Pain

I couldn’t sleep last night. Maybe two hours max. Event after I abandoned and a few minutes later I had a chamomile tea in hand and was channel hoping. I stumbled across some really cheesy B-movie. Then one of the actresses delivered this line

The hardest thing for me after my husband died was having to be nice to my family.”

Wow. That must have been some family. But it got me thinking. What was the hardest thing about losing my partner back in 2016. Strangely worrying about being nice to my family didn’t feature. The Worst Thing Thoughts that did pop into my head were.

Telling a young son his mum had died

Empty beds

Feeling utterly alone

The dark thoughts

Losing all my dreams

Getting up in the morning and facing the world

That final goodbye at the funeral

Trying to sort through my partners clothes and favourite possessions

Hearing her favourite song on the radio

The deathly silence in the house when our son was at school or asleep

Those were the emotions that I went through in the immediate aftermath. But then something else kicked in a few months later. As I started to clear my head this thought kept dominating my thought. Going forward – “I didn’t want to feel this pain of loss again“. The pain was too much for me. I needed to stop myself from getting close to people again. The feeling of isolation that came from thinking that was utterly soul destroying.

So there you go. I’m disagreeing with a cheesy B-movie, but every loss is different. So family pains can be just as intense as the many I went through. The B-movie did pass some time. It ALSO was so boring that I nodded off. Nodded off still holding my mug of tea. Yep I ended up wearing most of that. Thankfully only lukewarm. Yes piping hot tea would have been a pain I could definitely do without.

New Hope

I was trying to free up some space on the blog so I was looking what old stuff could de deleted. Can’t believe I’ve tortured people with 1600 posts since I started back in 2017. You know what, I never got round to deleting anything. I was too busy reading my first few posts. Wow they were bad (I’m not saying I’ve improved over the years as well….).

Reading those first posts a couple of message shine through. I was understandably messed up and I was at my lowest point. There was hardly any hope in my words. Hope is often the first thing that LOSS takes from you. It did with me.

Well 4 years later HOPE has returned. I now have a better perspective on life. LOSS is still the worst feeling. Loss of Hope is just as soul destroying. But now I can see a number of new more hopeful dimensions to this dreadful process. It wasn’t all bad. My life focus changed. I realised just how unimportant a career is in the scheme of things. A career is not about personal development rather its often a way of missing out on those important family moments. Single parenting is a tough gig but you get more time with your kids. More quality time. Time is the most precious commodity. And yes doors to close permanently but life eventually does go on again. New pathways open up. Pathways which would not have been found without LOSS. New OPPORTUNITIES, new FRIENDSHIPS. New HOPE.

Come again

When we first moved into our little bungalow on the hill we had a beautiful Daffodil patch on the shared area in front of our house. At the time I would never have thought that 20 years later I would still be here. Certainly not still here as a widow and a single parent.

Over the next few years the daffodil patch seemed to flower less and less. The daffs would appear each year but more and more would just not bloom. The area was becoming such a shadow of its former self. Eventually I planted some new bulbs and now there is colour again.

This morning it dawned on that there is a message to all this. Life happens and sometimes things fade and leave us. But with patience and hard work life can happen again. That works for the daffodil patch and it works for me as well.

Out of focus

Spring is coming.

Have you ever tried to take a simple photo of a bush. A bush in Yorkshire. That’s Yorkshire where the sun might be out but it’s blowing an absolute howler of a Gale. The perfect weather for out of focus photography.

Out of focus.

To be fair that’s been me since 2016. Better recently but still not completely focused.

So many reasons for that but one thing stands out. Let’s go back to the summer of 2016. I’ve driven my partner into hospital for a short stay so they can conduct some exploratory tests. Our son in the back seat. What did we talk about. Can’t remember. I’ve tried but can’t remember. Probably talked about visiting and picking her up again on Friday. Probably about some jobs to be done. Maybe some shopping…..

When I returned on the evening she was sleeping so we never spoke.

I returned the next day. She wasn’t feeling too good and was having tests so I didn’t see her.

Friday I turned up and was taken to a separate room by the Doctor. Her condition had worsened overnight. The test results were appalling. She had at most a few weeks. She was drifting in and out of consciousness. If she woke then she would probably not be aware of who was around her.

That was it. No more conversations. We never discussed the new reality. The grim new future. The plans we had were in tatters. No new joint plans. As a result I’ve felt out of focus. Hesitant about my intentions. Trying to think about what we might have talked about and agreed if we had one more conversation. Guessing what she would have wanted. Trying to make decisions for the both of us.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to go fully with my views. Can I ever be certain what she would have wanted. It’s hard enough to work out what I’m thinking some days. So yes still probably out of focus but now it’s just through my eyes.

Meaning behind the door

My partner loved the Moors. She was always happy there. When our own family lockdown ends it will be one of the first places we visit again. It was one the first places visited after she had left us. It did take quite a while but we made it.

Is it really 4 and half years.

I have often talked about a vivid image that really helped me over that time. My grief felt like I was stood next to a closed door. A door that had suddenly locked shut and would never open again. I could see what’s behind the door. Memories. I can’t change or add to them. Just look at them.

So I had a choice. To stand by that locked door or take a leap of faith. Set off into the dark and see if I could find some new doors. Doors that are open allowing new memory experiences. I could either can actor or just a memory viewer.

I have mostly set off in search of new doors. Mostly…..

