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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
 

Someone's missing at the Christmas table

26 December 2012

So Christmas has come around again. Last year was horrible without Jane and yet great with my friends in New Mexico. I thought: I am going to have to face a 'normal' Christmas without Jane next year and it will be HORRIBLE.

And here it was: Christmas Day. I spent it with my family in Holland. And I was sad to be there without the person I love.

But it wasn't Jane I was sad about. It was Girlfriend. The love that I did not expect to meet this year. (Or any other year because what are the chances of meeting someone as compatible again so soon. Or ever?)

Today I spent time on and off on Skype with Girlfriend, who stayed in England to spend Christmas with her own family. We pathetically opened a Skype video call and simply left the connection open 24/7 and just popped in and out of the rooms with our respective laptops and sometimes we were at the laptops at the same time and had a short little chat. We both did not want to be away from our families too much because it seemed rude.

Jane was not mentioned at Christmas today. I am sure we will talk about her over the remaining 2 days of my visit. Maybe my folks did not want to bring her in to the conversation since things were going so well and it was nice to have a relaxing Christmas once again. After all, the past 4 Christmases have all been pretty shitty.

In 2008, we were upset and scared about the imminent radiotherapy. In 2009 we were upset that the radiotherapy was not working. In 2010 we were grateful that Jane was still alive to have a Christmas with us and in 2011, I ran away to the USA because I could not face my first Christmas without her.

Does that mean I dodged the bullet of Horrible Christmas for Those Left Behind? If so, then I shall breathe a sigh of relief and count myself lucky.

It is not that I don't think about Jane these days. I did think about her today. But I just expected to feel very sad about my first 'proper' Christmas without her. And I didn't. Although, now that I am writing about it, it makes me feel sad. (Note to self: Write blog post about how weird it is that I don't get sad when thinking fleetingly about Jane but that I can get utterly distraught on moments where I actively make time to think about missing Jane and the pain she and I went through. And does that mean I SHOULD actively make that time to evoke such feelings and what purpose would that serve? Are they emotions that need to come out or are they emotions I am conjuring up in an artificial kind of way?)

I feel strange for not having been sad about Jane this Christmas. Is that callous? Does it make me a cold-hearted bitch that instead of being distraught about my first real family Christmas since her death, I am talking about how much I miss Girlfriend? And reveling in my little nieces asking me constantly why Girlfriend did not come from England to celebrate Christmas with us and can she please come next year?

How long is the 'right length of time' before it is OK to not think about your dead spouse and get all sad about the time you *could* have had together if only they had been present at a particular occasion?

I guess nobody knows what the right or wrong thing is.

In a REALLY weird way, I sometimes wish this was all much harder than it has been so far. Because I seem to have picked my life up again fairly quickly. And I worry sometimes that this only helps to keep the myth alive that losing your partner is not as gut-wrenching, soul-destroying and all-encompassing as people make it out to be. I worry that it will strengthen the thought that many people have that after a few months, people really should pick their lives up again and be able to move forward and get on with things and stop dwelling on the sadness of their loss.

I now know that the speed at which widows 'move on' is in no way related to the amount of love they had and the amount of pain their loss has caused them. The pain was deep. It was raw. It was frightening. It was worse than I ever imagined it would be. And yet, picking my life up has been much easier than I imagined it would be. Actually, I did not have any imagination of a life beyond Jane. I thought I would just be dragging myself from day to day in an eternal hell of loneliness and dullness.

But it isn't. Life is beautiful again for me right now. I am loved by someone with an incredible understanding and acceptance. I love someone with the same total abandon that I felt for Jane. That is not to compare the two. It merely to say that losing Jane has not in any way made me afraid to love someone else. Nor has it made me feel I should hold something back for fear of losing it again. I wouldn't even know how to do that anyway. It is all or nothing.

And I feel that this Christmas, it is clear that my life has shifted from Nothing to All again. Yay.

Merry Christmas.

*PS: This long ramble may or may not have been fueled by Bordeaux, Limoncello, Port, Bacardi Oak Spiced & Pepsi.

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