A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
When I was a child I used to suffer from nosebleeds every time the shifting seasons caused an acute change in the temperature. Until the weekend just gone, however, I hadn’t experienced such a physical reaction to the weather in years. Suddenly a sharp switch in the climate changed the faces on the street from gloomy to glad, and there was palpable pleasure in the air. All the while I began to feel the slow drip of a metaphorical bleed; the seasonal shift had got me again. Only this time no one could see my symptoms. Grief – the great hidden affliction – ravaged my body without so much as leaving a scratch on my face to trigger concern in most people around me.
‘At least the weather’s good,’ one friend commented after noticing a slight dip in my mood.
Perhaps that’s the problem, I thought.
In normal life an unexpected burst of bright sunshine has the capacity to lift spirits enormously. Today, however, in my new life, I’m left wondering whether the weather’s lack of warning is exactly what’s bringing me down. Had I got comfortable in the rhythm of the sky reflecting my mood? Was the rain justifying my desire to stay indoors and not face the world outside? Aren’t I meant to be happy, just like everyone else, now that I’m wearing shorts and shades? Life, I believe, would be much easier if it were that simple. The human brain, it thinks, would be less challenging to live with if we controlled it rather than it controlling us.
I desperately want to put on my sunglasses and step outside to have fun. I want to join in with the happy couples and the kids that fill the local pavements and parks. I don’t want to analyse everything and always come back to the same inevitable realisation that sadness now plays such a big role in my life. But when I find myself applying sun cream to my little boy outside his nursery I’m no longer in control. The scent of its distinct summertime perfume makes its way up my nose and into a part of my brain that has been hibernating all winter. I’m back in the shop where my wife bought if for our last holiday together. I’m at the swimming pool in Spain where we went with friends. I’m watching Desreen play in the pool with our son. I can smell our life before loss.
Perhaps I just need time to adjust. Maybe I too will soon feel happier than I did before the sun started shining. Perhaps experience should tell me that these dark clouds will lift a little if I just go with the seasons. Sometimes, though, it’s just so hard to see the light.