Losing Kath

Love lost, read and found

A journey in grief.

In this moment in time, this phase of my life I find I am facing a crisis, coincidently timed mid-life but unrelated. It is a crisis I could never have anticipated.

If a soul can ever be, then mine feels split in two and both want to find their own voices. In bereavement I probably won’t be the first to experience these things but I long for my soul to feel whole without betraying anything Katherine meant to me.

A part of me feels it is constantly calling out and the other part is tired of weeping to life. There is an dull enduring pain like a toothache that just won’t go away and that can’t be fixed by just pulling it out, because it’s not really the tooth that’s the problem. Something got pulled out a long time before and it’s the hole that was left that keeps throbbing away.

Since my wife died I have tried many things to distract myself from feeling this way.

At first I was like a hoover tube broken free from its attachment and was wildly flapping around sucking in furiously until I latched onto anything in reach and then lock on and kept feeding away. When this lack of nourishing attachment failed to sustain me for long, I would shut off and mourn in the hope of healing alone.

The trouble with grief as is commonly known by those who unwillingly find themselves courting it, is that it is draining! Morally, it is fatiguing, energy sapping and corrosive to anyone’s resolve. No matter how you try to escape it, you can’t run fast enough, it’s just too exhausting.

So you try and find a balance in the end and see the process through. If this means occasionally wearing smiles that feel like they no longer fit you, you wear them just the same! If at times it means keeping dry tears hidden, and choosing discreet moments to sometimes shed them, then I’ll do gladly knowing I’ve wept them, even if it’s been only alone.

Personally, I hate crying! It’s not that the tears run down my face, or that it makes me feel weak or embarrassed. It’s more that I can’t deal with triggered thoughts or emotions and the cleaving effect in its epicentre that hits me right in the heart making it rapidly expand and feel like it might suddenly burst. Tears are just the aftershocks of these emotional waves!

Perhaps a matter of pride might be another reason why I hate to cry. No one wants to look feeble or like they can’t cope or are easily overwhelmed, least if it might make others think of him, less of a man.

But I have found in as much as I hate crying, when it comes to crying ‘in grief’, something is different. Tears can be what you need and what you miss most of all.

Sometimes I have cried salt tears and their taste has been sweet on my lips. I have found comfort and solace when overcome by my tears and in that moment I know I have connected with Katherine once again and suddenly it feels like I could reach out and touch her, or that once again she is right there holding my hand, and the pain is overwhelming for that fleeting moment, but as much as that is so, I welcome it because it make me feel I am alive, when so often I can feel like a ghost! But as alive as the moment makes me feel, it can also cut me deeply and at times I don’t think I can take the burning inside. Each time, I feel like another little piece of me breaks and falls off and that I might die until all there is left of me is nothing but ‘was’!

Other times tears that don’t cut me so deeply, and that seem dry on the outside, in my heart constantly fall and run free. I am saddened by the loss of Katherine at my side sharing each new family occasion or significant days and I hurt for all the memories she won’t ever be a part of. You never know how many dreams you had, until you realise so many are broken. My daughters are victims of these!

I wish I could have had more time to have all the conversations I never had with Kath because we were just swept up by the advancing tide. We were just trying hopelessly to deal with the prognosis and so many new Cancer symptoms each day, that we were just too busy treading water, trying to keep our heads above each new wave that was trying to drown us whilst we battled hard to survive them each day, each new challenge and the looming threat to our happy ever after, while we protected our girls from the news.

Trauma! My family has been hit with trauma!

When I cry it is more than just simple grief? It is here where the problem lies. Nobody wants to grieve endlessly. I also need a distraction from grief and its exhausting grip on me.

Circumstances find me alone trapped at home with three very young girls needing me and constantly. But I am not seeking to flee any parental obligation of course; it’s just that I still need the connection with others. I need companionship’s distracting therapy to keep me looking forward quite as much as I find I look back.

But companionship also comes with flaws of its own and at times it too can be very exhausting. Instead of a feeling of company, at times it can make you feel lonelier than when you’re alone, but at least you don’t feel like life has forgotten you completely.

When you have been through loss you might label traumatic in scale it is not easily or always openly discussed. Companionship will be found in the guise of family, friends, neighbours, new acquaintances, colleagues or just chance, but they all have one thing in common, between you both, you must connect. That is really what we search for the most, though we might not even realise it, but we all need to feel we connect. Like a hoover tube, companionship stops us flapping all over the place in search of attachment. It’s what sets companions apart from complete strangers.

But in my case when I find a welcome connection or indeed the ‘companionship therapy’ fix, I find myself as the saying goes; caught between a rock and a hard place.

See, if my reason for seeking companionship is to help distract me from the sapping properties of grief, then I need to keep things from getting too deep. In trying to keep conversation so light however, means I have to act almost like the trauma I have experienced doesn’t exist. If I do this, the relationship is never truly connected and becomes biased and only about one side, just to protect the unaffected from the gravity of such conversations, as once started they are not easily moved on from. So either, I act and talk lightly as if nothing serious has happened at all, which I find I do most of all, after all that gives me the distraction from continued grief and its complimenting isolation. Or I talk honestly and openly equally about me, knowing at least I am honestly connecting, even though as a consequence, I won’t be escaping.

I’d like to say that I have found one strategy to be in favour of the other but that is simply not true. I can come across in a manner of ways, the first being one of these; detached or in denial, or too guarded, or not trusting enough to open up, or even cold and uncaring, in a rush to move on. Or I can be too honest, too caught up, still in that place, heavy going, consumed, etc, etc. None of this is the fault of any one part. It’s just that I want to connect, but I also want to protect those whose companionship I would seek, from the awkwardness of not knowing what to say next, as that only impacts me. Where as all that I want, is the conversation to flow and to distract me from me.

Grief, it is a multi headed beast. When you think you have cut off one of its heads, another unanticipated one sprouts in its place.

Yes, I seek companionship though it makes me despair. I really want to connect, more than have to protect. This kind of feeling only adds to making me feel like part of me is lost. I have this feeling, it’s like a calling, but to a place that doesn’t exist. It’s just a merger of ideals and the call of my roots and the possibilities that life can be like it was once before. But how can it be? I don’t want to betray part of me!

I don’t seek company for talk about today’s living, fancy cars, celebrities or to relate to commercial possession and things. I seek to soothe my soul and my heart and all the unanswered beautiful questions in my head and aches that they bring.

That is more than enough, a beautiful simplicity really, found in the call of the wild in my grieving, which makes me ache and long, for someone who would hear the words, even if it’s just a cry of a soul to its soul mate.

No matter how light I would make of it, the presence of grieving is so tangible all the time. It’s like once it engulfs you, you can never fully escape or ignore it again and a little part of you is changed or lost each time. Maybe though, that isn’t all too bad a thing. Maybe each new brush with grief shapes you, moulds you into the person you are supposed to be. Maybe grief, is still making me. If this is me on a journey trough life, then I must look around and see who is sharing it with me. It is good to share and to reflect looking back, but journeys can be very exhausting and despite all the flaws, companions along the way can be the shoulder to lean on, and of course if you are on a journey, it is important to have someone to remind you to also look forward too.

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