By tabbykerwin, Nov 4 2019 01:17PM
Today is the start of the week that marks one year since my husband Simon died.
It’s a strange feeling as the last 12 months has gone so fast, yet it feels so long since Simon was here with me; chatting, hugging, supporting, laughing and sharing our life together.
But, as a rule, I’m ok about this week; genuinely.
It seems the belief is that the anniversary of a death should be a really tough day, but I’m desperately trying to flip that trend.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sad as hell and will cry…but I do that every day, even if it’s only for 1 minute when I something strikes an emotional chord.
But I don’t want to be any sadder on 7th November than I am any other day. I live with the reality, sadness and grief every day that he isn’t here anymore and I’ve made the choice to embrace that reality and not fight it as opposed to letting it overwhelm me and my life.
I had a wonderful 24 hours with my oldest and best friends of 25 years this weekend and when we sit and chat, we do it with honesty. We know there is no offending each other with our words of truth because they come from a place of love; So, when the following conversation happened, I think it was the best thing I’ve heard in months because it totally hit the nail on the head of the reality of my grief and the possible impending doom of this week’s anniversary.
Friend: “How are you feeling about this week.”
Me: “Actually I’m OK, it’s going to be no worse than any other day since Simon died because they’re all tough.”
Friend: “Well I suppose he has been dead all year!”
I have been chuckling about this for the last 48 hours and it will continue to carry me through with smiles and chuckles, just as Simon would want. That reality and honesty delivered with such true love is exactly what I need; from the right people, obviously.
Now, I get that might seem like the most insensitive thing to say to some people, but if you know me at all or knew my husband you would understand this is entirely appropriate and helpful.
The reality is that my husband is dead, I can’t bring him back and actually, for the full of life and jovial character he was, I think it would actually be quite disrespectful to him for me not to live my life to the fullest with smiles and laughter just as he did, and that means smiling through and embracing the toughest of times as well as the best, however hard that might be.
Recently I was chatting to another close friend of mine about the anniversary of Simon’s death, this was on the back of a conversation about birthdays and it really got me thinking about it all.
I had several thoughts; one being that these days we only seem to know about a ‘friend’s’ birthday if we see a Facebook reminder! Isn’t that the truth!
That aside, a birthday is an anniversary we have every year, which, in the main, we celebrate. So why can’t we apply this to the anniversary of a death too?
Each time I have hit an anniversary since Simon died, such as our wedding anniversary, his birthday and my birthday, I have tried to do something uplifting and celebratory in honour of him as otherwise, I’d have more sad anniversaries in a year than I could handle and I’d never live a life of joy.
I want to live my life with smiles, fun and a boat load of gratitude and experiences. That is what I did with Simon, what he taught me to do after a very unhappy time in my life and episodes with mental ill health and I love the feeling of that fun life, however hard it might be to maintain; it’s worth it.
I want to live my life and not miss it. Grief and life without Simon is punishment enough without me punishing myself further by not embracing every moment of life I have left and living it to its fullest for me, him and my son.
I’m coming to the conclusion that mourning doesn’t have to be all sad. A lot sad, hell yes, but not entirely. It can be celebratory as well and the larger and better the life that was lived, the bigger the celebration, surely?
In her ground-breaking book ‘On Death and Dying’ psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross revealed her model of The 5 Stages of Grief. These are denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance.
The one thing you have to understand with these stages, whilst I agree they are all real, they do not happen in any clear-cut order, but a continual cycle and mish mash of emotions, with everyone taking a different route through them, a bit like maze.
Author and death and grieving expert David Kessler, co-write this book with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and this week releases a book I can’t wait to read called ‘Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.’
According to the Amazon preview literature, in this book (find it here btw), Kessler shares his hard-earned wisdom and offers a roadmap to remembering those who have died with more love than pain, how to move forward in a way that honours our loved ones and ultimately transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience.
Yes! I can fully get on board with this concept. (You can read more here on Kessler, the 5 stages of grief and his book here ).
It is what I am trying to do.
Finding meaning in death by celebrating and honouring the person no longer with us, and that is what I plan to do every single day and that methodology can co-habit with the sadness and tears and reality of Simon’s death and my grief, but it will be the stronger one in the relationship.
So, as well as shedding many tears and reflecting this week and every week, I will be celebrating my husband in the best ways I know how. I will talk about him, share stories about him, play his music to the world and keep his legacy alive and on 7th November 2019, one year on from the day he died, I will celebrate his life and legacy by officially launching a CD of his music in the hospital where he took his last breath and in that hospital and everywhere, his music and life will live on.
You can buy the CD HERE and donation from sales goes to the Bexley Wing, Leeds Cancer Centre, St. James' Hospital.
A person grieving does not need to be fixed.
I do not need to be fixed.
I need to live and grieve in my own way, just as you will when you take your own grief journey.
There is no magic date when everything will become ‘better’ or ‘normal.’
What is ‘normal’ now is not what was ‘normal’ when the person you’re grieving was alive.
One year will not mark a time to ‘move on.’
I will never ‘move on’ but I will always ‘move forward.’
Because, at the end of the day, there is no magic date when everything changes; a date is just another day.