My Grief Journey

Its been a while since I have written on the forum, lots of things have happened, good and not so, but that’s only to be expected. Like us all, some days you get through some days you just wish you didn’t wake up but it is getting more familiar rather than easier.

This is a bit of a ramble I’m afraid!

Christmas was like the previous couple of years, It was a quiet one for me. I chose to stay at home on my own on Christmas day, it was just easier for me, yes I couldn’t avoid the sadness or the tears but I did get through the day. Whether its right or wrong, I told everyone to not by presents, I’d rather they spent on their own families but it did make the day harder to get through. I also didn’t have a tree or decorations either. Don’t ask me why, well I know why, but I also feel that I have done enough of avoiding Christmas now so next year, I will make an effort and try and get involved.

This leads me to a trip I did over new year, yes I avoided that as well, but I decided to go away to a place that my wife and I knew very well, The Lake District. Now before I start about that I need to explain a few things. I still suffer with grief, I still cry a lot and I hate being on my own. I understand what being alone and lonely are and the difference. I have also just started to understand grief a little more. I’m two and half years along my journey and have realised that I suffer from three issues. The first is I use grief to shield me against the reality of life, I hide behind it and use it to avoid confrontation, questions and even company. I use grief to hang on to the memory of my wife, my fear is that if I stop grieving I will lose her. So between the two I trap myself in a permanent grief. The third thing is best described as death by a thousand cuts. I punish myself, not in a physical harming sense, but I do hurt myself emotionally and like all self harmers I do it in a way that people don’t see, in my case behind a lie, better known as a mask. I convince most that I’m ok and that stops all the awkward conversations but I also know that can use my grief as a defence if needed and hide in my house.

So between all these things I get stuck, I am stuck in fact, however, time has allowed me to evaluate all this grief stuff to date. I know that not everyone will understand this or be able to accept it, I’m not trying to give an answer, just share where I am and what I have come to accept.

The thing I want to share is the “death by a thousand cuts bit”. I said I went to the Lakes on the new year, well, this was a cut. I went away on my own to a place that I knew would hurt me and stayed in a Premier Inn. I thought I might just well be on my own in another room as I am at home, the difference being I was in a place that we spent so much time together and now there on my own. One thing is that I don’t have to put a show on, and I am anonymous in a place where I know well but no one knows me. That changes the game significantly. I don’t like what I’m doing but no one is watching or fussing over me.

There was a pub next door to where I was staying so in the evenings I set up camp there to have my dinner but more importantly it gave me a place to be alone but not feel alone. I don’t know anyone, but I’m around people. I also took the time to write about what I felt like and what I got up to, in fact over the four days I wrote 122 pages about my trip which currently is a 10000 word story and I’m only up to day two!

Each thing I did was a cut but I emotionally put a plaster on the cut allowing it slowly heal. The plaster is the process of doing what I had done in the past in a different way. I went to different places, a cinema was one place, a place that we always wanted to go but never did. So I did that and yes it was a cut, but I chatted to people and the event was less painful. The same thing happened in a pub that we always went to, in fact I couldn’t go in at first, another cut, but did pluck the courage eventually and went in and that cut partially healed as it was a deep cut. i did the same by visiting places both old and new, doing things she loved doing and adding new things at the same time.

The whole four days where made up of the same cut and heal experience which I have wrote about each night in the pub. So the whole event was a blend of old and new joined together to make a new memory. The upshot of all this is that I learnt to de-weaponize the hold that grief has on me, in a small way.

Writing about it allows me to think about what has happened in a third person sense and the story is a story about my trip with a story of my grief woven through it.

I’m not fixed, grief cannot be fixed, but I have tried to understand it more from a different perspective. I still use grief as a shield and as an attachment to my wife, and some cuts are not healing, but I am trying to find a way to get on with grief with the knowledge of what I think I suffer with instead of using them to just stay trapped, well at least on my good days.

To just make the point, sitting in a pub was a hard move as was taking myself out to dinner on my own. Both were cuts but I have got used to doing that. Of course I would prefer to have company, but I also realise that I will never have the person I used to have sitting opposite me and that still hurts and will take time to adjust to that, but I’m trying to work with that by doing the things I want to do or feel strong enough to do and if that means sitting in a pub having dinner and writing about my feelings then that’s what I do, but if it means I just stay in bed, I do that.

I just thought I share this with you, it might help, it might not, but that’s what’s going on with me and its the way I’m tackling my journey at he moment at least.

