Talk to the Hand

My last post on playing the Glad Game within the process of grief and gaining the perspective on life that those not suffering a traumatic loss cannot hope to have drew many comments and personal emails and texts. It seemed to touch a few hearts. One comment really rang true for me:

“Hi there, I also lost my husband suddenly at age 34 he was 36 my boy and girl were 7 and 3 years old …
I just wanted to agree with your comment about realising what we have and we we should realise what is important, the down side to this gift and it is a gift, you won’t tolerate people moaning about the little bugles in life etc however I have been better at this with time xxx”

Thank you Eileen. Yup there is the rub. The downside of the widow’s new view of the world is that we really don’t have time for those who have no idea how bloody lucky they are. Oh well we’ll just have to keep on holding our tongues until people ‘get it’ and to be honest I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

The Glad Game

I have been a bit radio silent for several reasons. The euphoria of finishing the Edinburgh Half marathon in Colin’s memory surrounded by friends and family was amazing but it gave way to a bit of a flat feeling. I can put this down to losing my focus of the last six months but really it’s not. A week before the run one of our other friends befell the same fate as Colin. A lovely man who leaves behind his gorgeous wife, my loyal friend Al, and two little boys of five and two. I broke down when I heard the news, over the phone. God I hate the phone sometimes. Always the bearer of bad news. Anyway, I digress. My friend has just lost her husband and people kept saying to me ‘Oh it must bring everything back’. I almost felt like there was a silent Poor You tagged on the end. But it’s not Poor Me right now.  Yes, another death, so similar, it did put me back to those first hours and days but that all encompassing ‘everything’ that I think people are referring to doesn’t really go away, ever. ‘It’ is always there. You just learn to put your horror of the immediate trauma following the death of your partner in its box for a longer periods at a time. But anyway, it should actually be Poor Al right now. But I know her well. And I know like me she would hate to have that word ‘Poor’ anywhere near her name. She’s a survivor and she’ll find her way through. What she’s going through I can identify with but grief is so individual, so personal and I can only help her if she asks. I didn’t really want to hear some of the advice from my widow friend who came to see me two weeks after Col died. She was 10 years down the line and I was so deeply in it that I couldn’t imagine ever getting to the stage of thinking fondly of Col like a an ex boyfriend you wished you’d stayed in touch with. The thought of that made me feel sick. So no Al doesn’t need my nuggets of advice until she is ready for them.
Knowing a good friend is going through something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy has made me try to find some positives to grief. I’ve been playing Pollyanna’s Glad Game (from the children’s book by Eleanor Porter) in my head so that I can give Al some kind of tiny piece of hope for her to hold onto. I am no expert. I am nowhere near the magic three years through my loss that someone who commented on this blog told me I needed to be to even have a hope of know anything. But when Col died I felt like a huge big, sharp shard of perspective hit my head at full force and it felt like suddenly I knew what was important in life. I have always sweated the small stuff. I worried about stupid things, about what people said or thought about me. I was permanently thinking life was about getting to this amazing point where everything had clicked into place – the husband, the house, the perfect children. I wasn’t always enjoying the journey because I thought it was about getting to this destination of perfection. Now through loss I can see life is so very short. Every step of it has to be enjoyed if possible. The minutiae doesn’t matter in the least. I wish I didn’t have to have lost Col to have learnt that lesson. What car you drive, what school your kids go to or even where your house is, all of it matters not a jot if none of it makes you happy. Bringing up children is enjoying every moment you can with them and not wishing their lives away so that yours will get easier. Losing Col has made me see everything differently. For every moment of pain there is a part of me that wants to rise up and shake the grief off and shout ‘come on life, bring it on, you’ve done your worst now let me show you what I can do’ and that person, the one who ran that half marathon with a stress fracture, the one that has signed up for another and is thinking about trying a triathlon, well that person would never have existed if I hadn’t lost everything one Saturday afternoon. Nope. Instead you’d have found a nagging wife moaning about towels left on the floor and not getting an equal amount of ‘time off’ from the kids. A woman whose priorities were skewed because things often mattered more than people. Now I know being rich is not monetary. I count myself a millionaire because I have discovered through my loss that what really matters are the people that love you and loving them right back, because you just never know…you just never know…and for that I am glad. Pollyanne