Once the funeral was over and friends and family had returned to their own lives, it finally hit me that my Husband had died. I was then thrown into a never ending tunnel of feeling lost. I had no purpose to my life and I just couldn't comprehend that my Husband was not here. He was not living away, he was dead. He was never, ever, ever going to come home. I would never see him again.
To say I was lost without him was an understatement. The days after his death were wrapped up in organising Christmas, dealing with the never ending paperwork to register a death and also to organise the funeral. Once the funeral had finished, there was nothing else that I needed to focus on. I therefore had to focus on the fact I was now on my own. I was a single Mum to a 6yr old and a now 8 month old. We were no longer a family of 4, living the perfect life. We were now a heartbroken family of 3, trying to work out how on earth we were going to survive the rest of our lives.
Drugs and Alcohol
Wow, theres a title I never thought I would be writing about. However, it's important to me that I write about every aspect of what I went through and therefore drugs and alcohol fits in here.
After the funeral I kept it together for a couple of weeks before I realised that I wasn't coping. Since Gary's original diagnosis I had something else to focus on. I was able to put the grieving process on hold by looking after everyone else except me. I prefered it that way. If I didn'think about what I was going through, it wouldn't be happening and therefore I wouldn't need to be sad. At the funeral, I kept my emotions in check, by making sure I had a glass of wine constantly in my hand. If I felt my emotions start to show, I had a sip of wine. It was easy. Once I had managed a few sips, I was happy to laugh and joke with friends about events in the past and funny stories that we had all shared. It wasn't until I got home that the tears flowed and believe me, I cried a river. As I lay in a single bed in my daughters bedroom that night, I cried myself to sleep with the thought that this was now my life. Would I ever be happy without the aid of alcohol ever again?
By the end of January, it was clear that I was not coping. Both the children were sick and I had spent several visits to the Doctors. I'm sure the illnesses of the children were grief related. Nathan was affeccted the most, his skin suddenly being covered in spots and cold sores around his mouth. Darcey was constantly being sick at bedtime, which meant many sleepless nights and changing the bedsheets in the early hours of the morning. It was on one of the Doctors visit that I finally plucked up the courage to explain to the Doctor that I wasn't doing so good. I think she probably guessed when I burst into tears as soon as I stepped into the surgery. She gave me several names of support groups that could help but more importantly she perscribed me some anti-depressants.
I was a little unsure if I wanted to go down the pill popping route but I was so low, it was either that or give up on life all together. I had actually contemplated the latter on several occasions but I couldn't put my children through losing another parent, so apart from thinking that suicide would end my troubles, I knew I would never go with anything. The main thing that hit home to me once the pills were subscribed was how my life had suddently changed. Last year, I was a wife to a most amazing man, living relatively comfortably in a lovely house with one child and another on the way. Fast forward one year and I was now a single parent, living on benefits and taking anti-depressants. What on earth had happened ! I won't however slag off any of this. Yes, I was now a single parent and accepting certain benefits was helping me to piece together my new life. After maternity and Gary's sick leave we were really struggling, particularly when the sick pay stopped in September as he had been on it for too long any extra help was therefore accepted. The pills did help to add a certain fluffiness to my life but I was well aware that I could not stay on them forever. In the end, I kept with them for 1.5yrs, much longer than I had anticipated but then I didn't really know what to expect. I eventually weaned myself off them in July 2017. It was a natural process really. I kept forgetting to take them and then realised once I had forgotten, I wasn't actually feeling any worse. Very slowly I reduced my intake and when it was time to renew the perscription, I left it there. Looking back I'm guessing they did help but I think what really helped was positive thinking and basically acceptance. Don't get me wrong I still have many very blue and desolate days but I'm sure I would have had these with or without the pills.
Anniversaries and Birthdays
The first significant date to face as a Widow (not counting Christmas and New year, as that was just a complete blur) was Valentines Day. Now, when the world is loved up and you are not, it can feel very lonely. When the world is loved up and the love of your life has just died, well, there are no words to explain this feeling. Darcey has made a card at nursery so I had something to open and proof that somebody did love me but my word, it was a difficult day to face.
So, that was February, in March came my birthday, my 41st. Memories came flooding back of only one year prior when we celebrated my big 4 0 whilst 8 months pregnant and with a seriously ill husband. This time last year was when our lives were about to change forever. One year on and here we were, our lives had indeed changed. I looked in the mirror and my reflection was a sight for sore eyes. Yes, I had aged, as I had each year, but the past year I had aged dramatically. In my 40 years on this earth, that fortieth year I had suffered more trauma, stress and anxiety than I had ever faced.
1. I heard my Husband had terminal cancer.
2. I gave birth to my daughter.
3. I dealt with a 6yr old going through the transition of only child to sibling.
4. I watched my husband change in front of my eyes.
5. I battled baby blues whilst similtaniously riding the emotional rollercoaster of a terminal illness in the family.
6. I nursed and cared for my husband as he deteriorated.
7. I became the family bread winner.
8. I held my family together and comforted by children that all would be OK.
9. I watched my husband die.
10. I organised my husband's funeral.
11. I became a single mother and widow.
12. I went back to full time work
13. I brought a house.
14. I made it to 41yrs.
I had completed many things in my 40th year and here I was about to celebrate being 41. I really hope the following year is a bit calmer.
I am very lucky to have a group of friends who are ready to step in when needed. On my birthday Nathan was taken shopping to buy me a present and in the evening a group of friends took me out for icecream and waffles. I wasn't sure what to expect but my birthday turned out to be just right.
The next set of birthdays were more difficult, Nathan was turning 7 and 6 days later, Darcey celebrated her first birthday. My birthday was hard, but organising the children's first birthdays without a Daddy was more difficult. Particularly for Darcey. This was her first birthday, the amazing time to celebrate her first year, the time for Mummy and Daddy to be there and marvel about how they survived the first year of being parents. With did all this with Nathan but for Darcey it was just me. We still had cake and a small party and Darcey looked like she was having fun but the day still had a cloud hanging over that I could not wipe away. This was never how I thought I would be celebrating my daughter's first birthday.