I tragically lost my husband over two years ago in a helicopter accident on duty whilst fire fighting. Most days are a battle, some days are just vicious. I was left to solo parent my little baby son Elijah. Every book I was given and every article sent to me by well-meaning friends and family all talk about the seven stages of grief. Shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and acceptance and hope. But what about all the other stages I have gone through? Sometimes more than one in a day? No one can ever really tell you how to be a widow, especially not a young one. To lose your husband in the prime of his life. Where is the missing him stage? That stage seems to get to me the most.
Where is the grateful stage? All the love and care that has been heaped apon me. My loved ones really came together for Elijah and I. Friends always there to listen or even just arrive with surprise gifts or flowers, a shoulder to cry on. All three sets of Grandparents that would do anything for us. My in-laws for having little Elijah over when I just need some me time. Where is the love stage? When your little two year old whispers in your ear that he loves you. All I feel then is love. And so much of it. I beam. Where is the frustrated stage? When I am still trying to deal with admin from Darrell’s estate or the accident and has hit a brick wall. Which book tells you how to cope with that? Where is the stage that deals with family’s falling apart? We are all suffering and might be dealing with some part of it on a certain day which the other is not aware of. What is the stage called when my father has to grab me in his arms over two years after the accident at a meeting with the investigator as I start sobbing and I feel sorry for him as I know he is hurting so much to see me this way. What is that stage called? I am only now slowly learning of some of the details of the accident and I can not bear it. Is that unacceptance? Do I just get all the information now in one go and go straight back into the pain stage? Or do I just learn small amounts at a time that I can handle? Should it be like a band-aid? Rip it off all at once tearing the skin underneath?
Where is the calm stage? When I wake up to beautiful winter’s sun on a calm crisp day and I just know that Darrell is out there watching over me. And sending people into my life that are also watching over me. The amount of new good friends I have made since Darrell died is amazing and I contribute it all to him sending them there to protect Elijah and I.
What is the stage called when I am driving and a song comes on over the radio and the tears keep falling? I know that is pain but then a few seconds later someone whooshes past on their superbike, just as Darrell used to when we first started dating and I remember him being so strong and courageous. So alive. And I remember his cheeky smile and him inevitably teasing me about something. I could just imagine how much he would love teasing Elijah. Two year olds are made to have fun with. But which stage is it when I see my son do something extraordinary in my eyes and know that he would think it was extraordinary too?
I just wish there was a handbook on how widows with a young son, who was very much in love with her husband called Darrell would be released. But I guess that book would then just be called life. And that would take all the surprise out of it.
I know that everyone has to die and we all lose people close to us. I am most definitely not the first woman to be widowed with a young child but I just feel my journey is unique as is everyone else’s way of grieving.
Maybe I have not even left the first stage? Shock. But then after more than two years I know he is not coming back. I know I am in this alone. I know I am the one who has to not only decide what school Elijah is going to on my own, but to pay for it as well. So I suppose I must be in the acceptance stage with all the other seven million, four hundred and ninety nine thousand stages all thrown in together.
Lots of love