Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

keeping busy

These last few weeks have been pretty busy. Lots of well wishers have warned me not to overstretch myself and friends and family have have shown their concern when they’ve seen my diary looking so full.

But this is one of the strange things about grief. You can’t tell someone how to play theirs out and you can’t be certain if the choices they make now will ultimately be right or wrong. Only time will provide those answers.

So four weeks to the day since I started this blog, have I taken too much on?

The truth is I rarely sit on my arse and do nothing. In my twenties I liked nothing more than to avoid bed at all costs. I’ve spent my entire adult life working hard and keeping busy, so to think that I might change so dramatically in just a matter of weeks is probably quite unlikely. Two hours after my wife was killed I was reciting a to do list to a friend, thus work-shy I am not.

So, whilst not ready to return to my job, I suspected I needed to find something positive to occupy my mind. Running started to fill a void but it didn’t take me long to realise that this hobby was simply busying my other anatomical extreme. And so that’s how this blog came to be. A normally active, stimulated and hectic mind was given extended leave from school but quickly rushed back to ask for extra homework like the classroom geek.

But I’ve done the work at my own pace. I’ve spread the writing out, I’ve spoken to media only on the days that suit me and I’ve put my son first every time. The words pour into me during my broken sleep and out of me before he even wakes up.

I’ve also worked in PR for 13 years, which means two things: 1) that working with media doesn’t present a hugely time-consuming challenge for me and 2) every single working day for over a decade has been busier than any day during the last four weeks.

Over the weeks I’ve felt extremes from anger to euphoria, despair to pride, disbelief to dignity. But I believe the important thing is that I’ve felt more than just loss. I’m self aware enough to understand that taking care of myself means challenging my mind rather than simply sitting round doing nothing at all.

So, if busying myself when I ‘should be getting some rest’ does some good for others then great, I’ll chill out another time.

If I regret what I’m doing right now in the future, then I’ll console myself with the fact that death made me live for the present.

If the rare highs lead to crashing lows, I’ll already know that I was fully expecting them to come my way.

And if I break down on the bus again whilst out running some errands, then at least I can take solace in the fact I can still multitask.

10 comments on “keeping busy

  1. South of the River
    February 4, 2013

    Ben I have been following your blog for a few weeks now. It is hard to put into words just how in awe of your strength I am. Yes you will have days which are worse than others, but for the most part you are channeling your emotions in a way which will prove invaluable for others who as in similar situations. Sending strength and love to you and your beautiful little boy.

  2. sararobinson2012
    February 4, 2013

    ‘…the words pour into me during my broken sleep and out of me before he even wakes up.’

    We know this – and that’s partly why your blog is so compelling, because you write so well. Those words deserve the readership they are getting and must be allowed out.

    I too am a busy work-a-holic type person, and forever get family and friends remarking on my ‘stamina’ and telling me to slow down. I often wonder if thats more an issue for them? And I do, often feel an overwhelming need to slow down and when I need to, I make that time. But I know my pace, and I know what makes me feel alive and it feels wrong to force myself into a different rythmn.

    I guess thats what you’re saying. All you can do right now is what feels right in a given moment, however full it makes your diary seem. And all the while your desire to put your son first shines through. That must be a challenge; to keep these things in balance. You’re doing good.

  3. mrsb33
    February 4, 2013

    I want to leave a comment on almost every one of your posts but nothing I write seems to articulate what I want to say. How I feel your pain through your words, how my own struggles pale in to insignificance, how incredibly brave I think you are. What an incredible role model for your son you are. How your honesty is so inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing in the way that you do. If I had three wishes, I really would give one of them to you.

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  5. cath
    February 4, 2013

    ,you do what feels right for you Ben. No script with grief its learning as you go, ad libbing on the way and at your own pace x follow your heart

  6. lesley
    February 4, 2013

    I also want to comment on all your posts. Whilst your experience of bereavement and grief is different from mine ( I believe no two people will have the same experiences ) reading your blog helps me so much. I take no pleasure or joy from the fact others are suffering but It stops me feeling like I am different. That is something I have found so hard. Other peoples lives go on as normal but mine has changed forever.i am not the person I was before my brothers death and I will never be that person again.at the minute I dont know who I will be.i try to take positives from this awful situation I find myself in.I have never felt so close to my family. I have come to understand what is and isnt important in my life. I spend less time at work and more time with family. Like you I keep busy. I cant sit at home doing nothing but think about my brothers death.i went back to work after only a week off .most people told me it was too soon but I needed some normality in my life and work offered that. I take it easy and know when I need to stop. I need something from my old life in this my new life

  7. lesley
    February 4, 2013

    You are so right Cath. I decided to go back to work just one week after my brother died. I was told by most people that it was too soon but I needed some normality in my life and work offered that.i didnt want to sit at home and do little but think about my brothers death. I felt different and needed some of my old life back. I will never be the person I was before I lost my brother but I need to hang on to things that the old me did. I need to be busy but I also need time to grieve. It took me time to work that one out and I only did after reaching a point where my grief ovetrwhelmed me and I felt like It was too much for me to deal with. Someone suggested I had been dealing with evertything on a practical level not an emotional one. I was upset at this but realised they were right and began to let myself actually grieve. It has been hard and at times the pain has been unbearable but very slowly I am beginning to experience good days.

  8. Lou
    February 6, 2013

    I never write in to anything but after reading about you, i had to. Your amazing and inspirational and i hope you find peace and happiness again one day, for now though keep taking it a day at a time and hang on to those precious memories, im sorry that your love story had to end, love to you and your gorgeous son xx

  9. It’s great that you are putting your son first. Also, I don’t think it’s a problem to keep yourself busy, you don’t want to be too busy, but busy enough that you aren’t sitting around thinking all of the time.

  10. Jude
    February 6, 2013

    There are parts of this that make me feel you are trying to justify your daily actions.Please don’t !!! Do what you have to do, to get you through the day- sounds to me like you are doing just what is needed for you. Much love xxx

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