3 years on… the journey continues

I thought that I’d write this for those who took an interest in our story and those who might be in a similar boat and let you know where we are now, three years after Carys died.  It does seem remarkable that it is three years already.  Life has a habit of keeping on keeping on even if you don’t feel ready for that!  A friend of mine recently lost his wife in similarly tragic circumstances and that made me review my journey too.

The children have moved on with their lives, two have now moved out and started the next phase of their lives as independent ladies, my son has nearly completed a degree.  They are all still feel very raw at their loss.  I’m clear that for them it is something they will never get over but they will get better at dealing with the new shape of their lives.  I have done my best to fill in some little part of the void she left for them but it can never be enough.  Meanwhile I set about rebuilding my life.  I seems to me that one of the key lessons is that you must not let your tragedies define who you are or you will hold on to them rather than moving beyond them.  Things like this are an end of something special but they create space for something new that can also be special and good.  I think that the word rebuilding is very apt because it is a job of work like creating a building and you have to put in the effort if you wish to see the change.  You can bury yourself in something familiar and safe but  that is a recipe for every day being less than before and that isn’t how I choose to live my life.

I think there is also a lesson here.  How do we define ourselves?  Who do I think ME is?  If I define myself as the job of work I do, or as someone’s partner or someone else’s parent, then my identity can always be taken away from me.  I have to find a version of me that has its foundations solely built on who I am. I also have to recognise that I change day by day.  I get a little older each day, my shape changes, as does the colour of my hair, but I’m still me. 

One of the real challenges is how you fill your days and nights.  If you have a regular job then a big part of your day is filled for you, but then you come home to an empty house and an emptier bed.  That is tough.  In many ways I think this filling your time is the toughest challenge.  Some of that time will be spent doing jobs that your partner did, jobs you might feel you don’t have the skills to do or that you don’t feel a man (or a woman) should be doing.  I think again this kind of thinking or labelling really makes moving forward tough.  I found myself having to assume all my wife’s household chores, luckily having lived on my own before we got married I knew how to do most of these.  My mum had a rather different experience when confronted with all the practical, ‘manly’ jobs that my dad always did.  I think it is a case of adapt and survive… or fail to do so and die a little bit every day!

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