Response

Response #
18
Person who died
Wife
Category
Current experience of grief
Respondent details
35-44 | Male | British
Q1: What was the nature of your relationship with the person who died?
My wife & the mother of my two children.
Q2: How has the person’s death affected you during the hours, days, and weeks that followed?
I was paralysed by the shock of her death, sent into sheer panic by the idea of trying to raise a newborn baby and a 3 year old without her, and just desperately lost, lonely and miserable at the thought of being without my wife & best friend. Also profoundly angry at the hospital & at myself.
Q3: How, if at all, have your relationships with other people (particular individuals and other people in general) been affected by the bereavement?
It's made me value the people who've looked after us even more, and had the opposite effect for those who haven't.
Q4: Does the surrounding world seem any different to you while grieving? If so, how?
The world itself doesn't seem at all different to me. I actually found the fact that it keeps turning, that life goes on, that people suffer and continue to suffer, but recover, a source of comfort.
But I do feel more attuned to people's gripes, their lack of gratitude for what they have, and the lack of perspective they can have on their problems.
Q5: Has your experience of time changed in any way?
Time has certainly felt very fluid, lurching from agonisingly slow to flying by when I'm catch myself ruminating over my wife.
Q6: Has your body felt any different during grief?
I broke 4 teeth from grinding them in my sleep when my wife first died. I certainly felt immensely fatigued by the whole experience, though this was compounded by our newborn baby and trying to comfort our heartbroken 3 year old. I generally feel as though it has aged me significantly.
Q7: Has grief interfered in any way with your ability and motivation to perform various tasks, including paid work?
Of course! The very nature of the acute depression that came with my grief was a profound lack of motivation. But the paralysis I felt also hindered any productivity. I could spend long periods of time stuck to the sofa, staring out of the window, or lying on my bed, ruminating over a thought or a memory or a regret. This became exhausting and upsetting and inevitably depressing.
My employers thankfully gave me 6 months off fully paid, which was a godsend. I work in a therapeutic capacity. This involves face-to-face work with clients. Listening to their problems felt completely impossible initially.
Q8: Is your experience of grief changing over time? If so, how?
The pain is less raw, though never leaves me. I'm less panicked about the future as I have proven to myself that I can raise two children on my own, albeit not as well.
Q9: Have you ever found yourself looking for the person who died or expecting that person to appear?
No.
Q10: Are there times, places, and occasions that have made you especially aware of the person’s absence?
Anniversaries, birthdays, Xmas etc. The usual.

But also milestones for our children, e.g.: my eldest's first day at school, my youngest's first steps. These are probably the most painful of them all.
Q11: People who are grieving often report experiencing the presence of the person who died. Have you had any experiences that you would describe in those terms?
No. I have never believed in an afterlife and her death did nothing to change that.
Q12: Do you still feel a sense of connection with the person? If so, could you say something about when you feel this and what the experience is like?
A huge connection. My relationship with B has continued to grow and develop since her death. Far from it fading, I feel even more in love with her than I ever have.
I check in with her memory when it comes to any decisions I have to make regarding the children and feel an immense responsibility to honour her as life moves forward.
Q13: Since the person died, is there anything that you have been doing in order to feel close to them?
Talking about her to the children, looking at old photos, visiting her memorial bench in the woods where we used to spend most weekends walking.
Q14: Is there anything that you do in order to avoid being reminded of the person or of their death?
No. I try not to avoid anything. Avoidance, in my experience, comes at a steep cost.
Q15: Has anything in particular helped you to cope with grief? Has anything made you feel better or worse?
Therapy, exercise, seeing friends, healthy eating, listening to music, writing... all have helped massively.

Immersing myself in a young widows support group became too morose and all-consuming for me, though selecting a few of the more positive heads from the group and speaking to them individually has really helped.
Q16: How understanding have other people been? Have others said or done anything that you've found especially helpful or unhelpful?
I've been struck by how most people have been incredibly kind and understanding and have immediately understood that there is no "right" thing to say. The kindness of strangers, that shocked me.
It's been surprising, and disappointing, to have certain friends go completely silent. I assume that this is because they don't know what to say. But there haven't been too many of these sorts of people.
Q17: How, if at all, has your experience of bereavement changed you as a person?
It has completely redefined me and future. Every good thing that happens from here on in just feels like a consolation prize.
Q18: How, if at all, does grief over the death of a person differ from other forms of loss that you have experienced?
Incomparable. There is nothing like it.
Q19: Are there any aspects of grief that you find particularly puzzling or difficult to put into words?
Nothing puzzling.
Q20: Are there any important aspects of your experience that we have not addressed?
My grief is tied up intrinsically with my guilt over not being at the hospital to keep her safe. This is something I have explored in depth in therapy but is just something I will have to manage for the rest of my life.