Moving forward, NOT moving on...
Hi, I’m Fiona and this is my first blog for Widow Reborn, which has been a while in the making and there will be a few people who will be stunned that I’ve finally got here!
It started off with the aim of writing a book, but it has taken on a life of its own to become a blog and Facebook group and website…. (and maybe a book later on, or not !).
So who am I and why do I think that I have anything worth sharing with others? A fair question.
I’m 55 (nearly 56) and this August, I will have been a widow for 5 years after my husband Paul, 58, died from brain cancer, having had a history over 20 years of other cancers (due to a genetic flaw) following a valiant 15 month fight.
We were married for 28 years, though I’d known Paul through Scouting since I was a Venture Scout from 16, and we had an 18 year old son together, Scott.
Three years prior to that I lost my Dad, 87, to stomach cancer, and a few months before that, I stepped away from accountancy to care for my Dad in his final months so that his wish to die at home would be accommodated.
During both of these losses the pressure of terminal illness caused various family relationships to collapse under the strain.... which is unfortunately very common.
Hindsight is always 20:20 but when you are in the moment things are seldom clear at all.
The loss of two of the three most important men in my life - my son Scott being the third - did feel at the time like death (in general) and cancer (in particular) was stalking me, and also robbing me of the life that I had expected to lie ahead of me.
Though now, with the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, stepping away from work was in fact the start of the journey to my new self because 8 years on, I am not the same person that I was.
I didn’t know 8 years ago what my new self would look like and neither do you, and that’s totally OK, as we kind of find our way along our grief journey. There’s no planning required ........ It just happens if you allow it to.
There are different types of grief - who knew - I certainly didn't and at the beginning it just feels like there is this intense grief that will be with us forever as painful as the day that we lost our loved ones.
But along our journeys we will in fact move between different types of grief:
From acute grief - that is so intense that as our bodies react to our feelings of grief it produces physical symptoms such as overwhelming tiredness, anxiety attacks and ‘foggy brain‘ to mention but a few.
To integrated grief - where our wounds begin to heal and we start to find our way back to a fulfilling life and yes...... to happiness.
What I’ve learnt over the last 8 years
Grief is different for everyone and for the different types of loss - partner/parent/child/friend etc. My grief journeys for Dad and Paul are different.
Grief is never fully complete so you never move on from it, but you do move forward with it integrated into your new life. Dad's been gone 8 years and Paul 5 years so I've been able to see how my different journeys have progressed.
Grief lasts as long as the love that you have for the person who died, so basically it lasts as long as you are alive.
The bursts of grief will spread out and you won’t feel as raw. However there will be periods where acute grief reawakens due to significant events or stress. What would have been Dad's 90th /Paul's 60th and what would have been our 30th Wedding Anniversary were all tough.
Depression and grief mimic each other and we can get stuck in our grief. This is called 'complicated grief' and we need professional help to get unstuck from this.
You can’t do this on your own.
I saw a psychotherapist weekly during the third year following Paul’s death, and I still see her now and again to check in where I and my son are at.
(NB Sons are particularly prone to experiencing complicated grief /depression. This is one of the things that I wish I had known about at the beginning of my grief journey.)
And finally ...Grief is hard work.
Moving on from 'Why me?' to 'What now?'
Which brings me to now ...... 8 years on from the loss of my Dad , Bob.
Widow Reborn is my way to help benefit others along their grief journey from their old self to their new self and to travel with them along their journey from acute to integrated grief.
I hope to:
- Form a supportive community to share what is working for us to move us forward into our new lives and to put together resources that hopefully will help others wherever they are on their own journeys to emerge from the numbness and exhaustion of acute grief to integrated grief.
- Encourage us to live life again.
- Help us all to find and enjoy happiness again.
I hope that something in what I’ve shared above resonates with you and that you will become part of the Widow Reborn Support Community.