Monday, 19 October 2009

Grief triggers

Last week included, what would have been, my late wife’s 35th birthday.

Since becoming a widower, the anniversaries, that of her death, birthday, our wedding or even us getting together, have not really been a huge issue for me.

I wrote in August about the fourth anniversary of Samantha’s death and included there how I feel about them.

Nothing really changes on the days later, or before, and it is really not like I am thinking about her any more, or any less on any given day.

It is my rational self, I have never been one to get excited about any sort of anniversary, and I suppose that facet of my persona has not really changed.

Rigorous rituals have not really been created, or cemented, to deal with recurring events, each occasion being treated on an ad-hoc basis.

I do tend to get flowers, white lilies if I can - our favourites. Usually keeping some at home, and taking some to Sam’s grave.

Not shying away from the reason as to why we have the flowers in our house, not that it is always the reason we have green stuff in our gaff.

My boy understands why too, I do not like keeping things from him, he deserves the truth, however hard it is.

But last week was the first time it upset him.

I explained in the morning, what was ‘significant’ about the day, and while that was not a grief trigger for me, it certainly was for the boy.

While heartbreaking to witness, I was also immensely proud of my son. Proud because he had moved to such a level, gaining a better understanding of his loss, and able to show his emotion for it.

There was plenty of reassurance and cuddling, and we spoke about his mom, and how it was now. While she has physically gone, she will always be part of him, and gave him the best possible start in the world.

We were having a couple of his friends for tea on the same day, and I had intended to buy some carrot cake, Sam’s favourite, for Max and his chums to celebrate quietly the missed birthday. News of this also softened the grief.

I did think of shielding it from Max’s friends, but quickly put thoughts like that aside, as I do not feel it is something we should shy from. It is not going to change, and it is not like I am against talking about it.

Part of me also wanted to see how the little ones may react to the situation.
They reacted with questions to which they know the answers, like; ‘Where’s Max’s mom?’

It is almost like they still find it difficult to accept, and are perhaps surprised with the way they get straight answers. From me, and mini-me.

Luckily for the boy, they did not like carrot cake, so he had two for his lunch boxes on the following days. I do wonder if their relative significance was talked about at school, Max has not mentioned them since, and I do not like to ask, as I really do not want him to tire of my insistence to talk about such things.

And while situations like this are no breeze, I could not help but think it was the right way to handle it. For us anyway. This time.

My boy’s grief is not going to evaporate through ignorance, nor would I want it to. I think the truth, and the benefits of knowing it, far outweigh, what a life shielded may yield.