It’s been a challenging couple of weeks. Spring always is for me and it can start quite
early. It is my mission this year not to have a Bipolar Depressive Episode. I am being
proactive and pushing on with self-management the best way I can. My mood has definitely
been on the low side and I’ve also been somewhat anxious. I’ve not wanted to write, have
had a lack of desire to communicate and completing my daily tasks has required a big push.
It was this week that I was struck by a disturbing feeling that my husband was no
longer ‘present’ in the home. Since he died, I’ve always had a strong sense of his warmth
around me. That he is here. In the earlier days I would make frequent ‘chat’ to him. In more
recent times the flat has always just felt like ‘him’. There were constant reminders that would
make me feel good and make me smile. Suddenly this week they were gone.
I couldn’t feel him anymore, couldn’t sense him. It was as if every trace of him had
eroded away. There was a distinct coldness in the home. I was acutely aware that he has
descended to some higher realm and I am completely and utterly alone. And now whatever I
was holding onto I could no longer access. The atmosphere had changed and I didn’t like it at
I started to feel guilty about the re-decoration. 3 years after he died I decided to
redecorate. It was necessary. It hadn’t been done for 10 years. When he died I remember
saying “I’m keeping everything as it is forever”. But I made a decision not to keep the flat a
shrine. I’d been buying little bits of art I wanted to put up. Piglet’s room was pink and she
had been anti pink for sometime and was desperate to paint her room blue. The whole place
needed a makeover. The carpets were dreadful, I wanted flooring.
But now I was thinking where are all his things? We had two matching antique chairs,
had I sold his or mine? I wanted it back in its place so I could imagine him sitting there but
now I had a big dining table there for all the imaginary dinner parties I never have. Even the
things that were his just felt like objects they had no energy or meaning about them.
Previously I’d felt so happy with the redecoration. We’d made the place ours. Me and Piglet.
A fresh start. Our identities. But now I felt guilty like I’d wiped him out.
There was a clinical air. A lack of meaning in everything. A sense of disconnection
from the contents of the rooms. I wanted in back how it was before. I felt like I didn’t
recognise the things before me, new and old. The joy I got from the new had gone and the
happiness I had previously got from the old appeared like remnants of the past that didn’t
belong to me. Even useful things like the tens of labelled spice jars he had produced and
organised that I regularly thanked him for were just jars. The same with the many other
conveniences that were down to him. They meant nothing anymore.
As I write it now I can see it wasn’t a case of “Where is my husband?” but more of a
case of “Where are my feelings?”.
It was a strange place. I tried to recount some memories associated with the objects
we had collected together or had joint meaning but didn’t persevere as it felt like a robotic
exercise. I was detached from the past and in the present, just. I couldn’t integrate to two right
I moved on for a couple of days after this awareness simply accepting it. I thought
well maybe that’s where I am right now. Hopefully it’s just a phase. We all know Grief is a
puzzling process and Grief within a mental illness even more so. I carried on focused on my
self management. Doing my dog walking to raise my energy levels and connect me to the
environment and gradually this started to have positive results. In fact I can’t recommend it
highly enough. And then on Friday night something wonderful happened.
I found a piece of my husband in the Royal Albert Hall!
I had planned a surprise date to take my daughter to see “Luzia” the latest production
by the Cirque De Soleil. It had good reviews and was a celebration of Mexico where I’d gone
on my first trip with my husband and had a very special time (although I didn’t know that
when I booked it). 15 years ago this same month, he had brought me for a surprise here for
our 2nd date.
From the moment we arrived I just felt I was in the right place. As we queued for
popcorn, I reminisced the evening with my daughter, the excitement of early dating with her
Dad. What I was wearing, How I’d gotten ready at home and arrived at his house just to
straighten my hair. The feelings of anticipation and a sense of good things to come.
As I experienced the evening with my daughter, I felt like I was experiencing the
evening both with my daughter and my husband. There was a sense of warmth and
togetherness. We enjoyed the beauty and richness of the building and the show. We shared
the thrill and delight on our child’s face. I felt comfortable and safe both because he was there
with us and also as an independent woman out with my daughter.
Since then I feel as if I have brought him home with me to the flat. He is here again.
Not in the flat particularly. But inside of me. A warmth in my belly that has replaced the fear
I have been experiencing in the past couple of weeks. He has been integrated in me
previously but I just lost him for a short while. It’s not a strong or overwhelming feeling, just
enough to feel connected, for the coldness to disappear. I am still alone but I have just a little
bit of extra strength back from finding that connection again.
I don’t feel guilty about the redecoration anymore. I like my cosy, comfortable home.
He wouldn’t have wanted us to live in a decaying shrine. He would have been impressed at
my proactive efforts at change and getting things done. He was a person who got things done
and was always up for change and improvement. He would have loved to see me trying to
learn how to use a drill!
I wonder now if my loss of connection was linked with my low mood. I have spoken
before about not being able to experience Grief in states of Depression or Mania and my
mood was sinking. I have also spoken about not being able to access happy memories if you
can’t access Grief. The two are intertwined. So maybe I was feeling some Grief I was
unaware of. As my mood was lifted by a long and energising walk on Friday and the special
date with my daughter I was able to reconnect.
I feel comfortable going forward in this knowledge. Of this ebb and flow. I am not
fearful. I will take each experience as it comes and deal with it gently without stress. It
always seems to work itself out whether it ends in tears that need to be shed or in this case a
comfort that needs to be re-established. I am unafraid of Grief and Loss and the multitude of
emotions and pockets of emptiness it brings. There is always an organic route for them to