Even though Margaret (not her real name) knew her husband of 60 years was dying, when the end came, she was shocked to the core. “I nursed him for as long as I could and witnessed his deterioration, frustration and pain. In my head, I knew I wouldn’t have him for long. His death wasn’t a surprise. And yet, when the end came it was a massive shock.
Nothing prepared me for it.
“For days afterwards, I wondered around in a daze. I felt his presence in every room. I expected him to walk into the room, sit in his chair and do his crossword puzzle as usual. I thought I was going mad.
“I was lucky. I have a good family and friends. They all rallied round. For the first few days, I was never on my own. But weeks and months after the funeral, they had moved on. I sensed those around me thought I should be moving on too.
“In truth, I felt completely abandoned. I felt like I was a small boat cut off from its moorings, floating in a sea of grief and uncertainty with no land in sight. I felt anxious all the time.
“When my daughter suggested counselling, at first, I dismissed the idea. I’ve always been able to deal with my own problems. But I knew I needed support. Eventually, I even started to look forward to counselling. I felt like it was a place I could really be just me, with everything I was feeling, all the ‘silly’ thoughts I was having.
“Lately, I’ve taken up gardening again. I’ve neglected it for so long. Now I take delight in seeing things grow. I don’t feel as anxious. I’ve even joined a group of widows who meet every week for a meal.
“I will never get over the death of the man I loved for most of my life. And I don’t want to. But I can wake each morning and look forward to the day ahead.