The life of a young widowed father with the will to help others with advice and positivity.

Archive for: January 2014

Milestone Dates

Milestone Dates

Its fast approaching a year since Helen passed away so I am wondering how it’s going to feel.

It’s quite obvious that most people in my shoes or indeed anyone who have lost any type of loved one will dread any first birthdays or the first wedding anniversary alone, Christmas etc.

For me I have felt nothing different while leading up to these events. It’s just another day after all and my loss and grief will still continue on after that day, the day before and the day after so what’s the problem. However I have generally been proven very wrong each time. Not necessarily on my birthday or what should have been Helen’s birthday because they were both so very close to when she passed away so I was in a shock bubble.

Certainly though the first anniversary without Helen was very hard. Leading up to it I didn’t feel any different but when the day actually arrived the emotions came flooding in with immense pressure. Naturally my thoughts were about how happy we were on that day we got married and about how we wanted a family and live our lives together forever. Our wedding day and the reason behind it meant the world to me so to have part of that taken away cuts very deep.

Looking back at our first dance

 

I recently attended an evening wedding reception. Again I didn’t worry at all about it and just went along with a view to have some fun and celebrate the happy time with the bride and groom, family and friends. Again I was very wrong. I found myself almost running out of the door during the first dance. The surge of emotions that came over me actually took me by surprise. I didn’t feel any jealously at all; it was just happiness for them but pure sadness for me. My thoughts immediately turned to my first dance with Helen and again how happy we were. During this first dance I looked around the room and saw couples everywhere hold each other tightly… it’s one of those moments when you hold your loved one close and there I was all alone with excruciating thoughts flowing through my head. Somehow I managed to get over it and stayed a whole longer but it really did knock me for six.

So with this in mind I am expecting it to be a very difficult day. Maybe even a difficult few days as my thoughts will move towards what actually happened leading up to that day and the days itself. I can still clearly recite pretty much every single thing that happened from that morning at home on Wednesday to the Friday morning when Helen lost her battle.

It is said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. There is however, something missing from this statement…. It won’t kill you but it will still frigging hurt like hell.

Reviewing my Grief

 

Reviewing my Grief

Again I have been taking some time out to review my emotions and thoughts throughout the time since Helen passed away. The main thing I have concluded is that grief is an absolute roller coaster of a ride that I am still riding today and maybe will for the rest of my life.

Initially I was just running on auto pilot and adrenalin while organising the funeral, speaking to family/friends and dealing with the kids. Then the roller coaster started; one day feeling ok the next too desperate for words. Then, the ups and down lasting even longer sometimes over the span of weeks.

I clearly remember the massive bumps in the stomach when I was busy doing the usual mundane daily tasks. A sharp reminder would hit me square in the gut. I actually felt a physical feeling as well as an overwhelming emotional one. The realisation of what has happened and how dreadfully sad it is.

Then came the highs being even higher; almost feeling empowered to take on the world and then the low being devastatingly low when I just wanted to lock myself away in my house just me and the kids.

I also found myself getting lost in my own grief. I was too busy focusing on trying to find my new direction in life that I didn’t give myself time to follow my own grief path. Maybe for me it was a way to forget the pain and concentrate on my future. Also maybe it was me realising that I was lost in this world. My focus had been Helen and the kids for so long and in difficult circumstances that once Helen had passed and life started to settle I was a lost soul without direction.

Recently I have had contact from many people who have only very recently lost their partners with their own awful stories to tell. They described how they were feeling while organising the funeral and dealing with that initial shock. My first thoughts were about how glad I was that I was not in that position. I have been there and am now nearly 11 months on and I really wouldn’t want to go back there. It made me realise how far I have come, what I have achieved since and how I have managed my emotions, grief and life in general. I’m proud of myself, I honestly am. I don’t look back and regret any of the decisions I made or the feelings I felt. This is probably because I am not the sort of person to regret anything. I firmly believe that I make decision based on what I know at the time.

I feel that I have been able to remain in general very happy as a person. Obviously I have had some very difficult times but mainly there has been a smile on my face. I feel even more optimistic about life now and although still lonely in many ways I am happy where I am. My kids are happy, we are all healthy so for me that’s all I could ever want.

I have had to talk to myself a few time recently though. Life as ever moves on and the troubles and worries of life can overtake you. I found myself worry unnecessarily about stupid things. The main thing recently was that I painted a white wall red. After 2 coats it looked awful and I started stressing about painting it back to white again or how to resolve the problem. In reality this is such a trivial thing… it’s just a bloody wall I told myself. I then compared the stress about the wall to the stress I could feel if one of the kids were ill. Naturally the wall problem diminished to nothing as I realised the kids were fine, I was fine and that it was actually only a bloody wall. An awfully painted patchy red wall but it was just a wall all the same.

If you are interested.. After 7 coats of red paint the wall now looks amazing.

Children without their Mum

 

Children without their Mum?

Following on from an earlier post about the kids grief I have recently spent some time thinking about my kids, the decisions I made for them since their Mum passed away and how I think they are doing.

