Response

Response #
19
Person who died
Fiancé
Category
Past experience of grief
Respondent details
35-44 | Female | British
Q1: What was the nature of your relationship with the person who died?
S was my fiancé
Q2: How has the person’s death affected you during the hours, days, and weeks that followed?
I know that the same evening on the day he died I was quite calm and composed, following an initial storm of grief immediately after his death. The calmness continued for quite sometime - I suppose I was in shock, and numb. I don't recall crying at S's funeral and I tended not to express any grief in front of other people - I would instead cry when I was by myself. However I do recall an almost constant feeling of having a lead weight in the pit of my stomach for a long time afterwards.
I felt incredibly angry and bitter seeing other people happy, and wanted to rage and storm at them. I became very fearful for the safety of my loved ones - I constantly imagined the worst case scenario for everything. I became very fearful of crowds of people and loud noises, and became agitated very easily.
My memory was completely shot to pieces. I found it very difficult, and still do to a certain extent, to retain information. This had a detrimental effect on my performance at work, and I forgot a lot of people's birthdays and commitments in the first year after S's death.
Q3: How, if at all, have your relationships with other people (particular individuals and other people in general) been affected by the bereavement?
I have found that my circle of friends has changed and shrunk somewhat since losing S. It made me reassess areas of my life, and I realised that I no longer had anything in common with some friends, with some actively making me feel worse about myself, and so I no longer see these people except in infrequent wider social gatherings.
Over the following months after S's death I found myself excluded by some friends - no longer being part of a couple I found that I was't invited to events/evenings that we would have previously been to together.
However, I would say that I have a stronger bond with those friends to whom I have remained close.
My relationship with my family has stayed strong throughout. However, some of S's wider family cut me off almost immediately. Even though I was living with my in-laws for nearly two years after S's death I was not invited to some family gatherings, and so was left in the house alone whilst they attended. This had a negative impact on my relationship with my in-laws as I was deeply hurt by this, and felt that they should have intervened in some way, or at least acknowledged my upset, but it was actively ignored.
Q4: Does the surrounding world seem any different to you while grieving? If so, how?
Yes, but I'm not sure for exactly how long.
In some ways I felt very detached from the surrounding world, as if I was seeing it through a window. I found myself very drawn to quiet and nature, as then I allowed myself to just sit and feel part of the world again.
Q5: Has your experience of time changed in any way?
Not that I recall.
Q6: Has your body felt any different during grief?
Yes, it felt quite heavy and sluggish - I felt literally weighed down with the grief.
Q7: Has grief interfered in any way with your ability and motivation to perform various tasks, including paid work?
Yes - I found that at times I had little inclination to do anything, instead only being able to sit and do nothing else, or only being able to undertake tasks in short bursts of time (10-15 minutes). This was both at home and at work. I was unable to concentrate enough to read a book for a long time which was completely opposite to how I was before, as I love reading. I also struggled with complexity and making connections.
One thing that I never stopped enjoying was my ballet classes, as this was the only place where I felt like 'me' again, and not like 'S's widow'.
Q8: Is your experience of grief changing over time? If so, how?
Yes, it became less intense and overwhelming. Rather than being an almost constant feature of my thoughts and feelings it became less frequent and easier to bear. I still think of S every day, but sometimes only briefly, and now my memories of him and our life together are happy.
Q9: Have you ever found yourself looking for the person who died or expecting that person to appear?
Yes. I still do a double take if I see someone that (from a glance) looks like him.
Q10: Are there times, places, and occasions that have made you especially aware of the person’s absence?
Occasions have been the most acute reminder of his absence, those where he should have been there, for example his daughter's birthdays, my niece's christening (he was to have been her godfather and he was still included in the service). When I was a bridesmaid for my friend, she had a charm containing his picture included in my bouquet, and that was a very poignant moment.
S used to volunteer at [a museum] and it took me a long time before I could drive past there without crying. Hearing the WWII planes overhead at home always reminds me of him.
I found that I struggled quite significantly when I turned 38 - the age he had been when he died.
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?
Yes - I felt him beside me in bed a few times - as if he were getting into bed and settling down to sleep.
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?
Not any more. I feel like he has gone. The thing that was S - his energy, fun and life is somewhere else now.
Q13: Since the person died, is there anything that you have been doing in order to feel close to them?
When S first died I slept in the bed (he was in a hospital bed at home) until they took it away (about 5 days later).
I don't have any pictures of S up in my house, but I do have pieces of furniture and little bits and bobs that were ours or his that I continue to use. There is something of him in every room of my house, but only I would know what it is.
Q14: Is there anything that you do in order to avoid being reminded of the person or of their death?
No
Q15: Has anything in particular helped you to cope with grief? Has anything made you feel better or worse?
Being able to talk about him with people that understood helped a lot. I joined Widowed and Young and being able to speak freely with other people and share our stories with each other was invaluable.
Doing things that I enjoyed helped - little treats to myself such as a ticket to watch a show, or a visit to a museum - things I couldn't do when he was sick - helped me get back to myself and feel better, if even for a short time.
Q16: How understanding have other people been? Have others said or done anything that you've found especially helpful or unhelpful?
People's crass comments e.g. "at least you didn't have children and/or weren't married", "you're young, you'll find someone else" really did not help.
People acknowledging my loss was also very helpful. Those that avoided it made me feel worse.
Q17: How, if at all, has your experience of bereavement changed you as a person?
I'm definitely a more anxious person than I was before.

On the other hand I know that I have reserves and a strength I didn't realise I had before.
Q18: How, if at all, does grief over the death of a person differ from other forms of loss that you have experienced?
This loss was so all encompassing, that it overshadows all other loss I've experienced. I didn't just lose S the person, I lost our future and the children we might have had as well. I lost our home and my security, as well as my sense of security in myself.
Q19: Are there any aspects of grief that you find particularly puzzling or difficult to put into words?
Q20: Are there any important aspects of your experience that we have not addressed?