So how on earth are we coping so far? That’s pretty much the essence of many questions fired my way at the moment so, you know me by now, I’ll blog the answer out.
Well, we’re doing OK. We miss Nicola every day, that will never change, but as has been the case since day one, Grace is keeping us in line in more ways than one and we’re trying to get on with life as much as we can.
Most of the formalities that took up so much time to sort out after Nicola died are now dealt with and I’m back working at full capacity having gradually phased back in over a few weeks. It’s not been easy, I must admit, as my motivation levels aren’t great at the moment for obvious reasons, but whereas some widowed folk I’ve come across took anything from six months to a year to even consider working again, for me it was a case of using it as a distraction and a tool for ensuring I didn’t just end up wallowing.
A big part of the grieving process is accepting that what’s happened has happened, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That might sound straightforward, but believe me it’s not.
It wasn’t so much denial I felt initially, more disbelief that Nicola wasn’t here. She’d been by my side more or less every day for 11 years and all of a sudden she wasn’t and that was hard to process.
As time goes by, that feeling slowly ebbs away as I come to terms with having to make decisions by myself. Some are easier than others of course. Where they involve Grace, whilst I’m fine with most, I sometimes have to rely on the advice of nearest and dearest if I’m not sure about something.
So my levels of acceptance are getting better and as I talk to and read about more and more people going through similar circumstances, I realise just how horribly common situations like this are. Talking about it helps – I still talk about Nicola with huge pride and affection and always will. Yes, that in turn can make me sad, but it’s an important part of the recovery process.
As I’ve said in previous blogs, I have tried to keep busy doing things that cheer me up. On nights I don’t have Grace – she stays at Nicola’s parents’ a couple of nights a week and sometimes on Saturdays – I usually prefer not to mope around the house and have found myself disappearing off to random football matches or heading out to buy stuff for the house. This widowhood thing is expensive…
I’ve had nights out with friends which have been great too. They’re not the same without Nicola of course, who was the life and soul of many a gathering, and getting ready to go out on my own and getting in taxis by myself takes a bit of getting used to. At least getting ready by myself means we get out a bleedin’ sight quicker.
My advice to anyone in this situation is to do all of that. Anything at all that makes you smile is crucial, whether it’s activities, people, thoughts or the whole lot combined. Despair can so easily be drowned out by joy.
When it comes to Grace, I’m getting most stuff right I think. She’s happy, healthy and thriving, which is all I can ever ask for and given the circumstances is something I’m very happy about. She asks questions and talks about her mummy here and there, but seems to have grasped things really well and is quick to cuddle me if she sees I’m a bit sad.
The ‘wobbles’ I talked about in another blog still happen of course, and it’s often very small things that set them off, but maybe they’re necessary to get it out of my system.
This is going to be a long and difficult journey and things are still sinking in, but having gone a long way towards getting over the initial raw pain of what’s happened, I’d like to think Nicola would be proud of the progress we’re making.