Changing Grief

“Although I am physically alone, I am the man she lived with for forty-eight years and she is very much a part of the person I have become in that time.”
Robert Kirven (author of “A Book About Dying”)

I’ve now been a single parent for close to a year. We go out as a family of two rather than the happy three that we were in the years gone by. In the beginning it was intensely emotionally draining, every place we went to, my thoughts raced back to the time when we were together, our world intact.

I would helplessly look at the other families and couples milling around and feel that piercing stabs in the heart. There were times I wanted to just get out of there and stay home. The world seemed too full while mine had been lost forever. But I reasoned that my son was going to have only one childhood and I owed it to both of them to bring a smile to his face. He had suffered enough and I wasn’t going to make my pain dwarf his growing up years.

And so we continued to go out, just the two of us on weekends and holidays. We went to couple of holidays with friends and family. Though my own grief was too raw to let any enjoyment in, it was heartwarming to see our little boy enjoy. On many other weekends, it was rough, just the two of us at home. I would play board games with him and fight tears thinking what our life had come to.

I busied myself taking care of him full time on holidays and weekends. Every morning I would get up early with him and get him ready for school. Doing these chores gave me peace at a time when everything else seemed very dark. At work sometimes when it felt unbearable, I would close my eyes and remind myself that I had to take care of my son. That would somehow give me enough strength to get through the day.

It really hurt to come back home each day and face the loneliness. And yet when my son would give me a warm hug, it seemed that I had broken through the pain. I doubt I would have made it this far without him. I don’t think I had any other reason to continue living.

These days when we go out, I still feel the familiar stabs but I notice that they don’t hurt as much. I’ve started becoming numb to the pain. I’ve started getting used to the empty seat next to me, to the silence that surrounds me wherever I go. They say grief becomes different with time and it’s true. It has just become different not necessarily better.

I’ve started becoming accustomed to talking in my head. I don’t know if this means that I have started to let go of my past. I guess I have wailed,let out my frustration and anger at this situation and found that there’s no one out there who can magically put this right. Myself is all I got on this solitary path.

It still hurts a lot to be alone and I know nothing or no one can fill that void. But I don’t feel the desperate need of company anymore. I’ve started to become comfortable with my loneliness. I find that my focus and concentration are a lot better and I’m beginning to find pleasure in books and reading again.

My future scares me, the safety net that I had in her presence is gone. I try not to dwell on it too much. When I start having thoughts whether I’ll find happiness ever again, I surrender to it and it goes away. I didn’t see my current life unfolding and the same holds true for the future.

There’s much more to learn on this journey. Grief is a teacher and I’ve learned some hard lessons. I’m searching for some normalcy in life, I have seen too much darkness in too less a time. I’m yearning for some easy lessons now.

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4 thoughts on “Changing Grief

  1. Rishi my friend, I read this with a smile emerging in my heart. This is a breakthrough! You are starting, just starting to take a step forward. And such a big step it is. You state a need for normalcy. But, normalcy won’t come in a form you recognize. Now, you and Nishu will Make your NEW normal. You already have begun. Grief does change, You get accustomed to the loss day by day as you have to do/learn/live differently. I see it with Mark and with the boys. The boys adapted more easily, they simply placed all of their hearts and need for security in dad. Just as I am sure Nishu has done with you. He will always miss mom, but you have stepped in and provided most everything he has needed. That has formed the “new normal” for you both and it will continue and blossom. I can remember realizing at the end of a day once, that I had not broken down crying that day. That to me was a startling revelation but when those days ran together and there were more days in a week I didn’t fall apart than I did. (don’t get me wrong, I still do) But it was a baby step, and I noted it as a change along the grief journey. Like you, there were many months where I never thought that would be the case. But, my friend, it is. So, continue to move forward, because you will have moments you fall back. But, know that your beautiful wife is smiling down at you and hoping that her men are well and that they are finding a smile here and there. She gave you a part of herself in your son and the two of you need to make your way through this dark journey. My best to you both.

    • Thank you Debbie, your comment touched me deeply. I might not have realized it but you’re right, we seem to be finding our new normal. The tough part is believing that our loss is real after all. I still feel like it’s all a nightmare I will wake up from someday. My wife lives on through us and that is reason enough for us to keep going. Much love and peace to your family. We all travel our solitary paths but we share the same burden and it makes me feel I’m not alone.

    • Thanks for your comment but grief is a human emotion not to be differentiated between men and women. We are all travellers on this journey carrying the same burden.

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