Friday, 2 June 2017

Now What?

Half past three at night, soon the birds will begin their first drowsy chirping. Two lots of paracetamol, half a sleeping pill and two powerful tranquillisers later I am still wide awake. Peaceful, calm, but awake.

It’s been a busy day, even hectic and in parts quite stimulating. Old gardener and Kelly the cleaner came in the morning, and for me there was a visit to the surgery for a routine blood test while t hey were putting house and garden in order, (yes, I am still a lady of leisure - properly now, for the first time in my life am I in sole charge of all assets, such as they are, ) then a quick lunch at home and a very perfunctory Millie walk, then off to an invitation to afternoon tea. The proper sort. It started wth a large glass of bubbly,  followed by plates of dainty sandwiches, scones with butter, cream and jam, fruitcake and a sponge. The tea appeared to be an afterthought. The old fashioned kind of afternoon tea, with proper china and napkins.

An ancient couple, fellow guests, made decent inroads into the victuals and did the reminiscing that oldies go in for, often because they can’t remember how many times they have repeated the same story and also, because of poor hearing they tend to not hear the answers and just rabbit on.
My host and hostess were not exactly close friends but regular dog walkers  and pleasantly chatty acquaintances. We have been to meals to them before, lunches and dinners, First solo invitation, well meant and very kind.

Still, so now what? Wherever I go I go alone.

The evening was taken up with a meeting of the poetry group, the first since the 21st March, (Beloved died on the 26th, Mothering Sunday). The next meeting would have been on the evening of the funeral so we gave that a miss.

By the way, he had a wonderful send-off, with music, even a recording of Walton’s viola solo played by Beloved, quite beautifully, an excerpt from a full performance, directed by Walton himself. There were poems read by professional actors and various speeches, which all concerned themselves exclusively with Beloved and his many achievements. Even I didn’t know half the famous people with whom and for whom he had played. Ever modest, never putting himself forward, my  beloved.

Again, so now what? I am almost through with the paperwork, officialdom has been fed with endless forms and certification and statements and a "o woe is you if you are telling fibs’ has been understood and taken to heart. (I have to be extra careful, I’ll probably be deported in 2019 when Brexit does its foul deed. The only good thing about it is that the leavers will probably be suffering the most, they being mostly the uneducated and most dependent on State benefits, of which there’ll be a scarcity.

How to carry on? On my own? I am capable, practical and resourceful, I have few immediate money worries and am intelligent enough to find my way through official mazes. BUT I am TRULY ALONE. I literally have no help, not from family, not from friends. They say they will help and always there’s the “Tell us what we can do” or “You know where we are" was a favourite. Would they have had a heart attack if I really had approached them? Just a few people knew what to to do. They asked me to pop in for potluck and let me talk about Beloved and themselves said kind things about him. Which made me feel warm and mushy inside.

Would blogging help? Perhaps a diary style blogging, much the same as I did before Beloved’s death? I don’t know, I might try. Not necessarily to garner lots of replies and comments, ( that requires a commitment on my part which I find hard to dredge up right now ) more an outpouring of thoughts and feelings. You all tell me that I write honestly, straight from the heart, without tidying things up and without prettifying things. I couldn’t possibly do less at the moment, I simply don’t have it in me to spout platitudes. So whatever comes up is probably not pretty. You have been warned. Stay away if you need the ‘bright side of life’.

Ah yes, the eternal question “How Are You? Lovely to see you, how are you doing?” What should the answer be? The questioners look so earnest, so concerned, but at the same time willing me to tell them that I am fine, which makes it hard to look them in the eye. Don’t ask it, just don’t. How do you imagine I feel? If you’ve experienced the death of someone close to you you know anyway, If you are after a simply and untrue “very well thank you; getting there” get lost, don’t bother.And you, you people crossing the road when you see me coming, don’t be so stupid. If you have nothing to say, a common or garden ‘good morning`’ will do and a sentence about the weather when you really find noting comforting within you. A short hug works wonders too. But don’t ignore me, I don’t carry the bubonic plague and death is not contagious.


