A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
I set aside time this week to properly concentrate on writing my book. I had a deadline that seemed to be way of in the distance but now appears to be drawing closer and closer. So far I’ve snatched a few minutes between exercises in the gym or an hour or so on a slow moving London bus, jotting down observations or diary entries about grief. And so I guess this post is effectively one of those.
This Monday I sat down to tackle 11th November, the dreadful day after the fateful night before. I wrote about the night itself a long time ago and it hurt. I realise now that I’ve been avoiding the next day out of fear for the trauma I might feel.
I was right to be concerned too because these past couple of days have indeed taken their toll on me emotionally. After the first 30 minutes of writing I was exhausted from shedding the kinds of tears I haven’t cried for quite some time. Raw and torturous sobs of genuine anguish and despair. I began to imagine how it must feel for any person bereaved but, for whatever reasons, unable to face their grief. For those who leave it bubbling under unaddressed for months or even years. And for that chap who contacted me in January to explain that he’d suppressed his grief for his late wife for over seven years but was finally going to seek some professional help. How he must have erupted with pain when he finally faced his demons.
I’ve heard grief referred to as a scab – “keep picking and it will never heal”, someone told me – but I think I somewhat disagree. This week has been hard. My emotions have been tested. And I’ve cried a lot. But I’ve noticed that none of those things actually scare me. Instead I’ve been able go back to the second most difficult day of my life and observe the progress that I’ve made.
I don’t feel the guilt that I did back then because I’ve come to terms with the fact that there was nothing I could have done to change what happened.
I don’t feel the same degree of constant physical pain I felt that day or during the weeks that followed.
And I don’t feel angry towards the people around me who were only trying to show me how much they cared.
Somehow I don’t feel like I’ve been picking a scab. If I have then it’s not a very nice word to use for my life. But perhaps I’ve given myself a metaphorical X-ray. And although the broken bones may never entirely heal nor be as strong as they once were, at least it’s something to see for myself that one or two of them are beginning to set.
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.