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

Category: Life

Life is good but still not always easy

 

It’s been a long while since the last blog post and although there have been a few times where I have felt the need to write that need quickly fades. I originally set this up to both help myself and others with grief and I guess selfishly I’ve stopped posting because I’ve just not needed to. It’s not that I have stopped grieving as I think personally I always will to some extent; it’s just that I am better equipped to deal with it as time has passed.

Now though I have decided I wanted to write something; for two reason.. 1. To update where we are in our lives and 2. To summarise the last year or so for my family and I.

Life for us is great. Yes I have lost my wife and my children have lost their mum but we live a very good life filled with immense fun and laughter. The kids are growing so fast, doing well at school and the happy, smiley faces they have always had continue on just as strong..

I still find myself having to deal with difficult times like when Olivia she said she feels like she’s never had a mother. I totally understand that statement. She was 4 when Helen passed away and her memory of Helen is minimal. Probably mixed up with the pictures and movies I have together with the need for the family to keep her alive through our memories. Still it’s a disgusting thing to hear your daughter say.

In a recent conversation the kids were talking to me about how they just have a dad. I suggested to them that it’s normal for them to just have me and that they don’t/won’t know what it’s like to have two parents. Kids just know what they know. I liken it in a way to my father being disabled. It was just the way it was and to me it was normal. I never got to play football with him or run around a park etc. because he was in a wheel chair and that’s the way it was. I never thought anything about it. I just enjoy pushing him around in his chair and slapping his bald head as it was always at a good height.  Obviously losing your mum as such a young age is a worse thing to have to deal with which also has lasting effects but I can see the kids accepting the way things are. They just have a dad and their mum is gone.. for them it’s just the way it is.

Even now over 3 years on parts of Helen and her memory continue to disappear due to things you may not even think about but is so prominent for me. I have changed the car we bought together. I have redecorated some of the house that we did together. Some of the clothes I bought with her I have got rid of. Even down to plates we both used or cups. A slow process but the parts of Helen are still disappearing. For me though I don’t need material things to remember her. I don’t go to the crematorium that much because I really don’t feel the need. I have the memories and the feelings I still hold for her and carry them with me always.

Another milestone that we are moving toward is the fact that the kids have nearly lived half their lives without a mum. After that time passes that gap will just continue to grow. Another stupid milestone that doesn’t really mean much but for some reason  it’s something I think about and another tough thing for me to deal with.

Rightly or wrongly the kids do talk less about mummy these days. It’s not that they have forgotten but more I think that they are accepting their lives as they are. Interestingly though mummy still features plenty in their lives. I find it intriguing that they talk about her like she is still here and that she is still their mum which of course she always will be whether she’s here or not. They openly talk about mummy and it’s clear to me they both have this huge love for her and are happy to talk about her not being here. This I think shows how important it is to talk to kids about anything that is happening. They can deal with much more than we give credit for.

I am obviously bias about my own kids but I think they are both amazing. Such happy, fun, well mannered, rounded and polite kids. We have so much fun together and I feel blessed to have the time I do with them. Marley had his long hair cut recently and it really affected me. The cute little boy with long whity blond hair that Helen I and knew suddenly has short boys hair and to me he went from my little baby boy to a young lad. It both made me sad and happy at the same time.

Also they are both doing really well at school; Marley loves learning and just seems to enjoy anything he does. Olivia being a little more complicated (she is a female after all) has struggled over the last few years but recently I’ve seen a massive shift in her. Like me she may not be the most academic person in the world but watching her love for children, the patients she has and her caring nature is just awe inspiring to me. Helen amazed me when the kids were small because her caring nature, patients and time she would have for the kids was tremendous. Even if Helen was exhausted from lack of sleep or from the drugs she had to take she would always find energy to deal with the kids to make sure they were ok. It’s like Helen lives on through Olivia. Life isn’t about getting good grades in my opinion. It’s about being happy, being able to socialise, communicate and have fun. My two kids have all this in abundance and for what they have been through and continue to go through I find that amazing.

The worse thing I continue to live with is the fact that Helen can’t see her kids, feel proud of them, laugh with them, just be with them. Similarly I hate that I can’t share our children with her, sit and watch them together as they play, read, laugh together. Also that the kids can’t give their mum a hug or hear her tell them how much she loves them or how proud she is. I make a lot of effort to make sure they know how much she would love them and how proud she would be.. even that never feels enough.

Like I said though life is great. We are all happy and healthy and for me that’s all we can ever ask for.

Bereavement, Life, Happiness, Grief, Widower

 

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

 

If you want to do something why not go and do it?

 

If you want to do something why not go and do it?

Last week I performed in a local musical. 3 months of rehearsals and 5 shows to paying customers. Quite an achievement for me as I have never sang in front of anyone before and certainly never done anything like this before either. I had to learn some dialogue, had a solo singing part, learn some dance moved and was in the chorus’s.

The reason why I mention this is that I have asked myself many times whether I would have took the plunge and done this if my circumstances were different. Would I have taken the risk and pushed myself if I had a happy healthy home life? After all when you go through life generally you mould your life to a place that you are happy with while doing all the things you feel comfortable doing.

Why would I need to push myself in this direction if I didn’t need too even though I have always loved singing (thankfully I am not too bad at it)  and I have always loved musicals.

So would I have done it if Helen was still here and healthy?.… I guess the sad truth is probably not. I would have been too nervous, too embarrassed and just not confident enough.

This has made me think.. The simple facts are that it has taken the death is my wife to make me realise how short life is and how fragile it is. I now strive to understand what is important to me and about what I enjoy in life. This was the deciding factor to getting involved because what did I have to lose? Nothing at all. It was something I knew I would love so why was I not doing it.

