Polly Gillespie opens up about her grief after losing her beloved mum

Home » Features & Profiles » Profiles » Polly Gillespie opens up about her grief after losing her beloved mum

1 January 1970

Reading Time: 3 minutes

From a stopover at Grief to the town of Lost, Polly shares her rollercoaster ride of emotions.

I’d rather be holidaying somewhere divine and tropical, and having massages in rooms that smell like bergamot and exotic somethingness, but right now I seem to be spending my time basking on the shores of a sea called Wallow.

I’m hoping not to stay long, but I guess when I booked my vacation, I forgot to make a stopover at Grief, or even look at the brochures. No. I headed straight to this gosh darn grey town of Lost. I’ll get an Uber to an airport and fly out of here as soon as I finish this.

When my mum died, I thought it would feel the same as when my sister and dad died. It came as quite a shock that it felt nothing like the same thing. My dad died and I took charge of things. My sister died and I was devastated.

But I had Mum to help, a great husband and three very small children. With a career, a grieving mother, a hubby and three children under six, life just charges away. You’re in a river of busy and so you just swim and float the best way you can.

When Mum died, I didn’t feel like I was in a river being swept along. I felt like I did when I was two years old, when I spun around and around in the middle of the bank while my mother was withdrawing or depositing, or whatever it is women did at banks back in the day. I remember so clearly laughing and getting dizzy, falling on the carpet, and then realising I couldn’t see where my mother was.

I panicked. I can still feel that panic now when I remember feeling completely alone and lost in the middle of the Ōtāhuhu branch of ASB. It must have only been a few seconds before my mother came over and scooped me up, but that feeling of being lost in a big grown-up place remains with me. It’s how I feel now.

Loneliness was never something I understood. I was the woman who loved to dine alone, go to the movies by myself and have a week away solo in LA for work, knowing no one. I didn’t care. I loved being by myself. I thought it made me interesting.

In my head, I was the epitome of Beyoncé’s “Independent Woman”.

In my head, I was the epitome of Beyoncé’s “Independent Woman.

I now know Beyoncé and I were both ever-so-slightly delusional. She gets anxious and sad too. Whether you’re an international superstar with a fleet of Mercedes, a divorced mother of three, or a single woman living life on life’s terms, there are bound to be trips to destinations not desirable, like Wallow and Bit Broken.

I’ve found that, for myself, in these hellish hotels, there’s too much time to think things like, “What if I never find love again?”

“Now my parents are gone, does that make me a grown-up orphan?”

“I don’t want to date anyone new. I’ll have to take my clothes off.”

“I’m not asking for help from anyone, because I’m tough. No, I’m not. Yes, I am. No, I’m not. Stop thinking!”

“How hard would it be to assemble my own wooden garden swing chair?”

“Is it acceptable to live on a diet of broccoli soup and Earl Grey tea? Who is Earl? Am I an involuntary vegetarian?”

“Why do all the men I fancy have to be tattooed and emotionally damaged?” “Am I emotionally damaged? Oh my God, I’m emotionally damaged. I should have a warning label across my chest.”

Yes, I’ve been milling around here and dancing by myself with loneliness a little too long now.

I need to move out of Wallow and head home. I probably need to visit Grief on my way, and sign the visitors’ book too.

Also, it probably would help if I did some yoga and maybe got a personal trainer, in the slight chance that I might ever want to take my clothes off in front of a man again. Actually, a personal trainer sounds expensive. Who do I think I am? Beyoncé?

Writing about this rocky road trip has certainly helped. Thank you.

Subscribe & WIN!

Subscribe to WOMAN+ for only $19.99 for the year and you’ll have a chance to WIN 2 Nights for 2 at JetPark Rotorua +
an Evening in the Polynesian Spa.

*You can unsubscribe at any time. By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.