A story of grief by a man and a boy
I’ve been feeling very lonely recently and my loneliness isn’t really allayed by the company of others. I’m led to believe this sensation is common amongst the widowed. I think we struggle to comes to terms with the relationship status we once labelled as ‘us’ being reduced to just ‘me’. In my situation a whole became a half without any prior warning, and the shock that came as a result seems to have long masked the gravity of the situation. I suppose I’m only just beginning to feel the way I might have expected to had someone told me I would be widowed so young. My bones ache, my stomach is sick with sorrow, I can think of little else but the wife I’ve lost, and I feel as though I have a hole in my heart. I’m truly sad to the core.
There are those who could probably have foreseen this emotional delay: ‘Year two is the worst,’ they might have said. I wonder if this sort of remark is symptomatic of our need to label and somehow define grief. Without the benefit of hindsight – or perhaps even with – who am I to say? But for what it’s worth I don’t think this year is worse than last. It’s just different.
Last year I was the subject of much attention, affection and company. This year things have gone quieter as people, generally speaking, have gone back to their own lives. Last year I couldn’t relax because I felt the need to constantly fill my time with activities, which largely aimed to ensure that my wife’s death wasn’t entirely in vain. This year I can hardly be bothered to do anything at all. Last year I found my son’s company challenging, difficult and often painful and upsetting. This year he’s my only consistent source of comfort and happiness. Last year I was driven by shock. This year I’ve been brought back down to earth by reality.
On balance year one was shocking, consuming, high-paced, highly charged, exhausting, excruciating, and yet rather focussing. In year two, by contrast, I’ve felt more isolated, lower on energy, increasingly apathetic, but less neurotic and, occasionally, more happy. I can’t definitively classify one period of time as better or worse than the other because, so far, they have felt so entirely unalike.
One thing I can say, however, is that my ‘year two’ relationship with my three-year-old son is my number one reason to feel good. He loves me and I love him. We’re kinder to one another than we once were. We’re able to read each other’s mood and make each other feel better when we feel low. We’re a team and I’m grateful of the joy he brings me every day. But each night as he goes to bed, hours before I do, I feel ‘us’ become just ‘me’ once again. Year two yo-yos back to year one and, as I have time to think, I return to my status as half of a whole. And the hole in my heart re-opens until I see my son’s little face smiling back at me when he awakes in the morning, reminding me that I’m not completely alone.