On a different tack, I watched a film called “Ghost Town” while I was away, which was about a man that was able to see ghosts and they could see him. It was caused by a mishap during surgery and to cut a long story short, he refused to help the ghosts with their unfinished business and until they can sort that out they cant move on. He initially refuses to help them but eventually sees that by helping them he allows both the living and lost to move on to a happier place.

Wouldn’t that be nice if that could happen but it made me think that my reluctance to let go of grief is also stopping my wife in her journey. No one actually knows, but it makes me think.

I also have a thought about the so called After life. For those we have lost it’s a place we hope they find a peace, but those left behind it is the opposite its life after, and we also need to find peace. Everything needs balance in life, equal and opposite forces so life after and after life are the equal and opposite forces between the ones left behind and the ones we have lost.

On a final thought, my son made a reference to my mind being a ball of wool, I’m trying to unravel it but it’s full of knots, which I am untying knot by knot. I have unravelled some but have a few to go and that will take time. There will be times that I can unwind great lengths of wool unhindered but other times it will take days, weeks or even months to make any progress at all. If the things I set out to do on this journey are my current knots, then I must unknot them one by one, but if grief gets in the way, well now is not the time.

Wise words and something I will do well to focus on when times are tough and I try and blend too much old a new and end up needing stitches in a cut!


Hi @Mikeh,

Thank you so much for sharing this with the community :blue_heart: I’m sure your words will bring comfort to others.

Take good care,

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Hi , thank you for this post , I always find your posts helpful , I think I should try to go to the beach , I haven’t been able to face it since my husband died , it was our special place , we would go for fish and chips ,on birthdays and wedding anniversary, doesn’t sound much , but it was very romantic to us , also I think I should stop “nagging” my husband ,asking begging him to come and get me every night , am I stopping him from being at peace with my constant moaning on . You have given me a lot to think about , xtake carex


Thank you for your lovely message @Mikeh you have a beautiful way with words.
I’m coming up to the second anniversary even though I missing him so desperately I do try to confront my grief by doing things we used to do together and doing new things.
I never shyed away from Christmas, I did put up a tree and decorations, Doug loved Christmas and twinkling lights he would be disappointed if I hadn’t done it. I still work which helps and I’ve got more involved with volunteering at church which I returned to after lockdown.
The only thing I haven’t managed to do is go on holiday on my own, I do go with my family and we have been back to places Doug loved. I think that’s more my insecurity, I suffer from vertigo and I would worry if it happened while I was away on my own, always had Doug as my shoulder to lean on. Perhaps I will be brave enough one day.
I don’t dream about Doug as much these days, so I do wonder if he is at peace and just patiently waiting for me to be with him again.
Sending best wishes
Debbie x


Hi, @Broken2222, I’m in no way trying to tell people how to deal with things, truth be known, it’s as new to me as it’s ever been. Each day things change but I say to myself that I have managed another day and that must be for a purpose. My wife and were romantic, me probably more so, but I just loved her and wanted her to feel special all the time. You thoughts about going to the beach and having fish and chips are exactly what we did. Southwold is our nearest beach and I go there on her birthday and our wedding anniversary. I write a story about it and often leave a poem and a rose by one of the groynes.

Yes it was a cut doing it for the first time and it still hurts going there and just wandering around without her hand in mine and the single portion of fish and chips never tastes the same either.

But I do feel easier going there now. I feel as though she is there, seeing through my eyes and knowing that even though I’m there alone, I’m there for us, as we both enjoyed it and maybe, just maybe, she is enjoying it through me via the lovely times we had there together.

I will be going there this year and writing about it again, it’s our journey.

I hope you find it in you to try these trips out, it won’t be easy, but as we know, grief isn’t,

I wish you well on your path and remember, your husband is in your thoughts all the time, so take him to the seaside as well.

Take care and I wish you peace x


Hi @Debbie57

I have got to go out, but I will reply to you later, you have touched on some points that have rested heavy with me, so I would like to share them with you if you don’t mind. I sorry I can’t do it now, but will reply.

Keep well and safe x


Hi @Debbie57

I’m glad I’m not the only one that is blending old with new. I wish I could say it makes things better, well I suppose it does in a way and I also need to remember that it will never be the same, it can’t be otherwise we none of us would be on the forum would we.

