A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
Sometimes reactions speak louder than words. Well this last week I’ve tried to verbalise what’s wrong but it’s been my eyes rather than my mouth that have done all the talking. I’ve barely stopped crying for six days. I’ve been constantly lachrymose. I’ve thanked the heavens for the good weather because it’s allowed me to wear sunglasses without looking too pretentious. I’ve been grateful of the allergy season because I’ve been able to pretend that the constant trickle from my left eye has been caused by hay fever. But the truth is I’ve simply been incessantly sad. Even when I’ve been happy. In fact perhaps especially when I’ve been happy.
And I’ve had plenty of reasons to smile. A wedding, an engagement, a christening, a trip to Thomas Land, a birthday party, time with friends, sunshine. Each has lifted my spirits, yet my overriding feeling has been of sadness. It just hasn’t left me.
But the tears haven’t felt like the result of an emotion, more like an ailment. Something constant and persistent that needs no trigger to begin. And the fact that I haven’t really broken down, sobbed dramatically or felt any real intensity of feeling possibly tells me everything I need to know. Maybe I’m coming to terms with what’s happened. Perhaps this is how acceptance feels.
I haven’t really felt the heavy burden of witnessing a tragedy. I’ve not felt the upset of instinctively turning to my wife to talk to her only to remember she’s no longer there. The stabbing pains of grief have (perhaps just temporarily) wounded me with less shock and surprise. But the huge range of associated emotions have channeled themselves into just one.
A sad, gloomy and contradictory state that somehow manages to overwhelm me even when I have a smile on my face.
My name is Ben. I was widowed on 10th November 2012 aged 33. Just 14 months into my marriage to the mother of my two-year-old son and the woman I’d loved for eight years.