My beautiful wife passed away on 18th April, when her heart failed in hospital, just one week before our Golden Wedding… I was called in when she went into cardiac arrest, but sadly didnt arrive in time to see her. Those first minutes, hours and days passed in a torrent of emotions such as anger, guilt, regret, and some emotions I couldnt even put a name to. I walked outside the hospital and stood shaking, not knowing what to do. A cleaning lady who talked to me on the ward had followed me outside to make sure I was as ok as possible, and she gave me a hug, which made me feel a bit better. I made one or extremely short phone calls through the tears, and wondered how I was to get home, was driving safe?
Probably not, but I sat quietly for a while and gave myself a good talking to (the first of MANY) pulled my emotions in, and drove home carefully.
I walked into our house and thought, “she’s not here”, and “she never will be again.”
I soon realised we both had a lot more friends than we realised, because people just kept ringing to make sure I was alright, those who lived closer just came round to give me a hug, and share a tear or several.
After a couple of days I started putting my mind to the job in hand, ie putting my new life together.
I soon put together some rules for myself
- Never avoid situations which were emotional, face them full on, if I want to collapse in tears, I did just that. I wasn’t going to avoid the emotion, I wanted them to come thick and fast, then I can heal quicker, and my REM sleep will sort it out for me. (You might have to google REM sleep!)
- Never have no-go areas because they remind me of her. I WANT REMINDING OF HER!! She had a favourite chair, I now sit in it.
- If things of hers didn’t have an emotional attachment, I binned them as soon as reasonable., or send them to the charity shop. There are plenty of her things which she loved, they will never leave!!
4 I wanted her clothes (LOTS AND LOTS of them) to go. So after a few days, 3 wonderful girl friends of hers turned up and sent them all to charity.
- I wanted and succeeded in being aware of my thoughts when I’m feeling thoughtful. Thoughts generate feelings, and in the past I’ve had hypnotherapy for PTSD and this has been great in managing my thoughts, rejecting those which generate negative emotions, whilst welcoming the happy memories. I’m now beginning to smile when I think of her.
- People kept telling me to keep busy, so I wont remember, but I WANT TO REMEMBER! My life needs refocussing, and I’m doing this. First thing I rejoined my old Ukulele band, which I enjoy, and met many old pals. I’ve also brought my caravan closer to home, so I can take shortish trips when the mood , and sunshine, tempts me.
We both hated traditional funerals, then down the pub for ham sandwiches and seed cake. So I decided to have a direct cremation, which is this coming friday. No guests attend the funeral, but myself and two of her bestest friends are going to wish her bon voyage by sitting in the garden of remembrance outside, with her 2 dogs she loved)
I wasn’t going to let her go without an opportunity for her friends and I to say goodbye, so I booked a room in a local pub last Friday lunchtime (our wedding anniversary), arranged an excellent buffet and invited one and all to celebrate her life. 40 people turned up, many stood up and told their memories, my mate wrote a tune and played it for her on his guitar. I sang her favourite song to her, as we had photos of her life scrolling by on a large screen. We cried, we laughed, we hugged. A wonderful cathartic event, which none of us will ever forget.
When I got home, I told myself that my new life begins today, I’m going to be positive about everything. Of course I think of her often and I fill up, but that’s good, because I never ever want to forget her, but I always end the thought with a smile.
So here I am, 4 weeks to the day since she died, and if this is how my life is going to be, I can live with it, 90% joy, with her memories sprinkled through the rest.
I forgot to mention, every evening I go and sit in “her” chair, and talk to her about my day, its successes and failures, and what her dogs have got up to etc etc
So face it as full on as you can manage, be positive, it really does get better, but I also recognise our journeys are all different, it’s the price of being human.