I’m obviously a bloke and most would not admit to vulnerability issues. I’m not scared of anything, in fact my wife used to say I will get hurt one day as I was always the one to confront trouble however being on my own I do have a tremendous sense of vulnerability especially as I get older.

I’m in my mid 60’s and generally fitter than most, I cycle, off road mainly on byways and mountain paths and swim silly distances but I do have a dodgy ankle which prevents me from my passion of walking especially in the national parks. Which leads me on to another thing I have to work with.

Just before my wife passed away she made me make two promises, one was to never get married again and the other was not to put myself at danger in remote places.

The marriage promise is an easy one to agree too. I wouldn’t want to get married again, I had been married for 38 years but known her from the age of 14, so nearly 50 years together.

Whilst I struggle with being single, I also respect my independence. Yes I miss everything from argument to intimacy, I would think most of us do from time to time and I mis the hand that is freely given to hold, the unrehearsed loving embrace and tender kiss, again who doesn’t, so I just accept that they are things of the past and if destiny allows a friendship to happen at some point, it will be different, again a blend of old and new and between two independent people that probably will enjoy having fun together but at the same time their own space and solitude. So marriage is a thing of the past and anyway, I believe you find things when you dont look for them if that makes sense.

Having said that, being alone does make me feel vulnerable. I was there to offer life saving first aid to my wife but I think of who will be there if it was to happen to me. Well unfortunately I think as we all get older the risks start to increase. Especially when in your own. My worst case scenario is something will happen when I’m walking or riding my bike or even just at home and in all probability, no one will be there to help.

I think that’s why my wife made me promise her at the very least about being on my own where I can’t get help. I do allow my children to see where I am at all times, via an app on my phone and I also have a watch that tracks where I am and has done built in safety restored should I fall which they can real time track me on a Map, not the same as being with someone but it does help and offer some peace of mind.

As far as the marriage thing is concerned, I’m happy to not marry, but having someone to share my life would make me feel less vulnerable, probably for both parties. As I say, I have plenty of other things to worry about first.

So this leads me into the subject of going away on my own, and I suppose it is easier for a bloke to do it than a woman. I certainly wouldn’t line the thought of my wife being in strange places on her own, that’s not to say you girls aren’t just as capable of looking after yourselves, you are, but we are all more vulnerable when suffering from grief, loss and the familiar security of you loved one on your arm.

So Debbie, I do appreciate your concerns. Now, if you allow me, I will say it from my perspective. I can’t stay cooped up in my house on my own. It does offer a safe haven and also space to be independent but it also is my prison and I find that when I feel imprisoned I have sad, even dark thoughts. So I do take myself away from my home and spend a weekend away in a place that we knew but also in a public place. Hence staying in Travelodges or premier Inns or even pubs / hotels.

I make a point of telling the staff I’m alone and if I go out for a walk, I go on days that I know it will be busy or on routes that will be populated. This goes for my cycling, I use popular routes.

I also go to places for dinner and places to walk around. I have found that the National Trust and English Heritage give me places to go alone but amongst a crowd if that makes sense. We used to both belong to the NT together, do it does hurt going to places I have been to as a couple but now on my own. More cuts I’m afraid, but it was things we did and enjoyed so I take her with me. As for Eng Heritage, we’ll that a new one and I have a friend that’s a girl by the way, I have to put it that way, that goes with me, so I do get to share a new thing in places I have never been before which allows me to go on my own as I’m not going old ground.

I like the outside, and think of it that I might not be able to do what I do in 1,2,5 or 10 years so I must seize the day when I feel strong enough and blunt the hurt by carrying on with the things we enjoyed when we were together as I’m taking her with me if that makes sense.

Changing the subject, I feel the happiest when I’m making other people feel happy. To see that I have made a difference to someone by an act of kindness or fixing something or just being with them to listen or share something lifts my spirits. Yes they are short lived because the high cannot be lasting for you as it is for the one you have helped but even though it short lived, it’s a rest bite from the life you lead.

I am considering volunteering with bereavement groups, not because I’m an expert and have the answers, I don’t, none of us have, but we do have similarities, like our common sense of vulnerability for example.

I also believe we are all here for a reason and a purpose. We are learning the most difficult lessons at the moment and at times, when I feel strong enough, I would like to help others along the path of loss. If nothing else we are experienced and therefore have knowledge about our own journey which might be helpful to others or at least confirm that we are all feeling the same.

