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


10 Replies to “The Glad Game”

  1. Hi, On the 20th May (2 weeks ago) I had the first anniversary of my husbands death. Death, I have only just started saying he has died, I all ways said left me. So I assume this is another form of acceptance. The 20th May was Monday, that same week I had a funeral on Thursday and a funeral on Friday. Well this had a terrific effect on me, and for the first time in my life I stayed in bed nearly all day, and the 4 hrs I did get up I stayed in my PJs feeling really sorry for myself. Whilst staying in bed I slept for the whole time, so perhaps the past year had eventually caught up with me. This low point has been with me since this week, and I have now only started to feel better. I want to say feel Happy, but some how I still feel guilty when I have happy times. I have no large family net work around me, our couple friends have all ignored me and not been in contact, despite the fact I have rang and emailed them. So I have been coping pretty much on my own, I have no children. Its been a tough year, but I have had a few Happy times, and all my Firsts are now out the way. I am told that things get easier…….. do they………does the pain ever go away ………..
    But to all fellow Widows (urghhhhhhh hate the word) HUGS to you all, thats what we all miss, and a HUG can mean so much and yet such a small thing. xxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Well done in completing the Half Marathon.
    My beloved husband died suddenly in his sleep on 3 June 2012 when we were on holiday in France. He had a heart attack and was dead when the doctor arrived. We had no children, so were everything to each other. My initial trauma was being in a foreign country in a state of shock with no support system and having to contact a local undertaker and arrange for Michael to be brought back to London. Once I got back here I had the great support of my friends. Like your beloved Col, I am a lawyer.
    Last Monday was Michael’s first anniversary and I was glad to be surrounded by friends that evening whom I could thank for their great support over the past miserable year.
    We were together for fifteen and a half wonderful years and I am lucky that I was always conscious of how lucky I was to have such a wonderful husband and such a good life. Like you, I miss him so much and miss him more as each day passes.
    I have fond your blog interesting and helpful in making me realise that I am not alone in this dreadful state. People who have not gone through the death of a spouse just do not understand. One married friend keeps telling me that at least I have not lost my mother…………

    Cliona Howell

  3. 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
    Love Eileen xxx

  4. I’m also a young widow, 6 years on, now 32 years of age. I read your blog with a mixture of sadness for what you (and many of your readers) are going through, but also an odd ‘older-sister-type’ pride at your strength and honesty. “Older sister” in that I am 5 years “older” in my widowhood.

    I really think there is a “widow-sisterhood”. When we hear of friends or even strangers whose lives have been shaken by the same cruel twist of fate we are often anxious to help and offer advice – even reassurance that the pain does change in nature, regardless of how fiercely we loved our husbands or partners. But as much as we “older sisters” want to dull the pain for the newly indoctrinated, you are right that we can’t; and maybe even more – we shouldn’t.

    Widowhood is an inherently individual experience. How we survive the first few years is very personal. What helps one woman may not help another. However, the most helpful aspect of talking to other women who are also widows is that they have some core emotional understanding. You don’t have to try to use words which are hopelessly inadequate to try to explain how things really are for you.

    Take care.

  5. I just wanted to say well done on completing the half marathon, what an achievement! I think a lot about the things you write in your blogs, this latest one especially. I am one of those nagging wives who needs everything in the home to be done my way, it’s actually starting to get obsessive. This blog has really hit me that family is so much more important than stupid little things like the kids clothes not being folded up the same way I do it. Like you say, you just never know…. xx

  6. I am a 44 year old widow who lost my husband over 2 years ago. He was 49 when he died. I realize that my husband was older than most in the blogging community when he died. However, since we were older we also spent more time together for us it was 24 years of my life I spent with him. My daughter was 19 when her dad died and I sometimes wonder if it would have been better if she was younger and not able to understand everything going on so well.

    My husband knew he was dying for years before he actually died and did his best to prepare me for life after his death. We talked for hours about things he wanted me to do and ways to handle our house and my life without him. By no means did I have all the answers, I still don’t and it is 2 years later. I have actually learned so much from reading other widows words. They seem to have been able to put into writing what I have been feeling all along. I do not have any friends who can understand what I am going through. The main reason I started blogging was to connect with others who shared the same loss as me. I totally agree that no one can understand what it is like to lose your husband unless you are going through the same pain.

    I was fortunate to realize how precious life is before my husband died. The last two years of his life I dedicated to him. Some say I am not taking his death hard enough. I believe when you resolve all the issues and are prepared for death when it comes, the the period after will be easier. I cry every time I read about a widow whose husband died suddenly. She was not given the chance to say goodbye and make everything right. My heart breaks especially for the young widows with small children. These children will not grow up knowing their dad. My daughter was grown when her dad died and still she took his death very hard. She wanted no part of preparing for his death and now regrets it every day.

    I will never try to tell someone how to feel or what to do. Grief is as individual as we are. Everyone’s circumstances are slightly different. I am always looking for advice on how to move on. I have never claimed to know the answers and I struggle just like everyone else. I am trying to move on with my life because my husband wanted me to find someone else and not be alone. It is not an easy journey, but one I must take because there is no way to go but forward.

  7. Hi
    I have been reading your blog for the last 4 months and I just wanted to say thank you for being so frank and honest it has been a great help to me. Your last blog is amazing and really gave me the hope and determination that I will fight this grief and try and make the best of my life. My husband died 6 months ago of a sudden heart attack just before Christmas. I have 2 girls 9 & 6 who without them I don’t know what would have happened to me. They give me strength, happiness and a focus and reason to get out of bed.
    Well done on completing the half marathon, I have also started running, it is a great therapy and I will be doing a half marathon in September. I have learn’t that having a focus and something to work towards really helps. Reading your blog and knowing that I am not alone in this tragic situation also really helps.
    Thank you x

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