  1. Not an easy time. At all. From far away, all I can give is cyber hugs. But they are meant.

  2. Dear Friko,

    You've articulated well the common problem of people not knowing what to say or do even when concerned and others who are so uncomfortable as to avoid the griever in public. I've experienced both and now no longer speak of personal matters to people who are not old friends. I am not one of those who needs the "bright side of life," as you put it so well. If you need to vent, do it without apology. I wish I could give you a hug and Millie a scratch behind the ears...

  3. "What now?" I'm afraid it is just keeping on keeping on for the moment Friko - it will get easier - it will get brighter - but it takes time - make sure you wrap around you all the love that comes your way - and keep on being honest!

  4. One day at a time, tell the buggers that ask how you are the truth...struggling and grieving. Everyone grieves in their own way in their own time, perhaps the people you see on the street don't know what to say...or maybe they are afraid to remind you that your beloved has if you didn't know.
    Sending you a hug.

  5. Several times over the last two weeks or so I've been thinking "I should write to Friko, she has not posted in a long time" - but I always thought that just when I had neither time nor occasion to write, and by the time I was home, a thousand other (mostly completely banal) things occupied my mind. Therefore, I apologise for being sometimes so unable and incapable of sorting priorities, and not writing to you.
    There are not many similarities between your situation and mine; when my husband died, he was 41 years and 5 days old and there had been absolutely no warning, no indication of any illness or other circumstances pointing to such an early death completely out of the blue.
    ...I was only 41 myself, in the middle of things, so to speak. Still working, my parents and sister still around, still with circles of friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and of course still with Steve's family in Yorkshire. With the latter, we turned to each other for comfort, and still do, 7 1/2 yeras later.
    Reading that you feel so well and truly alone is very sad, that you have nobody to turn to for comfort.
    And like some of the others here said, if people ask how you are, just tell them. Don't be polite if you don't feel like it, but don't be too harsh on them, either - mostly, I am sure they do mean well.

    Shortly after Steve's death, I remember I had the impression that some people in my near environment were watching me with a sort of voyeuristic expectation, as if they were hoping to see me crumble, scream, fall into depression, go mad or something other dramatic. Well, I did not do them that favour.

  6. Thank you for this. No matter the subject, it's good to read you again. If I may say a small word about those who offer the idea of help—you know, of course, that many good-hearted people are willing to help but worry about being intrusive. When they say 'Let me know what I can do', it's not always an empty gesture. Sometimes they need to be taken at their word. Let them know.
    That hug in the carpark? Here's another one, but with care for your ribs.
    Love from me to you.

    1. Indeed, if you take them at their word, most people are glad to help. I experienced that after my husband died. When specific things needed doing, I approached those who had offered their help, and it was gladly given (and even more gladly received).

  7. Hugs are very important! We need them more now that we are alone. There is something so comforting in a hug. Words can't explain it, it just is.

    ((((((((Friko))))))) Love, prayers and hugs for you ~ FlowerLady

  8. I know exactly how you feel. I felt irritated by other people's reactions after my husband's death as I felt the onus was on me to be brave and cheery and keep saying that everything was fine as that obviously reassured them and that was the answer I was supposed to be giving. And yes, that awful, Let me know what I can do, as if everything is up to you, even finding things for them to do to help you, when you are struggling just with every little thing because you are totally on your own. Sending cyber hugs and do write more about Beloved, he sounds such an exquisite gentleman

  9. But you can't be above how the rest of us react when we are not sure what to do or say when an acquaintance's or friend's partner dies. Ok, I have just checked. You don't answer comments, so why not just say your piece on your blog and I expect it will make you feel better to say things, hear how others respond, but you don't have answer or defend. If a blog is good for anything, it is expressing thoughts to the great unwashed.

