A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
I made a mistake when Desreen first died. I tried to hide my grief from my son thinking that he wouldn’t suffer so much if I seemed happy and kept playing with him and his train set.
You can’t hide the truth from a toddler though. They are too sensitive and intuitive to not notice that your world has shattered around you. One night I (or rather a bottle of Merlot) let down my guard and I quietly sobbed my heart out on the sofa during The X Factor final while he entertained himself with his track. My son knows me well enough to appreciate that daddy much preferred last season’s Strictly Come Dancing, so understandably he was taken aback to see the tears streaming down my face.
But it was his reaction that turned the steady stream into a river. He weighed up all the people in the room to try to establish whether any of them had upset me, gave them all a dirty look just in case and then tenderly wiped by eyes with his soft little hands. That upset me more because I felt like I should be his rock, rather than he mine. So I started acting as if I were happy in the day and then retreated to my room at night to unleash the pent up grief. I was trying to protect him from my feelings until I later realised that I should be revealing them to him (click here for a post on this).
Today I started to wonder whether my initial reaction is inherent in the male species and that maybe he’s guilty of the same crime. I went out for a run leaving him in the house with his grandmother and while I was gone he pointed at a picture of me and Desreen on the wall, looked round and said, “Poor Daddy, Nanny. Poor poor Daddy.”
This now makes me wonder whether the happiness he shows me in the day is a miniature mask for the pain he also feels in his heart. Grief has an terrible habit of making you constantly question everything. Today’s question is, why was he shouting, “Help me! Help me!”, in his sleep the other night when he always used to giggle his way through his dreams?