Coronavirus and the first set of restrictions got me good this year.
Initially I thought I’d cope okay, after all, I’m no stranger to having life tipped on its head. I mean when your husband dies and you’ve already dealt with emotional, mental, and financial instability, I kind of thought I had Coronavirus in the bag!
How wrong I was!
The first couple of weeks after lock-down had been announced and dealing with instability and uncertainty again, I woke one week with a familiar and very uncomfortable feeling. The kind I hadn’t experienced for a while.
I was tired. But not an ordinary tiredness - a kind of fatigue where your bones ache and you struggle to get out of bed and you can't shake it all day. Each morning I’d wake and hope that the day would get better as it went on, but I was finding the days gruelling. Lack of appetite, no energy and a nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Easter weekend began and I battled my way through with a smile plastered on my unhappy face. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to be over and I had many negative feelings towards myself, others and the world in general and I felt like I was falling apart all over again. I began to realise I was stuck in a bit of a hole and I was so frustrated with myself for it.
The Tuesday after Easter I woke with what I hoped would be a fresh attitude. While scrolling social media I came across the most incredible video. A gorgeous friend had posted a video that shared a flash mob dance that she organised for her mum, who was dying from cancer. There were literally 200 people dancing all together while her mum clapped and smiled, and I couldn’t help but cry. It was both beautiful and heart breaking all at once.
Switching off the video I went into my bathroom and started to sob. Then this feeling of absolute rage came over me and I began to cry even harder. I was so confused by what was going on, so I tried to brush away my tears and get on with the day. But as the day continued the tears and the anger kept coming. I’m a bit of a deep thinker and so I was trying to work through what these feelings meant. Why was I feeling so much rage and anger about a beautiful Instagram video? When suddenly a thought popped into my head.
I didn’t get to say goodbye.
I didn’t get to say goodbye, and even thinking about it now, actually takes my breath away by how much that hurts.
After I realised what was upsetting me so much, wave after wave of emotion hit me
Now, it’s not that I didn’t have an opportunity to say goodbye to Craig. After all I got to spend some time with him after he was pronounced dead, and I then saw his body a week later, and of course there was the funeral too. But I didn’t get to say goodbye. Not in the way I would have wanted, and god it feels so unfair.
Because if I had of known Craig would die, maybe I’d have done a flash mob (even though Craig would literally have keeled over if he ever saw me attempting a flash mob coupled with the fact, I have no rhythm). Maybe I’d have paraded 500 elephants down the street. Maybe I’d have ordered in 1000 oysters and kilograms of prawns while toasting him with champagne.
There’s so much I maybe could have done, but I didn’t get a chance, and it’s a hard burden to bear.
That day was not a good day, and that thought sat with me for some time until I chatted with my psychologist about it.
I conveyed how I was feeling and everything that was going on for me and she asked, “so tell me Jo, if you had that time with Craig, to say goodbye, what would you have said?”
I got a real shock when I said the following,
“I didn’t want to say goodbye, I didn’t want a flash mob, I just wanted to sit with him, and for him to put his arm around me and say to me - you’re going to be okay.”
Which pretty much sums up my relationship with Craig. He was my number one supporter and his reassurance was the only thing I ever really needed. It’s what I truly miss most. So to not have had that final conversation with him is such a kick in the guts.
No one grieving is immune to the deep dark hole you sometimes find yourself, whether it’s one year or sixteen years down the grief path. The deep dark hole is a hard place to be.
However, once you resurface, a little battered and bruised, you often find you’ve learned something new about yourself, your grief and your feelings – and that’s not a bad place to be.
Grief a guided journal helps you explore the deep and dark holes that you find yourself in grief, you can read more about this book here.
Read about how Jo approached taking care of her mental health after the loss of her husband, in the post mental as anything.