I feel I need to encourage people to embrace rather than suffer, but it’s taken a while to come to this, and I have to pick my battles on a daily basis. One thing that does help me is writing about it, it allows me to distance myself from me, just for a short while and in turn that allows me to think about loss rather than suffer it.

As Far as Christmas is concerned, I will make the effort this year, I can’t be a ba humbug forever.

I hope it’s sort of makes sense, I do understand your sense of vulnerability but I’m sure in time you will find a compromise that allows you to get out more and maybe a short break. Even if it to rendezvous with like minded people, maybe with a friend that can be a well being chaperone of sorts.

I wish you all the very best on your journey Debbie and you never know, that bloke you see along the sea front eating his chips might be me! X


Hi @Alex

I hope so, these are hard lessons to learn, and we are all in the same boat. We come from different places for different reasons, we joined the boat at different points and our destinations are different as well but we are all on the boat and I think it’s good to to share as it helps me and hopefully helps others.


@Mikeh hi there. I’m only three weeks in but to read those words, I hope that one day I can do the same. I hide with grief everyday at the moment.
I actually live in the Lake District and our time was spent wandering the fells. The summits we reached were once our highlight and we loved it. It hurts to think about standing on the tops alone, swimming in the lakes or getting lost in the forest at the moment.
He is the reason I feel privileged to live where I do and to have been the places he’s taken me.
Thank you and sending love. K

hi @Kellymet ,

Firstly, may I say how sorry I am to hear of your loss. There is no way of making things feel better especially so soon along your path. I can say like the many of us on this forum, that I know how bad life feels and how much things hurt. nothing makes sense or at least it didn’t and still doesn’t for me.

Not wishing to gloss over your loss by changing the subject, but I hope that my stories of my path, which is some two and a half years along now, don’t hurt, there is nothing worse than hearing about how people are managing when that seems a million miles away. I have written a lot about my path, some good, some not so but I do try to find hope in my journeys even if its just a glimmer.

Changing the subject yet again to the Lakes. The Lakes are a very special place for all our family. My first encounters were from the age of eight which is some 50 ++ years ago and I have been coming back ever since, the past 35 years with my wife and it will be our final resting place high up the Borrowdale valley at the Castle Crag end of Derwent Water. We can be as one in the place that has meant so much to us. So whilst I am envious that you live there I’m sorry that we are talking about the lakes through loss.

I have to be careful not to walk the fells alone but at the same time its where I feel the most at peace. Not complete peace, a peace surrounded by sadness but soothed by the memories of the wonderful times we had there.

I go back as often as I can, but to be honest, its so expensive to just to go spontaneously, which leads me to my solution, I’m converting a 27 year old Shogun into a camper. Our shogun has been in the family for 24 years and taken us around the lakes each and every time, so its at much at home there as we were, so only seems fitting to re-purpose her to allow me to travel around the lakes with more affordable means.

Again, I’m not trying to distract you from the rawness of the loss of your husband, that we all know we have to endure our loss 24/7, but I simply want to illustrate how I am hoping to enjoy the lakes in a different way and sharing the adventure with my wife in my heart and using the car we see as part of the family and travelled far and wide in.

If its any consolation, we were going to move to there lakes but sadly she didn’t make it that far, but I might try and find a bolt hole at some point so that I can enjoy the area while I can.

I truly and sincerely hope that you find a way through this time, there is no rush, there are many on this forum all in the same boat and I’m sure they will all share parts of the journey with you as the do with me.

keep in touch, sending love and hugs as we all need them, and you never know we might meet without knowing whilst wandering one of the many shores or fells.

Oh, by the way, I want to swim across Derwent Water, I can swim a good distance but never as a wild swim.

Take care, keep safe and keep your husband close in your heart. X

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Hi @Mikeh,

Would have replied sooner but been watching my granddaughter in a local Pantomime, very proud grandma she is very talented dancer.

I met Doug when I was 17yrs, he was a coach driver and took me to work everyday. He is 18 years older than me, I wasn’t sure at first but soon turned to love that has never faltered. My parents were not so sure but they grew to love him too. We will have been married 45 years this April and together for forty nine years. Yes, I still see myself as his wife and married and for that reason I will never marry again. In my mind no one would ever match him.

He was a kind, caring, loving husband but he was very protective of me and our children, whoa betide anyone who crossed him. Yes, I do miss the kisses, cuddles holding hands and hugs, even the occasional arguments we had. It’s all that made us, us.
His health had started to decline about five years before he died, I cared for him the last couple of years.

