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

Archive for: February 2014

One year on since my wife passed away

 

One year on since my wife passed away

The following few days will mark a year on since Helen left our home for the last time and went to hospital. As Helen was taken out of the house and into an ambulance that morning I distinctly remember thinking that this could be the last time she will leave this house. Sadly it was….  I clearly remember all the events from the morning of Wed 27th Feb 2013 through to the early hours of 1st March when Helen passed away. It was a very long and agonising time full of very difficult decisions and events.

The days and weeks that followed are a blur…..

It seems crazy that a year has passed. So much has happened and changed but at the same time it all feels like yesterday. What scares me the most though is how far away Helen feels now. It almost feels like a life time ago or a totally different life altogether and to say that about someone who is so special and close in my life really does scare me. I sometimes wonder if I am normal to be feeling like this but then I quickly remind myself that there is no ‘Normal’ when it comes to grief. It’s just the way I am.

My life is just so different now and am so busy with single parenthood, work, life that I have to say that’s some days it feels like I don’t think about Helen. I am sure I do in fleeting moments but not as I would have expected. This doesn’t mean I don’t miss Helen or still love her because I do. It’s not like our love stopped and we divorced; we were parted without our consent and our love was never in question. For me my love has stayed constant and I believe it always will be; I have just learnt how to move forward.

When I do make the time to think about it all I feel the same smack in the stomach that I had when it first happened. More of a realisation of the truth and the fact that life is definitely moving on. Accepting that I can never get my head around this situation is one of the key decisions I have made because it took away all the questions I may have had about why and how it all happened. It’s sad and tragic but it was also no one’s decision and in many respects it was out of our hands.

So the coming days will of course be a sad time. Not because a year has passed because for me there is no difference in it being 365 days since or 366 days… my feelings don’t really change. It will be sad more so because my mind will be forced to think about the tragic and sometimes horrific events of this time a year ago. The visions and memories I have will stay with me forever.

I am sure though that the anniversary of Helen’s death will probably mean much more to others rather than me. I have been living through the grief and loss each and every day where as other people move on with their lives and it’s these marked events that people tend to focus on. 

Another widower I know once described something called “The Waiting Room phase”. A space between two worlds, the world someone leaves behind after their loss and the world they have yet to arrive. I totally got this because for a long while I was in that space. A very lonely place where I was mourning my wife and the life I once had while at the same time in a state on being nowhere. I’m not in that place any more and that in itself is a good feeling. I don’t feel like the same man I was a year or 2 ago either; I feel like I have found myself again. I have a new life, new friends, new things I want to do, new places I want to see.

I have also come to the conclusion that my life will be great in so many ways because I have seen how easily life can be taken away. I have seen and experienced death first hand, I couldn’t have been more close to it without it actually being me. So I try not to worry about little things, I try to be happy with what I have and strive to continue to live a happy life.

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One of the biggest feelings of freedom I have felt since Helen’s passing is the fact that I was free of Cancer. It no longer ruled my life and that ‘Cancer Cloud’ above our heads drifted away at the very same time as Helen passed on. I have in some ways felt guilty about feeling so free because it was at the cost of losing my wife but Helen would not want the hardship we faced to continue unnecessarily. Like I have said so many times before; Helen fought so hard to stay alive and to live a happy life so I try hard continue with that ethos for her and make it happen.

I still maintain that I was lucky to have had the time with Helen and the kids were lucky to have Helen as their Mum. Such an amazing woman who never deserved the short life she had. Such a sad, terrible and tragic story of someone so young and innocent losing their life without any real reason for it or understanding.

I have no regrets at all from the time I had with Helen and through her illness. I am at ease with knowing that I did all I could for her and I feel happy about how me and the kids have coped on our own through the year. The kids just as happy as they always were and growing up to be 2 amazing people. Helen would be so proud of them.. Maybe she can look down and smile at the little people they have become. 

A year on…… I feel OK about it being a year since Helen passed away but I am sure it will hit me hard at some point.. Probably when I least expect it but at the same time I will raise my glass in thanks to Helen for letting me be part of her life and giving me two very precious children. For that I will be forever grateful.

Very Difficult Conversations

 

Very Difficult Conversations

I have often thought about what the best way for someone you love to die is. Instantly or for you to have time to say what you need to say. Of course no way is best however after experiencing both with my father passing away suddenly for me I selfishly feel having that time has helped me.

If someone is taken instantly then I guess this is easier for the person but for the people left behind there are unanswered question and less closure.

Helen and I had time to tell each other how we felt, what we meant to each other and in some ways to say good bye. The price of that though was I had to watch the life being sucked out of her and she also had to prepare herself for that journey leaving her loved ones behind.

