I have often read that the second year after the loss of a partner is worse than the first. This is not my experience. It is now just over 2 years since I lost my husband, John, very suddenly. I still find the loss of the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with very difficult and what happened still seems unbelievable to me. The first year following his death was absolutely awful. I was unbearably lonely, despite having very supportive friends and family; I was numb; I was desperately unhappy. Even when I was with other people I felt separated from them. This feeling was particularly acute when in a situation where there were other people who didn’t know me well and didn’t necessarily know what had happened. I felt as though I was separated from the rest of the world by a glass screen that I couldn’t and didn’t really want to break through. I couldn’t speak to other people because I was different and no longer part of their world. I just wasn’t talking to anybody about my feelings or what had happened. Towards the end of the first year I was in a pretty bad state.
At that time I just knew that I had to start talking or I was just going to sink further and further. I felt like I was drowning in my grief. I decided to try counselling. At first I went to group sessions. I had thought that talking to other people who had lost partners might help but soon found that this was not the case. Most people in the group were older than me and all had lost partners to cancer. My experience of the death of my husband was very different to theirs. I don’t mean that their grief was any less significant than mine. It was just that losing my husband so suddenly, never getting to say goodbye, not being able to see his body or even to know exactly how he died made it more difficult for me to relate to the group. Next I tried individual counselling sessions and also started writing this blog. I only went to three or four counselling sessions but they did at least put me into a situation where I had to start talking about my feelings and I think now that I should have started writing my thoughts down much earlier as it did help.
Last Saturday I went to a 60th birthday party where I found myself quite happily talking to different people; some that I knew and some that I had never met before. I remembered the glass screen and wondered at which point exactly it had disappeared.