9 weeks gone. 2 months and 2 days. The months that have a 31st in them have new meaning now.
As another Thursday rolls round I can add another number to the weeks he’s not been here. Coincidently, I’ve counted Thursdays before. Both my daughters were born on Thursdays. In just under 7 years, on 3 different Thursday mornings, in 3 different North London hospitals, my life changed again forever.
There’s a lot to this early grieving stage that’s like having a newborn actually. Shock. Pain. The brain fog. Lack of sleep. Confusion over who I even am now. Having no idea how the future will play out. Feeling like you are living life one step removed from everything else that’s going on in the world. People send cards, flowers and bring food and gifts to help us through.
And that feeling like it’s been a lifetime yet no time at all since “it” happened.
Of course, it’s also very different. A new life has a world of possibilities whereas the end of one just has the past.
I’ve written before about the initial shock and struggling to get through each day with its barrage of challenges. The shock is a bit like when you fall and for a split second you feel no pain. But you know it’s going to come.
And it hurt. I hadn’t experienced the physical effects of grief (or shock?) before. To start with, it felt like something was pushing down on my ribcage, squashing my chest and making it hard to breathe. My heart literally hurt. Now it is more of a dull heartache.
I spent a lot of time in the first weeks willing him to walk into a room or up the stairs. Trying to conjure him up from the past. I’d stand at the window in our bedroom looking down the street imagining he was coming home. My usual default character is to be positive and look for silver linings. My brain would play tricks with me and go into “we can sort this out” mode before I’d remind it that actually, no, I can’t change this. Before I would often try to diffuse situations by saying “it’s not life or death”. But this time it is.
Then there’s the dreams. A lot of my dreams are sketchy though one night I had a clear dream. He was calling me upstairs to read Imogen another bedtime story because she wouldn’t settle. Downstairs he found the box where I’d moved his DIY stuff from the spare room. He said he’d been looking for that. I replied that when I packed up the box, I didn’t think he would need that stuff anymore.
It’s hard to wake up from dreams like that.
Someone told me recently that children dip in and out of grief but I think my own journey has been like that too. I can laugh. I can enjoy myself. I can be optimistic. Sometimes, especially at times when he would have been at work or not around, then it can be all fine and I can forget. I can be strong. I can feel as strong as an ox when I think about the challenges ahead. As strong as a mama bear leading my cubs.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m over it. I haven’t moved on. My days are punctuated with a whole lot of tears. Of anger. Of fear. Of hurt. Of gripping sadness. I wrote a post on Instagram about my 5 minute trick. When I’m feeling really low or my worries are spiralling out of control, I tell myself that all I need to think about is the next 5 minutes. What can I do to try to feel better, even if it’s just for that 5 minutes? Cups of tea feature a lot. The trick has really helped, especially in the early days when once or twice I struggled to want to be alive myself.
The kids are also keeping me going. They are doing OK. Then they’re not. Then they are again. Trying to help them through their grief whilst dealing with my own is quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve done. I worry about them so much. But we do have help and professional support. I know we will be OK. The big one told me too that everything will be OK. But she misses daddy so much. The little one talks about her daddy’s death in a very matter of fact way. Though she has asked me whether we can hold hands again one day when we are all stars in the sky.
We are keeping very busy at the moment with a lot of social plans. There’s also a lot for me to do admin (deadmin) wise which is giving me a focus and letting me use my brain. There’s a lot of sentimental stuff I need to sort through but I feel a bit too raw for that and I know there’s plenty of time.
Distraction is good for us right now. I know if I can keep us all moving forward as best we can then we will be OK.
(photo from Polesden Lacey in Surrey when we visited lovely friends last week).