Today I saw that a former client and colleague of Chris had been awarded a well deserved MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours this weekend. Chris would have been over the moon to have seen his colleague’s hard work recognised and it breaks my heart that he isn’t here to see it. Having sent my (and Chris’s) congratulations, I then had a little cry.
I’ve been thinking about all the events that I have celebrated with friends since he died, from the wedding that we were invited to but he died before (I went and it was wonderful, but I did have a couple of moments!) to birthdays, exam results, babies, new jobs. I thought about how some people were nervous about telling me or inviting me to events, how others have cut me out of their lives, and how together I and my closest friends have navigated our shared loss and ongoing life events.
I know that at times my friends have been confused or uncertain about whether and how to tell me about good news, that occasionally they have found my reaction muted, or found me upset after celebrating with them. This is what I want them to know.
Dear happy friends
Forgive me if my response to your good news was more muted than it would have been “before”.
Whether you've announced an engagement, had a wedding, a baby, or a big anniversary, I want you to know that I am so truly happy for you, I genuinely celebrate with you and I wish you all the joy in the world, I really do.
But when the celebrating is done, I might need a moment to be sad. Please don’t let it make you feel bad, this is not your problem, or your fault.
If it makes you feel any better, I have the same reaction to my own family’s life events and celebrations. I hate it when you wish me a happy birthday (how can it be happy, now?) and yet I would hate it more if you didn’t!
I read a poem, written in 1931, that summed up how visiting places that you had been together before, or places that they had never been both causes a similar sadness.
It’s like that with celebrations. They either remind me of when we did that, or highlight that he is missing this event, or that we will never get to do that.
I can’t help that it makes me sad, but I promise that I will give you all the energy I have to show you that I celebrate with you, I am happy for you and with you..
In this double life that I now live, I can enjoy your good fortune at the same time that my heart breaks because it's only me here for you to tell, or because I can't go home and tell him all about it and together choose a card or gift for you.
Sometimes I need a moment more because it hurts so much that you’re experiencing something that we had wanted but were never able to do.
But it never cancels out the joy I feel for you.
I am so happy for you, but sometimes I am also sad for me. Our lives, our life, goes on, and it always seems so unfair that we got that and he didn’t.
If you’re not sure how to tell me something, don’t overthink it, just tell me!
If you can, please do acknowledge that you wish he was here too - that helps me more than you know.
Oh - and Yay You!!! I am so proud and happy to be your friend.Please keep sharing your good news with me, because I love to celebrate with you!
A young widow