A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
A few weeks again someone posted a comment on my blog asking me if any part of me missed or mourned the person I used to be before my wife died. I’ve taken my time to answer the question but, having given it some thought, I’ve realised the answer is simple. Yes. Every part of me misses him. Not nearly as much a I miss my wife, but the two are completely interlinked.
Under normal circumstances I would probably have stuck a couple of fingers down my throat and made dramatic gagging noises if someone were to say to me that over time a couple can complete each other and become more like one entity than two. However, as my circumstances have become ‘un-normal’ (made up word, so shoot me) my perspective on relationships has changed too. And so have I. In fact I’m almost unrecognisable to myself.
The funny things is, however, it’s not all negative. I sat down on the bus to write this piece thinking it was going to be full of misery and foreboding. But perhaps the London sunshine is photosynthesising my outlook and making me realise something that hadn’t struck me until my fingers started getting busy on my iPhone on the number 12 through Camberwell.
I’ve suddenly recognised that losing my wife has spurred me on to become the man she wanted me more than ever before. Don’t get me wrong, she really quite liked me the way I was but she always strived for us both to be the very best versions of ourselves possible.
She was the ‘you missed a bit’ type but she would always explain how you might avoid missing a bit next time or suggest resources that could teach you how never to miss a bit again.
But I never miss a bit anymore. I put more effort into our home life than I ever did before she died. I get jobs more quickly and efficiently. I take a problem or a project and attack it from every angle until I have a solution or a resolution.
I’ve started a blog, which is something she’d be encouraging me to do (and stick to) for some time and it’s just been nominated for an award. I’ve run a half marathon and a tough 10K and raised thousands for charity. I’ve found, bought and half decorated a house in the space of three months (the ‘half’ part is killing me but I only moved in on Friday). I’m a more considered parent. I’m father to a toddler who lost his mum just five months ago but who seems to still be “such a happy little boy” according to one of her best friends (Annie, that made me cry by the way).
But I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet or toot my own horn, far from it. In fact, in speaking to so many young widows and widowers I’ve realised that this is just what so many of us do.
We do everything we can to honour our late husbands and wives. We become expanded versions of ourselves despite feeling so incredibly reduced. We put our children first and try to do everything in our power to build a happy and secure future for them.
And we do that because, even though we can no longer seek answers from our partners, we still know one thing. That they would be doing exactly the same as us if things had worked out the other way round.
I rarely do this but I think, given some feedback I’ve had to this piece, it’s important to qualify that I take no consolation from anything I’ve achieved since my wife died, however big or small. I feel completely indifferent to it all. I wish I could be the old me again and I wish my wife were still here to push me to improve. I’m merely attempting to point out that many of the widows and widowers I’ve come into contact with over recent months have achieved so much in the face of adversity.