Saturday, 22 September 2012

Thoughts Three and a Half Years Later: The build up, the break and a different kind of love

On Monday the 17th September I had been widowed for exactly three years and six months. Most of the time these days I am at peace with my life but there are four times of the year I struggle with.  Jonathan’s birthday and the year anniversary are obvious ones but the other two I struggle with are Christmas and the six month points. I think it’s the point where I am moving away from one number to the next. It is now nearer four years since Jonathan died than three and it still feels wrong.

As part of an online conversation a friend of mine commented that she must have missed the news of me falling in love and my response was that I was in love with travelling. In a way I have fallen in love, not with a person but with my life. I cannot believe I am lucky enough to live this life. I work hard but the payoff is amazing. I am happy. Great you say but in a way it makes the hard days harder. How can I be so happy when he is gone? I know he would be proud of me and happy for me but there are times where I feel incredibly guilty especially on these days where I cannot help but remember that he is gone rather than remember that he was here.

I know what it is and I understand where it comes from and that it’s not useful but it is what it is. It is grief. It is survivors’ guilt. I am incredibly hard on myself at these times. I seek to find fault and punish myself for the smallest mistake. I am difficult and awkward with people in an effort to distance them from me. I know Jonathan’s death was not my fault and that it is wonderful that I am still here even if he isn’t but the very human illogical part of me needs to be punished because the guilt is there. There is no getting round it or away from it. I am here and he isn’t and it’s not fair. It’s not my fault but there it is. I am only human. So the build up goes. I get more touchy and more critical of myself and then the day comes. On the day I am sad that he is not here. I don’t take the joy I usually do in my life and even when I do something amazing it lacks something. I still think doing something amazing is better than hiding in my bed but it’s never as good as I think it would be if I did it on another day. I didn’t throw myself into whale watching trip like I usually would. I didn’t have the balance of experience and photography I have been striving for as I hid behind the safety of the camera lens. Yet by the end of the trip I was smiling. It didn’t help that it was in the morning and I had to get up for it, I really am not a morning person and it takes me hours to wake up but that was only a small part of it on this day. The first person to try and talk to me I just wanted to go away. I was annoyed as I knew it was her job to be friendly but I didn’t want friendly I just wanted a quiet place to take my photos and remember/forget but as we headed back to shore at the end of the cruise I was in a better frame of mind. The mother and calf whale we found and the sea journey itself had calmed me. I wasn’t happy but I was more at peace and managed to have a normal conversation with a few of the other passengers.

After a mid-afternoon snooze a skype chat with a good friend then another with Jonathan’s parents I was still tired and sad but in my usual way. Jonathan’s mother took her laptop out to his garden so I could see it and that helped as I could see ‘him’ and blow ‘him’ a kiss and say I love you. The storm had broken and passed and the next day in work I was a different person. I was smiling not my slightly manic I’m-alright-really-I-am smile but a genuine I’m-sad -but-I’m-ok smile. I’m back on track to remembering how fabulous my life is. Yes there is a part of me that is sad and wishes life were otherwise but it’s back where it belongs, tucked away in the what-might-have-been-but-is-impossible-now place in my heart that keeps my happy memories safe so I can enjoy the life I have now and make more different happy memories. Memories which will fill the new parts of my heart that grow every day I remember it’s good to love the life I have just as I love the life I used to have. Not as a replacement, not more, not less, just differently.


  1. very well explained, completely 'get' the place you are in (same here!) x

  2. Thanks Jackie, it's god to know that even this afar along I am far from alone in my feelings x

  3. You're doing so well Lyn.
    Nearly 18mths for me since Sam and still crying lots more than I want (I don't mean to 'hi-jack' your post/blog).

  4. Sally your comments are always welcome. Sam pops into my heads at the most random moments, I am sure he would love Broome even though he would consider me stuck out in the sticks. I think you are doing fabulously. I cannot imagine the loss of a child and the courage you and my in-laws display on a daily basis continues to astound me. Lots of love xx