As for me I’m in my mid sixties too, I’m going to retire this December. I work in a secondary school, been there nearly twenty nine years, it’s time to stop work, I just regret we didn’t get time to spend together in retirement. We had been looking forward to going on more holidays in cheaper term time.

I admire all your activities, since Doug died it feels as if my health has declined slightly too. I used to love walking, but two arthritic knees and the pain has stopped me doing that now. I hope to have a knee replacement in the future, so I can get walking again. I did promise myself when I retire to start regular swimming. I plan to be busy, most of my friends have already retired, it will give me more time to meet up with them for coffee or lunch. I will get more involved with my church too with volunteering. I already do messy church, children’s craft and activities group. I like being with the youngsters.

I know what you mean about being vulnerable living on your own. If I don’t comment on the family WhatsApp group, one of our children call round or phone to see if I’m okay. My son has become especially protective since his dad died it hit him hard. Our daughter was always close to her dad, I don’t drive so she took her dad to all his hospital appointments, I don’t know how we would of managed without her, I still don’t. She’s my rock. They haven’t put the tracker app on my phone yet, our daughter has it, my son in law calls it the stalker app. One day she might.

I like to write too, I have a journal where I write love letters to Doug, I also keep a daily diary where my day, my feelings and how I’m coping are written. I often look back though it to the early days and see how far I have travelled on this grief journey, and it often surprises me how I’ve moved forward. Doug will always be with me in my heart wherever I go or whatever I do.
Maybe once I retire I will go on holiday on my own, perhaps on a coach, that will bring me closer to Doug as that is what he did. As I use local buses all the time, I often feel close to him and sometimes it brings a silent tear just remembering him.

As you said you never know if I come across you on the beach eating you chips.
It has been lovely chatting to you and hearing about your journey. I haven’t chatted to anyone this much lately talking about Doug and it’s been nice going down memory lane.

I must just tell you this, I’m doing a jigsaw at the moment, Doug loved doing them. I stuck a bit, but while I was writing this, a tray of sorted pieces just fell off the table. I think it’s Doug just reminding me he’s still with me and watching over me.

Take care and stay safe on your travels.

Debbie x


hi @Debbie57

oh now you weren’t, oh yes I was! , sorry poor attempt at a pantomime joke! yes quite right to be very proud. I have become a grandad recently, sadly my wife never got the opportunity to be a nan so its up to me to be both and that’s partly why I write, a legacy of a kind for later in life when she is old enough to understand and probably well after I have left this orb of wonders.

I married my best friends sister, my childhood sweetheart from school. I didn’t understand love and relationships, I was just smitten by her, she was my first and only true love. we parted tree times, mainly down to my stupidity but migrated back to each other, we simply couldn’t find in others what we had in each other. so we decided to compromise and make it work and I’m proud to say that she taught me how to be the man I have turned into.

like your husband, it was my pleasure to be the same to my wife as your husband was to you.

My wife was fit and healthy until one day she collapsed, long story short, as I suffer traumatic issues over what I had to do to keep her alive until the paramedics and air ambulance arrived, but she had a rare cancer that does not give any symptoms until its too late and even if it was found earlier is not treatable. she survived the initial events and made it to hospital but was sadly given only 3 months to live. i cared for her in hospital and home and allowed her to pass in my arms.

So I suspect we all find ourselves here because of tragic circumstances and they all will leave lasting memories to del with as well as loss and coping with the life that’s left for us.

Please don’t admire me, I’m just a man trying to be the best version of my former self, we all have bits and bobs that aren’t as good as they were, but we must adapt like we are trying to adapt to the lives we don’t want.

I haven’t read back on the stories I have written but I do know that I feel better than I did. the stories I have written and continue to write are part of a bigger plan.

Let me explain, I am in the process of writing three books. the first is our life story from the day we met thought to the time I lost her. its called “A true love story of love and loss”. My next book is called " A life shattered" which will be a collection of the stories I have written and will continue to write about my journey with loss. The final book is called “Hope” I haven’t made a start on that one yet.

Who knows how they will turn out but they will be true and honest about my life before, with and after the time we had together.

I believe we are sent signs in one way or another, but that’s another story. For me I just accept whatever signs are sent and make sure that I think of my wife even more fondly and take comfort that whatever the signs were I was luckily enough to be blessed with them.

The ones we have lost will always be with us and be our compass on our journey.

You also take care and keep safe.

Mike x