68. Zzzzz….

This week has again been fairly up and down. I am still not sleeping fantastically well – I haven’t for long time, but at the moment it is particularly bad, which then impacts pretty much everything else. I have tried all of the usual things to help, and while I have no trouble falling asleep – it is the staying asleep part that is eluding me. I have been waking up anywhere from midnight on, and once I am awake I just can’t seem to get back to sleep. It is incredibly frustrating, in part because there isn’t a whole lot I can be doing in the middle of the night without waking everyone else in the house!

It seems I have a bunch of stuff in my head that I need to process and put somewhere, but that is easier said than done. This has probably been one of the lowest points that I have got to since Claytie died and it has shaken my confidence across the board. I was feeling pretty cocky toward the end of last year, with things starting to feel kind of lighter, but this has knocked me back on my arse! There isn’t a whole lot anyone can do to help with my processing, it is what it is and I have to get on with it, but it has been hard. I’m finding myself evaluating all areas of my life, almost whether I want to or not, and it feels like I’m not sure of anything anymore. It is not the nicest way to be feeling, Some of it is just my usual chaotic brain stuff, but there are other things that involve other people and they are much harder to resolve – and waiting on others to do their part (whatever that looks like) is hard.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom tho… I did have a fabulous day off midweek which went a very long way to cheering me up! Good friends of mine were lucky enough to have a holiday at the beach and I invited myself along for the day. It was absolutely the very best thing I could have done, and I am super grateful that they let me gate crash their holiday. A couple of hours in the ocean and sand went a very long way to easing my anxiety. I am now determined to spend as much time at the beach as I can this year, it just makes me feel so much better! – Wednesday might be my beach day for the next little while, unless I’m required for babysitting which is even better!

The other high point for me this week was catching up with my Uni girl friends. We try and catch up a couple of times a year, although we are not always successful at that… life gets busy! Every time we do get together tho it is like no time has passed. We worked out that we have known each other for 30years this year – yup, we are actually that old! – and it is so lovely to think that we have been friends for that long. Listening to their stories also reinforces for me that I made the right decision not to be a teacher… I do not have that kind of patience!

The goal for this week is to keep working on feeling better – there isn’t any other choice… I don’t much like myself when I’m feeling low!! Fake it til you make it is still the motto, and I’m working on not letting outside influences pull me down, which is something of a challenge. In lots of ways I’m back to ‘a day at a time’, and that’s ok… it’s all part of being kind to myself and getting on with things.

67. Seasonal Blues

I feel like for the last few weeks, starting just before Christmas, I have been quite emotionally fragile and anxious. Christmas is really hard now, and the situation that happened (see last weeks post) has really shaken me. I am still processing it and as part of that I have felt the need to withdraw and wallow a little bit. It’s not my first time feeling like this – a generalised kind of Meh feeling that comes and goes, and has done since Claytie died. Sometimes you know it’s coming, other times it’s an unwelcome guest – either way it is not particularly pleasant. In this case I guess it’s kind of a seasonal anxiety/ depression that got a bit of a bonus boost thrown in.

The last few months of last year felt incredibly busy and frantic, with very little time to stop and rest; and while I enjoyed it all at the time it has kind of all caught up with me. Mostly I am a social person, and usually that is how I get my energy, but every now and then I need some time out to recharge as well. I have actually spent a whole lot of time on my own over the last couple of weeks, which has felt really necessary. Anything that I have done has felt as though it has taken a huge amount of effort to push myself to do, and longer than normal to ‘recover’ from. Fake it til you make it takes a lot of work to pull off sometimes!

I’m living a life now that I didn’t (and would never) chose for myself. This is not how my world is supposed to look and that is something I have to readjust to every single day. I am trying to get my feet back under myself, but it feels a little bit like every time that starts to happen something comes along to shake me up. Sometimes it’s easy to brush stuff off, other times it’s much harder.