  10. When someone asks if there is anything they can do, tell them that you would like company. "Hearts and prayers", "please call me if you need anything" are empty words if not followed by actions. People mean well but don't always know what to say or do but a simple phone call or a visit would mean so much. I became best friends with an acquaintance after the death of her beloved. All I had to do was be there, it was so simple and it gave my husband and I the most stimulating and interesting friendship that we have ever had. She, like you, was mostly alone, but afterwards she became part of our family. Look for the helpers, Friko. Grief has no time limit, speak out, have your say, and cry when you need to, no matter the setting.

  11. I am glad to see you back in Blogland, and I do hope that you continue to write and let your admirers know how you are doing. I am one of them and feel it's quite possible that you will write some posts of real interest to me at least. :-)

  12. You are where I was almost 4 years ago and someday, you'll be where I am. The truly alone position is very true, at least for me and others I'm sure. Does it get easier or better? It hardens , I suppose, like an old scar, always tender and always there. So much depends of the number and quality of friends and family, any ongoing life passions or hobbies and our personal attitude personality. I don't fare too well in any of these. To be blunt and uncheery, I'm 70 and simply filling my time with busy busy...sometimes it's enjoyable, sometimes not. I'm realistic, not pessimistic, enough to know that this is the way it'll be from here on out. I have a comfortable life, a few friends, only a brother left, no children, retired, minimal hobbies, but I find it's an emotional struggle every single day. I'm not saying it will be this way for you and in fact it probably won't. I think you will be fine in time. I guess I was just expressing my own personal sense of it all. A mental hug I give you, but more an internet eye to eye, that I know how you are feeling. I truly do.

  13. Yours was the first blog I read today - I was happy to see you were back.
    Yes, by all means continue. And no, you don't need to be little Mary Sunshine. Many of us are going through - or will eventually - what you are experiencing.

  14. Your post made me cry because I missed you. And I was happy to see you here and writing about the horrors of loss. Because, dear friend, it is horror and nausea and holes in the heart, patch up one and two take its place.
    I know.

  15. Were you here, or I there, I would give you a hug and sit with you and talk - or not. Instead, virtual hugs and maybe a wee bit of encouragement to keep talking and writing. xoxo

  16. I'm glad to see you have posted. You've been on my mind lately, wondering how you were faring though I know how you are faring. I sat with my sister while her husband died and watched as she went through what you are going through. Like others I thought to reach out but then the thought would slip away so I am sorry for that. restructuring your life especially when you were happy with it the way it was is hard. Would they really deport you after all these years? Please continue to write raw and true. You have much support if only in the ether.

  17. Sending a hug across the miles. I was glad to see a post from you, and, although I cannot say that I understand your situation, I do empathize as well as I can. Your eloquent words are a reminder to me about how to be a friend to those in similar situations. xoxo

  18. Dear Friko, I am very glad to see this post from you. I've been checking in from time to time, so see if you had written, and then thought to myself that when you wished to write, you would write.

    As you know, I have no children and have never been married, although I received a handful of proposals. I am practiced in the art of living alone, but am very fortunate in having many friends. Some of these are folks whom I have known for over 40 years. That's a long time.

    Last year, the husband of one of those oldest friends died, after a long cancer bout. I wanted to be helpful and a comfort to my friend, and throughout her husband's illness we connected whenever she was able to call, or perhaps even leave his presence for an hour or two. Often my contribution was to listen. Sometimes my contribution was tell her of some silly, vaguely amusing anecdote that offered a respite from surrounding illness. Sometimes, she would want to be unreachable.

    My friend and her husband were very close, and she was quite devoted to his career. Since being widowed, her life is very changed. She's had a rough time with the transition, often saying that her husband loved life much more than she ever has. As a friend, I tried and try to understand her grief and to be a comfort or help in small or not so small ways. I look and listen for signals.