Again selfishly I was able to appreciate more of Helen and what we did together because I knew certain things would be the last time it would happen so I took that time to take it all in and put my all into it

It was about this time last year that Helen and I started to have some of the most painfully difficult conversations. Helen would ask me the question that I never wanted her too.. “Am I dying Mike?” or she would simply say to me “I am dying Mike”

Throughout the twists and turns of Helen’s illness I would always find something positive to say to her. Even when I was told the cancer had spread I was able to relay that to Helen and follow it up with all the many options we had available to her just to add that positive slant. That diagnoses didn’t mean the end, it just meant it was the start of a very difficult journey but there was stuff that could be done.

But during these difficult questions I knew I had nothing more to give her. I knew what was happening, she knew what was happening and this was I believe a way of her coming to terms with the inevitable. I also knew that all I had to do until the end was to just be there for her and with her. Hold her hands when she was scared and hold her tight when she was desperate.

We had many long very deep conversations late into the night about our situation. We talking about life after death and what we thought may happen; Helen also joked that she would come back and scare me if she could. But I never like focusing on negative things so instead of talking about what was going to happen I would turn our conversation towards what we had achieved together and what Helen had achieved in her life. Somehow I feel like this helped her through because the tears would stop and the smile would return. She had achieved many amazing things in her life and touched so many people along the way.

Some of the conversation led to what happens to me afterwards…. Helen asked a few times what I was going to do. Of course I had no idea apart from protect the kids as much as possible and help them through. Although I knew what was going to happen there was nothing that could’ve prepared me for it. I clearly remember the one short conversation we had about me moving on afterwards. Of course not something Helen or I wanted to talk too much about nor could really comprehend at that time but we both knew at some point afterwards I would. All Helen wanted was for me and the kids to be happy.

I also look back and think about what we were doing this time last year. Helen and I bought memory boxes for me and the kids. What I find astounding is that she helped chose them knowing full well why we were getting them.

I wouldn’t wish those conversations on anyone but they have really helped me deal with my grief. I was able to tell Helen all I need to tell her and she knew she couldn’t have been loved any more by anyone else. For me that gives me peace of mind.

Also I was given strict instructions. Simply to make sure me and the kids are happy. So that’s what I am doing.

Mike - Copy

 

A Widowed Single Parent

A Widowed Single Parent

The reality of being a single parent hit me quite early on after Helen passed away

This was it… I was the kids sole parent forever and their last surviving parent. I’m the only person left in the world who would love them like only a mother or father would do.

The responsibility of being alone bringing them up in this world can feel quite overwhelming. What worries me the most is what if something happens to me!! Helen and I had very similar views of how we wanted to parent our children and we were very similar as people so if I wasn’t here the way we wanted them to be brought up would be gone… Not to mentioned the memories we had as the kids parents.. My children will already have a totally different life because Helen is not here with us so without me that would take even more of a shift.

I do realise though that kids/people are very resilient and although everything has an effect on people I know they will be fine whatever happens. It’s just not the way we wanted it but then again I am already in that position now.

I’ve been a single parent now for a while and I am no different to all the other single parents in this world. Although I guess I don’t get odd weekend off while the kids go to the other parent. I have found that I need to be super organised and anything extra than the norm makes a massive difference. Normal day to day life is full of so many small little jobs, washing, ironing, packed lunches, getting kids clothes out, cleaning, cooking, organising care for the kids, shopping, work… the list goes on. None of this is hard at all but put them all together they all add up and means I am generally constantly doing something and it’s only once the kids are asleep and all these jobs done I can relax.

When you add anything extra out of the norm it’s just another small task to add to the list and that can be strangely daunting. For instance I almost dread the times I get birthday party invitations through which I know sounds mad but it means I need to check my diary to see if we are free, work out if I can get the kid there, then I need to think about a card and present. Sounds crazy but these little extra things in life make a difference.

One thing I have never done though is begrudge my situation. I know I am lucky to be in my position so I just get on with what needs to get done and give the kids as much a normal life as possible.. What is normal anyway??

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A recent tricky decision was to re-home our dog. Teagle was there with Helen before I was and she loved him so much. Thankfully through the last difficult year of Helen’s life our good friends looked after him which I know Helen was very happy about. For them though life became more busy so he had to come back to me. I tried to make it work but it was that extra thing to look after and the extra things to do that was a struggle. Plus with a full time job the poor thing was left alone quote a bit and any walk I did with him meant I needed to drag the whole family out me.. Nice on a weekend but not nice trying to fit that in before school.

I know Helen would want the best for him and for us so he is in the right place.. with a lady who loves dogs, can give him constant attention and walk him for hours.