My life has changed. Poignantly I face challenges I never anticipated facing in my early 40's. In the 4 months since he passed, the intensity of the grief has overwhelmed me in the most silent and loneliest of times. The hot, uncontrollable tears are a pungent reminder of a loss that is still so fresh, so raw, so surreal.
Grief has ambushed me in the most unexpected ways. I seek him out in everything I do, say, feel and experience, and when the reality of his absense hits me, the grief consumes me.
Four months have gone by and the grief has intensified. I feel I was stronger then than I am now. I was in overdrive in those first three months following his passing. I carried the grief deep inside and suppressed it, hoping it would whither away as time passed, but instead it festered. It spread out, like an unsuspecting cancer lying dormant, waiting for an opportunistic moment to attack my being.
Like the symptoms of an immunocompromising disease, I started to notice changes in me. I began to notice environmental triggers that were and are out of my control that would catapult me into the orbital clutches of grief.
My senses have become heightened. Driving with the radio on has proven to be a risky exercise- song lyrics, certain tunes and particular radio shows seem to throw me off course, and I find myself balling my eyes out, sobbing uncontrollably and I find my energy completely depleted and drained.
Events that trigger grief episodes for me are particularly those I have no control over and carry a lot of public focus, such as Mother's day, father's day, Iain's birthday. All these have come and gone in the short time since he passed, and each have impacted me in there own way. I didn't give these triggers permission to impact me, and yet they exist, they are thrust in our faces, and there is nothing we can do about it, no shutting ourselves off from them will eleviate the pain associated with the memory of our loved one in that moment, on that particular ocassion. These days have presented as particularly challenging for me. I feel deeply sad, deeply depressed and deeply alone at these times. The grief consumes me.
I have changed. My entire being has altered. I am no longer who I was. I am a widow. I have suffered the loss of a spouse. I have become a single parent. I am a primary breadwinner now. People I thought I could turn to in this time of shock, disbelief and confusion are no longer there. I realise now, they never really were. I have been unhinged from all that I thought was safe. I no longer unwittingly trust others. I no longer seek out the support of others. My experience is likened to that of an out of body experience- I have been able to step outside of the situation subconsciously and realise that very little in this life we are given is truly real. We have very few hidden riches in our existence. I used to get hurt by people who walked away from me when I was going through a tough time- Now I just regret the wasted time spent with them.
I have changed. My days and nights are spent wondering about my own mortality, the mortality of my children, the mortality of those whom I care about. I spend my time contemplating my guilt, what could have, should have, may have, would have been had we done things differently. The difficulties of 2016/17 haunt me day and night and the torturous visions I have of how awful his last year was debilitates me.
Grief ambushes me at every opportunity. Sports days for the kids, school events, parents evenings, the children's successes (and failures)- I no longer have someone who cares about them as much as I do, to share those precious memories and experiences with. I am ambushed.
My grief dominates my thoughts. I seek out joy and happiness, I do- but much of this is not within my control.
I can sense so strongly those around me who may never say it, but I know full well they are thinking it: "Oh, I wish this woman would stop wallowing in self pity, get over herself and just move on. All she goes on about is him. HE's gone, it's time to move on, life goes on! It's depressing and miserable." To those people I have this to say: Grief is personal. It is defined by so many aspects of ourselves, our experiences, our past, present and future. It is a group of emotional responses and coping mechanisms triggered by the circumstances surrounding one's loss, which will never ever be the same as any other person's experience. One cannot rush the process. It is my journey. Your may choose to support me in that journey towards my new "normal", or you could simply choose not to go on that journey of discovery along side me. Either way, that choice remains yours, but what is not your choice is the choice to dictate a time frame, pattern or formula I should follow to grieve my husband, the father of my children. Don't be part of the grief ambush. Don't become a trigger.
My tears will continue to soak my cheeks, my memories will continue to dominate my day to day existence- in many ways the tears and the memories and even the deep sadness gives my life meaning and purpose. It exposes my humanity. It demonstrates that our relationship posessed the human component of emotion and connection. I need to hold onto that.
Grief will continue to ambush me as long as I live, breathe, see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world around me, but as the years and months go by the ambushes will trigger less sadened emotion and will hopefully trigger a smile, a glimmer of remembrance in honour of a human who touched a few lives in his time on earth, one of those lives being mine.