So, we call it the grief monster, because that’s exactly what grief is. It’s the monster that hides in the dark and frightens you. The monster that lurks and jumps out on you when you least expect it. The monster that nobody wants to have in their lives, but you just cannot escape it.
Now this is my grief story. One thing you will find with grief, is that it totally OWNS you. One persons grief is TOTALLY different to another persons. There are no rule books explaining grief and how it will work with you. All you will find are people’s descriptions of their grief and how they learnt to accept it.
Yes, the word is ACCEPT grief, not control it or get rid of it, accept it. One thing anyone will learn that has experienced grief is that you 100% CANNOT control grief, grief totally controls you. But don’t feel sad about this, because what you can do is learn how to ACCEPT grief in your life and then it becomes much easier to deal with and move forward.
So what is grief?? Grief isn’t just being sad, grief is such an immense and overwhelming feeling. Grief completely takes over the person you are and absolutely consumes you. I can now tell when I’m going to have a ‘grief episode’ as I like to call them!!! I’ll try my best to explain it, as it’s a bit difficult!! I feel my head start to fill up, as if it’s getting full of cotton wool. I start to feel anxious and angry. I feel exhausted, totally and utterly exhausted and I just feel sad, so very very sad.
Grief can consume you, even when you are actually feeling very happy! So at first it’s a bit confusing, because you think ‘well how can I feel so sad, when I’m actually really happy?!’ But this is how grief works. It can take you at anytime at all, mostly when you are least expecting it!
At first I tried to fight the grief, I tried to bottle it up, not cry, put a brave face on and not talk about how I was feeling. Because I figured that if I didn’t acknowledge grief, then eventually it would just get bored and go away!!!
But I was wrong!!! When I didn’t acknowledge it, it just got worse and worse and worse until I felt as if I could literally explode!!!! That would be when I have a meltdown. This could last for a day, or at the worst I have had an ‘episode’ last for weeks.
My meltdowns consist of, not wanting to get out of bed on a morning, just feeling like shite. No enthusiasm for anything, not even my poor children. Crying all the time and just being very depressed. I would go to bed every night thinking ‘tomorrow is a new day’ and just pray that when I woke up the grief will have gone.
And this is pretty much how it has worked for me from the day Pez died. In the very early days, grief is there permanently. There are no happy times, it is just constant sadness, which of course is to be expected when you have gone through a trauma so massive as losing your husband suddenly.
Then one day, the fog in my head started to lift. This is the best way to describe it, I actually feel my head getting lighter. I start to see positive things and start to feel a little happier, look forward to things that are going to happen and actually feel able to smile a little.
For me exercise was a MASSIVE part of me being able to feel in control of my life again. I threw myself back into my netball, running, total warrior and just made as many plans as I could, so that I knew I had something to look forward to.
Planning is also a massive thing for me, I have to have things in my diary, things to look forward to. I arrange for me and the boys to see people on a weekend, so that we don’t start isolating ourselves. As this could easily be done when I am struggling. Sometimes I would like nothing more than to keep the door locked and hide under the duvet, but I won’t allow myself to do this, for my own sanity and my boys too.
The picture below describes exactly how I felt at the start of the grief process!!!! But sadly there are no right or wrong ways to grieve, you just find your own way forward and hopefully have the support of people around you.
Which brings me onto my next part, my widow friends, my bloody amazing widow friends!!!! These people helped me so much, in my very darkest, scariest days!!
Don’t get me wrong, from day 1, I had my parents and my amazing friends around me and I adore them. But none of them have actually been through what i have been through, so I know they struggled to understand sometimes. Plus i used to feel bad sometimes for feeling sad, felt like they would be bored or annoyed with me for being such an arse!!! (I know you will all be reading this and I know you never thought this at all!!)
The very first widow friend I chatted to was my amazingly lovely friend Kat. Now coincidentally, she knew Pez and some of my friends. Sadly, she lost her partner 4 days after Pez died, they were on holiday and he died suddenly. So my lovely friend was going through exactly the same thing that I was and my best friend Anna got us chatting.
Kat was such an amazing support to me in the early days. We would message each other, if I was down she would help me and vice Versa. She is also an AMAZING drinking buddy so we can go out and have a laugh together!!!!
Kat introduced me to an online support network called WAY (widowed and young) this is for anyone under the age of 50 that loses a partner. I joined and immediately I was surrounded my people that knew EXACTLY how I was feeling. Any time of day or night I could go online and speak to someone who could offer me advice, or just a virtual hug!!