I’m feel like I am always checking and evaluating everything around me and that’s also a hard way to live. Constant second guessing and questioning is exhausting, and then throw some insomnia into the mix and you get to fragile. I hate feeling like this, like I am constantly complaining and also contradicting myself. I feel like I don’t always make a whole lot of sense – trust me it’s just as confusing for me…. I don’t want to be this whiny, needy person… I don’t much like her, but I feel like I need to give myself permission to sit here for a little bit and process – my version of self-care!?

I think one of the big things that keeps standing out for me, and I have commented on before, is how many people disappoint you. More often than not it is entirely unintentionally – thoughtless more than malicious, but it is absolutely there. Obviously when you’re feeling fragile you are more aware of this kind of stuff, a kind of hyper vigilance where the negative things seem to stand out and hurt more, but lip service and a lack of follow up are very real. Judgement is very real. Absence is very real. It’s a hard lesson on top of all of the other things that change, and it makes you very careful about who you let into your world. Not everyone has been so understanding of the need I have felt for this time out. I am incredibly grateful to the people in my world who have been there for me unconditionally, putting up with the highs and lows… it really really helps to have you here!

I know that I will come out of this slump soon enough, I have done it before, but my confidence took a hit and has left me a bit shaky. I know that people have been worried about or (in some cases) disappointed by my withdrawing but I need to look after my mental health and if that means some time out I will always take it. I am no good to anyone if I don’t look after myself.

On the upside, all of this home time has been good for my housekeeping. The garden has had a huge go-over this week and will be fabulous when I finish it in the next couple of days. Cupboards and the kitchen will be next on the list, and I’m happy to say that there are plenty of charity shops that will benefit from that too. It has helped me to feel a little bit more in control of my life. Going back to work this week has surprisingly also been a bit of a blessing. Much and all as I complain about it and wish for a lotto win every single day, the routine and predictability has helped switch my brain off for a few hours each day. My very favourite thing tho has been the baby cuddles that I have been lucky to get. There is something about holding a baby that just settles the anxiety and makes me feel better.

66. Judgement

Well, I have to say that this is not the post I thought I would be writing this week, but it feels like the one that needs to happen.

Somehow over the holiday period we had a blow up that feels like it has changed everything. I’m not going to go into all of it, that wouldn’t be fair to everyone involved, but suffice it to say that people have once again surprised me and not in a good way.

The person involved has seemingly had a grievance with me since about October 2021, that has grown and festered and been added to ever since with other things that have happened. Instead of addressing it and having a conversation at any point since then, it has just been bubbling away for them until it exploded over the holidays. There are several points that they were upset about, but one of the main ones comes back to me dating.

Everyone has said all of the right things about me dating and finding someone… they all ‘want me to be happy’, and I know that for the most part this is a genuine sentiment. But there are clearly some people that don’t like how that looks. They say they want me to be happy, but have a problem with how I am doing that. Be happy, but not with someone else.

Right now I am feeling extremely hurt and disappointed. I feel judged. It’s a horrible place to be and I am really not sure what I am supposed to do! Is the preferred option that I sit at home and stew in my misery? .. trust me, I already do plenty of that, along with second guessing and over thinking every thing that I do. I know that people are curious about the way I am trying to put my life back together, I’ve invited you along for the ride by writing it all down every week – but don’t you dare sit on some kind of high horse and judge me. Until this is your life (and I really really hope it never is!) you have no right!

I am doing the best that I can to try and live a life that isn’t the one I want. Every single day is a struggle, but what choice do I have!? No one will ever replace Claytie, they couldn’t possibly and that is not even remotely what I want! I am trying to find a person that I am comfortable with, that I can spend time with and maybe find some kind of happiness with. They are never going to be able to replicate what Claytie and I had and I know that, but I am allowed to have someone in my corner. Someone who sees me and is happy to be with me.

I am not just jumping into something without any thought about anyone else. I am constantly thinking about the boys and my family, people who are important in my world and how all of this affects them. These thoughts play a huge role in every decision that I make, probably way more that I should let them. I’m sure I will make mistakes. I am human, and emotional and that is what happens; and when those mistakes happen I will learn from them just like anyone else.

