Family life,Loss

Two years on

Flowers in milk bottles

Flowers in milk bottles

Two years on from my husband’s death and when people ask me if I’m ok, well sometimes I am and other times I am anything but. The thing about loss and grief is that time might make those sad moments more spaced out, but when they come they’re still as gut wrenching and painful as they were on day one.

I’ve had a few of those days lately where I’ve just wanted to cry about the smallest thing, it feels like the world’s caving in and I can’t keep up this smiling pretence any longer. I just want to be on my own and sob, feel sorry for myself and let it all go. I’m tired of this brave face and when the flashbacks come, they come and I feel just as I did the night Roger died.

I feel like I did when I walked from his hospice room to the car just as it was turning dark, texting a few close friends to tell them the news. It’s emptiness, it’s numbness and it’s not a place I want to be in for long.

I thought two years in I might be in a much better place than I am. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am not without hope and the times I’ve described above are generally not that common.

Maybe this post is coming across as pretty miserable because that was how I felt at the time I started writing it. If you know me in real like you’ll know I laugh a lot. I have a big mouth and it’s often smiling. I don’t look like a misery and I’m genuinely not.

But if something happens to knock me, it really knocks me and I feel like I’m back at square one.

From reading about other people’s experiences this is a really common thing. I read blogs, books, columns and Facebook groups for people who have been widowed and so many people have the same kinds of feelings. Knowing it’s how most people react doesn’t really help though, when I’m in the moment and full of sadness.

Flowers close up

I think back to conversations Rog and I had in the hospice before he died, about my future and what it might hold. You’ll have to move back to Yorkshire, he said. Well I’ve done that.

This time in two years you’ll be married again, he said. Well I definitely won’t be that, despite dipping my toe into the water of dating pretty unsuccessfully. (More on that in future posts, I’m sure).

But what I always remember is that he knew going on alone would be hard for me. He knew we’d had each other when he needed me, and he couldn’t be there for me when I’d need him. This one really upsets me, because I know how true it is and it shows what kind of a man Rog was, how much he cared for me and why I feel so alone in the world without him.

Anything’s possible – if you’ve got enough nerve – JK Rowling

You are still here for a reason – One Fit Widow

I like these two mantras, and they do make me feel better to an extent. But I mean it’s all very well reading the inspirational quotes, the stories of people who have come through the other side of this feeling great, but that’s not real life every day, is it? I mean I think I’m a pretty positive person, I try to hold my head up and keep going because the alternative is to sink into a hole at home, and if I went that way I don’t think I’d ever manage to climb out. But two years on, am I ready to say I’m healed? No, I’m definitely not.

I wouldn’t have thought an anniversary would affect me but the weeks around the date Roger died, July 17, have been tough this year and last. Once the date has passed I’m hoping the cloud will lift again, but for now I’m just having to ride it out.

Last year I wrote about how we scattered half of his ashes on the beach near where we used to live, and you can read it here if you like.

Flowers from above

I want to be honest because I know people read my blog to make sense of things that have happened to them, and although I like writing about beautiful things and happy moments in my life it’s not like that 24/7 and I don’t want to pretend it is.

I have moments where I feel like a changed person, a strong person and the future looks bright. But there are also times when I struggle to find the energy to get up in the morning. I mean I do, because I have two kids and no choice, but it’s not easy.

Maybe one of the thoughts that keeps me motivated is knowing we never know what’s coming. I’ve experienced this terrible ways, but in good ways too. I’ve seen glimpses of how I can move forward and I’ve come to accept I’ll never get to a place where I’m over what’s happened. I have lots of people around who love me (luckily they keep reminding me) and two gorgeous kids to take my mind off things. They’re used to seeing me cry, the past few weeks far more than usual, but they know how to cheer me up too.

Hopefully one day they’ll understand why I sometimes burst into tears at bath time, or how I sometimes swear too much because I’m tired of doing it under my breath.

One day they’ll know.

x Julia

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  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    2 years is no time at all. Roger was a massive part of your life, and it’d be silly for anybody to expect you to have completely moved on in such a short time. Of course you’re still going to miss him (and be sad thinking about what happened) — it’d be really weird if you didn’t.

    But you are an amazing person: what you have achieved in 2 years is incredible.

    Take care.

  • Reply
    Jen Walshaw
    July 10, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I can not just read this and run. I have no words of advice, but I really do admire you. I know that there is no option but to keep on keeping on, but know that it is OK not to be alright all of the time.

