Grieving

Grief is messy and hard. It doesn’t let up. You grow up an “I” person: I’m doing this or that, I’m going to such and such, I’m studying this subject etc. Then you meet someone and you find yourself becoming a “we” person: we’re buying a house, we’re having a baby, we’re going on holiday.

Then maybe that all goes wrong – or not – and you are again an “I” person, but not the same “I” person that you were before. Now you’re a little older and possibly a little wiser, or at least you have some life experience that you didn’t have before. You’re aware that you are now an “I”.

Further down the road you meet someone, again, and you find yourself back in the “we” mode. For me the “I” and the “we” jostled against each other for a few years and lately I settled into a “we”. But now I am again an “I” because the other half of “we” has left the planet. Gone for good.

Yesterday I visited my partner’s grave, in Clayton Wood Natural Burial ground, just by Ditchling in East Sussex. It’s a lovely place to bury someone you love, if you find that you have to do that. My partner loved nature and now he’s resting on the South Downs. He has a plaque with his name on it. That’s a very odd feeling, to see the name of someone who so recently was so very much alive, on a wooden plaque in a burial ground at the end of a grave and a mound of earth. But the plaque and the grave do have a presence that gave me a focus so that I sat and talked to him for a little while. Of course I know that he’s not really there but somehow it helped. I sprinkled some poppy seeds and chatted as I would if he were at home with me or we were sitting in the car going somewhere.

Then I went and had tea in a lovely teashop in Henfield, Norton House tearooms. I was hungry because I’m not eating much so I had a smoked salmon and cucumber sandwich and a pot of Assam tea made with loose tea, not a teabag, and a home-made meringue with whipped cream. It was all delicious and all of this, the visit and the chat and the tea, lifted me and I felt quite cheered up.

And then tomorrow comes and I wake up and it starts all over again. The pain and the challenge of grief and a new way of living. Variable and unpredictable and messy and very tiring.