Grief makes us incredibly selfish. I think that it is part of the grieving process to feel as if everything revolves around us, around our pain and our loss. Grief makes us insular, inward looking, so I was particularly struck by Bridget’s story, because despite her grief – her husband, Alex, died suddenly whilst abroad only six months ago – she begins her story offering her condolences to me for the loss of my husband and ends it by thanking me and the other contributors to Planet Grief for sharing their stories. Such grace and concern whilst consumed with pain. The other thing I am struck by in Bridget’s story is that she has found so much to feel grateful for, blessed even, despite the horror that has hit her and her young family.
I don’t know Bridget, but I sense that she is a remarkable woman and that her husband, Alex, would be incredibly proud of her.
There is another remarkable woman – Jules – whose words about widowhood appear as the last quote in my book, When Bad Things Happen in Good Bikinis. This is part of that quote. I wanted to reproduce it here, because I have a feeling that whilst life won’t be easy, Bridget will be saying the same thing in years to come. I want Bridget – and all the readers of Planet Grief – to know that a ‘normal’ childhood is possible for children who have lost a parent at a young age.
A postscript on me: I am now at 11 years (wow, can hardly believe that!). My children are now grown up – one working and one about to start university. They are happy and that pleases me, I worked really hard to keep their childhood ‘normal’. I didn’t want them to look back on their childhood and think: ‘Everything was great until Dad died and then Mum was a blubbering mess in the corner. I think I have managed to achieve this and that, for me, is a really big piece of happiness.’
Here, is Bridget’s story.
Firstly, I would like to express my sadness on the loss of your JS. What a traumatic experience losing your husband like that must have been. And here I am too, another reluctant member of the widows club. My beautiful husband, Alex, died suddenly and unexpectedly in May this year. He was waiting to board a plane home to us after a short business trip in Sydney. He had just sent me a text to say they were due to board in 20 minutes and how he couldn’t wait to get home and give his whole family a big hug. He collapsed in the airport lounge from an aortic dissection and died in a hospital a few hours later, alone and in a foreign city as we, his distraught loved ones, waited desperately to catch a flight out to be with him. He was only 43 and as fit, healthy and clean living as can be. He leaves me and our 3 beautiful children who were 6,4 and 9months at the time of his death. Our 2 boys idolised him and followed him like two tails. Alex lived for being a father and husband and his joy in having a baby daughter to ‘walk down the isle’ was immense. He cherished me above all others and even after 14 years of being together, his eyes lit up when I came into a room. He died 3 days after Mothers Day and I am so blessed that he wrote me a beautiful letter to mark the occasion telling me of his love and admiration for me and the joy he had in his family. Aside from this deceleration of his love, I am lucky to have been told,and shown, daily by him how loved and appreciated I was.
We are bereft. A huge hole exists in our lives.
I have gone from being a happy, contented full time mother and wife to a sad, struggling widow facing the future as a single parent and breadwinner to our 3 babies without my Rock and my Heart.
I know there are so many that have gone before me and will be others to come, but I am overcome with what a terrible path this is. At nearly 6 months, the reality of ‘forever’ without him is overwhelming. It probably doesn’t help that I live abroad from my family and ‘old’ friends, so don’t have much in the way of support. That is why I have found your writing so helpful in making me feel less alone. I thank you for your blog and to others for sharing their stories. Even though all our stories are so different, there are common links and threads which connect us and offer small comfort.