Thursday, 28 May 2015

Faith, Hope and the Unknown

Whenever I am asked to identify my faith for official purposes I always hesitate over the box labelled 'Agnostic' before eventually ticking the one marked 'Christian'. Of course to describe myself as Christian is anything but a simple and unambiguous statement because its interpretation will vary enormously depending upon your own faith, or lack thereof. I should therefore be clear that I do not come from the same Christian tradition as Louise, one where belief and worship and the word of scripture are not just central to life but the very meaning for life. I respect it but I am not part of it.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Relief of Numbness

'Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.'

I never swear. Ever. Well, hardly ever. I swear so infrequently that I feel incredibly self conscious whenever I do so. When I used to read to Louise as we lay in bed, my left arm always curled around her, holding up the book in my right hand, she would be amused whenever the dialogue demanded that I use industrial language, enjoying the novelty value of hearing me utter profanities, even if they were in the voice of another. David Nicholls provided her with much more of this form of entertainment than Dickens. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

All My Trials Lord

I've been doing well this week. Fortified by numbness and that familiar sense of incomprehension and disbelief, I have at times come close to some kind of normal function. The hammering of grief in my head and heart has been reduced to a low pitched hum, ever present but not disabling. The stream of tears has slowed to a trickle and I have been waking each morning in the near sure - if always mistaken - expectation that the coming day would be my first without crying since 23rd January.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Learning from Louise

As we go through life we all inevitably find ourselves marked by our experiences. We collect and carry our scars, whether they be of disappointment, disillusionment, failure, betrayal, trauma or tragedy. And these experiences in turn help to make us the person that we are, for better or worse.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Living a Lie

People think that I'm strong, that I'm getting through. They ask me if things are a little easier now. I can see why. I look and sound normal. I get up on a morning (usually), go to work, do the shopping. Sometimes I bring myself to talk about other things. Occasionally I smile. Once or twice I have even laughed. Sometimes I manage to fool myself. I think that I am making progress, that I can do this, that there is still a life worth living even if it is diminished. Sometimes I am even rather proud of the way in which I am managing things. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Surviving Louise's Birthday

The only predictable thing about grief, it seems, is its unpredictability. Yesterday would have been (or should that be 'was'?) Louise's 41st birthday. I have been steeling myself for this moment almost ever since Louise died, conscious that many of my fellow widows and widowers who form such  a valuable online self help community report significant anniversaries to be particularly difficult occasions. This was the first, and one of the most important, of those anniversaries and I expected it to be one of my biggest challenges to date. So too, it seems, did family, friends and colleagues who got in touch to wish me well in large numbers.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Cutting Through the Grief

Today was a numb day. That's good because disbelief and not feeling is better than the alternative of understanding and despair. And its especially good because it was a Bank Holiday, and I have already found them to be difficult days to navigate  - everybody appears to be out and about enjoying themselves whereas my day is empty and I can't stop thinking about what Louise and I would be doing in normal circumstances. I resent the holiday mood because it jars so much with my own.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Resisting the Domino Effect

There is often panicked talk in the media about suicide clusters. This usually concentrates on young people and the possibility of copycat deaths, vulnerable and depressive teenagers following the example set by a peer to take a way out. But the contagion of suicide can also manifest itself when the intensity of despair over the loss of a loved one leads a member of their family or a friend, to take the same course of action themselves shortly afterwards. Only today I learned of such a case locally and Louise herself took her life just three months after her father did the same, although with Louise the relationship between the two incidents was a little less direct. Her father's death didn't make her own inevitable but it created the conditions in which it became possible.