A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
The sun was shining on us today. I woke up feeling okay and decided it was time to get out and play. Being ill for a fortnight has not only made me feel like shit, it’s also made me feel like a terrible father. Little energy and being in pain has made me poor company for a toddler. So today was all about making sure my son had fun.
Seeing his face when he discovered the joy of not just a bouncy castle but also a bouncy slide made up for two miserable weeks in two seconds. Yet just moments after a smile stretched across my face I felt a tear well up in my eye. Sadness that my eyes could see his pleasure whilst my wife’s remained closed.
My son’s smile was there to stay though and as I watched him play I thought about how innocence breeds contentment. Unlike me, he’s living in the moment so when he’s having a nice time, why would he do anything other than laugh and smile? What could possibly make a person cry when there was sunshine, swings, slides, scooters and soft scoop ice cream?
Well from my adult point of view there are a few answers.
Understanding: knowing that we’re definitely not going to see Desreen again; comprehension of the concept of death; grasping the words ever and never.
Preoccupation: never being able to escape our loss; going over that night in my head; thinking about where she is now; worrying about where we’ll be in the future.
Isolation: feeling lonely all the time; never feeling truly fulfilled in company or alone; detachment from every social scenario I find myself in.
Guilt: feeling constant regret that my son is missing out on his mother and that his mother is missing out on her son; feeling ashamed when I suddenly realise that I don’t want to be sad forever.
Perhaps it’s that conflict of emotions that makes grief so powerful. You can have fun building a castle but you know that the sand is going to get in your eyes. You can feel your heart melt when your child offers you a bit of his ice cream but you know it’s going to hurt your teeth. And you can soak in the sun and urge yourself to stop thinking about the rain clouds in the distance, but you know you’re bound to get soaked if you dare to leave home without an umbrella.