A story of grief by a man and a boy
Five months ago this week I set up this blog with just one intention. I wanted to help other young widowers find someone who could relate to the hell they were going through in losing their wives. Over the course of time the reach and purpose of the blog have both evolved and I now understand that it is read by men and women alike, young and old, but today I have found myself reflecting on my original intent.
The day I wrote my first post I hoped to find a few guys who could empathise with my situation and I with theirs. It didn’t take too long. Within a fortnight I’d be invited to write for a few newspapers and appear on a couple of TV shows and then suddenly a couple of guys came forward. They’d be searching, with no luck, for the same thing as me. There was relief on both sides when we found one another remotely. Emails were exchanged, virtual friendships were made and many a sleepless midnight conversation was had with subjects ranging from court cases to potty training, anniversaries to animated movies (I find we widowers talk about Finding Nemo and Bambi a lot).
The relationships that have slowly built have been developed from the emotional safety of our own homes. Perhaps it’s one thing for two men to open up to one another at all, but for two to expose their feelings face-to-face is another entirely. But that’s what happened today. I met my first young widower ‘friend’. I use inverted commas not because I didn’t like him, but because until today he was categorised that way by a fairly popular social networking site called Facebook. A resource that is often criticised but that I feel has saved me from going under in what has been the most difficult time of my life. It’s a place that has allowed me to both share my feelings with people I know without having to repeat myself over and over and to acquaint myself with new people who have helped me feel more normal than I otherwise might.
But this morning my ‘friend’ became a friend. We met in person, talked like two guys do and shared stories about our wives and our sons, who were born just two and a half weeks apart. Just two guys drinking coffee and talking about nappies, theme parks, Mickey Mouse, films, relationships, death and anger. The very epitome of light and shade.
It was lovely. Kind of like meeting an old friend but one who didn’t have to ask the world’s silliest question, ‘What you been up to?’, because he kind of already knew. He’d be up to the same things. Being a widower, a dad, a mum, a cleaner, a cook, an employee and a guy who desperately misses his wife.
But it was also tough. Not because I felt like I was taking on more grief, but because a wave of incredibly powerful sadness came over me. And it wasn’t for me. As I looked at him I thought, ‘I just can’t believe this guy’s wife’s dead already. Just look at the age of him.’
I was staring at a guy who was so much like me, just like I wanted to when I started this blog five months ago, and it hurt like hell. Of course I appreciate there are lots of other people just like me out there, but they felt somewhat distant and remote until today. Then suddenly seeing another young widowed dad looking right back at me made the whole thing feel so much more real. And that made me really really fucking sad.