So far I’ve found three buckets (pails) of grief. As I share this, I realise that it might resonate with your own experiences. (See I’m moving on from me me me). As you know, I’m new to this. Maybe it might help others, who knows?
In bucket one is the stuff you just can’t avoid. The absolute challenges which you face when your loved one dies. The sudden trauma, the shock, the breathlessness of the realisation that she’s gone. Bam
Just like that! A wacking great big black hole.
No matter how much you think you prepare, or plan or maybe you had realised what might happen. …… It’s not enough. It has actually happened and you’ve just got to deal with it.
Your personal resilience might help, your belief system (they’re still here and gone onto greater things?) could wrap it up nicely, time will also be the proverbial healer, or so they say. My mate Tom says it’s like walking down or further away from the hill, you see more of the total picture and put it in perspective.
Bottom line is…. You ‘choose’ how to deal with it.
In the second bucket is the grief you can give yourself. You know the sort of thing. The what ifs? The guilt trips. The preoccupations. Missed opportunities. Recriminations. Regrets. The whispers you ignored. The stress.
In my view, this is the big challenge and again you choose. In this case you can maybe control how much you open the tap and fill the bucket.
So how much angst is there to be?
I don’t live a life with regrets but this is a whole different ball game. The smallest chink of light, the smallest possibility to catch the grief and you’ve got it. It’s hard.
In my and Manjula’s situation.
We’ve been dealing with a series of serious illnesses for over three years. I wonder if we could have handled it differently. More regular tests, quicker responsiveness to trying new things, better lifestyle such as exercises, different opinions, complementary medicines. I know though that it was very tough for Manjula, she hated the tests (usually with disapppinting results) the clinic merry go round, the manic mother hen husband, the too many tablets.
The second main choosing-to-give -myself-grief issue is how well we used the last twelve months.
After a spell in intensive care a year ago and her unhappy experience on a ventilator she was given another lease of life. I look back at the photos. We sort of had the old Manjula. After six months she began to lose weight, they thought she might have TB and her drugs didn’t seem to work. She was slipping away and I just didn’t know what to do.
At the end she’d had a heart attack and real difficulty breathing. This was on the Friday evening. They’d resuscitated her and not intubated her in line with my (her) request. On the Saturday morning she had another heart attack. Immediately before we managed to discuss and she only wanted to be on ventilator if it was a day or two. There was a real likelihood she would never be able to come off it. I decided to let her go.
We did do good things. We have so many happy memories.
She was keen to properly celebrate her birthday in August, she wanted to continue the BnB even as she lost more weight and lived between her bed, the downstairs lounge and outdoor sit out. She loved and livened up when meeting the guests.
We managed a final holiday in Kannur, the site of our first holiday together after becoming engaged three years ago.
Our time was precious. We had a wonderful, odd maybe but amazing relationship. From different worlds but all the better for it.
In that final year there were times we both knew where it was heading. Manjula would once or twice talk about death. Me forever the coward didn’t want that, couldn’t deal with it and worried that might in itself help bring it on. We had to remain positive. We should however have discussed it properly. Some might say I was in complete denial.
We seem to choose whether and how much to give ourselves the grief in bucket two, maybe not even the time of day or perhaps the full flow.
I realise now it’s useful to create your own narrative or ways of fathoming it all out. It requires a balanced view. I think we did the best in the circumstances.
Bottom line is ‘it’s how it is’
In bucket three the grief is more existential. What’s the purpose or point in life? What happens when we ‘move-on’ ?
That can remain with its lid on!
So now as we approach The fourth week since Manjula died we have a few more things to do to help her on the way.
It may now be time to step aside from the angst. It’ll still keep popping up but I’ll hold it with me
I thank you for allowing me to share and your kindness, patience and support by being there for me and Manjula.
Next I plan to bring you herstory.
Yes, I’ll lighten up…