A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
Most people can’t remember much about being a toddler; it’s much easier to recall memories of being a teenager. Sometimes I wonder whether one of the reasons we forget our time as pre-schoolers is because adolescence comes along and replaces the memories with such similar behaviour: the desire to be heard coupled with the unfortunate inability to communicate; the desperate need to be understood but the powerlessness to explain ourselves; the propensity for mood swings, tantrums and sulkiness; the fearsome quest for independence countered by having our parents do everything for us. I think my little toddler often gravitates towards teenagers because he has so much in common with them.
I’m not sure if grief has made me more akin to a toddler or a teenager, but I am sure that I’m suffering many of the same symptoms of the two age groups’ strikingly similar styles of antisocial behaviour. The big difference between mine and theirs is that I’m fully aware when mine arises. But, annoyingly, the main similarity is that I feel at a complete loss to do anything about it. It just creeps up. One minute I’m happy, laughing and enjoying the moment and the next I’m low, sullen and deep in thought. This pensive state can overwhelm me for hours after just a few minutes of pleasure. If I tried to explain this to other people I’m sure some would want to find an absolute cause: guilt they might conclude. Guilt that I can allow myself to feel any sense of contentment now that Desreen has gone. But, as ever, I don’t find grief as straightforward or as one dimensional as that. Nor do I often suffer from feelings of guilt. Instead I think that melancholy is the price I now pay for pleasure.
I suppose it’s much like a hangover: it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve had one, I always conclude that the fun – or more recently the diversion – I’ve had getting one is worth it in the end. It’s just that some days, when the happiness hangover just won’t shift, it can feel like I would be better off locking myself indoors and being miserable for a while.