Soon it will be 2 years. I know, you’re thinking, 2 years. Two what? Two years since you did something special. 2 years since you moved house. 2 years since the Brisbane Broncos have won anything decent? What? Well, don’t fret dear reader. I’ll tell you.
On August 31 here in Australia , in 2019, I became a widow. There it Is. 2 years a widow. The whole damn situation sucks, I can tell you. Back then, my husband was telling me how proud he was and how strong I was. That’s all good until it happens. Until it happens you have no Idea how strong you are, strong you can be or how strong you will be. I like to think I chartered some middle course.
Here I am, 2 years on (almost). I thought that it about time I shared what I have learned in those two years. Time to share my pearls of wisdom.
How fast time goes?
I noticed that time flies. Literally. When you are a widow and some says “how long has it been?”, trust me when I say, you could tell them to the millisecond. It’s human nature. You miss your partner and every second without them, so it’s natural that you think…one month, 6 months and so on.
Although at times I seemed to slot into the above, I found I looked on it differently. One birthday without Mark. Second anniversary on my own and so on. Someone once said to me ‘it’s not good to dwell on that Is it?’ My response was ‘it’s not dwelling, it’s remembering some great memories’.
As I near 2 years though, I now find that incredible. Two years since I was sitting with him, since I made him a cuppa, since we planned our silver wedding and so on. I know those of you that are in the same boat as me are thinking ‘well, what do you do now?’ My answer is that I put one foot in front of the other every single day and do my best to keep going. That’s all you can do, keep going.
Friends that come and go
When you are first In the grief and loss boat, it’s as if you are paddling frantically, without a clue to where you are heading. You don’t know whether you are coming or going. You don’t know your left from your right. Even basic tasks that are mundane things to others, are completely overwhelming to you. Keeping up with friends is definitely not on a list of things you must do. It’s during this time where you need others to step up. Others need to take the initiative for you.
Something which I never anticipated during this time, was how ‘friends’ stepped away from my life. Of course, it’s easy to rationalise now as I look back. The friend may have been his friend more than mine. The friend may be struggling with their grief. The friend may not know what to say to me. The friend is scared I am going to collapse in a heap bawling my eyes out and they have to deal with this. All of those reasons are equally valid but as the widow left behind, all I can say is it hurts. There is no way to sugar coat it. For me, It was like grieving those alive as well as the husband I lost. Some of those who stepped away, I had considered incredibly good and close friends. It Is something that’s hard, but you have to accept it. It happens.
Changes with your partners family
Family will inevitably change. There will be some that manage their grief better than others. There will be some family members that use different measures to manage their grief. There will be some that may step away from the remaining partner completely as the reminders are too strong and painful.
I have had a mixture of both. There are some members of my husbands family that decided they were going to have nothing more to do with me. Quite simply that. Nothing more to do with me. No explanation. No sensible discussion or rationale. Just a straight cut off. I can’t deny that wasn’t painful because it was, and for 2 reasons. The first was that they were people I considered close and the second was that I know how disappointed my late husband would have been with their actions. They do say ‘you can’t choose your family’ don’t they!
There are members of my late husbands family that I can rely on however. My late husbands mum and I video call each Sunday in the same time slot that she always called her son. I hear from his brothers regularly too. That, is irreplaceable.
Chartering a new course
How do you charter that new course? For me, it was an easy thing. While my husband was alive, I had quit nursing due to circumstances beyond our control. I had taken up a writing course. Something I had done years before but with my nursing, and well, life In general, It had been pushed aside.
My new course was chartered while my husband was still here. All the advice I can offer is find something you can do comfortably. Find something that fills you with a passion, something that helps you to get out of bed. For me it was writing. For someone else it may be carrying on the same life but with that person missing. Everyone’s course is different. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s whatever works for you.
Is it moving on or moving forward
I cannot view this as moving on. Ive never been able to do that. My late husband was a part of my life from when I was 21 until I was 47. We had an extremely close relationship. We’d always joke saying it was a ‘hearts and flowers and angels singing’ type of relationship (stop laughing. I know it’s cheesy but it’s true!) We were soulmates. We didn’t know how to be apart from each other or want to be. We could finish each other’s sentences.
I can’t move on from that and nor should I. He helped to make me who I am today. He is part of me and always will be. I will move forward in life, taking him with me.
Is there a right and wrong way to keep going?
At the end of the day, there will be a mountain of advice from well-meaning people. But here’s the catch…unless they have lost a husband or wife, they have no idea how you feel. While the core aspects of grief remain the same, whether you lose a pet, a job or something/someone else, people, however well-meaning, will never know how you feel. It’s said that the 1-2-3 of grief is child – partner – parent. Having lost 2 out of 3 of those, I do agree with that statement.
Just remember, there is no right or wrong way to keep going. There is only your way.
Life now for me…
Life is moving forwards in the right direction. Mark memories are always with me. Now it is time for making new memories