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Being a Widow

My experience of dealing with grief as a widow

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About Jane's brain tumour journey: Astrocytoma.co.uk
 

Keeping Jane alive

12 August 2011

Grieving is supposed to be a process to help you to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. Over time, you learn to give the person you lost a new space in your life. They are still there but in a different way. Grieving is the process that helps you find that place.

10 weeks into my grieving process, I am trying to find that place for Jane. It is hard to explain how this process changes but I'll give it a try as it is important that I understand what is happening.

When someone is alive, they occupy a space in your life, in your daily routine, in your thoughts. There were rituals we used to have, thins we used to do together. In the first weeks after Jane's death, I tried to continue doing the same things, continue the rituals. I filled the empty space with thoughts of Jane, replacing her actual presence with thoughts of her.

This is not giving Jane a new place in my life. This was trying to continue things as before and simply replacing Jane with the memory of Jane. Needless to say that doesn't work and merely reinforces the loss and loneliness because a memory can never replace a person.

I worked on setting up her website, made sure her uni work was passed on to her tutor so he could look for someone to take it on. I tried to get this website and Jane's website more attention so more people would know about Jane and who she was. Somehow I was trying to keep adding new chapters to Jane and her life.

Doing this made me feel close to Jane because it meant she was still making 'new' memories with me. It was just that I was doing it for her. Like holding both ends of a conversation and pretending you are having a discussion.

Over the weeks, I have realised that the immideate chance to create these new memories is coming to an end. The website is finished, her uni work has been handed over, I have milked all our friends for money for Jane-related charity.

I can no longer fill the Jane-shaped hole with activities. It is time to move on to the next phase where I create a NEW space for Jane, rather than trying to fill the old one. I have run out of sand to fill that space.

Analogy alert.

Imagine Jane's loss is symbolised by a big, hole in the ground. Next to the hole is a pile of sand which symbolises the active part Jane can play in my daily life after her death (building her website, get involved with her uni work, actively do Jane-related things). I am shoveling the sand into the hole in an attempt to completely fill the empty space of Jane's death. I have now come to the end of the pile of sand and I have realised there is not enough sand to fill up the entire hole. I am still scraping around to find a bit more sand but pretty soon I will run out. But the hole won't be filled and as long as the hole is not filled to the top, I risk falling in to it and then it will be a long process to climb back out.

So, it is now time to look around me and find something else that I can use to fill the empty space. And when that runs out, I'll find something else again. As I get closer and closer to the to the top of the hole, I will need less and less stuff to fill it with. And hopefully, eventually, I will reach the point where the hole has been completely filled up.

Then I can stand at the edge, I can walk across the ground, I can lie on it, I can touch it.

Without the risk of falling in.

1 comments:

Dutchcloggie said...

And so, without conciously thinking about it, I have described the function of grief... Just let it simmer for a day. Weird. I didn't expect that. Had I sat down and thought about it, I would not have been able to come to this conclusion...

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