I don’t owe anyone an explanation or apology for trying to find something to hang on to that makes me happy. This situation has made me feel judged and I was not expecting that to happen. I’m sad, angry and mostly disappointed that a person who knows me, that I thought had some sort of understanding would turn the way that they have. I’m not sure that there is a way to repair that relationship and that also makes me really sad.

This is not at all the way I thought we would finish the year. We actually had a really nice Christmas for the most part. It was so nice having Baby here to love. It bought something happy back that has been missing for us. I am trying hard to move on from my hurt feelings, and not give them too much more power. The scars are here now tho for us and we need to figure out how to live around them. I hope that the new year brings with it peace and calm, love and graciousness. I’m looking forward to more time with the people that matter, and I am looking forward to continuing my journey – whatever that looks like x

65. Christmas

Well, here we are again, another year over and a new one just about to start. It is always crazy how fast the days go by – and that feels like an old lady thing to say! I feel like for this end-of-year blog I want to re-cap all of the things that have happened in our world, but most of you will know most of the things because thanks to my rambling each week, you have all been on the journey with us!

Obviously the highest of our highlights this year have been my oldest son’s wedding in May and the arrival of my first grandchild three weeks ago – and he is the squishiest, cutest, most delightful baby ever!

Benjamin Thomas

I went overseas to Malaysia and had a fabulous adventure, and I am looking forward to finding other new places for me to explore. I have changed my job and moved to a new hospital for work which has been both a very good thing and also a challenge for me – I will stay here at this stage until the end of April and then see what comes next. I have just bought an investment property and I know that Claytie would be really happy with it. Looking at real estate was something of a hobby for him, and we always talked about doing something like this. And on the romance front, I have been seeing a really, really nice fellow for the last couple of months and I am excited to see how that continues to go…..

In between all of the really big things are of course the usual day to day things that happen in my world. Trivia Tuesdays are still a thing – and the “Black Widows” have done very well all year! We seem to win often enough that we have had plenty of team dinners paid for with our stash. We are definitely the naughty table and spend a lot of time laughing and coming up with inappropriate answers. I really look forward to Tuesday nights and catching up with the team – it is definitely a high point each week. I have also still been going to Karaoke, although not as much in the last few weeks with the lead up to Christmas. It is also a high point each week and I really love the energy and people watching there. It is always fun to see who is there each week and what their song choices will be, I also love the friends that I catch up with when I go, it makes me stupidly happy!

This year I have also changed the Widow support group that I go to and have made a whole bunch of sensational new friends. There are at least two coffee catch ups each month that I go to, as well as other social events, and it has been the best kind of therapy for me. It keeps me busy, which I like, and these people understand me in a way that others can’t and I am so grateful to have made these connections. Grief is part of every single day for me in one way or another – I know it will be for the rest of my life. Claytie was and continues to be the biggest part of my world, but I am doing my very best to navigate this new space with out him. Its a bloody bumpy road, but I think the boys and I are doing OK for the most part.

As always tho, I have to say a huge thank you to all of you who are part of my world. It matters so much more than I could ever say to know that I have such amazing people around me that I can vent to, drink with, drag to Karaoke, and cry or laugh with. My world would be a much darker place without the light that you bring and I am so lucky to be able to call you my friends. I am amazed at how many of you follow this blog and the feedback that you give me. I never thought that this would be something that I would do, let alone enjoy and look forward to each week. It seems bizarre to me that people feel like they are learning all of this stuff along side of me – I hope you never need the lessons!

