A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
People often write to me to explaining that they have also lost a loved one; I mostly hear from other widows and widowers who are reaching out to say that they are in the same tragic boat. This morning I heard from a guy who lost his wife just a matter of weeks ago, approximately a year after I lost mine. Despite originally starting this blog as a means of opening up and finding other widowers to talk to, when they do make contact I tend to find myself at a loss for what to say. I suppose I’ve heard every platitude in the book and in the early days I found few words were of any comfort to me whatsoever. I didn’t want to hear that time healed and I didn’t want to be told that things would get easier. I think at times a big part of me wanted to feel the unbroken pain; I suppose I felt I owed it to my wife. Somedays, however, I wanted someone to tell me that the agony would go away. I wanted to know the exact date when the grief would stop. I’d lived my life thinking that everything could be fixed and saw no reason for this thing that I was going through to be any different. I was blissfully naive and hadn’t come to terms with the fact that I would carry my grief forever. Back then I didn’t know that it was an ever-changing, multifaceted, shapeshifting (but entirely natural) response to loss, which affected everyone it touched in its own unique way. And its the uniqueness of a person’s life, love, loss and subsequent grief that makes it almost impossible to judge what to say to someone you don’t know, perhaps even to someone you do.
When someone new gets in touch I sometimes find myself staring at my screen completely lost for words. I almost feel disappointed in myself for not being able to help another person who I know is going through such difficult times. I want to make their pain go away but I know that I can’t. I can’t even fix mine through actions so what hope do I have when all I have to offer others are words?
Over the last thirteen months I’ve learnt that when it comes to supporting a bereaved person it’s less about what people say than it is about what they do. And sometimes just knowing that there are people out there who you can call on at any time, and who genuinely care, can make the load feel a little lighter. This year I’ve encountered, often remotely, hundreds (if not thousands) of people who I know care and I’m deeply touched by that.
With it being Christmas Day tomorrow, I wanted to say something to everyone who reads my blog but, once again, I find myself struggling for the appropriate words. Do I say ‘Merry Christmas’ when I know that some of you are going through hell? Do I say ‘Have a great day!’ when I understand that just getting through it might be a struggle? Perhaps I overthink things but I tend to prefer to consider my words rather than coming out with things that I might realise afterwards didn’t seem appropriate. So today I’d just like to wish everyone peaceful times ahead. I’d like to hope there are happy (or happier) times in the future too. And for those of you who are in the midst of grief, I wish you all the love, friendship, support, understanding, courage and patience you need to get you through. I just wish that there was more that I could do, or indeed that any of us could do, to make things better.