We also have our own little online group, as an offshoot of way, which I am one of the admins of. We now have 500 members and it is such a lovely group, it melts my heart!!!
I have made so many friends, all in the same position as me, we have all lost our amazing partners, some on there are as young as 24, some lost their partners suddenly and unexpectedly like me, others had to endure months or even years of suffering and watch their loved ones die before their eyes, through various illnesses. But no matter how we lost our partners, one thing remains, is the we just GET each other. We have each other’s backs and it’s such a lovely feeling to be part of something so amazing.
We come from all over the UK, we try to get together as often as we can! We all get together at Xmas for a big Xmas do! We also get together in October, where we all go to centre parcs!!! I went on my first centre parcs trip last year! I was so nervous but had an absolutely amazing time and can’t wait to go this year!!! There were 600 widows that went!! We also have an annual Leeds meet up, we also went to a Butlins weekender last year!!
So in a nutshell, we have a good laugh!!! I think some people are frightened at the thought of a group of widows getting together!! People think we’re gonna all wear black and talk about our dead partners all night and cry a lot!!! But you couldn’t be more wrong!! We are crazy when we get together!!!! I think because we have all been through such trauma, we now all grab life by the balls and enjoy life!!!
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there will be tears on these nights out, but you can guarantee we are all there to give cuddles to the person that is sad!!!
Some of my widow friends have even got together through the online groups! Some are now married, or due to be! Some are moving in together and this makes me feel so happy!!! It’s nice that after such sadness we can find happiness again!!!
So, this is to all my widow friends out there, way too many to name!! Those that have made me laugh, hugged me, messaged me when I’m down and just being there to support me through this shitstorm. I BLOODY LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!!! I honestly don’t know where I would be without you guys!!!
We always joke that we wished we had never met each other, as we had to go through what we did to meet. But I wouldn’t be able to live without them now!!!!!
So apparently, there are five stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I agree with the first one, although this didn’t last very long with me, probably a day I think. There is no denying a person is dead really, you just have to accept this fact when it happens, or at least I did.
Anger, oh yes 100%, especially in my situation. Pez fell through a skylight of a roof he was repairing. I was so angry at him for going on that roof and putting himself in unnecessary danger, when this wasn’t his job title at all. Angry at him for leaving me, angry at him for leaving Rhys and his unborn baby boy. Angry at him for everything. But then you learn that anger takes up so much energy and I had to learn to let go of this anger, knowing that he didn’t die intentionally!!!
Bargaining, to be honest, I haven’t got a clue what this is?! Haha!!! So can’t help with that one!!!
Depression, oh yes definitely! I would say that this is with you throughout the whole grief process. I suffered so badly with it I tried to get anti depressants from my doctor but they didn’t want me to have them and I’m glad I didn’t now. I threw myself into other things to beat the depression. My exercise for one and also reiki!
In fact I saw my amazing reiki lady, Julia this morning! At the start I used to see her once a week for reiki sessions, they helped me so much!!!! I feel instantly calm when I’m with Julia, she is such a calming and beautiful person! When she lays her hands on me I just feel all the positive energy flowing into me and all the negative energy flowing out! Although I appreciate the holistic way isn’t the way for everyone, but it 100% helped me through my darkest times. I would highly recommend anyone to give it a go, what have you got to lose?!!
And the final part in the grief process is acceptance. This is where I am now. When I moved house in June I had a bad few months again, but around October time it was just like a switch had flicked inside me. Suddenly I felt like the old Sam again, I felt happy in my little family unit, happy being a mummy to my boys and happy in our new home.
I felt strong again, I felt in control for the first time since Pez died. I felt like I could actually do this, whereas upto now I just felt like I was managing, not really living, so to speak.
Moving house was definitely the turning point, it was the fresh start the my boys and I needed. They are much more settled now And so am I!!! We have accepted that this is our lives, no amount of grieving will bring Pez back to us. He would never want to see us sad. He would want us to move forward with our lives and be happy.
And this is what we are right now, happy!! Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about or miss Pez. So please don’t anyone think that moving forward means leaving Pez behind, because it doesn’t!!! Pez will be with us every step of the way on this new life we are making for ourselves. He will ALWAYS be a part of mine and my boys lives, how could he not be? A man as special as him will remain in my heart forever, there will always be a part of him with me, no matter where life takes me.