I hope that this Christmas and New Year period is filled with good food, great company, lots of laughs and happy memories for you. Spend time doing things with those that bring you joy. Be grateful for something every day – there are so many fabulous things to appreciate in our world. Enjoy the big exciting things, don’t sweat the small stuff and tell people that are important to you how much you love them. Life is short – live it big! Do all of the things that make you happy! xx R

64. One week to go

So after last weeks post, I decided that I needed to try and regain at least a little bit of control of my mental health and had a day off work. It’s amazing what a difference that has made for me! I wrote some lists and took myself Christmas shopping. I started on the cooking that I needed to do and I have a bunch of stuff in the freezer ready for this week. Presents have been bought and mostly wrapped and I feel a million times better. I would absolutely recommend a Mental Health day for anyone who is feeling the anxiety that the lead up to Christmas can bring – or any time throughout the rest of the year as well!

I have always been a fan of taking a day for myself every now and again. It is such a great way to reset your brain and your energy, and those things matter so much more than we give credit for. I’m lucky enough to only work 4 days per week and try to make the most of my day off. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and if I can manage it I will try and make some more time for myself this week… ideally a quick run to the beach to watch the sun come up on my mid-week day off!

I know that Christmas is a really hard time for a lot of people, and I know that a lot of my widowed friends are struggling at the moment too. There is a whole lot of anxiety leading up to the day, wondering how it will be this year, anticipating perhaps a first without their person, or knowing how tough it is having gone through it before. Christmas, and other family celebrations are really hard without your person. They are central to everything that you do or think about doing. There isn’t an hour that passes for me that I am not thinking about Claytie and how he would be feeling about everything… Even though he is gone, he is still a huge part of everything I think about and do, and he always will be.

This year I have a new anxiety to add to my list, and that involves the person I am seeing. He and I are in a really good place and we talk about everything all of the time. It is really reassuring that we are able to do that, it works wonders for my anxiety and he fully understands me and my craziness and I get him. It really helps that we were such good friends before we started dating, because we have seen the “real” version of who we both are. It means that there are no taboo subjects and that is a really nice feeling, especially when I am feeling so chaotic. 

I have had lots of questions from different people about our relationship in relation to Christmas – will we be spending it together? and how do the boys feel about it?… Two of my boys haven’t yet met him – they are not ready and I don’t want to push them, but I know that hurts him a bit. I know that the boys have been nervous about his family being part of our Christmas, and I have had to reassure them that that won’t be happening this year (he will be at our place for boxing day tho and they are all fine with that). I do want them to meet and get to know him and have asked them to make an effort with that! My in-laws have had some of the same concerns, and again, I would love for them to meet him, but I understand that its really hard for them and I don’t want to push. Other people seem to think that it is weird that we wont be spending the day together. It is a challenge to navigate and make sure everyone in the family is feeling heard and understood, and still do the things that are right for me.

There are so many “firsts” and new things that have happened in my world since Claytie died. Almost everyday there is something that challenges me. It kind of never occurred to me that there would be so many things that I would not be prepared for, but then again I never ever thought I would find myself in this position at all. In lots of ways I am proud of myself for putting one foot in front of the other and getting through each day, and then in others I think well, what else would I do?! Life keeps going regardless of how I feel about it and I have to make the best of what I have. My mum commented the other day that she is worried about my happiness, and I am too. I don’t know that I will ever as happy as I was, but I am doing the very best I can to find a new happiness and to live my life the best way I know how. 

63. Meh…

Don’t you hate how when one thing breaks, several others do as well, and all in the lead up to Christmas! I’m the last week I have had to replace the pool chlorinator and have someone come out to look at both the washing machine and the dryer – essentials in my house with all of the people that still live there! Hopefully that is all I need to have fixed and other things don’t break down too!

I am also in the process of purchasing an investment property. Last time I was involved with buying a house was 20 years ago and I had Claytie to do all of the complicated stuff for both of us… he would just tell me where to sign and I would do it. This time I’m mostly trying it on my own, although my oldest son has been a godsend. He has a much better understanding of all of the processes than I do, and luckily for me he has been incredibly patient.

