Friday, 18 May 2012

Grief. It can take you by surprise.

Most of the time I'm more of a 'glass half full type o'gal' than 'a glass half empty' sort. 

Occasionally though, something happens that just seems to pull the rug from beneath your feet and makes you realise that no matter how good some (many) aspects of your life are, there are some things that will always cause you pain and hurt.

I'm not talking about the small stuff here.  Or even the medium stuff.  I'm talking about the big stuff.  The stuff that deeply affects your life, for the rest of your life, from the moment it hits you.

Serious illness.  Loss. Grief.

Most of us have been touched by these things in one way or another.  To a greater or lesser extent.

Grief is a funny one.   It's not only the obvious things that can cause us to grieve.  Sometimes grief can take us by surprise.    Grief for the life you once had.  Grief for the life you perhaps thought you would have. 

I have spoken before amongst these pages about the pain I have felt in the past about having to share The Eight Year Old -  he splits his time 50-50 between me and his Dad.  His Dad and I separated when he was only eighteen months old.  At that time I had to leave what had been our family home, carve out a new life for us. 

In those early days when I was without him I often felt as if someone had reached deep inside my body and ripped my heart clean out.  I felt guilty that he wouldn't get the neat and tidy family set-up that I had experienced.  Mostly I simply missed him.  I ached to be with him.  I grieved for the loss of our family life.

We now have a wonderful family life.  The Eight Year Old still splits his time 50-50 between me and his Dad.  He's always accepted this without question.   In fact, he appears to thrive on it and is a happy, balanced boy with a large and loving family in both  'halves of his life. 

When he is with is Dad for a few days I still (of course) miss him, things don't feel quite as 'complete' for me when he is not here with us.  But, with The Baby and The Husband I now have far greater distraction than before.  And so, as is often the way with grief, the pain has dulled.  It's still there but it doesn't dominate nearly so much, I've learnt to live with it.

And so, it took me surprise the other day when that gut wrenching, heart ripping feeling surfaced once more.

I was walking towards our house after just getting of the bus when crossing the road towards me was The Eight Year with 'the other woman in his life'.  He had just finished school on a day when he was at his Dad's house. 

It was all a bit awkward really.  Although I've talked to 'the other woman' before on the phone and have shared text conversations with her, this was our first face-to-face meeting.   And here she was, with my son having just collected him from school, a woman I had never met before.

Me and The Eight Year Old hugged and chatted a little about our day but it all felt a little stilted with the 'other woman' (as nice as she is) looking on, waiting to go on with her day.  

As I watched them walk away in the direction of The Eight Year Old's 'other home, her hand placed gently on his shoulder,' I felt as alone as I ever have in my life. A stark reminder of the reality of our co-parenting situation

Later that evening, with my heart still heavy, I found myself sobbing. 

Life for us is really very good right now.  I have a wonderful husband whom I adore and two gorgeous sons who I love more than I ever thought possible.  But regardless of how good life is, the sadness, the grief, for the time I spend away from my eldest boy, will always remain.  And sometimes, it would seem, I will be taken by surprise at just how raw that deep-rooted sadness will feel.


  1. A very interesting post. It's amazing how grief can get you - even when every other aspect of your life is great.

    1. It certainly is. Just when I think I'm finally reconciled to the situation I am in with my eldest son, I then realise I'm not...