Neither my imagination nor my vocabulary is capable of conveying what it feels like to be left behind in this way; the loneliness, the confusion, the exhaustion, the shock, the guilt and the all consuming sadness which comes to form such an established part of your daily life that you begin to forget there was a time without it.
I cannot come close to describing what it feels like to experience the complete and instant loss of love, hope, happiness and purpose from your life. I cannot begin to explain what it is like to know how much the person closest to you in life hurt and suffered, how much you hurt and suffer on their behalf. It is impossible for me to tell you what it feels like, what it truly feels like, to realise that everything which you loved about your partner and your relationship; the way you interacted, the way you spent your time together, is gone forever and can never be recaptured or recreated. Nothing can properly describe the experience of lying on the floor convulsed in tears, crying with the whole of your body, waiting only for sheer exhaustion to bring respite and relief. I do not know how to share with you the feeling when you wake from a nightmare at 4am and instead of the reassuring and warm presence of your wife next to you there is just a void and the realisation that the nightmare is reality.
And certainly nothing can express the sense of waste which accompanies suicide, the bewilderment at the needless and senseless loss of a precious, gifted and beautiful life. The bewilderment too at the way somebody who loved life so intensely could, in the midst of a temporary darkness, deny themselves of it and in doing so deny you of them and extinguish the spark which lit your own life. Nobody can describe what it feels like to be driven to stand, in despair, cuddling the bannisters on which you last saw your wife in an attempt to reach out and try to metaphorically comfort and love her.
If you are a widow(er) yourself then you know all or most of this. You feel it deeply, viscerally. Our journeys through bereavement may all take slightly different paths but the basic human response is universal.
If you are fortunate enough not to be in that position then I am not capable of describing the experience to you. I have to use words because I have nothing else but they do not begin to tell you what it is like to walk in my shoes. You see me when I am strong, or appear to be strong. When it is easier for me to be distracted while I am at work or amongst friends. You see me when I am struggling with all my might to be normal, or at least to seem normal. You see me on the days when I allow myself to be seen.
I wish that I could explain how it is when you do not see me. When I come home from work, or the last dinner party guests leave and I close the door behind me and am left alone. When I remove the mask that I wear in public, the one which tries to reassure everybody that I am coping. When the effort of being strong, maintaining a degree of hope and optimism, pretending to take an interest in other peoples lives, becomes too much for me and I crumple, exhausted and completely hollowed out. I wish you could hear my silent scream at the disbelief and unfairness that this should happen to my amazing and wonderful, life affirming wife - and to me. I wish that there was something you, or anybody else, could do to take the hurt away, to return me to my old life.
Grief is tidal. It comes in and it goes out like the sea. Today the waters came in and brought with them the full force of a shrieking, raging, merciless storm, one from which it is useless to even attempt to seek shelter. Today I broke down again. And while words may be inadequate to convey how it feels to grieve for Louise, to miss her from my life, I reached for them here to calm myself and to process and order my thoughts. I remain locked within a world which is beyond description but I still hope and believe in a future where the waters are calmer.