I remember at the Autumn equinox writing that the change of seasons affects my grieving, as the passage of time highlights that I am moving further away from Chris, and the time that we were together. As we enter another change of season I am feeling that now familiar drag of sadness, that time marches on and the world insists on turning even though it still makes no sense to me that it can or should. The hard thing about Spring is that everything around me represents new life, but all I really want is my old life back!
Spring is such a beautiful time of year. My rural route to town takes me past the fields where the sheep are lambing. As the daffodils and crocuses start to appear in the garden there is always a sense of hope and positivity that comes with it – the days are lengthening and so it’s natural to feel that brightness. The weather in the last week has been a perfect metaphor for my mood – warm, sunny, bright, hopeful days, followed by cold, grey, miserable days, followed by a huge, angry, raging storm! I started writing this blog over a sunny weekend, I felt a sense of coming out of hibernation and feeling positive about the future, for the first time in a really long time - but as the week has progressed, so much has happened that has chipped away at that positivity and optimism!
This year I think that the springtime mood swings are exacerbated by knowing that we are coming gradually out of lockdown. I’m not sure what life after lockdown will be like for me. I was just finding my feet when the pandemic started. I was 18 months into widowhood. I had taken a planned career break, had some awesome trips and done a lot of decluttering. I had launched my own business, got involved properly with WAY, including meals and drinks out with other young widows, started attending weekly yoga and monthly meditation sessions, and joined a choir. My week had started to have a rhythm to it, and I had found ways to cope with the loneliness of evenings with a teenager only appearing from their bedroom when they were hungry, and the emptiness of the house with no Chris and my eldest away at Uni.
It took an enormous amount of inner strength to embark on all those things and I am wondering whether I have it in me to do it all again! I have had a love/hate relationship with lockdown – in some ways the isolation has been an opportunity to feel my feelings with no judgement or expectation. After Chris died, it felt wrong that the world had kept on as normal. In lockdown the world has slowed down to meet me at my pace - but it has also kept me away from the other people that I love and that I need to be with. I have always been someone who recharged by socialising, and so this enforced isolation has been both a blessing and a curse. I became an early adopter of zoom, organising an online pub for the widows, which I happily handed over to someone with the energy to run a weekly quiz!
In this last lockdown I have become a volunteer for WAY, helping my local area contact with welcoming new members and keeping the local group up to date with events. I am simultaneously massively looking forward to meeting people in real life, and dreading the energy I am going to need to summon to make small talk and get to know them.
I know that it is time for me to start living again, to end my mental and emotional lockdown at the same time as the physical one is lifted - to emerge from my hibernation. At the same time I need to recognise how hard that’s going to be to do on my own. I said early on that I wanted to live a life that would make Chris proud, and that I would have lots to tell him if I ever saw him again, but at the moment that looks like a tale of some exciting travels, a house move, lockdown, and a lot of wine and chocolate and cake. I have signed up to try open water swimming later in the Spring and bought a bike to try and venture out on. I have a new job that I start in April – on my sunny days I am filled with hope and even excitement for the things that are ahead.
I’ve learned to carry my gratitude with my grief, and I think that now I am learning how to carry the longing for my life before with my hopes for my future in this life after.