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Being a Widow

My experience of dealing with grief as a widow


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

Grief strikes again

20 June 2014

And just like that, I am on my sofa, looking at my computer screen, crying my eyes out...What happened?  It is 3 years since JD died and I think I am pretty well 'done' with grieving. I thought I no longer needed to visit a place I have been with JD, before I can go back there with someone else without getting incredibly sad and spending all my time thinking about JD.
I have spent a week in Normandy with JD in 2009 (see these blog posts). She had finished her course of radiotherapy and her hair had sort of grown back. My parents drove all the way from Holland to come and see us for a day. After a week or so, we drove further along the coast and ended up camping in a place called Malestroit in Brittany. Lovely campsite. We had a lovely time. But it was also an emotionally difficult time. I was constantly on alert, looking after JD, making sure she was OK, in charge of everything as she could not remember things very well etc. It was all very poignant. The last time we had a holiday before being told there wasn't really much they could do about her brain tumour anymore.

In the past few years, I have found that in order for me to be able to visit 'poignant places', without bursting in to tears all the time, I need to visit them and put JD to rest there. If that makes sense. When I went to Cornwall in 2011, 3 months after JD died, I wailed, howled and cried.And when I came home, I felt at peace with Cornwall. I drove through Buxton in the Peak District, to remind me of our visit in April 2009. It helped me 'reclaim' the place and I had no problem being in the Peak District with Fiancee in 2012. My theory is simply that once I have 'done' a place without JD, I can see the place on its own again. It is no longer ONLY a place where I went with JD. It goes back to being a place in its own right. Some places have very emotional memories and will therefore need a visit before I can go back there with anyone else and enjoy it. Other places are fine and can be visited right away. I may feel some sadness but nothing too big. Nothing that Fiancee says she can not deal with.

So, what does this have to do with Fiancee and getting married? We thought it would be nice for us to go away camping for a week or so in August. It has been a long year for me at university and with the wedding coming up, we can both do with a week of just sitting in front of a tent, reading books and doing nothing. Sure, I thought. How about Normandy? Not too far away and still very much France. Let me go and look for some nice campsites, I said. I thought it would be fine. After all, I could just pick a different campsite from the ones JD and I had been to.....

Wrong. As I was looking at a map of the area, I spotted Fecamp, the town where JD and I pitched out tent on our first night. And suddenly I burst in to tear. Not the silent ones that delicately run down your cheeks. No. Proper crying with noise and throwing head back and all. WTF? Why? Why such a strong reaction? I felt actual fear at the thought of going back to Normandy. The idea of crossing the Pont de Normandie, the place I stood with my folks and JD; walking along the gorgeous harbour of Honfleur....when I remember the day spent there with my folks and JD, having a lovely lunch. Actual fear.

Even the thought that I would not have to go and visit these places just because we would be in Normandy did not help me. Because I felt that if I was in Normandy, I would have to go and put these places to rest, to reclaim them for me. And that felt like a terrible thing to do to Fiancee, only a couple of weeks before our wedding. So I told her I could not do it. That we may have to go to Cornwall or another place that I am perfectly happy to go to.  I told her I may need to spend a few days in Normandy on my own at some point. Just to even make it possible for me to drive those roads again, to see those places, to shake off the overwhelming link with JD.

Grief is a bitch. It strikes when you think it is all done and dusted.


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