxaparin/clexane.

The first couple of times it was quite a palaver to get the ‘innohep’, but our Teenage Cancer Nurse Specialist went to great lengths to try and smooth things out for us.

It might sound strange, but it brings a wry smile to my face to see the drug that was somewhat begrudged to us, lying unused in the drawer.

So many memories.

8 thoughts on “Grief has no rule book

  1. The personal things are so hard to let go. :(. I carry my mom’s lipstick in my purse. I wear her jacket and fuzzy socks.
    You bless us with your boldness in sharing your grief.


  2. Vicky and family, I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for you all to empty Leah’s wardrobe and sort though her clothes. When Don died everything was burnt in the fire so we never had to go through that though in some ways, as time has passed, I wish I could have done it as part of the healing process. My admiration for you as a family and how you handle each new thing that needs to be faced is so great. xx


  3. Thank you for your encouragement Mary. I will never forget hearing about the house fire and the death of your gorgeous Don – I can’t even begin to imagine the trauma and emotional pain that your family has been experiencing over the years since 💕


  4. I carry mum’s furry stripy sock around with me in my bag. It does three things: makes me laugh, gives comfort and acts as a reminder.

    My mum had three triple wardrobes full of clothes – I kept two cardigans – one of them is worn daily and becoming a bit threadbare under the armpits.


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