Someone asked me recently besides missing him, what is the hardest part about Dan's death. There are so many ways I could have responded to this and, realistically, the answer probably changes depending on the kind of day I'm having.
It's hard not having that person in your corner, your partner, that first one you'd always call to share happy news or to save you when you needed help.
It's hard accepting that our future together was taken from us. The children I will never hold. That first wedding anniversary. Growing old and sharing the life I thought we'd have.
But if I have to identify the most difficult, it would probably be the way that he died. Suicide. Dealing with the stigma and judgement around the fact that he took his life makes an impossible challenge just that bit worse.
Last night I reached another ‘first’ in my widow journey. I met some new people without doing that thing where you somehow find a way to announce that you’re widowed.
It was a dinner party at a Greek restaurant with a close friend, her fiancé and three other couples (so yes, I was the only ‘single’). That’s six strangers, who hadn’t been filled in on my ‘back story’, and I got through the night without crumbling.
This is a big step for me. For a start, I don’t really enjoy meeting new people. I’m not anti-social or rude, I’m just very introverted and I struggle to let new people in. Most of my friends and family don’t even know this about me because I’m so friendly and relaxed with those I know and feel comfortable with.Read more
The weather is warming up here in sunny Queensland, Australia, with Spring in full swing and Summer just around the corner. Last weekend I popped over to visit my sister and her family, who live a few streets away, and they'd just enjoyed their very first swim in their brand new backyard pool.
The sun was getting ready to set, casting its golden glow over the sky. My brother-in-law was cooking a BBQ, with a beer in hand and the football on in the background while my three nephews were running around to dry off from their swim. My sister and I sat amongst it all enjoying a glass of wine. And I felt happy.
Of course I wished Dan was there, the ache for him is ever-present, but in that moment, surrounded by people I love and looking up at a bright blue sky I was content and my heart was at peace.Read more
I was invited to a wedding this week, one of my husband Dan's good friends is marrying his long-time love. They live in a different state and I only got to meet them a couple of times while Dan was alive, at our engagement party and our wedding. Since his funeral I've also caught up with them at a fundraising event we held on his birthday, in March this year, and even though they are really nice people, we've never quite had the opportunity to form a friendship of our own.
I'm honoured that they invited me to join them on their special day, it's really thoughtful and lovely of them to include me in an event that I would most definitely have attended if Dan were still here.Read more
So last week I put it out there that I’d been feeling happy and ‘doing ok’. I seriously didn’t realise how scary that would feel, as if I was tempting the universe. As the weekend came and went, I found myself full of anticipation and it took a while to work out what I was waiting for. Then I realised, I was waiting for the crash.
I know it’s coming. It may not be today, or this week, or even for another couple of weeks, but I know for a fact that it will come again and I’ll feel foolish for my cockiness. I know this, because there’s a proven track record. The grief always seems to build and build and then surge into a wave that drags me under again. Sometimes it’s dramatic and I find myself mid-meltdown in public, scrambling for a safe place to take cover while I try to keep my head above the tidal wave. Other times it sneaks up on my when I’m not looking – I’ll wake up one morning and it’s back, just smothering me in its heavy cloak of misery.Read more
The sun shone a little brighter for me this week. The grass looked a little greener; my steps were a little lighter; the sounds of my nephews playing was a little sweeter and my smile was a little easier.
Finally, after what has felt like a really long low, my grief appears to be lifting and easing again. I haven't felt this good for months. I had almost given up hope that I'd get back to this place of peace; the days had been so dark for so long that I had started to forget that the roller coaster DOES go up again, in between the lows.
Dan's anniversary shook me, along with finally receiving the results of his autopsy (which were apparently delayed by more than a year due to a back-log in work on the coroner's desk). I had lost my generally positive outlook and had trouble seeing the light in anything, which was probably evident in my writing.Read more
While my husband was taking his last breath, I was at home re-potting these plants. Totally oblivious that my world - as I knew it - was about to end.
The shower drain in my bathroom really needs to be cleaned out, yet the thought of doing it causes the blood in my body to rush to my toes and leaves me feeling like I can’t breathe. You see, the last day that I cleaned the drains in the bathroom, something catastrophic happened. My husband died.
It started as a normal day. Daniel had hit snooze on his alarm a couple of times and was struggling to get up and get motivated. I knew he was having a rough time, mornings were always the hardest for him. Since being diagnosed with depression and starting on anti-depressants a few weeks earlier he seemed to be struggling even more and the medication started to take effect. However we’d checked in with our GP about it, who’d told us to stick it out and give it more time, assuring Dan that he would start to feel better soon. Just earlier that week Dan had admitted that as mornings progressed he seemed to ‘warm up’ and the day got easier. So I wasn’t alarmed that he was dragging his feet.
I had absolutely no idea what turmoil he was battling inside. I have replayed that morning over and over and over again in my head, looking for signs that I missed. Trying to work out what was different that day. Wondering at what point the disease took over and he came to the conclusion that he couldn't get through another day. Wondering why I didn't see it; why I wasn't paying more attention rather than thinking about cleaning the stupid bathroom drains.Read more
I feel like I’ve been in a rut for more than a month now, since Dan’s first anniversary. I’ve had days here and there where I’ve been able to smile and actually mean it, but in general, the pain has been very deep and the ache for him, overwhelming.
The grief has been so relentless that it’s started messing with my head and making me question if I was doing something wrong. If I’d gotten stuck in it some how. Was I doing enough to keep moving forward?
I mean, I know this dance well by now, the three-steps-forward, two-steps-back tango. I know I need to keep my expectations realistic and that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I know that I can’t project manage my way out of this, yet in the dark of the night when the tears won’t slow and my heart feels like it’s going to stop beating from the sheer agony, I forget that this moment will pass and I’ll take steps forward again.
This week I found myself participating in some very strange widow behavior, searching google earth for images of my husband when he was still alive. It started last week when I was using the program to check an address and noticed there is a sliding time line in Google Earth where you can go back weeks/months/years and see satellite images from previous versions. I was playing around with it and saw that one of the date options was the 24th of July, 2013. The day my husband died.
I immediately entered in the street address where he died and looked to see if there were any police cars, ambulances, etc, but he died at 11am and the sat image was taken around 10:15am. I can't describe the feeling in my stomach, I felt sick but frantic, like I needed to find him. Not sure why, I know I couldn't go back in time but I couldn't switch it off. So I then spent about 45 minutes looking for him in different places and times, at locations where we would often visit.
Until, I found a trace of him. His car parked out side my sister and brother-in-laws house. There were a lot of cars, so I'm assuming we there for some kind of party (but I/we did/do spend an awful lot of time there anyway).Read more
Self-care can be taking the time to enjoy the light and scent of a beautiful candle
This week I started out wanting to write about how difficult it's been facing the onslaught of traditional and social media commentary on Robin Williams' death, from the point of view of a suicide widow.
I wanted to talk about how it felt to read the ignorant, misinformed and hurtful remarks about suicide being 'selfish' and 'a choice' or 'the cowards way out'.
I wanted to talk about how my battered and bruised heart broke, again, for his family. And the personal triggers that have been set off, taking me right back to that day I lost my love to the demon disease depression.
But I'm exhausted from the relentless onslaught of information. It's like every day there's another new angle the media has found to explore. The thousands of words that I've read about him began to swirl around and around me to the point where it's just become white noise. It started getting hard to breathe.Read more