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Monday, 19 May 2014

Timelessness and Fading Horizons

Ten weeks ago, though we didn't know it at the time, Suzie and I were sharing our very last precious day together. In my mind I try to replay every detail of that day, but it seems more distant now and increasingly hazy. It was a Spiritual day during which we shared a very special bedside Holy Communion, Suzie received anointing, and prayers were offered for her by two of our lovely Priest friends. I wonder if Suzie knew that she was so close to death, and whether she sensed it as a day of preparation for that next step of her journey into eternity. I try so hard to to hold on to my precious memories of those last few days but it's like peering at them through a descending sea mist. 
Now, as I type this, I'm conscious that yet another week is unfolding, and is relentlessly increasing the distance between then and now, yet any concept of a meaningful future is becoming ever more elusive and intangible. I feel like I'm lost in a void of timelessness.... My life with Suzie is slipping further and further into the past, and my future without her is on a distant horizon that is increasingly beyond my reach. I'm somewhere between the two, as though trapped in a timeless bubble, watching helplessly as the horizons on either side of me gradually fade into the distance.
Anxiety and panic attacks continue to be a severely debilitating issue, and tears are still a frequent daily occurrence. Although I'm weary of it all, I think it's getting more bearable when I'm at home on my own. These things often take me by surprise as they seem to start so suddenly and unexpectedly. I get very frustrated by my inability to control my emotions in company, and I often find myself avoiding social contact because I don't want to face crying in front of people. My family, and a couple of very special friends have been a great blessing though, and during the last few weeks I've shared some very enriching times with them over a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a meal. 
Yesterday morning I went to Church with my Auntie B and then back to hers for lunch. The Church service opened up my emotions again, and the music and prayers made me particularly tearful, but I did sense that it was very slightly less daunting than the last time. I'm hoping I will soon feel able to face going back to the Church where Suzie and I worshipped together. I tried attending a service there a few weeks ago but it was just too painful. Suzie was such an integral part of the church, and everywhere I looked I was hit by images and memories of her previous presence there. As I walked up the aisle to receive Holy Communion my mind was taken back to the last time I'd walked up that aisle following Suzie's coffin at her funeral. It was unbearable. My tears flowed silently and uncontrollably throughout the whole service, and I made a discreet exit during the last hymn. I haven't been back since, for which I feel rather guilty because it feels like I'm somehow letting people down and failing to show my appreciation for all the prayers and support they offered throughout Suzie's illness. I will keep trying.
In fact, I'm constantly trying to stretch my comfort zone and push my boundaries, gently but with determination. I make myself go out on the days that I feel able to, and if I can do something for someone else's benefit I find that the greatest motivation of all. 

The most precious gift that sustains me through these days is the knowledge that I am not alone, that God is with me and has already made plans for me. Even whilst I was typing this I received a most beautiful message of encouragement from my friend Sheryl who always seems to have just the right words for me, as if sent directly from God Himself. Her message from Him today said:
"I want you to know how safe and secure you are in My Presence. That is a fact, totally independent of your feelings. You are on your way to Heaven; nothing can prevent you from reaching that destination. There you will see Me face to Face, and your Joy will be off the charts by any earthly standards. Even now, you are never separated from Me, though you must see Me through eyes of faith. I will walk with you till the end of time, and onward into eternity."

I can't really add anything to that. Thank you God for such precious friends.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Waiting for the cloud to lift.

What is 'normal' when it comes to grief? It's now eight weeks since my precious Suzie passed away, yet the aching sadness that greets me as I awake each morning seems more intense than ever. Some people tell me I'm expecting too much of myself and I should be more gentle with myself.... others have said things that make me think I should be 'getting over it' by now.
I'm trying to 'do' all the right things and I'm certainly not just sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. I'm spending a lot of time with my family and with one or two close friends, and I'm trying to push myself to go out, however difficult it may be. Some days I succeed, other days I don't. Sometimes it feels like I'm just filling my days with distractions while I wait for the black cloud to eventually begin to lift, and for me to feel able to get on with the next chapter of my life. Occasionally I get a glimpse of hope that I have 'moved forward' and that it's getting easier, but those moments always seem to be followed by an ever more intensified sense of increasing desolation and sadness.
Crying in front of other people is something I've never been comfortable with, so it's very hard to cope with the uncontrollable tears that seem to come so readily these days. I have yet to get through a church service without spending most of it crying, and conversations with friends usually trigger the same response. When I'm alone I am often overwhelmed and totally exhausted by the constant stream of tears that I just can't seem to control. Should I even try to do so? Is this a normal reaction?
Having suffered from clinical depression for many years it's difficult to know how much of what I'm facing now is part of the normal grieving process and how much is an exacerbation of my ongoing depressive illness. I'm grateful for the counselling and the various therapies that I've undergone in the past because they have certainly given me techniques that help me cope with these intense feelings.  I've been advised to accept some form of bereavement counselling, so I am looking into various ways of accessing this. The closeness that Suzie and I shared, both emotionally and on a practical level, must surely add to the sense of emptiness and the lack of purpose or direction that engulfs me now. Every single aspect of my life was integral with Suzie, indeed, motivated and driven by her, so I shouldn't really be surprised that I don't know who I am or how to move forward without her. Sometimes I look at her photo and I just can't take in the fact that she has gone and she's not going to be coming back.
But, however much I wish it weren't true, I know that it is, and I know that I have to continue to try to live some kind of meaningful life without her. I am certain that God allowed things to happen in the way they did in order to accomplish His plan and purpose, and that I am seeing only a small part of His perfect picture. I constantly draw on His grace and strength to get me through each new day, and I trust in His unfailing love as He gradually allows the future to unfold. I thank Him for the precious love of my family and true friends, and for the understanding and support that they offer. I continue to make it my conscious decision to look beyond the pain and try to focus on all the good things that I know are still there.
One day the tears will begin to lessen and I will be able to embrace the beauty of the wonderful life Suzie and I shared. One day my thoughts and memories of her will be able to stretch beyond her illness and her final weeks and days. One day a warm glow of love will replace the ache in my heart when I think of her. One day........