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long silence from Cold Comfort Cottage, I know, but I have been slowly working
up to saying a farewell to my Mac friends who have helped me through the very
was – literally - a life ago that I began this blog. I was tentatively reaching out to the Mac world. Blogs? What were blogs?
I didn’t really know and got into all sorts of trouble because I
questioned the motives of those who felt the desire to let in all spill out
into the cyberspace. (Do any of you remember?) But there you were – so patient – so understanding. I thank you, most sincerely.
is the last installment:
eight weeks ago The Hounds were off for a ‘trial’ night with some people who
take dogs as boarders in their house – a very humane alternative to the dreaded
kennels about which we always had moral objections. (Well – those high standards have come back to ‘bite’ me!)
I was delaying going home to a completely empty house and found myself lurking,
in a depressed sort of way, amidst the clothes rails in one of the only shops in
this area frequented by women who like to keep vaguely ‘on trend.’
I was looking, halfheartedly, for
something to boost the tired wardrobe (what is suitable for work, dog walking,
doing the ancient Aga, etc, etc … ?) and I was delaying, delaying going back to
what now passes for home.
was a smart, middle-aged woman purchasing something at the checkout. She was about a decade or so older than
me. I glimpsed a glimmer of pink platforms with extreme heels being carefully swaddled
in tissue paper before being slipped into a carrier bag.
of her conversation drifted over to the rails.
the cruise … Couldn’t do the dancing
… Not since my husband … I have got to reinvent myself.”
newly acquired widow antennae were on alert and, before I knew what I was doing,
I found myself wandering over to her. I have to say that this is completely uncharacteristic
behaviour for me – but not much about me seems familiar, even to me.
know what you mean about reinventing yourself,” I said, recognizing a sister in
she began unleashing her torrent of advice, so glad to find someone who was in
a similar situation. And we do
want to talk, us widows, don’t we?
And why wouldn’t we? We
have only the walls to talk to at home – we have lost our best listener.
you suddenly feel like crying – in the middle of a shop - just do it,” she
said. “I found myself doing this more than once. Who cares what others think?”
upper lip was stiffening at the thought – no crying in the middle of shops for
me – just wailing and banging my head in the privacy of my own four walls (the
bathroom basin is a favourite spot – I think it has now been loosened from the
does get better,” she continued.
But she was crying by this point.
then she uttered the words that chilled:
the three year ‘wall.’ ”
she had punctuated this with a pointy, witchy finger I would not have been surprised.
‘three year wall’? As I understand
it, you can be coping quite well, busily re-inventing yourself, spending the
life insurance on Carribean cruises (HA! HA!) but, after three years, the
reality really sinks in; they are not coming back. Ever.
been told about the ‘three year wall’ by her widowed ‘friends.’ I don’t know about you, but I feel that
her friends were not being very friendly.
here are some of my last lessons in widowhood for you: there are a lot of others out there who
will welcome you to this growing ‘club.’
And I do know, only too well, it is a kind of bereavement that only
those who go through it can understand.
However, I have been learning that there is also lot of unhelpful
nonsense out there as well as a degree of schadenfruede.
have done a little homework on ‘grief.’
Why wouldn’t I? I know all
about those neat ‘five stages’ which are so readily rattled out to the
bereaved. But I know that grief
does not fit any easy template.
Stages? We can go through
all of them in about half an hour.
And again. And again. And
know there has been great deal of reinterpretation and ‘debunking’ going on
since Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first made her seminal study on which the ‘five
stages’ are based. (For the keen students amongst you, you will find that she
did her initial study on the terminally ill – I am glad I did not know that two
have searched and searched for some understanding of what I have been going
through but in all that I have read I have not yet come across anything about a
‘three year wall’ - not even the
most bogus new-age psychologist gives it a mention.
you need to remember is the completely obvious - you are unique, your relationship was and is unique, and so your
grief is also unique. We can go
some way to understanding the experience of others and you will find that those
who have lost a long-term partner will understand much better than most. But don’t let the bad advice of others
make things worse – there are always those who will wish to weave you into
their patterns of despair.
resolved I will resist any ‘three year wall,' try to ignore any of the other
unhelpful psychobabble that I might hear and, if I
am to learn new patterns of living, I will resist the temptation to talk to
strangers buying pink platforms.
However, I will be here for you should you need me.
of love to you all, my very brave friends and thank you.
PS The case to the Ombudsman
progresses. That is something I
will let you know about, as appropriate.
PPS Dog hotel was a huge success. Happy dogs.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2014
what are these?