Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

grief lightning

Olivia Newton John has been on TV a lot recently. I don’t even watch that much TV and I’ve seen her on three shows. Every time I’ve seen her face I’ve had the song Grease Lightning in my headExcept in my version the word ‘grease’ is replaced by ‘grief’. That’s not because I’ve developed a morbid obsession with grief. It’s because I’m scared. I’m fearful of lightning striking twice because it’s simply not true that it doesn’t. It’s just something that we say because we hope it won’t.

I’m so frightened of being struck again that I feel Death’s presence in the room. He seems to always be with me. He’s watching over me just like he does Liesel in The Book Thief And I feel like he hasn’t finished with me yet.

These days I tend to try not to worry about the future. I understand that we have little control over it and if I picture myself with a teenage son, me in my forties, it terrifies me so I don’t bother. But my macabre companion whispers in my ear and tells me that there is more to come. That’s it’s entirely inevitable. I can’t hear the sound of him sharpening his scythe, he’s not necessarily preparing for an immediate hit, but he’s coming one day. And I’m not scared that he’s coming to get me. I’m just petrified of how I’ll feel when he takes anyone else that I love.

Artwork from the incredible novel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Artwork from the incredible novel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

10 comments on “grief lightning

  1. christine stanley
    April 28, 2013

    I have the same feeling all the time,even after two years. x

  2. Naomii
    April 28, 2013

    This feeling has plagued my life. After years of snubbing depression, anxiety and general mental illness as often made up and exaggerated, I have been reduced to a fearful, anxious mess who thinks about my and my loved ones death way too much.

    Have considered CBT but not sure it’ll eclipse the depth of my fear.

    I should say “Don’t let it take a hold of you” but that’d be beyond pointless…. Instead I wish you good luck and big love. x

  3. Helen Trussler
    April 28, 2013

    So glad you wrote this Ben, I worry constantly about losing another loved one and like you my own demise is not the worry. Ive tried CBT and mindfulness and loads of positive affirmations but I still feel its presence.
    My greatest fear is the death of my children and im over protective and stifling but unless youve experienced the full weight of griefs, heavy, all consuming cloak then no one can really judge.

  4. Audrey Campbell
    April 28, 2013

    Know exactly how you feel Ben. I was widowed (suddenly) in November but sadly was not my 1st encounter with grief. We lost our eldest son 12 years ago. He was 10 and lost a bravely fought battle with cancer. I found myself asking ‘why me again’ in the days and weeks following Colin’s (husband) death. Having found new friends on WAY and following blogs like yours I see others have been through similar to what I have. Although reassuring the presence of Dr Death is never far from my thoughts. My son (aged 17) is neither man nor boy and struggling with his grief. He can’t process his thoughts. He is terrified he will lose me and me him. Once a family of 4, we now are 2. People keep telling me I’m strong. I ask myself has this happened because I’m strong. If so I pray for the weak gene!
    Take care x
    Audrey

  5. Fiona
    April 28, 2013

    This feeling plagues me too after losing my husband last November, no counselling,CBT doesn’t shift it

  6. Simon Hancox
    April 28, 2013

    The same feeling here too. Although my key worry is that it’ll be me. I’m paranoid beyond belief in terms of my health. I ask myself the question every day
    “when are you going to take me?”

  7. J. Shah
    April 28, 2013

    Having lost my 23 year old son unexpectedly two years and two months ago, I think the worst that can happen has already happened.

  8. lesley
    April 28, 2013

    Pleased its not just me. I would rather non of us had this feeling but do feel better others do as it normalises it. Having had the worst happen to you you know it can and that it doesnt just happen to others. I lost my dad and brother in circumstances (each separate) that involved them being missing and me waiting for the police to let me know they had been found , certain in the knowledge they were dead. On monday my mam wasnt in when I rang, as I do every night. I really believed she must have died.i rang over and over until I got her. I couldnt accept she could just be out as she infact was. I cant see this ever changing

  9. Felicity Wilson
    April 28, 2013

    Agree whole heatedly with Lesley about the normalization of this pervasive feeling. As humans, we are the only species aware of our inevitable mortality.
    In some situations, I find role playing can provide some levity and distraction. I wonder if it would help to pretend to be some sort of beastie when confronted ( tortured) with such alarming thoughts. Sloths always bring a smile. Just a thought.

  10. Jo
    April 30, 2013

    I feel for you. I don’t want this to sound selfish, but I do fear for my own death because of the consequences for my children that have already lost one parent.They are my reason for living. Your son is yours. I sometimes wonder how I would feel if my husband had died and we didn’t have children. I am so thankful for them in in more ways than I could possibly express.

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