In the middle of all of that, there is the build up to Christmas. I thought I was going to be ok this year… the tree went up by the first of December and that felt ok, but as we are getting closer to it, my anxiety is building up massively. I’m feeling anxious about everything and I know I’ve been moody with it. I don’t particularly like the role I am in at work at the moment which is adding to all of this. I have everything crossed that I’ll move into a different spot in the new year, but in the meantime it’s dragging me down. I have a million things to do for Christmas and feel like I don’t have the time, I also don’t have the energy or any ideas about what I’m doing. It all feels quite overwhelming. I’m procrastinating about everything and then complaining about not having time. It’s a vicious cycle and I’m not sure how to snap myself out of it.

Christmas last year was really, really hard and I’m worried that this year will be the same. I thought I had myself prepared for it, but it caught me well and truly by surprise. Rationally I know that it will be very different to last year with the things that are already planned, but my brain is not always rational. I feel like I am going through the motions in most areas of my life, and I am not really engaged with any of them. I’m avoiding things that I should be doing, and then freaking out about not having time. It’s a yucky feeling and I really dont like it. I am trying to go with the ‘fake it til you make it’ philosophy, but it doesn’t feel like I’m ‘making’ it.

On the brighter side in all of this, Granny Cuddles are the best! Mum, Dad and Bub are all doing very well and getting to know each other. Sleep, as you would expect, is a rare luxury, but no-one is really complaining. How could anyone complain when the face looking back at you is so very, very cute?!

62. He’s here

So on Wednesday this week, our whole world changed again. I was outside, early, hanging out some washing when my phone pinged on our family group chat to say we had a message. … it was a photo…. of a brand new baby laying on his mothers chest! Apparently I screamed and made a whole lot of noise and freaked the boys right out… but given I had no notice that it was happening, I stand by my reaction!!

After a reasonable lengthy labour – that I knew nothing about, and happening three weeks earlier than expected, my very first grandson made his way into the world. Benjamin Thomas arrived at 7.48am weighing 3.353kg and is perfectly divine! Mum, dad and baby are doing very well and getting used to each other. I am completely delighted to be Granny and his new uncles are besotted.

I do have to confess tho, that the day was also incredibly difficult. Ugly crying, sobbing happened pretty much the whole day. I know that Claytie would have given anything to be here with us, and the unfairness that he is not was pretty raw for me – and I know for the boys as well. I was really lucky to be able to have some time alone with my son and his baby not too long after he arrived and there were absolutely tears for both of us acknowledging the hugeness of the occasion and the magnitude of the loss. The other boys have also all shed a tear when meeting their new nephew. There is no way to not feel it.

I knew it was going to be hard, the whole process has been so bittersweet, but in lots of ways it was almost as hard as the day Claytie died. I’m not sure I was expecting that, but probably I should have. It’s these kind of firsts that make the grief surge right back to the front like a tidal wave. I know it will settle back down and that we will all get used to living around the massive hole in our lives.. that is life and what seems to happen, but every so often you’re swallowed whole and struggle to find your footing.

I absolutely love being Granny… it’s an amazing feeling, and I know Claytie would have made the best Grandad (or maybe Poppy?). I am going to enjoy every minute of it and be excited for this new bright future. Anything less feels like it would be doing Claytie a disservice. He’s not here so I’m doing it for both of us.

61. Friends

So I know I have spoken about this before, but when your person dies a whole lot of things that you have never considered before change in a massive way. There are the obvious things – your person is gone and you are on your own. You may or may not need to (or choose to) move out of your home. Your financial situation changes…. all kind of obvious when you stop to think abut it. But there are other things that change that you can’t prepare for, and the biggest one for me has been the changes to my friendship groups. I have touched on the friends thing previously, and then again a little bit last week, saying how nice it was to have an evening out and fit some of my old friends with the new, and how easy they made it and how relieved I was about it. I meant it to be more or less a passing comment, but I have had a couple of people ask me about it, so I figured it needs talking about. I’m not sure if my explanation will make sense, but here goes….