The first thing that came to me was that day I had to tell my kids their mummy had died.  It was of course very hard but the reality of it has been harder. Though I no longer get the tricky questions about them wanting to get Cancer and die so they can see mummy they still test the fact that we can longer see, hear or touch mummy. The finality of Helen’s death is a harsh reminder to me when I continue to tell them that there is no way I can get mummy back for them. Not even if we build a tall tower or use a long ladder which they keep asking me to do. I have kept to the same 4 points throughout with no deviation whatsoever

  • Mummy is never coming back
  • We cannot get her back
  • Mummy wanted us to live our lives and be happy
  • It’s very sad mummy has died but we all deserve to live our lives and be happy

Looking back to the early stages I had to make some very hard and crucial decisions. I was being advised by the child counselling that the children should see the body and say their last goodbye’s. I didn’t want to get it wrong for them and didn’t want any decision I made to have a negative effect on their future lives so this one tore me apart. The child counsellor was saying one thing and every ounce in my body was saying another. In the end I decided against them seeing the body or going to the funeral but they did come to the memorial service which we made child friendly. I knew my children better than anyone else and I was confident I could explain my decision to them when they were old enough to understand. I still have no idea why you would want to have your child have that image in their heads so I stand by this decision with no regrets. A key factor was that I knew I didn’t want that vision either and the vision I have of Helen is one with a huge happy smile on her face.

Their grief process is very much like my own. I see them be normal happy kids one minute then rock bottom the next. Sometimes this lasts a few days then the flip back to normal again. Like I do with myself I just let them ride the waves. It’s OK to be sad and down. But we can’t stay that way.

What I also find hard is to know when they are actually missing/wanting mummy versus them using this as a tactic to get what they want. Most nights before bed they would both say they miss mummy and want to talk about her. Of course initially I did do this but quickly realised this was their way of getting to stay up later rather than the fact they actually want to talk about mummy. To combat this I would either tell them we would talk about mummy the next morning or talk about mummy before I put them to bed. That way this was no excuse not to go to bed. It seemed to have worked.

A while back I wrote about how the word Mummy means a much different thing to us now. This continues to be very difficult to deal with because our lives are surrounded by Mums; at school, parties, friends and family. I watch the kids faces when they hear this word. It seems most of the time now for them it’s just something they haven’t got and they deal with it but other times I see true sadness in their faces as that word is an instant reminder of their Mum.

I often think about how much I love my two kids. I’m not sure if my circumstance has enhanced my love for them or not and but the feelings are sometimes so over whelming it actually hurts in my stomach. Maybe this is the way most fathers feel… I will never know.

Kids

 

I know I am very lucky I have 2 very easy amazing kids. Helen and I have been through the hard part of sleepless nights, kids wanting to put everything in their mouths, nappies, stair gates. They both now listen to me, do as they are asked (most of the time), they sleep; but mainly they are 2 very happy kids that on the face of it you wouldn’t have any idea of what they have been through. They both speak openly about their mummy dying and that she died of Cancer. They will also say that they still have Daddy and that’s OK. We all cry together and we all laugh together and it’s all OK to do so.

They don’t want for many things apart from me to just be there with them. Anything else is a bonus for them.

They are doing so very well. Happy, content and normal.

Everybody has a choice

 

Everybody has a choice.

While Helen was alive and certainly more so since she passed away I have had many people say how bad my story is and how hard it must be. Some would also go on to mention about troubles in their lives and how hard it was/is but also making it obvious that there was no comparison between my troubles and theirs. Well, of course what has happened to me and my family is tragic but I would always be sure to explain to these people that we all have problems in life and they are all relative to us.

When I mean problems though I mean real problems. Not that you have less parking at work so have to walk further or that your fridge has packed up and all the food is ruined. I mean real problems that effect people in their everyday lives. I personally wouldn’t say what has happened to me is worse than someone losing a grandparent. Again, that’s not to say my story isn’t bad but it’s because I don’t think there should be a comparison. Everyone will perceive their own problems in their own way based on their own experiences, emotions and background.

This got me thinking more about the fact that everybody has a choice in life.

I think I need to be clear here when I say everybody has a choice. Their are very extreme circumstances where people don’t have a choice… Kidnapping, murder.. things out of our control. So here I am talking about life for the majority of people living in the world who live their lives in I suppose what is perceived in a normal way.

So everyone has a choice of how to react to the problems they face. A choice to be miserable or happy. I have said before that no one can be happy 100% of the time. I am ever the optimist but life can still get me down. It’s how you choose to deal with those negative emotions. It’s easy to wallow in negativity rather that looking for joy in your life. It’s all so easy to take for granted what we have. I also see people dwelling on things that are out of their control which can lead to some very difficult dark places where you don’t need to be.

As an example I can look at the treatment Helen had for her cancer and dwell on the fact that it didn’t work for her. I could dwell on the fact that we as a human race don’t know enough about Cancer to help people get better. So many what if’s flying around my thoughts. But actually when I play the last 4 years through in my head I think we made all the right decisions based on the information we had at the time. We followed the advice from the people who we trusted and from the information we gathered. I can’t dwell on these what if’s as it will get me no where. I simply have to put it down to bad bloody luck. One day maybe we will find out the reason why people get cancer and will answer some of my questions. I would love to see that day come but I am also sure that when that day comes there will be some other disease that we have to start battling with.

I think the below sums it all up perfectly.

An extract from Dr. R Joseph

In considering the multitude of forces that act on human beings—selective pressures over the course of evolution, heredity, genetics, biochemical fluctuations, how our parents raised us, and the cultural biases that we are all subject to—it may well seem that all our behaviour is determined by causal factors set in motion so long ago that we are helpless to alter their course. Certainly order exists in the universe, we are affected by our environment, and forces such as fate, God, or even our astrological sign (if we wish to believe in such things) may exert some influences on our behaviour. Nevertheless, we are not completely at the mercy of forces over which we have absolutely no control. We are still capable of making choices.

its-your-choice