Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

the truth

It would be so easy for me just to share stories of the progress my son and I are making and to set out to inspire. But that is not why I started writing this blog. All I’m really interested in is the truth. I’d be cheating those suffering the pain of grief and belittling the bereaved if everything I shared was positive, upbeat and promising.

Many of my days, however, are happy. Not whole days but moments within them and these days I rarely feel a prolonged sense of despair. I find pleasure in my son, my friends and my families. We talk, we laugh and we talk some more. I try to look towards a positive future not because some self help guide tells me to and not because I read overly directional features about how you should deal with grief, but because that’s the person I’ve discovered I am.

But I don’t think it’s possible to be positive all the time. At least not without chemical intervention or the patience to train your brain to teach your mouth to pull a Stepford Wife perma-smile, which probably just hides the reality of what’s behind the eyes.

Sometimes we all get low. Sometimes that happens when we think we are at our highest points. Sometimes it happens because we’ve gone too high and because what goes up usually does come down. A bit like planes I suppose.

And that’s where Desreen was last night. On a plane. She was on her way to see Jackson at his grandma’s house on a plane.

“She’s not Jackson. Remember I told you she loves you but she can’t ever come back?”

“She IS, Daddy! She’s coming.”

I thought we’d got there. I thought he understood. For once my optimism got the better of me. He’s only two but I suppose I thought that because he could repeat my words he’d grasped what they meant.

Perhaps he has. Perhaps what he said was just a childish fantasy or the delightful drivel toddlers speak when they tell you that they had a Tyrannosaurus rex over for a tea party in his underpants last morning. But perhaps I’ve had it all wrong and he does expect to see her again.

God only knows how he’d behave if she showed up now. He couldn’t even look at her for the first two hours after we once went away without him for two days. I suspect he’d get over it quicker this time.

But sadly the truth is it’s never going to happen. And I don’t know what makes me sadder; the crushing reality of the situation or his empty optimism about what the future might hold.


7 comments on “the truth

  1. marilynmonruaux
    July 20, 2013

    How can we possibly explain about heaven to a two year old when, with all our adult wisdom, we don’t even understand it ourselves? At least he can still see his mummy in his dreams…

      July 20, 2013

      I know what you mean, but I’m not trying I explain heaven to him. At least not yet.

  2. Kelly
    July 20, 2013

    Its a question I often ask myself, is it better that my son was a baby when he lost his daddy as he has no concept of who he is missing in his life or is he worse off as he doesnt have any memories of his own? The other day he brought tears to my eyes when he picked a fridge magnet up of a family of elephants. I pointed and said mummy elephant, daddy elephant and baby elephant. He repeated it back to me but replaced daddy with grandad. It saddens me that he doesnt know what a daddy is but one day he will when I get the chance to tell him all about his amazing father.

  3. M. Hepburn
    July 20, 2013

    The first para of this post really got me. The other day, someone made a passing reference to a film my late cousin and I used to love and it suddenly brought back memories and emotions that I previously thought to be well-buried and contained. It got me back to thinking ‘what if…’ all over again. I sometimes still feel a connection to him, especially when I re-live the things we used to do together, like playing video games or pretending to have special powers. It feels like he’s here with me, revelling in the nostalgia too. It’s probably just a visceral feeling, but, for me, it keeps his memory alive. I guess we all relapse at some point and anything can trigger it, even the slightest and most unusual of scenarios, but I find there’s a sense of comfort in knowing that I will never lose that empty optimism and hope.

  4. amelia redding
    July 22, 2013

    My daughter and I went on a plane for the first time since Jon died on Thursday. I was worried because she seems to think Daddy’s coffin is an airplane and that he can see the balloons we sent up in the sky for his birthday. I thought she might look for Daddy once we were in the sky. She didn’t, so I needn’t have worried. Esme is just 4 so significantly older than Jackson in child terms, but i think she does grasp it and then she slips into hopeful fantasies. Maybe it is important for them to do that. Childhood should be full of make believe and fantasy. As long as we gently keep telling them the truth they will come to fully realise it in their own time. And as we know, what qualifies as full realisation permanently changes. Every time I think reality has hit… just round the corner there always seems to be a new depth or shape to that reality . It’s the same for our little people.

  5. What you son has is a gift, a gift of youth. That gift of youth enables the very young to refrain from judging like us adults do. It allows them to just ‘be’ – free of the what ifs, the maybes, the should have’s etc.

    I lost my wife three months ago, I have four children and one of them (16yrs old) still keep saying that his mum is coming back. Of course he knows this isn’t true but still that child within him keeps the hope alive.

    There is no right or wrong in our situation. It will always be possible to beat ourselves up over what we tell our children, we could tell them too much, or we could tell them to little and it could always be wrong!

    The flipside is that it could also be right! We have just no way of telling, so we just do our best for the way it is NOW, and relax knowing that what we’ve done is the very best, right now at this most difficult time.

    Like you I do my best to keep my blog upbeat, but over the weekend I found a load of diaries that my wife wrote when she was pregnant with our children (14, 16,16 & 18). I didn’t know she had written them and it was as though I had uncovered one of her actual memories – it knocked me back quite a bit.

    Don’t feel pressured to keep your blog unnecessarily upbeat, keep it real as that’s what really helps people when you are open about how you’re feeling.

    Stay strong my friend.

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