Many years ago, I asked my friends whose loved one died of cancer (and who were carers as well) how they felt ten years later, fifteen years later after their loved one's death: "It's like it was yesterday," was the reply each time.
OMG. I remember thinking, I trust and value the opinion of these people. How am I going to survive my wife's death if it is always going to feel like yesterday?
"O.K. So do you have any advice for me, when it happens?" I asked.
Best advice for me: "Day by day, it will get easier to live with Paul, not better. Never let anyone tell you it will get better! It doesn't." That weirdly made me happier, knowing this fact.
After my grandfather died many years ago, I would see my Nana and talk to her about all of the fun and happy times we had with my grandfather.
Nana said to me, "Paul, I love how you talk about your grandfather as though he is still here." I said, "He is here with us. He's always with us. You can't forget that. We just can't see him anymore."
Many people had told my Nana that she needed to get over it. Move on. You can't dwell on the past she was told. Do you think your husband would want you moping around? 😲
I thought that that advice was harsh. It was harsh and unwarranted advice. How can you move on from some-one you loved so dearly?
All this time, later for me, my grief still plays tricks on me:
I know that they have died. I just miss them. They were such an integral part of my life.
Our close friends let us talk openly and constantly about the wonderful and crazy times my wife and I had together with my son, family and friends:
I actively limit the amount of time I talk about my wife, because I know that I need to try and 'Let go'. A few quick references to my wife and then we talk about the living and what we are doing now.
My son and I celebrate the fun, crazy and silly times we had together. We don't mention his Mum everyday because it is too hard. We talk about his Mum, when it feels natural.
The actual anniversary of my wife's death is not important to us: the saddest day is not one that we want to dwell on. My son just doesn't want to recall those sad memories either (his words).
I don't want my son to experience what my happened to my Nana either. I don't tell my son how to grieve. We all grieve differently.
I still check in with my counsellor and my son's counsellor. We need to look after our own mental health. It has been an enormous help to know I can talk to my counsellor who can assist me with 'Letting go'.
We need to look after each other too.
I still mourn surreptitiously because my grief still surprises me at the weirdest times. It never seems to make any sense when the grief appears: I am just learning to live with it.
I know that it's my turn to help other people in the same situation. I asked so many questions from people who had been there before me. My friends were so generous with their private experiences and thoughts. If you feel like you would like to Share with Us I know that other people would appreciate it too.
I listen now to others and suggest things gently and share my experiences, if they ask me.
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