Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

hay griever

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.

Melancholy.

A sad, gloomy and contradictory state that somehow manages to overwhelm me even when I have a smile on my face.

15 comments on “hay griever

  1. Mari
    June 8, 2013

    Thinking of you and sending strength to keep plodding on – Mari

  2. marisworld
    June 8, 2013

    Sending strength and thinking of you – Mari

  3. Kate
    June 8, 2013

    Can relate to all of this……

  4. Carrie Dunne
    June 8, 2013

    Oh Ben, you have said it all with the word ‘melancholy’. My wonderful husband died last March and I’ve had days of being lachrimose but thought that now I’m 15 months in I’d be more at ease with the situation. How wrong I was!! I could not stop sobbing in my local cafe all last weekend. I’m well known there but I had to leave so I didn’t frighten off new customers. Yes, the sunglasses were very useful and so too was the long walk to the cinema to sit in the dark and try to be taken away from my situation and concentrate on something else. Oh Ben, I feel I can’t help you other than to just let you know there are others out there who understand your desperate grief. I am so grateful for your writings and get so much out of every single posting. My thoughts are with you….and I mean it with all my being!

  5. Mark
    June 8, 2013

    I understand where you are coming from. I get that way seeing the coming of spring/summer and thinking all the things the we used to do. It is really rough seeing when the daisies and daffodils coming up, we planted lots in our yard, here in the US, because we saw them all the time when spring was coming in England.

    I get like you, maybe it is because life is going on all around us. Yet, there are times when I feel immersed with memories and loneliness…that saudade that someone mentioned in one of your articles. I pray that someday I’ll be able to shed this thing that engulfs us.

  6. Miguel
    June 8, 2013

    Saudade has no exactly equivalent word in English but that’s what you’re describing. And I’m finding, 16 months after my wife’s death, that it gets worse before it gets better – I guess that when you’re hit by the Everest you need some distance to begin to grasp the full size of the beast.
    Just keep plowing on, Ben, one foot in front of the other, and thanks for this blog and for your posts.

  7. Wife After Death
    June 9, 2013

    Yes, totally relate to this. Melancholy as a state of being. Have had a similar week to you it sounds. I’m at 16 months. Love to you X

  8. Michaela Turner
    June 9, 2013

    Two years into the grief journey and yet still I can totally relate to you Ben, I plough myself into lots of social activities and yet some how I never feel I m really there, its like I m in a bubble looking out and in the end it just makes me long for my Bob even more. Does it ever get any better,then I feel ungrateful for not being more grateful for what I have !!! Best wishes Ben

  9. 1writeplace
    June 9, 2013

    All I can say, Ben, is to keep writing and we’ll all hold each other up. Take care,
    Patti

  10. Donna
    June 10, 2013

    We are 14mths since my children’s father died. We move on each day because we know life has to continue but it really can be so hard , what answers do I give my children. I held my daughter the other night after she had cried uncontrollably, she said ‘ so this is what forever feels like’ … Daddy’s holding your hand I told her, always. Thanks for your posts Ben xxx

    • Miguel
      June 10, 2013

      my wife died 14 months ago. At 56 it takes all the resilience life taught me to contemplate “what forever feels like”. I don’t know how old your daughter is but it breaks my heart to think that a child has to deal with this kind of pain and that you need to raise above your own to be there for her. Please accept a heartfelt hug, Donna.

  11. Pingback: involuntary chuckle | life as a widower

  12. Jet Black
    June 10, 2013

    Thank you so much for articulating your grief. Your words continue to ring so true for my situation too, which is so different. I sometimes think of it as sitting, standing, living on a blanket of sadness… It’s just there, underneath everything, even joy, sometimes covered by the picnic of a busy life and other times staring you in the face with its tartan taunt.

  13. Susan Fuller
    June 10, 2013

    There comes a time (usually midway through the first year) when the full reality hits full force. It is without a doubt the worst part of this whole business.

    I know it doesn’t feel that way right now but the good news is that it means your grief is moving which means you’re on track and it’s not going to feel this awful forever (it just feels that way).

    Give yourself the time and space you need to be with whatever is in the moment.

    Many blessings to you and your son.

  14. Celia Marszal Iannelli
    June 17, 2013

    This is it exactly…My husband died in April 2013, and I am at the two month mark and counting…I feel totally displaced. I have kept myself busy, went back to work part-time and even out with friends, there is this sadness behind my smile…I mean, really, after a time, folks want you to get on with it…On with it? What the heck do they think I’m doing?
    And this is my second time in the widow gig in thirteen years. My first husband died, and I was able to move on, resolve my grief, and remarry …And I was scared to death…but I took a leap of faith. Six years into our marriage he got sick with a rare disease no MDs were able to diagnose. But as a nurse, I knew something was terribly wrong…Within two weeks of his diagnosis he was dead…and I am here…

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