Posts Tagged ‘Carys’

3 years on… the journey continues

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

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!

Starting over

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

I was out walking the other day I came across this.  The picture isn’t quite as clear as I thought, so let me explain what I was looking at.  This is a stump of a tree that has been blown over and its trunk sawn off.  Growing over the stump is a colony of fungi, and from the root stock fresh growth is springing up, drawing nutrition from the old root system.  It is a fabulous example of how Nature uses resources and adapts. 

As someone who had to start over when my life was metaphorically ‘blown over’, I can relate to this.  You have to use what you have left and grow again.  It may feel like everything you had was destroyed but those systems continue to try to nourish you and, if you let it, new growth begins.

It is common for very successful people to fail multiple times before getting it right.  In the US they are more forgiving of this and understand that evolution works in the business world just as much as the natural one. 

If today you find yourself in a place where it feels like there is no possibility of going on, that everything is in ruins, then perhaps you can take a little faith that no matter the disaster there is a way forward.  Look to your roots; what is it that makes you strong?  Grow from that place and you will find your way forwards.


  1. Famous ‘failures’

The day everything changed.. or did it?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

It was 2 years ago today that Carys died.   I was trying to think what other days marked such a sharp change, and I’m not sure that I have experienced one.  The day I was born, but I guess I was too young to be aware.  The day I left school, but that was just like the end of every other school term really and certainly not traumatic, I was ready to move on.  The day I left home, but I was already living elsewhere and it was really a formality.  The day I got married, but we’d been living together for long enough that it was a gentle, welcome transition.  The day my first child was born, but that came in due course and with 9 months preparation.  In short, I have experience no other such abrupt change in my life.  I know others have experienced similar rough transitions and they are always shocking, perhaps devastating, but oddly, not terminal.

The odd thing to record on the other side of this chasm is, in a way, how much of my personal landscape remains the same.  I live in the same house, in the same town, do the same job and am surrounded by the same people & family.  Change is so complex and multi-layered.  Not everything has to change to change how everything feels and how you related to it.  When you change, your world changes.  Sometimes, things happen to change you; but never forget that the reverse is also true; that if you change yourself, then you change your relationship with everything at the same time.  So if the world isn’t a comfy place for you, rather than waiting for it to change for you, you can decide to change who you are and where you fit in.  Easily said and painful to do, but true none-the-less.

I’m making good progress at rebuilding my life.  My children are still finding the journey very painful and my inability to make that easier is hard.  This is a journey that you can only take on your own.  If you are walking this path, then I pray that you find light and love, warmth and comfort, for they still exist…  I don’t know if Time heals, but it is a key ingredient in this process; it is like a current and you can swim with it or against it but it does carry you along willy nilly.

2 years on (nearly)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

As we approach the second anniversary of Carys’ death, it feels appropriate to take stock and see how things have changed.  Normally when you live your day-to-day life, one day feels much the same as another… until something seismic happens.  We don’t really recognise Change when it creeps up on us gently, one day we are full of youth and vigour and the next we are feeling our age and looking back with nostalgia.

We had our world changing event 2 years ago and suddenly nothing would be the same again.  That isn’t the same as saying nothing would be good again, but at the time it felt that way.  Two years on, my youngest is half way through the university course, that he hadn’t even started back then.  My middle child is months from leaving the university she had only just joined two years ago.  My eldest has changed job and left home.  I spend my time rather differently.  I’m more selective about the work that I do and how I find it.  I recognise I have other priorities these days and have two roles to fill for my children and a gaping hole to fill in my own life.  Much as one might wish it otherwise, these things don’t magically fix themselves, you have to get into the hole and fill it with your own labour.

I write this piece partly in the knowledge that there are others out there who are at a different and darker part of their journey and in the hope that this might help them, and also as a reflection on the different faces of Change, one passive, that sculpts, shapes and erodes without you noticing and the other active that doesn’t happen if you don’t make the effort and do the work.  We so often deceive ourselves into thinking that the former won’t happen and the latter will… Life just isn’t like that!  In both our personal lives and business ones we need to take responsibility for both faces of Change and act to make our plans, our dreams and our desires take shape.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”  John Wooden

“Know how to live the time that is given you.”   Dario Fo

Healing from the outside in…

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

It is now 20 months since Carys died, and many people have told me that that is no time.  Subjectively it feels like an eon.  I feel separated from my previous life by a rift he size of the Grand Canyon.  

I realised something the other day which, on reflection,  seemed important.  It maybe be glaringly obvious to everyone else, but was a revelation to me.  I realised that we heal from the outside inwards.  Which is to say that all of the outward facing bits seem to be fully adjusted and we are coping with our lives; business is being done, lessons are being attended, houses cleaned and meals cooked.  However, it feels like I have a hollow centre.  The bit which contained the meaning and purpose, is empty.  I am also very aware that all the bits people can see are working well, but of course they don’t realise that the motor force is missing.

I write this more in the hope that it may help someone else find their way through this maze or perhaps better guide and support a loved one…

“You’re the air that I breathe”

Friday, July 8th, 2011

It has been 17 months now since Carys died, and of course many people miss so many things about her but life does go on and we are all making our ways, the best way we know how.  I have been hugely proud of my family and the way they have rallied round, each doing what they do best to help the rest of us; each of them assuming subtly different roles in the new pattern of our lives.

