RewindChristmas is a difficult time of year for many of us, and whilst I don’t want to get in to one of those “My situation is worse than your situation ” competitions which some bereaved (and non-bereaved – dare I mention especially divorcees?) excel at, I will stick my neck out and say that for those of us who have been widowed – particularly those who are approaching their first Christmas without their loved ones – this time of year with its false jollity and nauseating Christmas adverts is particularly hard.

I rarely re-post links to old Planet Grief entries because I feel it’s a bit like programme repeats on the television: unless it really is a classic episode you don’t want to watch it again, and even if it is and you do, at some point you will say (or think if you are watching alone), “I remember this one!” and, purely selfishly, I don’t particularly want to remember those excruciating early days. Whilst I now have genuine happiness in my life, it doesn’t take much (the sight of a golfer on the local golf-course doing a particularly good shot; the fleeting thought of whether The Hound would recognise JS if he walked through the door; being in Hollister and seeing a giant screen in the shop with a surfer falling off his surfboard in crashing waves) to start a tumble back to the terror of the beach in Barbados. I remember a widow telling me in the very early days after JS drowned that I would never get over his death, that I would only learn to live with it. I was horrified, believing that ‘living with it’ meant living with constant pain and searing sadness. I now understand what she meant – I don’t go round weeping and wailing (not about grief, anyway; I did get overwrought when I couldn’t get Harissa paste in the local Morrisons which ruined my Middle-Eastern menu couscous plans) – but it’s always there, in the background, that little movie in my head of JS walking away from me in to the sea and everything that followed.

But I think some of you may find the first Christmas without JS posts useful, if only to pass a little time. Here are the links.

It is now the third Christmas since I have been widowed and this is what I posted on a bereavement site a week or so ago:

For those dreading Christmas, a glimmer of hope for the future from bitter and tearful experience. 

With several Christmas gatherings looming this year, I looked on iTunes for the Christmas Carol compilation I used when JS was alive. It was gone, deleted from my music library. Puzzled, I then remembered why. That first Christmas without JS in 2011, so sure was I that I would NEVER want to celebrate Christmas EVER again I wiped any form of Christmas music from iTunes, not just carols but trusty Slade and Wizard, the lot. 

And now I am reinstating them. A small thing to some, but enormous to those of us who know.

Thinking of you all and wishing you light at the end of the claustrophobic, dark and terrifying tunnel of grief.

Hang in there folks.

I’ll be back in the New Year to tell you all about my move out of London. Bet you can’t wait…



Reply December 24, 2013

your move out of London?! I can't wait! My boris and I moved too - across to the west US coast.

Reply December 25, 2013

Good to see you back and to know that you are fine and happy!!
Spot on article as usual!
Wishing you continued happiness into 2014!

Sophie Day
Reply December 30, 2013

Also happy to see you re-appear and know that you are well. My 4th Christmas and something of a non-event but I felt ready to slightly engage with christmassyness again which was a nice surprise. Perhaps a non-event as I am due to give birth any day now, am knackered and can't drink my usual quota of wine and port!! Also in the process of buying a house up the road with baby's father. Definitely a new start ahead. Cheers to you and here's to a happy new year for us both x x x xx x x x

Reply January 7, 2014

I know what you mean. 'Living with it' sounded like a terrible thing. Like the rest of my life was going to be dominated by The Event. I was determined to not let that happen. I would deal with it, put it behind me, stick it in my memory bank, use the positives for my future and accept the negatives. I would 'move on'.
But it really does not work like that. I guess it is more a case of 'moving along'. Sometimes it feels like I am still in some kind of limbo. That all the happiness I have now, and it is quite a lot of happiness, is 'not real', like it is a different person than myself. I feel like I am split. How can you miss the love you lost and still say that you are genuinely happy withe the one you have now? Surely you are lying to yourself and really not 'over' it if you still sometimes feel: I wish I could talk to X about this because he/she would understand exactly what I mean? Isn't that the same as saying your new love isn't good enough? I can not quite square missing someone with loving someone else. Surely these two things are mutually exclusive?
I know that is not the case of course. It is what it is. And things are very good for me now. Yet I still don't understand what place my past has in my current life. Or how to give it a place. It nags me.

Oh dear. I have gone off on a tangent on someone else's blog. Again. I feel a blog post coming on.
Sorry :-/