  • Reply
    Sue Quest
    July 10, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Julia the honesty of this piece of writing is truly beautiful. I love reading your blogs and i dont think you will ever get over what happened, you just learn to live along side it. I’ve heard this lovely saying which i feel describes grief best for me. “Grief is just love with no where to go ” i think you will always grieve as you will always love Rog. But you will create a Rog space in your thoughts and manage it that way so you can be Flo and Sam’s mum at the same time and not feel pressure to be over it. You will never be over it, but you are quite simply amazing in how you go about life and an inspiration to us all xxxx

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Sending you lots of hugs Julia. I have no advice whatsoever but I do hope and pray it gets better. My friend lost her mum 3 years ago and she says the same as the comment above…you somehow learn to live with it. I hope the next year is a lot lot easier xx
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…School fairs and the big fieldsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Colin Moneypenny
    July 10, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Beautiful post Jules. You always find the words somehow which is easier when you’re writing about a night out or decorating the house or the girly stuff but much tougher with this big horribleness. It’s still early days for you and so far you’ve been a brilliant single parent showing the strength and courage that Rog knew you had the capacity for. As his once near neighbour in Woolton said “there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done, all you need is love”. Never stop grieving but alongside that still keep going forward into your new life, breath by breath, hour by hour and savour the happy bits that will be on their way. Lots of Love

  • Reply
    laura ellis
    July 10, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Beautiful blog Julia. You are an inspiration and you are doing brilliantly. We’re always here if you need us – a rant, a chat, a gin – whatever xx

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Oh Julia, what a beautifully raw post. As others have said above, I have no advice either I’m afraid. Yes you are most definitely a strong woman (and gorgeous too) but of course you will still feel like this on very many occasions, and of course you should write about it or acknowledge it. It’s part of you. I’m still so awfully sorry this happened to you and your family. My thoughts are with you always. Stay strong, and we’ll all still help by picking up the pieces around you. Steph xxx

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Bless you Julia this must have been a hard one to write but I hope it’s helped even a tiny bit. I’ve not been in the place where you are, not at all, but I have experienced life throwing a very unexpected curve. All and I totally relate to your words of sometimes coping and feeling strong and other days not at all. For what it’s worth I admire you so much – you are a fighter and you have a wonderfully brave and beautiful spirit. You and Rog clearly had something so special that you will never forget or lose. Precious. xxx

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    keep swearing out loud mrs.

    Much love x

  • Reply
    Steph Curtis
    July 10, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Children are amazing. They probably know in some way already. There’s nothing I can say to make it any better, and I feel that particularly strongly now as I try to help my brother through his bereavement. Other people like me want to help, but feel a bit helpless. I don’t think anyone expects you to deal with it any better or worse; it must be individual for everyone. Sending huge hugs x
    Steph Curtis recently posted…Live at Pizza Express!My Profile

  • Reply
    Sarah Christie
    July 10, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Ah Julia, sending you and the kids so much love. You are doing amazing and are so strong for your little people. This is so beautifully written but I hate that I can feel your pain though your words. But as a friend can verify you are such a happy smiling person, I hope you et through this wave of grief soon xxx

  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Oh Julia, I have no words, but then there really aren’t the ‘right’ words to say are there? Though I do truly wish there were, ones that would really help or fix everything. Please know that I’m thinking of you lovely and sending so much love your way xxx

  • Reply
    July 13, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Every day lived after a loss such as yours is an achievement. The anniversaries are always tough for me, they cause a general sense of foreboding until they have passed. Take as long as you need honey there are no winners when it comes to grief just one day survived after the next, all the better if you crack some smiles along the way x

  • Reply
    July 14, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I’m no expert (on this, or actually anything!) but my initial feelings are I want to say don’t worry about time. Of course anniversaries of all kinds will be special and will sting or make you smile – or both at the same time. But please don’t rush yourself. You don’t have to have it all worked out. I also want to tell you that you ARE incredibly strong, but I know that in fact sometimes we don’t want to be strong, we didn’t choose to be strong. It’s just something that has to happen. I know about adversity, but adversity and grief together would overwhelm me. I guess I just want you to know that those moments when you feel like you’re not strong – they’re actually the moments when you’re coping the hardest. Cause it’s dead hard to have any hope in those moments. But you haven’t lost hope. Hope will always come back. Sending lots of gentle good vibes for Roger’s anniversary. And a motherly absolution for bathtime swears. Xx

  • Reply
    Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper
    July 16, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Oh this is a beautiful post Julia and I can’t pretend to know how you must feel. As someone said above, 2 years is no time at all, so be kind to yourself. Lots of love x
    Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper recently posted…5 Ways to Create a Stylish and Practical Family BathroomMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 16, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Thank you…I’m 19 months in and it really hits me at times that although I seem to be able to function on a daily basis, I’m reminded of my husband’s unwitting absence often…

  • Reply
    Lucy Heath
    August 17, 2017 at 8:13 am

    What a beautifully written, inspiring post. I’ve had tears in my eyes for you and I think you are incredibly brave. For anyone in the same situation I imagine this will be so comforting and for those who aren’t I hope it helps us to be more supportive to a friend who is grieving. So much love to you three xxxx

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