The days have taken on a new pattern of sorts and things work okay but the thing I realise that I really miss is the communication.  I know how important this is in business and every business I work with seems to have issues in this area.  No matter how well they do, their people want them to do better.  I am now learning that for me it is almost a need like eating or breathing.  I miss having someone to share the trivia with, those silly moments that catch your eye during a day.   Someone to share you thoughts with, someone to ask for their input, someone to share bits of what you are reading with.  What is strange is though is that none of these things matters individually, but some how they seem to be like drops of water

building up behind a dam. 

I know that modern life is lonely for many people, those who are old and have lost their partners, those who have moved with their work or are otherwise isolated, but living it is something else.  When I am communicating it is like breaking through the surface of the ocean and taking a lungful of air. 

Perhaps we all need to make a little greater effort to reach out to others and listen to them, and be available.  Sometimes a simple conversation can be a great gift.

Thank You

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

I just wanted to say a very public “Thank You” to everyone who remembered us, called, sent flowers or thoughts yesterday. It was good to know we were not alone and she was not forgotten.

12 months on…

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Well, today was the day, the cycle completed, 12 months to the day since she died.  I had no idea how it would be or what we would do.  In part I dreaded it in case all sorts of ‘stuff’ was dredged up, in part I was pleased as it meant, from here on in, we had done it all at least once.  I didn’t have any expectations nor try to control anything today.  I’d decided that I was going to visit her bench and set a stone there (as I  described in an earlier blog).  My son came with me and we had a quiet moment there.  My eldest had taken today off, but the middle one had other plans.  It turns out that today was the day she got a tattoo to commemorate this all… forget-me-nots. 

We had decided we’d spend tonight as the family so often has, picnicking in lounge, watching movies.  My eldest had chosen some movies that seemed to span the entire emotional gamut from moving, via thoughtful to silly.  There was one that was so apposite, I swear it felt like Carys was speaking to me.  A character in the film said “Darling, it’s time..”  In the midst of all this middle daughter was making fart jokes with sound effects from iPod, it all felt perfect.

Throughout the day, various people got in touch various ways.  We had texts, and emails; we had flowers and phone calls, including a friend who called in from a holiday abroad, right through to neighbours in the green-grocers. 

It’s onwards and upwards for us all, day-by-day, one step at a time

We all walk a singular path…

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I think that one of the most profound lessons I have learnt over the last 9 months since Carys’s passing has been that when you lose someone that each person experiences and processes that loss very differently.  I am aware that setting it down like this it seems a statement of the obvious (and perhaps it is.)  However, when a family loses a member you tend to assume that you are all on a somewhat similar path and timetable.  This could not be more wrong.  Last night my daughter had a very difficult time of it and broke down. It is now even more clear to me that my children are on a very different timetable to me.  Of course some of this is simply a feature of the different relationship we had with her, and some of it is down to our differing characters, experience etc. 

I can see that for all we have achieved in this period, there is still a huge distance to travel.  I know that we all have our own  interpretation of reality, but this aspect of it is singularly challenging. It serves to reinforce the fact that whenever we fail to find out where the other person starts their journey from, we are likely meet with some level of miscommunication.  I feel that I must be failing to get over the significance of this discovery, as this seems to read like something we should all know already, and yet I have never heard it before.

The other feature of last night was the realisation that when you scratch the surface of the new ‘paint’ that we have applied, it is clear just how much damage is still present beneath the surface.  I send out my thoughts and prayers to you others who are on this painful path too…

“Grief is perhaps an unknown territory for you. You might feel both helpless and hopeless without a sense of a “map” for the journey. Confusion is the hallmark of a transition. To rebuild both your inner and outer world is a major project.”   Anne Grant

Who do you talk to?

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

“It’s good to talk” is such a commonly held belief that it became a BT advertising slogan a while back.  Everyone seems to think that you need to talk after a traumatic event and it will somehow how help you.  I have to say that the experience of my family has been otherwise; none of us seemed to particularly feel like talking, least of all to outsiders.  In addition, what are you meant to say when people ask how you are feeling?  Very few actually want to hear that you feel like shit, or that your world has been hit by a tsunami that has swamped all dry land but the tiny bit beneath your feet..  They don’t want to see  the tears; they don’t have the time, the experience or even the inclination to deal with all this.  I don’t judge them for this;  I simply make the observation.

I fully and freely admit that before I lost my father some 4 years ago I had no experience of death and had had no idea how it hit you.  Despite being an empathetic and caring person, I had little to offer the odd bereaved soul that crossed my path, and did a lousy job of supporting my own wife through the loss of her mother.  It is simply a fact that death and child birth are two experiences which you have either experienced or you haven’t and you stand one side of the chasm or the other.

Losing a life partner, is very different than losing a parent who has lived their life, the size of the hole they leave is just exponential and touches every part of your life, every room, every surface, every drawer contains an echo.

So who can you talk to then, even assuming you have the inclination?  I have learnt that even though my children and I grieve for the same person, our losses are different.  In many ways theirs is the greater one as they have never known a day without her loving presence in their lives, at least I lived 30 years without her.  Who do you talk to if your concern is them? 

You might be surprised by often when you talk to others who knew her (as of course all our friends did) that you enter their grief and their loss.  You’d not believe how often we ended up having to comfort people who came round to tell us how sorry they were for our loss! 

Whilst I was on holiday I had a lot of thinking time on this, my first holiday in 30 years without her, and I found it very tough having no Carys to talk to…  I came home to the realisation that perhaps it was now time to talk.  I did a bit of research and contacted Cruse, the bereavement counselling  people.  I had my first session on Monday and had a very nice lady listen to me; I reserve judgement as to whether it makes any difference… and will let you know.

“Listening is an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another which both attracts and heals.”   J. Isham

“The first duty of love is to listen”   Paul Tillich