Since Claytie died, I have found that a lot of my old friends have run screaming for the hills, at a pace that if it hadn’t hurt so much should be admired for its speed. They are people that I have been friends with for more than 15 years – probably closer to 20. We would see each other if not weekly then at least fortnightly. We did all kinds of things together and I would have thought that would count for a lot more than it did. It seems I was wrong. Others, also long time friends, have changed a whole lot in their interactions with me. Contact has drifted, and often unless I instigate it, I will not hear from them for a long time. It is hard to carry on one sided relationships, and its hard knowing how long to try for. I don’t want to be the person that gives up, but I also don’t want to be the only one working for it.

Once you are in this situation of having lost your person, and are talking to others who are also on this journey, you find out that this is kind of a common theme. No-one really seems to have a proper answer as to why this happens, other than people don’t know how to respond to your grief. I try to accept that as an answer, but it does rub me up the wrong way a little bit. We are all struggling with different things but surely we are all able to be kind and genuine. I know that you can’t do anything to make my situation better – you can’t bring Claytie back. That is not what I need from you! I need for you to not make it worse. I need for you to not add another layer of grief to this horror show by walking away when I need support. I don’t care if you don’t have the right words to say – there are no right words in any case. I need you to sit with me, to have my back like I would have yours. I need to know that some things in my world are able to stay the same when everything else has changed so much. I need you to be my friend, to be the person that I knew before while I try to figure out how to do this part of my life.

I am not placing all of the blame onto these people, that wouldn’t be fair… I know I am a different person to who I used to be and I know that is an adjustment for all of us – trust me I get it – I am adjusting too! But I am also not THAT different! I am still Robbie…. The person you have known for such a long time is still there, and the things that are different are surely not that bad! I understand that grief is difficult for everyone, and sometimes it is hard to know what to say – I have those same struggles too…. but I am not just my grief! I still laugh, we all know I have always cried – that absolutely hasn’t changed! I still live in the same place and I have lots of stories to tell about all kinds of things… I am interested and interesting (at least I think so?!). Yes I have made a whole lot of new friends, but that does not mean I have forgotten (or don’t need) the old!

I am so very grateful to those of my friends that have stayed the same, that don’t see me any differently, that treat me the same as always . – Ironically some of them are also the ones that were asking what I meant in my post last week. They are the ones that are journeying with me through the changes, that accept me for who I was and who I am now learning to be. They are learning as much about all of this as I am. They keep me grounded and they help me to process the changes that are happening. They are the ones that I am so incredibly relieved to have and beyond grateful for in all of this. Without them this horrible shit show would be so much harder. I have tried to accept that the ones who have left had their own reasons for doing that, and it’s ok and I’ll try to stop bringing it up so much because it only makes me sad! I keep reminding myself of that saying about friends coming into your life for a reason, a season or a life time. I guess they were there for a season, and I have learned a lot from them, each in their own way.

Not everyone is meant to journey with you every step of the way – that is not how life works and I do understand that. It has just been a unexpectedly harsh shock to the system to feel these peripheral losses on top of the big one. It is all an adjustment, and this post is not meant to be attention seeking or needy, but rather an explanation of what I’m feeling. I love all of the delightful people who are in my world, keeping me this side of sane (I know I’m funny!!) I am lucky and grateful that you put up with me! Thanks for walking this part of the path with me and for putting up with the chaos that comes along with that x

60. F-ABBA-ulous

This week has been another busy one in my world… the weekend especially! I went out for dinner and drinks on Friday with some old friends and the guy I have been spending time with. It was such a nice night mixing my old and new worlds, and best of all it was easy! I know not everyone in my friend circle will be so accepting or make it as easy as this was; and while part of me understands that – they all knew and loved Claytie, he is gone and I have to find happiness where I can. There have been so very many changes in my world in the last 28 months, especially in my friendship circles, it is really nice when I can make new pieces fit with the old. The picture will never look the same, but it is still a nice picture.

