Things which help.
In this community we have all shared the most devastating event in life. I have read and shared so much sadness.
When Janet died on 2 December, at first, I felt so numb. The days after I felt that my world had ended. Everything we enjoyed together had no value. There seemed little point in carrying on. Truly, I know how a person can die of a broken heart. One book I read likened it to an amputation. It’s worse than that. I really don’t have words. If it is like an amputation, it was more like an amputation of my very soul; like half of my soul, my very being had been ripped out and stamped on and kicked to death.
I still feel very lost and confused about Janet’s dying. I am haunted by the memory of what cancer did to her. Think I will be for the rest of my days. I still cry of course. Think I always will. There have been times when I thought if I really let go I would never stop.
But things have changed. While the sadness is there, & I think it will be forever, I know I was blessed to have had Janet as my wife. There are some things, events, that helped me. It will never be cured and everyone reading this will know this. But there are some things which have given me hope.
The example Janet set.
After about 8 days it dawned on me how Janet must have felt after the death of her first-born son (previous marriage). So many of the things she said “it’s a shit life” & “I don’t know anything anymore” and so many more made so much sense now in a way I never understood before. But what really was a turning point for me was the realization of how, in time, she still managed to enjoy and value life. The sadness of losing Roy stayed with her forever, as my sadness of losing her will, but alongside that she still loved me and began to value life again. If she could do that for her own son who she gave life to, then I can do it for her.
Book1, “Finding Daylight after Loss shatters your life. Seven Choices”
This is the first book I read. It started me opening to the process of grief. It also spoke of the health dangers to you, & those who are left, not just mental health but physical health. You need to know this stuff. It talks of the choices not least the conscious choice at some point that you are going to live on.
Book 2. IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE READ THIS. –
“WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE”.
This is written by a Rabbi, Harold Cushner. What a book! It obviously has a religious aspect but is not just a religious book. When Janet died I doubted everything I had ever believed. It helped me to recover my faith. It also gave me the ability to be thankful for and give thanks for the wonderful 32 years we had. Of course, I wanted more. I want more now. But we had such a wonderful marriage and a love which some people never have in a lifetime. So, I have to be grateful for our 32 years together.
Going back to work. Wow this is a biggy. Fortunately, my work has been so understanding. 1 – 3 days a week at first. The first day was a disaster. No one knows (but I guess everyone does now!). I had nothing but memories of her being so ill. Going back to work seemed so wrong. But I knew it was right. I have a job I have always been passionate about. That must help, though at first it didn’t seem to. Anyway, things did change in an unexpected way. I am now back at work full time. Its absorbing. I felt very guilty about that at first, but that has (almost) gone now.
I have developed a method of imagining being in Janet’s place. If I had died, how would I want her to be? For sure I would want her to go on smiling her beautiful smile, enjoying nature and country walks, and our dog. Obviously, she would be sad & grieve, but I would want her to go forward, treasure my memory and still enjoy life. The reverse applies. So, I must tread this road and achieve this (like she did after her son died). To give joy.
Finally, Janet’s family have been so good. They have sat and talked for hours with me. Old friendships have also been rekindled as if the years between had not happened. All have been a rock. Listened, put up with my tears. I have cried buckets and do you know what? I don’t care. The church has helped. There have been 2 amazing vicars. I have also met others who have lost wives or husbands or sons. And colleagues at work have surprised me with their interest & concern. Some have lost brothers, sisters and parents to cancer. I had no idea.
One more thing – this Sue Ryder community.
Obviously personal circumstances differ and we all grieve differently. I am not where I want to be, and where Janet would want me to be – yet - but I do think I am on the way. It will be a new phase of life. Maybe not as good as the one before, but one none the less. I hope some of what I have written helps. The loss will always be there but life is still precious. If we were in their place & they in ours, and we could, that’s what we would tell them isn’t it?