Grief: it’s personal and important and difficult. You have to be present and tough
and vulnerable all at the same time. It’s exhausting and draining and yet essential to
healing. I have been living with grief for 5 years now. My husband of 24 years
passed into the Spiritual World after suffering a massive heart attack in 2011.
The beginning was the worst for me. The shock was numbing and terrifying. The
fear: how was I going to do this thing called life without him? How was I going to
raise our children without a father? How could I be a dad as well as a mom, what
did this mean to me emotionally, physically and financially? Who was I if I wasn’t
His death in those early days felt so overwhelming and permanent. It
seemed so unfair that at 45 I was left a widow and our children without a father. I
learned a lot in those first few years. I learned about anger and regret and shock and
loneliness and just when you think you can’t cry anymore, you realise you can. I
have learned that grieving is hard work, and that we all have the right to grieve in
our own way. There are no “should’s”.
In the beginning I struggled not to have expectations on people. Grief is scary, and some people will disappoint, not because they mean to, but because of fear or a lack of understanding, compassion or awareness. Many people don’t know what to say or do so they say and do nothing. This has been a difficult lesson to learn. Hopefully this tragedy has taught me to be more empathetic and compassionate to others, and not allow fear to stop me from reaching out to others in their hour of need.
Grief also allowed me to see how fortunate I am to live in my small church
community in Westville, surrounded by love, compassion and kindness. When
Michael died I didn’t have to cook a meal for 6 weeks; we received flowers, cards and
phone calls. I have learned that divine providence is an amazing thing and how the
Lord continues to guide us and provide for us even when it feels like He has
abandoned us. There are times when I am crying and I’m not sure if I’m crying
from our loss or from gratitude for being so loved and cared for. I grieve easily and
openly and I am so grateful to my friends and family who have shared our grief and
grieved with us.
I have also learned that grief is selfish and can become all consuming. I am trying to
remember that everyone is struggling with their own stuff. So my trick is to
surround myself with strong, beautiful women who can cry with me, encourage me
and love me. I allow myself a ‘pity party’ and then I put my ‘big girl panties’ on
and get out there and live life. My advice would be to find a job, a use, a purpose,
something to fill your day and keep you busy. Be kind to yourself and don’t allow
the evil spirits to destroy your happy memories. Sit with the pain and the grief,
allow yourself to experience it. The fastest way to heal is to feel. Don’t disguise it,
run from it or dull it.
My children gave me a journal that I started writing to Michael on a regular basis.
All my fears, my dreams, my worries, my blessings go into those ‘letters’ to him. I
look back at old posts and see my growth and progress and realise the Lord has very
gently led my out of a dark hole and into a light where I can see good again and
begin to feel hope. In the 5 years since Michael died I have married a daughter and
become a grandmother. The circle of life continues and I am blessed and grateful
to be a part of it.