It's curious how misery is so often perceived as being relative rather than absolute. We hear on countless occasions the phrase 'there is always somebody worse off than you'. And we take comfort in this, as if it's a zero sum game - another person's suffering can somehow alleviate our own.
After weeks of being solemnly told that Louise's death is a tragedy I still find it difficult to mentally categorise either Louise or myself as tragic figures. Tragedy is something that happens to other people. Those who died or were injured in the Hillsborough disaster, the World Trade Centre attacks, the Lockerbie bombing. They were caught up in tragedy. Louise, well, she was Louise, my wife. The person with whom I shared my life. Somebody so close to me clearly can't be caught up in tragedy, and nor can I. That would be absurd. Utterly inconceivable. Obviously something has happened to take Louise away from me for several weeks now, and I'm not yet sure what it is. I'm missing her, an awful lot, but she is bound to be back any minute now.
Despite this ironclad protective layer of disbelief, however, reality still penetrates fairly frequently. Usually two or three times a day. And then I wonder what I have done to deserve being in this position. But if I start feeling too sorry for myself I try to pause and take a moment to count my blessings. It requires only a quick perusal of web forums for those who have lost their partners, whether by suicide or not (I now spend more time on these than my football club's message board) to establish that I do, in fact, still have many reasons to consider myself fortunate.
Unlike some, for example, I am lucky enough to have a reasonably sound financial outlook. Not what it would have been, of course, but there should still be no reason why I have to sell my home or experience a dramatic drop in living standards. I don't have the strain of trying to bring up one or more children as a single parent at the same time as dealing with my bereavement. My employers have been appropriately supportive and accommodating. Louise's family and friends, and of course my own, have rallied around to collectively embrace me. I have, through talking to those family and friends, and the writing both of this blog and my private diary, opportunities and resources which enable me to process and work through my understanding of what happened and why. There are exciting plans for the establishment of a new charity which will provide Louise with a fitting legacy. I have not been left with a whole series of unanswered questions about why Louise did what she did. I know and understand. I am secure in the fact that Louise loved me and wants the best for me. And I know that I am still the luckiest man in the world for having had the absolute honour and privilege of being her husband.
Of course I would be lying if I tried to pretend that this lifts me up off the floor, either literally or figuratively, when I am having a breakdown. It doesn't. But in between times it provides me with a valuable sense of perspective and puts a break on the emergence of any form of victimhood. I may be cursed but I know that I am also blessed.