I really had to push myself to gain the confidence to actually turn up on the first night, for the auditions, to sing in front of people, to rehearse in front of people and to actually do the shows. But, I have loved every single minute of it and it’s something I want to continue to do.

This has taught me a huge lesson which is if I love doing something I should simply go and do it. Nothing is stopping me apart from me.

Make it happen

Ticket to 80 years old

 

Ticket to 80 years old??

If there is one thing I have learnt through the difficult times it’s the fact that life is short and very fragile. Through the journey of life there are countless ups and just as many downs and no one knows what the future holds for them. Sure you can plan things and look forward but you never really know and nothing is really guaranteed.

No one knows when they themselves will take their last breath……. Even writing that sentence stirs up the awful memories I have in my mind and then the reality of it hits me.

When Helen was alive we often talked about what she had achieved in life. Many people go all their lives without finding true love or being able to become a parent and Helen had this. She had a happy loving childhood with a roof over her head and food on the table so in many ways she was very lucky. Some people struggle through life living on the streets and wondering where their next meal will come from. I tried to focus her thoughts on the quality of her life rather than quantity.

ticket to 80 yearsNo one has a guaranteed ticket that grants them 80 years of life.. or 90 or 100 for that matter. I’ve not bought a Wonka bar for a while but I’m pretty sure they are not being given free with them.

Life can be over in a matter of minutes and my families story keeps that in the forefront of my mind at all time not to mention the countless other stories I get to hear about through the response to this blog. It’s mind blowing how fragile life actually is. Happy lives torn apart in an instant as well as slowly over time.

What I am trying to say here is that no one has a ticket to guarantee them a certain life expectancy. There may not be a tomorrow so enjoy your life NOW, be happy and have fun today. Don’t wait until tomorrow.

Not so easy I know and I am tested each day but I try my blooming hardest.

6 Months Has Passed

 

6 Months has passed since Helen left us and I honestly do not know where that time has gone although it both feels like yesterday and also a lifetime ago.

I remember my early emotions and thoughts after Helen passed were of me reliving the last few days of her life. It was horrible but in some ways comforting. Maybe this is the start of the grief process to help imprint the events in your memory however painful they may be. I still do this now but it’s more on my terms rather than it being forced on me. I am also able to focus on the times during those last few days when Helen was making us laugh.. Yes you read that right….. Helen was dying with only hours to live and she was still making us laugh. Amazing woman and I know she always had a hope for another tomorrow which kept her going.

WowHelenMikeWedding

 

As the 6 months have passed I can tell that my memories seem to be finding their places in my brain; I guess filling themselves away as life moves on. Certain memories though I can still see as clear as day. That initial diagnosis when the doctor said that C word, the time when Helen and I met with the head paediatrician and were basically told the pregnancy would not work with the treatment. Also the time when the midwife came to check the babies heart beat after Helen’s surgery (my heart stopped as I waited for her response) and the phone call I took from the professor from London to tell me the worst news I have ever heard. And then obviously the hardship of a brand new baby, a toddler and a wife on chemo and certainly the hardship of the last 10 months.

So I suppose when I think about it most of the difficult times will be imprinted at the forefront of my memories forever but in between all those bad times ( and I have said this many time before ) are hundreds of fantastic memories of Helen, me and the kids just having fun. Smiling and laughing. These happy memories outweigh the bad ones a million to 1.

Mike and Helen

 

What I have noticed though are how my thoughts, emotions and mindsets change as time passes. Initially all I could think about was Helen when she was ill. It wasn’t in a bad way but that was just the vision of her that was in my head and the one I missed the most. Now as time moves on I have started to reminisce about the times just Helen and I shared before we had children. I really miss that too and I just miss that woman…

The times where my feelings are always most prominent is when I am shutting up the house to go to bed; I just feel so stunned as to how my life has unfolded. There I am standing in the house with the two kids asleep upstairs and I am all alone. My wife is gone and the house is so quiet… I am no longer married… How did that happen? How did that happen to such a vibrant, happy, innocent woman… also I guess I think why me and why Helen?

I wonder where she has gone and how far away she is.. She always told me that when she died she would never be far away and will look after us all. I wonder if that is the case as I really struggle to feel close to her. It scares me to think how far away Helen feels now and I worry that she will only get further away. It also scares me how those 7 years with Helen feel like a different life. I know it isn’t but my life is now so different and I feel like a different man. The most important thing though is that I still can’t get my head around it and I don’t think I will ever get over it… I will just learn to live with it.

So 6 months have passed and how am I doing? Good question although I guess most of you know if you read these blog posts. It has however been a very lonely and hard process that I am still in the middle of. I say lonely because it has been lonely in terms of being alone but also in the sense that I personally don’t think anyone can help a grieving person.. only simply be there for them to help guide them in the right direction. Every single person has their own grieving process to follow and no one can change that process. It’s just a process you have to go through on your own and for me that is lonely.

Of course I still miss Helen and when I think about her dreadful loss and all she will miss out on I feel pure anger and sadness for her. I also feel tremendously for the kids because although I know they understand to their own level what has happened I know they don’t understand exactly what that will mean for them for the rest of their lives. Sometimes it all takes my breath away. The reality I am in is an awful place to be but I can honestly say that I am happy. I actually feel happy and OK about life. This is partly because I have always been very positive and optimistic but also because of that brave woman I was lucky enough to marry and spend 7 fantastic years with. She told me she just wanted happiness for us all and that is my mission for my family.

Me and the kids

 

Dear Hels…

We are doing ok my love.. We miss you so much but we are happy….

Love you Hels Bels x x x