Connecting with others, has kept me alive. Fortunately there were already a few special people in mine and Rich’s lives who instead of saying ‘I can’t imagine’, actually allowed themselves to imagine what the devastation of losing a soulmate would feel like, despite never having experienced such loss themselves, and have walked alongside me ever since he died, holding me up. I hope you know who you are, but in case not, I’ll tell you in private. The others, I’ve found, or they’ve found me, mainly on Instagram, the Widowed and Young discussion group, and the Writing Your Grief alumni group, but also in person – specific mention has to go to Rich’s work colleagues here who have been phenomenal, with several having now become firm friends of mine as well as his, and to everyone at the wonderful Fire and Rain Soul Spa for those whose life partners have died. It goes without saying that my bereavement counsellor is also a critical member of the ‘Grief Tribe’. I love you all.
I knew that because I couldn’t fall back on conventional support networks, that I would have to reach out and ask for help. I have very little pride, and can cope with rejection, so honestly didn’t expect much, meaning that I was blown away when people I’ve never met offered kindness after kindness. By sharing their stories of profound loss and grief, they’ve helped me realise that I’m not alone. By supporting me with their words, they’ve demonstrated that I am worthy of help, and should not be afraid to ask. It is not a sign of weakness to need comfort and support, and as I’ve found, many people genuinely want to help, they want to give back. At times such as this, it’s ok to accept help, and not give anything back in return, for however long that might be. I am someone who worries about being seen as selfish, and a burden, and so this has not been easy, but it has in reality become essential, because I am in no fit state to give anything back other than understanding for those who are also living this nightmare.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is not perfect. I have to block several ‘widow fishers’ each day on Instagram, and there will always be people who have no idea what this feels like, but think that they’re qualified to give advice. There are also those who have experienced loss and who then go on to evangelise about what has helped them ‘heal’, making the mistake of thinking that they’re helping people like me, when all they’re actually doing is dismissing our pain. But that’s a blog post topic for the future. In ‘real life’ too, young widows and the recently bereaved are targets for those who seek to take advantage of vulnerable people, so we have no choice but to keep our wits about ourselves, especially, and this is where my feminist scholarship comes in, as a lone woman. Again, I’ll be writing more about that in due course.
On the whole though, when I’ve reached out, or shared the story of Rich and I, I’ve been met with kindess and support, often times above and beyond. Which is why I’ll continue to share our love and my grief, and why I’ll not stop asking for help until I genuinly no longer need it, which is likely to be years down the line. When you physically lose THE LOVE, the sort of love that most people seek but never find, then the impact lasts a lifetime.
Lots of love, Hayley