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This year more than any I can feel healing going on for me and I only say that to show that there is that hope to cling to. Winter and Christmas are bloody difficult times. For many here this is their first Christmas since the world stopped turning. The rest of the world keeps spinning but ours stopped on a particular day, on a definite minute.
Everybody’s grief is personal to them, and everybody grieves differently. There isn't a template, and there is certainly no handbook that will guide you.
I have a story to tell. Perhaps it’s not really a story, but, rather, a little vignette from my life. It is a vignette that deals with reality, or truth, or perception, depending on the reader’s interpretation. Four months, one week, and two days ago my beautiful wife Catherine died, just short of our forty fifth wedding anniversary. It was a sudden and unexpected death. Although our children and I were inconsolable, I drew some small comfort from the fact that it was a very peaceful, painless and fear free passing from this life. But, it was only a small comfort.
Valentine’s Day is a day when the death of a spouse, particularly if the death has taken place in the past year, is felt even more acutely. An aching loneliness lies in knowing that there is nobody from whom a Valentine’s Valentine’s Day. Celebration of Love. Pictures of Cupid flying above. Valentine’s Day. Your loss more immense. Heartache increased. Pain more intense. Valentine’s Day. Remembering you. There’s no place for singles when everyone’s two. For many people, Valentine’s Day is yet another of those annual events when consciousness of being alone in a world of couples is heightened. Phychological research shows that the confluence of commercial forces, societal norms and personal pressure to participate in St. Valentine’s Day all contribute to stress surrounding the Westernised celebration of the day. This is not surprising. Valentine’s Day is the day when romantic love is privileged. Therefore, all those whose relationships have ended, who have broken up with boyfriends or girlfriends, who are single, who are separated, divorced or bereaved, feel the singularity of their situation on this day. It is a busy day for the Samaritans because the depths of loneliness, of difference, of exclusion, of feeling unloved, unwanted and unattached, are confronted by many on Valentine’s Day.
Yesterday I was a wife. Today I am a widow. Yesterday I had a life. Today I do not know what I have, where I am, or who I am. I do normal stuff. I do not cry. I get up and behave quiet as I always do. I wash, dress, make our bed, it is less disturbed than usual. The pillows on my side bear the imprint of my head but the other pillows are fat and plump. Down stairs I boil the kettle, take down two cups and put the teabags into them – make the tea and bring it to the table. I sit in my chair and stare. I stare at the nothingness before me. My neighbour calls in and sits in the empty chair. He called in last week and discussed his new purchase with my husband Tony, a new vehicle. My husband wished him well with it. A customer of mine poked her head into the kitchen “are you measuring him up Tommy” – the two men laugh, I laugh, Josephine laughs. Tommy is an undertaker, its his job and he does it well.
Last Will and Testament of a Lover – by Clifford Ellis I found this book in the first few weeks after my husband’s death when I still could not even say the word death. I...
Grieving – A Beginners Guide by Jerusha Hull McCormack When i was widowed in 2006 my sister came across this book in the library. The author had been a Senior Lecturer in University College Dublin,...
Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. It is more comforting to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him, and I need to do it over and over. Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand. Don’t abandon me with the excuse that you don’t want to upset me. You can’t catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don’t know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, “I’m sorry.” You can even say, “I just don’t know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that.”