The bereavement model that I have mentioned before describes this part as ‘emotionally relocating the deceased and moving on with life’. I don’t interpret that as forgetting but more like finding a way to acknowledge David and my shared history while, at the same time, looking forward and making more of my own.
If I think of my life with David as a circle, then within that circle was all my life. Now my life is a bigger circle which accommodates the original one I shared with David. My new circle is still growing because I am living my life and as my ‘now’ circle gets bigger, the shared one looks to becoming smaller in comparison. It isn’t and it is all still there and always will be.
I think of myself as remembering the past more gently. When I focus on things such as my sadness and regret that David is missing all that we had looked forward to, that his grandchildren will grow up only knowing the stories we tell of him, I can become very tearful. In fact, I sometimes think that I cry more now than I did in the beginning. I am tearful writing this but feel OK about it and believe that it is because the hurt has lessened and I can remember comfortably. I find that my memories give me comfort not pain. I am so pleased to have these memories and to have so many.
So what about moving on? I have said before that I viewed that I had no option but to ‘cope’ and by that, I mean that I had no option but to get on with living, to perform, to do what needed to be done, to pay the bills and maintain myself and my home. I think the moving on involved in task 4 means something a little different.
If I can go back to the circles again and to where I was standing on the circumference of the circle that was mine and David’s at the time of his death, I would describe myself as looking inward, into the centre of that shared circle. I think I became aware of ‘moving on’ when I recognised that the larger one was there.
It had developed slowly and over time. I believe it offered me a choice, I could either try to continue looking the same way, into the past or, I could turn around and look to the future. If I did the former, I think the outer circle would still develop (remember my no option) but the growth would be a lot slower and, perhaps, cause more pain. If I chose the latter I could turn around and take the opportunity to embrace its development.
I, sometimes, talk of being ‘open hearted’ and by that I believe I mean not to pre-judge people and events but to ‘wait and see’. I have no idea how my future will turn out but I am letting it come. I am meeting it with open heart. I am willing to invest my feelings into what is to come. I am meeting new people and liking them, and, in time, I may come to love them. They will not take the place of the people in my life who have gone before and whom I will still love but they will become part of my history.
I am smiling as I read that last sentence because for the moment, I don’t even know if they are going to be in my future.
I hope those of you who have read my story, will find it helpful. I would like to believe that I have shared enough to give some hope to someone who is having difficulties believing that there can ever be light at the end of the tunnel again, or even believing that there is an end to the tunnel.
Some people’s tunnels will be longer and some shorter than mine but I do believe all tunnels have an end and a light. It may be a different light to the one you’re expecting, but it will be your light and its shine will guide you into your future.