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Today is my wife’s birthday.
I miss her every day but the anniversaries and beat points in the calendar are the worst.

Tonight me and the boys went to the regular session at Penhaligon’s friends, a local bereavement charity.
It is a good place to talk.

These days when people ask how I am doing I almost always say I am fine.

I really am fine too, it is just that the ‘fine’ of early 2012 is very different from the ‘fine’ of early 2009.

Today was a good day, tonight I will sleep and tomorrow I will do it all again.
I have a loving family, food on the table and shelter over my head.

The only thing that is missing really is my wife.

I feel a lot of things about that.

There is a lot written about how you might feel after someone dies.
A lot of the language is about being overwhelmed, conflicting emotions, numb, disbelief and so on.
If you have a poke about online you can find lots of material about how human beings process death.

After a very short while I realised that the words and language that we use to describe extreme emotions have become so entrenched and over used they barely register with their true meanings any more.

People would say they could not begin to imagine how I must be feeling.

This is wrong.

It is a thing that is said and not meant.

Of course you can begin to imagine.
Just turn on the television and wait.
It will be played out in front of you over and over and over every night.

Death.

People dying, being killed, people killing people, people dealing with the aftermath.
Every night, over and over.

This is not to mention books, magazines and newspapers.
Have you seen how many ‘Zombie Walks’ there are these days?
People can dress as a corpse and raise money for charity these days.

Death sells.

What people actually mean is that they have just got past imagining and have found the truth an awful lot less glamourous than the fantasy of death.

That’s the problem.
You can imagine how I feel.
You can imagine it and you know it is awful.

It is so awful that on occasion people could not even look at me.
It was so awful I saw people cross the road to avoid me.
These people were having no difficulty at all in beginning to imagine what I was going through.

‘I can’t begin to imagine what you are going through.’

It is something that is said.

I have heard people who have lost loved ones describe themselves as living in black and white.

I have met others who talked about the unreal nature of it all.

I felt many things. I can’t pretend to be an expert, this is all very subjective.
By definition, I have no perspective on this other than the intensely personal.
I could tell you about that though.

The process of Loz’s death played out over a week and the funeral was not for a full two weeks after that.

People would come round and talk to me.
Listening to them was like being in a house where every TV, radio, stereo and appliance had been turned on to white noise static and left to blast away. It was like the walls had been removed from my house and a howling wind was blowing through.
I wanted to scream and shake people and tell them I could not hear them above all that noise and wind and anyway where the hell were the walls? It felt dreamlike and unreal.
Reality was there too.
Making cups of tea in the midst of a hurricane.
All emotions crowded in at once, all the bad, all the good, everything loudly. Everything all at once.
Trying to describe grief is like pulling out one strand of spaghetti from the dish and saying: ‘there it is, there is grief’.

My grief was a tangled spaghetti mess of everything.
There is no separating, the dish is the dish and you have to eat it all.

And the emotions crash into each other, contradict each other, add to each other and cancel each other out.

I developed a numbness which turned the noise down and down and down and ‘letter boxed’ out my view of the world.
Nothing above, nothing below, just a letter box view of reality.
Without this I should have gone mad.

I began to feel hollow.
Really, really hollow.

It hollows you out.

The warm mushy core of me was ripped out and all the nerve endings and journeys and ruituals of my life were left flailing raw in the wind.

I understood the expression ‘gutted’.
It does not mean what I thought it meant, it was considerably worse.

When I met people I began to feel transparent, like I was not really there.

It became odd that people could ‘see’ me when I did not feel I could see myself.
Some people stopped calling and I did not call them back.
It went on too long and I felt like whoever I was had gone and been replaced.
I felt like the sea had washed my carcass up on the beach and the outgoing tide had swept away all my organs and left the boney, gutless corpse of me behind on the sand.

It is also said that time heals all wounds.
I believe this to be true, however if you cut off a limb it may heal but you don’t get the limb back.
These things don’t re-grow, they just stop bleeding.
A blody stump where your hand was becomes a scarified stump where your hand was.

I am a different person now, I do different things, I have a different job, I care about different issues, I have different friends and different relationships to almost everyone I know.
I feel fundamentally different.
In Victorian times this long process of change was codified in specific dress and colours that widows could wear at different points in their journey. You might decide to never take off these colours.
It is a tragedy of our time that widows and widowers look just like everyone else.
Just like they did before.

And the ‘journey’ I am on, people ask if I am ‘moving on’ or ‘making progress’ as if I might one day return completely to the position I was in before.
Am I getting better? Am I getting through it?
I am moving certainly.
Every day you have to move, keep going.
But I don’t feel I am going ‘forwards’ with everyone else any more.
I don’t know if I am going forwards backwards or sideways.
What is more, I really could not care less.

I have children to raise.
That is what makes me go on, day after day.
I don’t feel sorry for myself.
Not compared to how I felt before Loz died.
I know what it is like to feel sorry for myself.

I really had no idea how lucky I was, I felt sorry for myself all the time.

My wife died and I had to change.

I look the same, I make the same crap jokes, I move about and I live my life.
I am fine.

The person I feel most sorry for in all this remains Laura.
That’s what is so rubbish about it all.
I think this every day.

She does not live.

In comparison I have it easy.
I really am fine.

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