I have been working with a client recently who lost her husband to suicide. It will be coming up for 2 years and she felt she could now take small steps to look at her life with a sense of calm, acceptance and with the headspace to move on.  I am so impressed with her presence of mind, her courage and quiet determination to not let the passing of her soul mate bring her down. Well-meaning comments from friends include: You’re strong and doing well. You are so resilient. The truth is, she really doesn’t have a choice. She has to survive and yes, at some point – to thrive once again.

After all, it’s been long enough and a respectable time to be on your own, and so friends (not family) encouraged her to get on to internet dating sites. “There is someone out there for you. You just haven’t met him yet. You could be happy again”. Another friend made bags from her spouses ties. They were just lovely and a huge reminder of his life enjoyed by all the family.

But suicide… is it a relief not having to deal with his depression anymore? Does it make his death less traumatic? Does she miss him any less? More often than not, there is a deafening silence when there is mention of his name. People stay silent rather than finding the words to address the elephant in the room. There are no words.

My client learned to cope on her own; making dinners for one. She managed to go shopping without breaking down; sleep through the night; fix things and go on trips by herself. She has also begun sorting through her husband’s clothes, shoes, golf clubs and donated to charities. She removed his name from credit cards, financial institutions, insurances, networking groups and more that represented his past life. It’s a solitary activity that just has to be done.

They say year one is tough, but year two is really really tough, despite the passing of time which is a healer after all, no? Everyone experiences grief differently. There is no magic formula back to happiness. It takes the time it takes:

Year One – In shock

  • Numbness
  • Coping with anniversaries
  • Holidays alone
  • Special occasions
  • Keep mind and body together
  • Put one foot in front of the other
  • Exist from day to day

Year Two:

  • Transition from ‘we’ to ‘me’
  • Shock and numbness ease off
  • Bad days
  • More sad days
  • Loneliness
  • Busy, busy, busy

All of these activities and emotions are a stark reminder of the man she laughed, cried, argued, lived with and loved. And now he has gone.

People talk about grief as waves. In year one the waves come at you like tsunamis. You’re in a constant turmoil of churning water that threatens to pull you under, each and every minute. It’s exhausting just to claw back to the surface and take a breath. Reaching the safety of land seems impossible.

In year two, those waves are further apart and not as overwhelming. You get pulled under, but not as deep. There are more hours and days when you are at least treading water and when the water is calm, you can slowly move toward the land that is now visible on the horizon. Maybe you even find a life jacket.

That’s where I come in.

My job is to help my client plan for the future, whilst being patient, having empathy and moving at her pace. Life does indeed go on, but she doesn’t have to fathom it on her own. I am that trusted ear, mindful of the ebb and flow of emotions and a guide to shine a light on all that can make life good again. We will walk and talk together. There are still days when just staying in bed under the covers is all that can be achieved, but that’s okay. There will be other days of hope and lifted emotions that signal life will be okay.

For a confidential and discreet listening ear contact:

Anita Brightley-Hodges
Founder, Saphora Private