My wife Karen died in January 2012 and I entered into an alien, bewildering world that I didn’t recognise – a world of uncertainty, pain, loneliness, and I was scared and lost.
What will I do now?
Sometime, somehow, I found Bereaved Families of Ottawa (BFO). People grieving as I was, people who met weekly and sat around in a circle, talking about their grief
The circle of grief sharing
The circle of hope
And this circle started to lift me out of the hell I was living. With BFO I found a safe place to talk about my grief, to unburden myself, to tell my story to people who had become friends, who listened to my words, heard my grief and didn’t judge me; watching and listening to me, focused on me and my grief – drawing the poison out of me. They became my family; I felt a love and tenderness in that room that gave me strength. And taught me that no matter what help I sought or was given, my salvation was within myself.
When Karen died I put all the memorabilia I was keeping into boxes, locked them away, shut Karen out of my life. Now was the time to bring her back in.
But as I took Karen back into my life, so I knew I had to let her go – and by letting go I mean stop clinging to the past and its painful memories, that place were I was stuck, and had been since Karen’s death. I must allow myself to accept that Karen was dead, and that part of my life was over, finished, and I must move on. This was the hardest part of my journey, because I didn’t want to let go – I liked it back there. But as I persevered it felt like I was breathing life back into my body.
I now had an answer to my question, ‘Where am I now?’ ‘You are alive and well and you have an obligation to Karen’s memory to live your life to the full.’ And this became my focus.
I was still going to BFO every week and as the make-up of the circle continued to change, so it remained the same.
Sometimes we’d cry, sometimes we’d laugh, often at ourselves, or some outlandish thing one of us had done to get by in dealing with a grief attack. Nobody got offended, nothing was taken personally, it just felt good.
And that’s the feeling I took away with me each week – a good feeling about myself; and this feeling gave me hope. So now my journey has become more a journey of discovery and hope, than a journey of pain and despair.
I am grateful to all who have helped me, in particular my friends at BFO – but most of all I am thankful to, and proud of myself.
Karen believed I was an amazing person, but I think this image she had was coloured by her love for me. Since her death I have grown into a better person, more into the person she thought I was. I can think of no better way of honouring her memory.
I continue to visit with Karen at the cemetery, and I take two roses and two baby breath – one for each of us. And I always ask her,
“How am I doing, sweetheart?”
She hasn’t answered me yet. So I answer for her,
“You’re doing great,” she says, “I love you.”
And I know all is well within me and that I have returned to the real world and am living my life to the full once more.