When my wife died I went to see a grief counsellor. If I am being honest, I went to see this person to add legitimacy to my prolonged absence from work.
I felt 100% unable to return to my employment as my mind was a complete mess, my focus was incredibly limited, and quite possibly I would have made decisions that could have put staff, if not certainly paperclips, in jeopardy.
However to add some science to this state of mind I took my GP’s advice to go and seek some grief counselling.
It was a process I reluctantly say I ‘enjoyed’. It was certainly of immense benefit, and I can’t praise enough the voluntary work of those involved with Cruse Bereavement Care.
My particular councillor was all about the tough love, telling me how it was, holding a genuine concern for my wellbeing, but zero interest in indulging any feeling sorry for myself.
An approach I admired.
With their help I came up with a plan of sorts, some principles that I thought would help me deal with the ongoing grief cycle.
One of those was letting go of the life we had, and not seeking a ‘replacement’ for Samanatha, not looking to replicate what we had or were on our way to achieving, instead to realise today was a new start, and tomorrow is for the making, my making.
That sounds like complete bollocks, but it’s true.
Attempting to identically replicate what I had previously is dangerously unhealthy in my opinion, and would effectively in part say that my life is some sort of real-life Aerofix with every part changeable or paintable, which is the real bollocks.
Samantha had an incredible impact on my life, not only physically, but also on my hopes, fears and dreams. She still does. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson ‘she (still) makes me want to be a better man.’
I am not saying I wouldn’t like to be with someone else, and that another partner has not been a possibility over these last five-and-a-half years, but I am saying that would have taken me in a different direction, not back along an old route.
They would have taken me their own way, and still may.
I have also become mindful of lazily putting myself back into other positions of comfort, in fact I am buoyed by the fact, that some previous comfort zones actually make me feel decidedly uncomfortable now.
Towards the end of last year, triggered by bumping into some old pals, I decided it might be enjoyable to rekindle my hockey-playing career.
Much as I owe my late wife for teaching me a lot, I also owe team sport a great deal. It teaches leadership, conversely being a team player, how to formulate friendships, how to behave in defeat as well as victory and many, many other things.
I could have picked the phone up to someone at my old club, but no, I decided to join a new club. Not only one more geographically convenient and with an excellent junior section my son might want to join at some point, but one forcing me through the process of having to prove my ability again as well as gaining the respect of possible new team members.
Some of my old teammates got wind of this, and reaction was mixed. There are those that clubs, even amateur local ones, are for life, and no matter what you should never turn out for another side. Then, there’s me.
I’ve been playing for my new team since the New Year, and this last weekend saw the inevitable happen. I played against my old club.
Yes, add ‘turncoat’ to my ridiculous collection of clothes.
Interestingly, even though I ‘knew’ a few of the opposition not one of them recognised me. Which could have something to do with long hair replacing spikey, and bum fluff now covering my giant red hamster-like cheeks.
Or am I a completely different person today?
In any case it was not a game I enjoyed. The opposition were not very well tempered and the actions of one (getting himself sent off for sustained petulance) ruined the game for everyone really.
I would have enjoyed it, as I have been since my return to the hockey field, and really it had nought to do with the personal significance of this fixture, or indeed me.
But all more support for my principle of looking forward with appreciation and not back longingly.
And who knows where it may take me, I am now certified for use in Europe after all.