A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
I’ve been feeling very lonely recently and my loneliness isn’t really allayed by the company of others. I’m led to believe this sensation is common amongst the widowed. I think we struggle to comes to terms with the relationship status we once labelled as ‘us’ being reduced to just ‘me’. In my situation a whole became a half without any prior warning, and the shock that came as a result seems to have long masked the gravity of the situation. I suppose I’m only just beginning to feel the way I might have expected to had someone told me I would be widowed so young. My bones ache, my stomach is sick with sorrow, I can think of little else but the wife I’ve lost, and I feel as though I have a hole in my heart. I’m truly sad to the core.
There are those who could probably have foreseen this emotional delay: ‘Year two is the worst,’ they might have said. I wonder if this sort of remark is symptomatic of our need to label and somehow define grief. Without the benefit of hindsight – or perhaps even with – who am I to say? But for what it’s worth I don’t think this year is worse than last. It’s just different.
Last year I was the subject of much attention, affection and company. This year things have gone quieter as people, generally speaking, have gone back to their own lives. Last year I couldn’t relax because I felt the need to constantly fill my time with activities, which largely aimed to ensure that my wife’s death wasn’t entirely in vain. This year I can hardly be bothered to do anything at all. Last year I found my son’s company challenging, difficult and often painful and upsetting. This year he’s my only consistent source of comfort and happiness. Last year I was driven by shock. This year I’ve been brought back down to earth by reality.
On balance year one was shocking, consuming, high-paced, highly charged, exhausting, excruciating, and yet rather focussing. In year two, by contrast, I’ve felt more isolated, lower on energy, increasingly apathetic, but less neurotic and, occasionally, more happy. I can’t definitively classify one period of time as better or worse than the other because, so far, they have felt so entirely unalike.
One thing I can say, however, is that my ‘year two’ relationship with my three-year-old son is my number one reason to feel good. He loves me and I love him. We’re kinder to one another than we once were. We’re able to read each other’s mood and make each other feel better when we feel low. We’re a team and I’m grateful of the joy he brings me every day. But each night as he goes to bed, hours before I do, I feel ‘us’ become just ‘me’ once again. Year two yo-yos back to year one and, as I have time to think, I return to my status as half of a whole. And the hole in my heart re-opens until I see my son’s little face smiling back at me when he awakes in the morning, reminding me that I’m not completely alone.