Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

mood swings

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.

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 12.20.23

7 comments on “mood swings

  1. Janice
    November 17, 2013

    You are allowed to feel like that.
    I think you are spot on with the idea of melancholy. It is what I recognise in myself and others of us going through this grief thing. However long ago the loss, melancholia is ever present.
    What a beautiful photograph! X

  2. Sarah Pointer
    November 17, 2013

    Absolutely know how you feel. However to me, melancholy is a step up from the heart ripping, rolling around on the floor, howling agony I have experienced. So although not ideal, it is progress x

  3. sharrongordonsharron gordon
    November 18, 2013

    Oh Ben no …..
    ITS horrible isnt it?…. been there before and it is even harder when you are responsible for a childs well being, never mind your own.
    Hang on in their Soldier … go through the motions as gently as you can but make sure that you have Back up when your feeling like that… loads a love … shazza x

  4. Lunar Hine
    November 19, 2013

    I recognise this. Thanks heavens we have children to be cheerful for. Sometimes I still can’t do it, but the temptation to not even try would be huge without my girl. She’s still so small, but she is all that stands between me and a dangerous depression. She guards that place with such vigilance. x

  5. Kate
    November 27, 2013

    I am 3 and a half years in, and having started to permit myself moments of pleasure, I am encountering the backlash – is it guilt/confusion after the pleasure or simply is it extraordinary that we realise we can still feel when we emerge from the numbness? I don’t know, but I am learning to accept the grey areas, and the melancholy, and seek less for an explanation and more for the courage to somehow embrace life again…..Sit with the misery when it comes, and then get out and start it all again…Kate x

    • Lunar Hine
      November 27, 2013

      I’m not two years in yet, but feeling an expectation (mine and other peoples’) to be more emotionally stable by now. It’s helped me to hear you echoing my thoughts further down the line – it will just take as long as it does and there won’t be an ‘end’. And I’m not failing by still feeling this distraught. Thanks Kate.

      • Kate
        November 28, 2013

        No, you’re not failing – the expectation you talk about has weighed heavy with me, and has sometimes plunged me further into despair – the feeling that I am getting it wrong by not ‘being better’ yet. And, also, the fact that I don’t want to feel this way any more than others don’t like/feel uncomfortable seeing it – it is not my choice or wish to present a stony face to the world. It is only as I have accepted that it is how I feel that counts, and not how I meet others’ desires/impatience, that I have felt the freedom to be whatever I am at whatever moment. And, conversely, have then felt more able to live (and, even, sometimes to smile!)

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