When our favourite ‘Spiritual Sista, Activist and Energy Healer’ Allira Potter was 17, her mother passed away from terminal cancer. It left her raw and filled with grief, yet she found her way through the darkness into the light. Here, she shares her journey.
[Just a heads up: the following blog contains images and a personal account of a person who has died. If you’re sensitive to this content or may be triggered, please tread lightly].
RoP: Can you tell me a little bit about your mother?
Mum was the rock that held everything together. She was the one that would always make sure the people around her had their cups filled before hers. I remember on her last days she was making sure everyone in the room was oka, before even worrying about herself.
She was funny, witty, told you how it was, strong, independent and honestly a breath of fresh air when it came to me realising how bloody good I had it as a kid.
My relationship with her was out of this world and I don’t just say that lightly, most people would say the relationship I held with her was really open – no judgement, no bullshit and constant laughter.
Our journey together was super interesting. I was a typical teenager in my early days, a shit head to say the least but she always gave me the space and independence I needed to grow as a person. I remember wagging school one day and coming home and being like “I did this today” and she was like “okay, and how did that make you feel?” And just asking me questions rather than telling me off for wagging school.
The soul journey was pretty intense, she was very spiritual and always knew I would step into the spiritual world whether I liked it or not.
RoP: How did her passing unfold?
Mum’s passing was quick and really foggy. I’m sure a lot of people explain the stages of terminal cancer a bit like this.
Mum was battling cancer on and off for years, but it wasn’t until 2008 – when I was 17 – that she was told she had Stage 4 Melanoma.
I remember coming home from school one day and she casually told me in the kitchen. I just thought “yeah but the doctors will do what they need to do and we will just deal with it”. I don’t think I took it seriously at that time, because in reality you never think that your mum would die when you’re a teenager, so the whole reality of it becomes a blur.
We all found out in June 2008. It was such an odd time because my family were always around as mum started treatments to help slow the process of the cancer spreading. Life got bizarre to say the least, I was studying VCE (Year 12 Victoria) while ultimately my mum was passing away, but that was her wish for me to finish with flying colours… which I did!
November rolled on in and it was bizarre because Mum looked well, she was up and about – the only difference was she was placed in palliative care. For people who aren’t aware, palliative care is a place where a lot of people go to make the last few months of their lives as comfortable as possible.
November 16 was a normal day, except that everyone was at the hospital to visit mum. I remember so clearly it was night time and we were watching Rove Live in the family room and I remember my grandfather walking into the room saying “she’s gone” and that was it – the roller coaster began.
GROWING THROUGH GRIEF
RoP: What has your grief journey looked like?
My grief journey was such a roller coaster.
I remember being dumb in those first few minutes and then it just became a fog for months. I mostly blocked it out by going (rather: attempting) uni, so I just kept living life as normal.
It wasn’t until a few years later my mental health really declined to the point of suicide. An intervention and multiple psychology sessions followed.
I believe I didn’t really experience grief until maybe 2 years after she had gone. I ended up at a point of being heavily medicated and minimising most work around me to help cope with everything.
RoP: What are the biggest lessons your mother taught you about life?
She taught me some big ones, and ones that I still hold to this day.
She always told me that I have to treat everyone the same no matter their values, opinions, culture or colour of their skin. She was really big on respecting people for who they are.
The other biggest lesson was to Dream Big and anything I really wanted to do I could honestly achieve.
RoP: What lessons have you learned from her death?
Life is way too short as cliche as it sounds but wow live your life as best and big as you possibly can! Her death made me realise that everything does happen for a reason and that I suppose if her passing didn’t happen I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now.
RoP: How have you grown through your grief?
I have grown by realising that if mum didn’t condition me to have this magic independence at a young age, I probably wouldn’t be thriving as much as I am now.
RoP:What advice do you have for other young people who experience the loss of a parent?
It’s okay to feel everything you need to feel for weeks, months and years.
There is no time frame on grief and the world will keep turning around you, but you can take your time healing and growing.
ALLIRA’S GRIEF TOOLKIT
Meditation and keeping grounded.
Healing tools in the form of hot chips and listening to Missy Higgins on repeat for months on end.
Whatever gives you comfort while you heal.