Five years ago, my husband died. It was a very sudden and traumatic experience that I have never really processed or come to terms with. In order to cope with my grief, I have buried myself in work for all of these years, which, I know is not the answer for me in the long run.
I have a young daughter, who is now starting to ask questions about her father. I find it very difficult to talk about him, in fact, I find it incredibly difficult to even think about him at all.
Added to this, is that I was recently asked out on a date by a close friend. I turned him down, but I would be lying if I said there was not some chemistry there. Since my husband’s death, I have kept myself single. The truth is, I have no idea how I would handle a new relationship or whether I am even ready to take that step.
Everybody tells me that I have to move on with my life. But I just do not know how. I feel stuck.
Please help, what should I do?
If only grief had a time line. The truth is, the grief you hold in your heart is something that you will carry for the rest of your life. With time, it will become easier to bear. For the moment however, it is important that you allow yourself the opportunity to explore your grief and to allow yourself the necessary time to process your feelings and your pain. Given the death itself was both sudden and traumatic, I recommend therapy sessions for you, as the therapeutic process will allow you a safe and supportive space in which to heal.
You are right in that you do have a duty, both to your daughter and also to your husband, to ensure that he is remembered. Answer your daughter’s questions as best as you can, as and when she asks them. All you can do is to try to let your daughter know that her father was a good man who loved her very much. Sometimes, knowing the little details can help a child to feel closer to their bereaved loved one. For example, what was his favourite colour? What made him laugh? Did he have a favourite film or song? How did you both first meet? If you find it difficult to talk about these things, you can always write the details down for your daughter and ensure that she knows that she can
come to you with her questions whenever she feels the need to do so. I would also recommend that you give your daughter a photograph of her father so that she has a face to connect her feelings to.
It is important to note however, that this is where your duty ends. For five years, you have remained single and avoided your grief in order to cope with all that life has thrown at you. You have a right to be happy Patricia and when you feel that the time is appropriate for you, accept a date. Try to make the most of any positive opportunities that come your way, for you are still alive and deserved of love. Take it slow and day by day. Be mindful that just because you say yes to a date, it does notmean that it has to become anything more than that. See how you feel and move at your own pace, for you know best.
I suspect that in burying your grief, you hold a great deal of guilt inside of you, which is a natural grief response. Tell yourself each and every day, that you have nothing to feel guilty about. The therapeutic process will allow you to work through complex feelings such as this.
Other complex feelings associated with grief are anger, denial and acceptance. Perhaps you are experiencing all of them. Prioritise your well-being as you explore your grief. Maintain a healthy diet, try to exercise regularly and make your sleep routine a focus. ‘‘Moving on’’ as you put it, is not an easy task. Have patience with yourself. This experience will have shaped you in ways that you have not fully comprehended as yet. For one thing it will have made you so much stronger and resilient that you realise.
Have courage Patricia.
Wishing you every happiness,
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