This post is taking AGES to write as I only have 9 fingers. Well, 9 operational fingers. One of them is out of action thanks to a ‘kitchen incident’.
Anyway, let me tell you the story of what happened last Sunday night, and importantly, what I’ve learned from the (somewhat stressful) experience.
This post is about FEAR. It’s about what happens when I need to run away…and I can’t. OK, that’s a strange way to begin a blog post and you might be wondering what I’m on about with that statement. Quite honestly though, the understanding behind it has been a recent epiphany for me! I’m confusing you though and I need to start at the beginning. 😏
I’ve been going through a very difficult time. Actually, that’s rather an understatement as I’ve been so stressed that the panic attacks I first experienced after Norbert died have returned. I hadn’t had a panic attack for ages and I thought they were part of a traumatic past….so it has been scary to go back there.
What has happened? You really don’t need all the detail but suffice it to say that since I signed the contract that signified the sale of my house, it has been a spiral downward due mainly to the fact that I haven’t been able to find another place to go, and the date I have to leave is looming closer. Add to that some upsetting issues with agents and buyers and a houseful of stuff that needs sorting, packing and boxing….not to mention the whole pandemic thing which has prevented family being able to come up and help.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I found myself standing in the kitchen with my heart pounding, hands shaking, sweating and trying not to be sick. I was feeling scared, and very, very alone. Unlike the first time after Norbert died when I thought I was having a heart attack, this time I at least knew that it was a panic attack. Full on….like I was back at the beginning of the nightmare.
I wasn’t planning on writing anything about the COVID-19 global pandemic because… well….I’m more focussed on surviving grief and the loss of a loved one, and how to deal with that kind of personal nightmare. But then all of a sudden the penny dropped.
“You idiot!” I said to myself while rolling my eyes and smacking my forehead, “The whole WORLD is grieving!!!!”
As a widow who lives alone, I’m actually doing OK through this global upheaval, and when others ask how I’m coping, I say “I’m fine. I’ve had some practice.”
This is because I already know what it is like to have everything you thought you knew, snatched away.
Over time I’ve developed coping mechanisms and I’ve made a list of 6 of these which have particularly helped me. I thought I’d share my list as it might help others. 💔
I have always put in too many hours sitting in front of my computer. It used to be a major part of my work-life but even after I retired I seemed to find activities that would end up with me hunched over a keyboard, inviting an aching neck and shoulders. Still do! 🙂
I also remember many times while I was immersed in my work at the desk that I would feel strong hands coming from behind me, deftly massaging the tight muscles. “You’re working too hard,” my husband Norbert would say while his fingers found the knots in my neck. “You need a break. Why don’t you stop for a coffee?”
Oh, how I miss loving hands on my shoulders. I miss the “You’ll be OK” hug when I was feeling down. I miss the peck on the cheek as he ran out the door. I miss hugging him. And I miss intimacy.
This post isn’t meant to be a maudlin list of everything I’ve lost since Norbert died though, as I like to keep things a lot more pragmatic and useful. The loss of touch though is…well….a touchy subject! If you no longer have your partner it’s not a craving that is easily replaced.
There are some things you can do that make the loss of touch a little less brutal though. Nothing will fill the gap left by your loved one, but some things might help.
One of my best friends is a machine. That sounds incredibly weird…like I’m strangely attached to my vacuum cleaner, or I chat to my toaster over breakfast. 😂
Our relationship began 2 weeks after my husband Norbert was killed in a tragic accident. Immediately after getting the dreadful news, two of my children flew to be by my side (literally) followed shortly after by my stepson, son-in-law and 2 small grandchildren. My home is quite sizeable but at the time it was literally overflowing with people and activity and noise.
Then after the funeral, everyone began to make plans to leave and resume their own lives. I was terrified of the loneliness and emptiness of existing in this big house, and I began to spiral down into depression as I imagined long hours with no other voice to fill this dark void that had somehow become my life.
Before she left though, my daughter said something that has turned out to make a significant difference for me.