I've had a really tough few weeks. In some ways, it has almost felt like I'm right back at the start - crying from the moment I wake up without him in my bed until I pass out each night from exhaustion.
Thankfully, it has lifted again in recent days but in the depth of this latest low I realised I was withdrawing from the people in my life in a way I hadn't done before. I just felt so disconnected, like no one could relate.
When Dan died last July, the shock and pain resonated out from me in waves through our family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and acquaintances. People openly grieved, their lives halted while they came to terms with this unimaginable loss - this wonderful man taken from our world in such a tragic way. In the weeks and months that followed, there was unquestionable support and understanding, people were so gentle with me, everyone 'got it'.
But it's different now. As the seven month, eight month, nine month milestones were passed, the support grew quieter. The phone calls and messages from most of those closest to us slowed down and then stopped.
Eventually I started feeling like people had forgotten. They had gone back to their routines and life went on, in some cases, largely unchanged. Dan's death was something they faced sporadically, whereas I am still sitting here, struggling to breath from the pain of missing him.
I understand why... my husband played the leading role in my life but a supporting role in others’. For me, his presence was constant and intricate. His absence has left a gaping black hole that I navigate around every waking moment.
Coming up to the first anniversary, I am still in my 'early days' of grieving. I accept it's going to be a long road. But when I'm laying in our bed, in our empty house, crying for him, aching to hold him again... I can't help feeling like the world has left me behind.
I will never 'get over' losing my husband but my friends are celebrating pregnancies, enjoying romantic weekends away, cuddling up with their partners on the couch to watch the Game of Thrones finale... living a normality that I can only envy from afar.
I felt so detached from them. It wasn't exactly that I was resentful, or jealous even - I just felt like I was existing in a parallel universe. I couldn't call for help even if I had the energy, because no one could reach me. I was in a very lonely place. A place they couldn't understand. To be honest, a place they wouldn't WANT to understand.
Then I realized, there were some people who could understand - my widow friends. They got it. They hadn't moved on. They may not have known my husband (because I met them after his death had connected us), but they knew my pain. My widow friends were a shining ray of light, breaking through the despair during these dark days. I think this realisation is what pulled me out of that deep sadness.
Then, as the grief started to shift again, I began to feel really, really excited. It hit me - in two days time I will be getting on a plane and flying from Brisbane to Los Angeles, before travelling down to San Diego for Camp Widow West. Where I will be surrounded by the kind of understanding and support that only a widow can give.
When I think about attending Camp Widow I feel a mixed up version of excitement, nervous, relieved, hopeful, scared and anxious. I can't wait to meet Michele, the founder of Soaring Spirit, who has been an incredible inspirational to me since I met her via email six months ago. I can’t wait to talk to her about the possibility of bringing this event to Australia, for all my friends here and the countless women and men joining our ranks every week.
Despite being quite shy, I am also surprisingly excited to meet new friends. As a very introverted person, I only really become confident and outgoing when I've had the chance to grow comfortable with someone. So travelling to a new country, on my own, to explore new cities and attend a three-day event with people I don't know is waaaay out of my comfort zone. Yet, I am doing it because my urge to connect is stronger than my urge to hide. I know my husband will be by my side and will be proud of me and excited for this new path I'm exploring.
So for those of you travelling to Camp Widow next week, keep an eye out for the quiet, slightly awkward Aussie and please feel free to say hello and give me a hug. I really miss hugs. See you soon USA!!