Supermarket Grief

Supermarket Grief

Bright lights, neatly packed rows and so many people walking around being so normal. There is nothing more ‘normal’ or ‘run of the mill’ than nipping to the shop to pick up a few things. But when you are feeling anything but normal it is the most abnormal of experiences. There should be warning signs for grieving people that supermarkets are absolutely not safe places to be. We had been in this shop so many times but the last time was when we picked up the last few items for my hospital bag. Just weeks later we were in the same shop the day before our son’s funeral – grim.

People were calmly filling their trolleys, seemingly not overwhelmed by the amount of choice and were walking around the supermarket in a methodical and logical order – they seemed completely oblivious to the fact the universe had imploded on the 18th December. It seemed ignorant and rude that people could be making decisions over something as petty as which bread to buy when Lenny had died!

We had masks and woolly hats on so that only a small section of our tear streaked faces could be seen. We had a list. We needed a list because our brains couldn’t function. We could hear a baby crying and then we couldn’t focus, my body still physically responded to a baby crying because we should have had our baby with us. I found myself staring at the baby clothes, I turned an aisle and saw aisles where we had collected things for the hospital bag full on joy and anticipation. It felt, like it has done on many occasions since Lenny died, like the universe was playing a cruel joke on us.

I am pretty sure our route around the supermarket was like we were in some sort of maze, it seemed to take an age to buy the few items that we needed. All the while everyone was being so obnoxiously normal! At some point I heard a loud wailing cry – this time it wasn’t the baby, it was something else – I realised it was me.

We cut our losses – anything we hadn’t managed to get didn’t matter. We went to the ‘grief lane,’ – otherwise known as self service. It is always our preferred method of payment now – it assures limited interaction and small talk with strangers.

After this we started shopping at a small local grocers. It is a family run business, with space for only a few customers in there at a time (therefore limited obnoxious normal people), it doesn’t sell baby clothes, has an excellent selection of spices and pickles and uses far less plastic. It is a win win for us – a more ethical choice and I haven’t had a public meltdown in there yet!

Lenny's Legacy


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3 thoughts on “Supermarket Grief

  1. Thank you so much for writing this Mim. And for both of you for creating this wonderful space. It is of course absolutely heartbreaking to read each and every one of your blog posts and I wish more than anything you didn’t have to have this space for this purpose but through your writing I can so clearly hear both of your voices and it’s you.
    Thank you for sharing your grief and truth in such a real way, reading this one has given me a great reminder to just always choose kindness.
    So much love to you both xxx

  2. Thanks Heather – we are sure you always choose kindness anyway. We are really pleased you like the website. x

  3. I have put off writing here as it is just so hard. I read your blogs Roy and Mim and it breaks my heart for you both and also brings it all back for me. I am a lot further down the line in the processing of my grief than you both are and I feel very aware that I don’t want to appear glib, spout platitudes – it’ll be ok, time is a healer etc etc’. It is true though, I suppose that’s why expressions like these exist, because there is some truth in them. Hearing your experiences of being in a supermarket resonate – that feeling of wherever you are, that the world is revolving around you and people are carrying on their daily lives quite happily whilst you are crying inside, and maybe outside, at the unfairness of it all. We lost Lila (and we use her name ALL the time, as our daughter needs to be recognised, just like your beautiful Lenny) just over 11 years ago now and at the time we had Jude who was 18 months old. And every time I saw a mum with two children, I was incensed by the unfairness of it all – how come she gets to have two and my baby died? I also found it so hard when people actively avoided me or avoided asking about Lila because it was difficult for them. I needed to talk about it, because she mattered, so why the hell couldn’t they supress their awkwardness and do what was right for me, the person who this had all happened to? Unfortunately, most people find talking about the death of a child very hard, and you are right Mim, that it is still quite a taboo subject. I like to think that I do my bit by bringing it up when it feels appropriate and sharing my story. Luckily my family was amazing, we shared our grief, we talked about Lila, we went to see her in the mortuary and in her garden (we call her plot in the cemetery Lila’s garden – because we have things growing there and we have tried to make it a positive place to be…). And without that constant recognition that she is our daughter and that she existed I would not have got where I am now, in terms of dealing with my grief. Talking and sharing with the people who matter. Some people let you down, even though they should be the ones you turn to, but where you are disappointed by some, others step into the breech. We were so lucky that we had Jude, and we still say that he got us through some very tough times. Times where you didn’t want to get out of bed, but had to, to get him to nursery, or get his breakfast. He was blissfully unaware of everything that was going on, and that gave us a sense of normality in an otherwise very abnormal situation. I suppose it is just finding the things that can get you through the day (your dogs??), and then eventually the clouds will start to lift and the pain isn’t quite as acute. We have Leo now and our boys are 14 and 9 – and when Leo expresses his sadness at not having his sister around, we say, but we might not have had you, if we hadn’t lost Lila. It might sound strange, but you do learn to accept the horrid hand that has been dealt to you, and look for the good things that arrive in your life. And even though we endured the death of our beautiful Lila at 40 weeks, just at Christmas time like you both, I still now feel very lucky with what I have in my life. I hope this comes across as hopeful and positive, because I could understand if you were to feel angry at these words, when everything for you both is still so raw and new. No one can take away the pain, but take comfort if you can in the things that still give you pleasure and look after each other. Thinking of you both and sending lots and lots of love and hugs, Ailsa xx

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