This door image has worked for me but I never fully understood its meaning. I always had a feeling that there was to it than life needs living. Why did it help with my grief. Why did it make me feel more at ease with myself.

I’m currently reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Suddenly the penny dropped.

In the book they talk about grief and dealing with suffering. They made a simple point that really struck home. Grief can either help lift a person up or drag them down. The secret is the focus. If you focus on the person you have lost, what they believed in, what they hoped for, their dreams THEN grief can have a positive side. It demonstrates LOVE. It can motivate you to live. ‘A determination to fulfil their wishes’. But if you focus on yourself then grief can bring you down. Focusing on things like how can I cope, how can I manage as a single parent, how bad will my life become. Those thoughts are negative and run the risk of dragging a person down.

Suddenly my image has meaning to me. Remaining stood by that locked door was not about my partner. It was about me. I was doing what I thought I needed to do. My partner had hopes and dreams that would not be nurtured by me remaining by that door. To keep those hopes and dreams alive, I HAD TO MOVE. Searching for new doors is best for my partners legacy, it’s best for our son, and yes it’s best for me. The end result is much more likely to be positive and uplifting.

It’s taken me over 4 years to suss that out. I actually don’t feel to bad about that. It took the great minds of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu to work it out for me. That’s not a bad couple of minds to defer to.

We can do this. It will take time but WE can do this.

Here we go again

I came outside for some fresh air. More home schooling mayhem, messed up housework and lost clothing items. The usual stuff. Feels like a Nanny is required.

Oh Nanny where do we start.

Just hours ago I wrote about Pixar trying to flood the house with tears. Imploring them to at the very least give some warning before they try to break our hearts with death and bereavement.

So Pixar is on the naughty list and off the viewing list here for a while. They just can’t be trusted. Not with providing tear free family entertainment. So let’s stick with Disney. How about a good safe movie like Mary Poppins. How about the 2018 Mary Poppins version. That’s totally safe. The original was perfectly fine.

Oh Nanny what have you done.

Within 10 minutes we find a husband in a mess after his wife has died. Three kids to look after and a home soon to be repossessed.

REALLY……

I’m sticking to watching Peppa Pig and the TellyTubbies…..

Pixar

The sun always rises. It always rises in cartoons – eventually.

I so would like to have a word with those really talented people at Pixar Studios. You keep making the most wonderful cartoon movies. What a list

Toy Story, Cars, Monsters Inc, Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E, on and on

I don’t know how many times Pixar has become the essential Parenting Tool over the years for me. Keeping both child and Dad occupied and laughing. But I need to have words. What is it with the fixation with death and loss. Is it possible to go a few years without have your cartoons venture into the subject. If I want to be depressed then I can pick up a Leonard Cohen cd or watch Love Story. When I’m trying to find fun things to do like watch Pixar movies I really don’t want to venture into the sad stuff.

We endured UP the other night. It’s a great cartoon with some really funny bits. But man those first ten minutes where Carl losses his beloved wife before they lived out their dream. I was in buckets of tears. Really Pixar. It’s not big and it’s not clever….

So come on Pixar stop going all Love Story on me. Or at the very least bring in a labelling system. List movies like UP as ‘contains mega bereavement’ at least then I can prepare myself for it. Or even better do more movies that are just slapstick ‘buddy’ adventures where I can park my sad emotions for two hours.

Where am I

It’s an old graveyard. Many of the gravestones have stood for hundreds of years. Many of the names and dates have now eroded away. Lost to the years and the hill top northern weather. Just maybe someone somewhere will be remembering those names.

I was stood watching the sun rise in the early morning air. My mind wandered. It’s been over three years since I visited my mums grave. It’s about 40 miles north from here. I had great intentions to visit every year. But life happened. No idea when I will be able to return again. But that’s how it goes sometimes.

Back in 2016 that thought would have really upset me. My thinking was very much that doors had very much closed on big parts of my life. My job was to not move on but to hang onto the past. Stay close to those locked doors even though they would never open again. In those terms visiting graves became a huge deal.

Now it’s a little different. Living has to come first. I can’t do that by standing by permanently locked doors. There will be times to visit places like graves but that will be when the time is right. The important thing for me is that I don’t need to be physically in one place to access memories. I always carry them with me regardless of where I am stood.

Early morning mayhem

Just a few signs that the winter greyness will soon be gone. No indication of the mayhem occurring so close by.

This photo might give the impression of early morning calmness. A chance to breathe. To carefully crouch down and take a few moments to stop. Soak up the quietness and stillness of a village still to wake up. Truly experience the beauty in nature. Meditation and reflection.

In reality I was trying to snap the yellow buds using a mobile held in my outstretched left hand while the right hand grimly held onto the dog lead. The said lead being stretched to breaking point by a mad dog excitedly trying to pull in the opposite direction. The next tree was calling him. Try taking a photo while one of your shoulder socket is being ripped out. The village peace ruptured by a dog barking at 150db and me rather sheepishly trying to tell the Captain to shut up. Not so much meditation as acute pain and social embarrassment.

You see those perfect dogs walking quietly and obediently next to their serene looking owners. Are they really the same species as Captain Chaos. A dog expelled from dog training classes for being too disruptive.

Never a quiet moment with him. Which is exactly the point. No finer remedy for a house which had become empty, cold and lifeless. A place which was becoming more about loss than life. Hard work YES, but still one of the best calls made during our grief journey.