I am a daughter.
I am also a wife, mother, sister, aunt and a granddaughter. I may have many names, but I am a daughter to two loving parents.
I was born in the 80’s and had a childhood filled with love and laughter. We weren’t a financially well-off family, but our hearts were full.
I was brought up on a small farm. We experienced hardship when we were hit with bad year after bad year. But my parents provided for the us the best way they could.
My parents are smokers. When I was little that was just Mum and Dad. I didn’t know that not all parents smoked. I can still to this day vividly remember when I became uncomfortable and embarrassed for having parents who smoke around me.
As I became older, I noticed more. Mum and Dad stopped going out and avoided social gatherings. They were fast becoming the minority of people who smoked in our small town.
I noticed how much Mum in particular struggled with trying again and again to quit.
I hated that they smoked and couldn’t understand why they just didn’t stop.
What happened next
Fast forward to my adult life. I watched as my Mum’s health began to deteriorate. She kept explaining symptoms away as being asthma.
It wasn’t until she collapsed at the airport that she was forced to face the truth. The truth I think we all knew but no one wanted to say.
Mum was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD for short.
It was like Mum was standing on top of a hill when they gave this diagnosis. Because as soon as we had the diagnosis everything began to roll away so quickly.
In a little under 4 years, we were saying goodbye.
What came after
Everything was a blur as we prepared for the funeral.
It was while preparing for the funeral that I began to notice some really not nice things.
We were searching for photos for the funeral. But we had to look for photos that didn’t have any evidence of Mum being a smoker. My Dad was adamant on that fact.
I found out later that Dad already had received condolences around the town, which were laced with negative undertones.
“Sorry for your loss, but she really should have quit earlier.”
“It is really sad, but she should have known better.”
or one of my favourites “We really shouldn’t feel sorry at all. There shouldn’t be sympathy for smokers”
As we moved on from the funeral, I still noticed that because Mum had passed away from a disease that was linked to her smoking habit, the loss appeared to be treated differently.
When I speak to someone new, and they ask where my parents live. When I mention Mum has passed away, I am always hit with the inevitable question of, what happened? I mention COPD in which they ask, ‘oh was she a smoker?’ As soon as I reply with a yes, there is this look. This look which comes over their face. And then the conversation is ended.
At the end of the day grief is grief.
I am a daughter grieving the loss of my Mum. I lost a mother and a friend. My father lost his soulmate, and my children lost their beloved Nanna.
My grief doesn’t change because she was a smoker.
Yes If I could do anything to go back in time I would. I would try absolutely everything to convince her to quit. I want nothing more than for her to be here with us. I would do anything to take away the fear in her eyes as she struggled in her last months.
I miss her every single minute of every day.
Why am I made to feel that her death is less than someone who passed with something not related to smoking.
I am proud she is my Mum and will always remember her as being strong with a fierce love for her family.
Until next time,