It’s funny how these little milestones don’t really mean anything but when you sit and think about them, they feel so major. It’s been six months now since Rog died. That’s six months without my best friend, the one who made me laugh every day, right up until the day he passed away. Six months without the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Back in October I wrote about how I was feeling three months on, and now I’m glad I did. It means I have something to read back and compare how I felt then to how I feel now. Not that much has changed, I think some of it has just become ever so slightly easier to live with, out of necessity.
Our room – sorry my room – still has his things around, but that’s the way I like it. I have started sorting through some of his clothes, but only the things I could never be sentimental about like running gear or worn-down shoes he’d saved from years before.
My husband could have a pretty dark sense of humour and I remember so well one day when he was getting dressed, he looked at me and said: “Just think about all the extra wardrobe space you’ll have when I’m gone!” We laughed a bleak laugh then, but now it makes me smile when I think about whether I can steal a few coathangers from his side of the cupboard. I can see him looking at me and saying “I told you you’d do that!”
Six months though – to think that amount of time has passed is pretty unreal. Six months has passed and I am still here – like I wrote before, who would have thought three months could go by and I would still be here without him, let alone six. It has, and I am ok. I wouldn’t say happy, but I am ok, and there are moments of happiness in my days. I have so much affection from the kids and it’s such a blessing, and with my little one being quite clingy still she always has lots of hugs for me, which is a massive comfort.
I do feel apprehensive when I think about the future and wonder how our lives will pan out. Before, all our decisions were made as a team, but now it’s all down to me. I’m hoping that by slowly making some good choices, I will start to feel stronger and better able to enjoy life again.
I’ve started running again, for example, which has made me feel physically so much better and helped relieve a bit of tension and stress. I’ve booked a few fun things in like going away with friends, nights out and have started thinking I may brave this caravan lark soon too! Yes I know you’ve heard that one before…
Someone told me to try to make sure I wasn’t living always in the past, and at the time I thought it a pretty odd and cold thing to say. It’s been on my mind a lot since and although I don’t really want to move out of the past and my past life if you like, I know the choice isn’t really there. To grow and flourish I have to find a way of looking forward to my future.
Of all the things I have read about grief, none has struck a chord as much as the piece Sheryl Sandberg wrote a month after losing her husband suddenly last year.
She used Facebook to communicate how she felt – she is the chief operating officer, after all – and so far it has been liked more than 900,000 times and had 400,000 plus shares.
If you’re one of the thousands who have already read it, you’ll know all about her plan to “kick the shit out of Option B”. Option B being of course, the path she didn’t choose but the one she must now follow. Like anyone in this position, being alone and without the one you love isn’t something you would ever, ever choose but it can’t be changed, so sometimes you just have to think of what you can do instead.
Sandberg’s husband Dave Goldberg passed away a few months before mine and I remember reading her post while I was sat with Roger in the hospice one day, knowing in the not so distant future those might be my thoughts, my feelings as I too would be widowed.
It made me cry then and it makes me cry now, but I can read it back now and feel ever so slightly stronger as time goes on.
She wrote: “I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning.
“These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well. But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.”
She describes how she cried to a male friend who offered to take her child to an event. She said no, she wanted Dave to do it – or her ‘option A’ – but her friend replied there was no option A anymore, so she should “kick the shit out of option B”.
Now I’m not really ready yet (at all) to get on with my option B – but if I was, would I even know what it looked like? When everything you think will happen in your life is ripped apart, where do you start with imagining what your ‘new’ life might be like? There seems to be so many choices I could make, so many changes I could make, and although I’m starting to feel like I should make some I’m still not sure what is the right way to go.
At the moment I’m still taking each day as it comes and making sure I just keep going. I’m assured things will get easier and I suppose I can see that’s true when I look back to how I felt just a few months ago. I know the grief of losing someone I love so much will never go away and we have a long stretch ahead of us. At least I’m starting to see now that it might just – very slowly – start to become that tiny bit easier.