This blog follows on from a blog I wrote last year, Beluga.
I have often heard it said that when a loved one dies, the grieving process takes time. And that, over time, the hurt and loss diminish.
I don’t think that is true.
Losing a loved one impacts on every single aspect of one’s life. Nothing is left untouched, nothing is left the same. Every single thing that one is at the moment of bereavement is irrevocably damaged. Time passing does not heal, does not repair, does not lessen the impact that the loss has had on every aspect of one’s life.
Rather, it is life that moves on and grows. Imagine a circle. Inside that circle is every experience, every piece of knowledge, every memory that one has ever known or encountered.
When a loved one dies, every single thing inside the circle is changed. One’s view of everything to date is altered.
But as life moves on, as time progresses, the circle widens and widens and widens, with new experiences, new people, new memories. These new encounters are not altered by the bereavement. So, as one grows older, the proportion of one’s life that it is related to and changed by the loss of a loved one grows smaller and smaller. All of the hurt and pain is still there, but it is diminished in its presence.
I think this is why people, places, objects, songs and so much more have the capacity to bring back grief like a wrecking ball. Where those aspects of one’s life that existed at the time of loss come back into view, they carry with them the permanent connection to the lost.
It is why so many people who suffer the loss of someone special change so many aspects of their lives, from careers to friendships.
But some reminders are inescapable. One such reminder is the calendar.
The anniversary of a death is a potent reminder of loss.
This is why I approach October with an increasing sense of absence. On 29 October 2013, Alastair died. I miss him so much. This year is the fifth anniversary of his death. I cannot stop thinking about all that he would have experienced, all that he would have been.
Since his death, I have, where at all possible, avoided contact with those we knew in common. Avoided the places we used to go. Allowed new experiences to widen the circle of my life in order to have places in my mind to go to that are not destroyed by losing him.
This is not to say that I do not think about him still. I do. All of the time. And often I enjoy to dip myself in memories of him, thinking of nothing else, celebrating our relationship.
On Monday, I will sit alone in my garden and think of him, of how much I loved him, of the things we used to do, of the crazy things he used to say and, most of all, of his smile.
As Monday approaches, I ready myself for the inevitable wrecking ball, but also the warmth and love that will come over me as I remember his life not his death.