It’s been a while since I wrote anything about where we are at since Nicky died. Over the last few months many people have talked to me about strategies for coping with grief and I have come to realise that recovery from inconsolable loss is beyond everything else a personal journey. All those affected by a sudden and tragic death changing experience must seek out and take their own path through the complex emotional responses they will have.
There are no short cuts. There are however cul de sacs and closes that will scupper the unwary inconsolate and I am grateful to a therapist for helping me to avoid some of them. It is a bleak and lonesome journey because death brings nothing. It brings a void, a space. A space that was once occupied, vital and warm is now barren, still, cold, a tundra; grief is the long walk across it . Sadly everyone’s walk will be unique, and largely an isolated experience. I say largely isolated because on my walk i have sometimes encountered and sometimes sought out others doing a similar walk. It is a curious thing but I see grief hanging off people’s shoulders like an old coat, I recognise it almost immediately. Strangers on trains, single drinkers, weathered faced walkers, the lonely man who delivers shit to the allotment. Mutterers and starers all. Some wear their coats better than others, often I’ll stop and chat with them.
Each and everyone’s journey is different then. If you hear talk of the 5 ‘stages of grief’ think not of a linear series of steps but of each step mingling, and twisting and turning with and amidst the others. It is not 5 but an mathematical infinity of alternative possible experiences. There is no right way to do it, it just must be done.
To help me do it I needed to do something physical. And for those of you wondering what I’ve been doing for the last 6 weeks I have lost myself in digging, mixing, pouring, marking, cutting, screwing, gluing, painting and planting. In short I have built a shed. My dear friend Tom Harrison, a designer, creative and craftsman has been the driving force. Tom is a hugely talented man I have been his skivvy and apprentice (and not a very good one). He’s put up with my tears, my mutterings, my wanderings off, my inability to measure twice or cut once but we have together created a rather beautiful space. I can’t thank him enough for his vision, resilience and carefulness. The shed has a vast amount of storage for my bikes and tools, it has a desk with a neat foldy down bit to keep the dust away and it has three tonnes of earth on the roof that already grows into a beautiful meadow.
The shed is a means to an end. It means that I can think and make and do out of the house and specifically out of the attic wherein Nicky and I once dreamed and built a beautiful vision of our future. It means that I can get an au pair, which means that I can start to work again. It means that we can all have a space to be creative. All this is good. It’s my hope that the space is as much the girls domain as mine as they grow up. Nicky was a maker and Betsy has inherited that, her head down, legs crossed, brow neutral in loom band and hamma beaded concentration. It’s a meditation I am sure, and she already wields a drill quite well. Tilly hits the shit out of a tennis ball, her strength and eye another of Nick’s legacies.
We all grieve. To live without Nick we must live without Nick. Slowly and gradually emerging from the grey is a possible alternative future. Different, sadder and less certain. But it appears, as people said it would. The spaces between the bouts of despair lengthen, but when it hits the sadness is evermore concentrated. Music, poetry, literature are all still impossible. Hopeless.
People have been amazing. We have had so much support and continue to do so. Every offer of assistance of course is a reminder of our loss, but everyone knows that. It’s just tough. I am still an emotional Samson, nothing phases.
Thanks all for your support, if i don’t respond keep trying. I am beginning to put my head above the parapet