Charlie’s Story


I am always so heartened that people take the time to share their stories. Charlie wrote to the My Story section of the blog, and being someone who was widowed abroad a month before me, I immediately wanted to scoop her up and make things better. But as you will read, slowly, slowly, Charlie is gaining her equilibrium without any hugs from me. I love her analogy of grief and A Fish Called Wanda, but I won’t spoil it for you by revealing what she says. It’s very funny, but that’s the thing about grief, some of it is – in retrospect.

Over to Charlie…

Dear Helen, I read your article in the Guardian and immediately related.

My husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack in January 2011. We were away from home in the States and he collapsed in a restaurant at a business dinner. It felt like I, too, died that night. Like I was issued a new identity but I had to find out who that person actually was. I’m still finding out, actually.

And then there’s always the physicality of grief. Over and over again I felt like that poodle in A Fish Called Wanda – hit by a ton of bricks. Less so now, but only two weeks ago, I experienced another ambush. You never know when it returns. One thing you said in your article, really resonated with me: That if your husband were to meet you now, he probably wouldn’t put up with you. I feel exactly the same! In fact, I have nightmares about this. In my dreams he returns and it’s awkward between the two of us because of all the things that have happened and who I’ve become. Another thing you said about your friend being overcome by a great sense of calm, I found very interesting. Because I’m beginning to sense that the anxiety I’ve been feeling ever since that night in 2011 is finally receding. I’ve been on high alert, maybe it’s PTS I don’t know, all this time. And now I’m starting to feel calm again. It’s the most amazing sensation. Having said that, there are no words to describe how much I still miss him. The pain is still very acute. Grief has so many guises… but more than anything it’s made me grateful. For the love that I’ve had, for my husband, for all the goodness I experienced in people since his death and that I can still be happy.

And thank you for your blog! Charlie