I haven't written for quite some time here as I wasn't really sure what direction to take. I've brought things up to date with my story and there are only so many times you will want to hear about something that happened quite a long time ago. So - I am thinking perhaps that observations on life from my widowed point of view might work, and keeping in touch with the idea that life continues after loss, but that the loss never really leaves us completely.
In the last 12 months I have been settling down again into singledom (and by that I mean I've been single for the last year). My last relationship only lasted 10 months, but was one I had thought would last a lot longer. I had started to believe I'd found something real. So, it's taken me a while to adjust. I'm not saying I have stopped living, on the contrary, I've been pretty busy, but things have somewhat been overshadowed by the loss of that relationship. And the trouble with having suffered a major loss, such as being widowed, is that each and every subsequent loss takes you back to those emotions you thought you had long since left in the past. And this is perhaps something others don't understand.
I'd like to think I have reached a point now where, while I would be more than happy to meet someone, it doesn't consume me as a quest. I don't do dating sites any more and I'm not the sort to be 'out on the pull'. I have lots to fit into my time what with the swim training, writing course, work, daughter, house to clean, mouths to feed etc etc etc. I'm not moping around or anything (well most of the time). But when people think that you are now fine and unaffected by the grief of the past, they are wrong. It can rear up it's head at any time - often with no or little warning. You could be cooking dinner or hoovering, just going about your day when you suddenly feel overwhelmed by the realisation that your partner is gone forever. Some things are more emotive than others - music, films or dramas. But other times you might be merely chopping carrots or washing the dishes.
I think the reason behind the little things mattering so much is that those are the real building blocks of our lives. We are often told - it's the little things that count, so when you don't have your partner to share them with any more it really matters. Life's simple pleasures are best shared is perhaps another cliche, but true and you especially realise this when you don't have someone special to share them with.
I read a lot of comments from my friends in WAY (www.widowedandyoung.org.uk) about insensitivity's from others towards them. Comments made in passing, not thought through, which touch a nerve or seem uncaring.
People who think the widowed person is OK now, have 'got over it' or
just perhaps people are too plain caught up in their own issues to see
anothers pain. Perhaps having been widowed makes us more sensitive
to these things - but really I don't think any of us really see what
goes on beneath a persons facade. We learn young to build walls to protect our vulnerability. Children can say the most hurtful things after all, and so they learn to build up thick skins so as to not let things affect them so much - or at least so the hurt doesn't show. My daughter is going through this process and constantly talks about all the little dramas that go on among friends. Grief can bring those walls crashing down and it can take a lot of time to build them up again - and I think that many widowed people perhaps can't build a solid wall, but only one with gaps that can let in some of the hurt. Not the most original metaphor, but hopefully it explains how it can feel.
The other thing is that the emotions can be so variable. Day to day, even hour to hour a mood can change beyond all recognition. Sometimes they burst out, overflowing in a tirade of words or a gush of tears. We all need this outlet - widowed or not - I think. Coping with modern life - which has become so much more complicated than it needs to be - seems to put quite a strain on a persons emotions. And as we are all different, we all cope in different ways.
We all have our cross to bear (oh look, more cliche!) and perhaps we would all benefit from just slowing down a little, having a thought for someone else's feelings and what they are having to deal with. I know I benefit from this. We are very good at seeing how another persons life is better or easier than ours, but maybe we don't look so much at how they struggle too. Often you don't need to look far beneath the facade to see a turbulence underneath. WAY use the example of a swan. A serene bird, so regal, who glides across the water seemingly effortlessly. But take a look under the water and you will see two powerful legs, paddling away furiously to keep up the facade of perfection above the water.
I think what I'm trying to say is, life can't be really tough, but there are usually glimmers of hope at least, and when we compare ourselves to others it can be in a positive or negative way. So rather than say "Look at how much they have, I wish I had all that", perhaps we need to look deeper and say "Look how hard their life is, I'm glad for what I have."
As an example, I went to see The Theory of Everything last night - and came away feeling thankful for my health. It was very grounding to watch someone struggle so much against the odds and despite everything, come out winning. There is no time limit on grief, but there's so much good we can do in spite of the burdens we bear. Finding a purpose could be the salvation of many, perhaps.