Speaking of pictures and finding happiness, Saturday night a group of widowed friends and I went out for an ABBA tribute show. Those of you who know me particularly well will know that I am pretty partial to ABBA, and I do love a theme! Our whole group decided to go dressed in our 70’s best and head out to dinner before the show! We had the best time!!! We were the only ones who put in the effort and looked amazing! Our fellow diners certainly thought so based on the number of comments and compliments we received! Even the band commented on our dedication when we paraded through the room to get to the dance floor! … it was fabulous!

Cheers to ABBA!

The downside of all the fun stuff tho is that Sundays are then also jam packed with all the things that haven’t been done. Hangovers and tired are not ideal when combined with groceries, washing and all those other good things… and then I have the ‘to go to work because tomorrow is Monday’ anxiety kicking in!

This week I am moving into another role at work (it’s a rotational roster) and my anxiety has been playing up because of it. I’m not worried about the role but rather the hours. It will be a late start/late finish, and I hate that! I am such an early bird – I’m usually awake any time from 3am at the moment, so it makes for a very long day! I’m also anxious about it because grand-baby number 1 will be here really soon (we have about a month to go now) and I want to be able to help out… that’s easier done with a 3pm work finish than a 5.30 one! I’m sure it will be fine, but it’s in my head! Verbalising it helps me to move through it easier, which is why I’m mentioning it here.

On another note, I can’t believe this is blog post number 60! I had no idea that I would have so much to say each week, or that so many of you would be interested in my rambling! I love that my ‘cheap therapy’ has become this thing that other people maybe get something out of. Thank you! I appreciate everyone of you much more that you could imagine.

59. Lucky

I went to a Widow support group catch up this week… I go to a lot of them. They are cheap therapy, and in that group I can be me. No one has to mind their words in case they upset me by mentioning Claytie or talking about death the way that people in my other circles seem to. I’m not anyone special in that group, I am not the odd one out, because we have all lost our person. I can just be me and that’s incredibly liberating.

At this weeks catch up there were four new people. It’s a weird feeling when new members join the group. We all have this huge interest in hearing their stories, but it is tinged with so very much empathy because they are only with the group because their person has recently died. You want to tell them that it will get better – but it doesn’t, you just learn to live around it. Talking to them reopens the scab on your loss, it’s hard and it hurts but it is also really nice to know that everyone in the group gets it. It sounds weird to say it -my kids think it’s the most miserable thing they could ever imagine, but it’s really really helpful… and for me, it helps to put my situation into perspective.

One new lady is now widowed for the second time! Her first partner completed suicide and her second (soul mate) died after a longer illness. How on earth do you survive this horror story twice?! How do you keep getting out of bed each morning? It is hard enough living this life now. It’s hard to think about finding happiness a second time only to lose it again. Maybe I should just be grateful for the fairytale that I had. Maybe it’s greedy to think that I could have another? I could live to be in my 90s I don’t want that to be on my own… the fairy tale I had makes me believe totally that it is worth the risk of trying again.

Another of the ladies that is new is only quite young. Her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly in a similar way to Claytie in the middle of the year. Here one minute gone the next. She has a two year old and is due with her second baby this side of Christmas. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for her…having a toddler and a new baby is hard in an ideal scenario, and this is as far from that as you could possibly get! We were so lucky that the boys all finished school, reached adulthood and grew up knowing who Claytie was and how much they were loved by him.

Another person is still not entirely sure how his wife died, but it was a suspected reaction to the covid vaccine. She had her immunisation on the Thursday and was gone by Monday! He may never know for sure what the actual cause of death was, and I can’t imagine what that does to you. In our case, we had a very clear answer about the cause of Clayties death. It does help to know what happened and that we definitely could not have done anything to stop it from happening.

I know I keep saying how lucky we have been in all of the things that have happened to us. I genuinely feel it. I know it. I’m not saying that things haven’t been hard for us – they have been horrendous! But we have been lucky. We have had the most amazing people in our world to help us get through it – old friends and new ones and the absolute best family in the world. My heart breaks for some of the people I have met who don’t have what we do. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be for them to process their grief. I am hugely grateful every single day for being this lucky.