When you least expect it. Thursday May 19, 2016
It's been a while since I wrote here. After my second Moodscope blog in March, events around the date of my husband's suicide conspired to push me into a dark place, and I got physically ill – the two often go hand in hand, don't they?
As a widow, I think I've been luckier than most: I'm financially solvent, have two wonderful and resilient kids, interesting part-time work, good friends and have found many areas of support over the past six years. So I didn't understand why I was so overwhelmed by sadness and despair. I thought finally I was succumbing to a nervous breakdown! The horror!
At least until I rang a very wise woman, the director of a child bereavement charity, who I admire enormously for her knowledge, compassion and straight-talking.
"You're having a grief ambush," she told me. "I've seen it before."
"So I'm not having a breakdown?"
I can see now that the incapacitating sense of loss was something new – I was too busy bringing up the kids and generally surviving. Then when they were settled, Boom, it happened.
As you can probably tell from my writing I'm articulate and reflect a lot, so I used that skill to become an advocate for those bereaved through suicide, joining networks involving the NHS and charities working on suicide prevention, and speaking about my experiences to different audiences. I felt I owed it to my husband, partly, to rescue the funny, kind person he was from the illness and suicide that he became. Also people wanted to hear what I had to say; it was heady stuff stepping out from the exhausting caring role and being listened to.
So when the wise woman told me to stop all the bereavement work immediately I was flummoxed. It always had a negative effect on me afterwards, mentally and physically, but I thought it was worth paying the price. And here she was saying "No more".
"It's time to move on," she said. "You've been brilliant and helped a lot of people, but now you have to think of yourself."
"But what am I going to do?"
"But what if I feel overwhelmed with grief?"
So I cried. A lot. And I felt huge relief that I didn't have to do the suicide bereavement work anymore, because it did keep dragging me back. I also got myself checked out to ensure there was no underlying physical cause (there wasn't). Then when I started feeling better, I did nothing, except the normal daily life stuff.
Two months on, I'm a different person. I'm not saying I'll never experience some grief again, it is cyclical after all and I go up and down too, but giving myself that space to grieve allowed something to shift and I genuinely think the worst is over. I've got my positivity back and a real belief that the best is yet to come in my life.
I just wanted to share that with you.
A View From the Far Side
A Moodscope member.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.