    Yesterday, we met to belatedly celebrate her recent birthday with a lunch at a lovely French cafe. It was a place that I liked, but one that we had never visited together. How happy I was that yesterday's get together was truly enjoyable. My friend smiled, laughed, found the lunch delicious and said she would want to visit there again. Yes...this is a little thing, but sometimes life is composed of such little things. They do not erase sadness. They exist in their own realm.

    Dear Friko, I hope that you have not minded me writing this. As I have told you before, I do wish that I lived closer and could be more of a friend. xo

  19. Oh Friko, that loneliness. It's worse than poverty, I think. I'm glad you are considering writing again. I hope you do. Not for comments, though I shall read. Not for anything more than to just be open. And I suspect you will find more than a few listeners. My heart aches for you.

    Might you consider: "How am I doing, you ask? Not that great. Oh, I get around, I'm financially fine, Millie is great. But I'm lonely. I need to be able to talk about Beloved to those who knew them. Sometimes it's hard to get up in the morning. When you ask how can I help, I am grateful but I it isn't picking me up some groceries or taking me someplace. All the things that are easy to do. It's the listening, the being there. Checking in. And I'm sorry to be so bold, but you asked."

    I have been hearing a great deal about Sheryl Sandberg's new book Option B, about her experiences as a widow. Of course, the situation is different but she has a lot to say and I think in some aspects you might find a kindred spirit. But I'm not sure if she has answers. I'm not sure anyone can truly provide answers. Just support. And sometimes, with that, the answers come. Sending love your way.

  20. gentle hug
    wet eyes
    gentle hug

  21. " Lovely to see you, how are you doing?” What should the answer be? .... But don't ignore me."

    Thank you for this beautifully realized information that we all need or will need. I adore you, U. Aloha. Just keep on! <3

  22. I can only say that I feel your pain. it will get better and you may even take joy in singlehood. I find ten years later that I love the single hood part but that doesnt take away the grief part although it lessens it. Time does make a big difference.

    I once told the gal assigned to help me (since I was in the frederal government I had a "casualty officer", that if one more person said "I know what you are going through", or "It's a blessing" I might scream.

  23. I know exactly what you feel, friend Friko ... Well, no, but somewhat ... I felt very much alone in this country after my daughter Jenny died in 1986 ... so much alone, that one day I just left and kept walking with my 2 other wee lil kids ... East, that is ... because Europe is east of us ... and I walked and walked for miles ... then turned West ... and walked another many miles ... I live out in the country, in the bush, so not many vehicles go by ... but after a couple of hours a truck came by and passed ... then another and another and another, which is unusual in my neck of the woods ... none of them were stopping, but I know the peeps inside were making note of my wanderings away ... and they were making phone calls as well ... I know that, because of the one truck that stopped beside me ... and out stepped my husband ... he didn't say a word ... he just scooped up the kids into the truck and then he held me tight in his arms and we cried together ... right by this god damn Alberta dusty road side ... then we went home ... Alberta has been my home for 35 years now ... but even after all this time, I am still looking to get away to somewhere else in order to find peace. Life is a long and dusty road, but there is always something around the next bend, my friend. Wishing you well always. Love, cat.

  24. The paralysis that grief causes is total and one's beyond reach for a time . Perhaps many of your friends in the village know this and are giving you some space . And the British don't do open emotion terribly well . But they're still there and and will be when you're ready .
    I'm not near enough to give a truly effective hug , I'm afraid , but I'll send a virtual one , instead .
    And if , next year , you're 'deported' thanks to Brexit and I'm similarly deported from Holland perhaps we can share a real hug as we cross paths over the North Sea?

  25. It is good to hear from you because I've thought of you often. Loneliness is not a state where I would want to live. I think I dread that the most if anything should happen to my beloved. There is much to settle and sort through, and then, there are those hours when the absence companionship that you once shared would make one wonder just what to do.

    I do hope you keep writing for you, and all of us too. I wish I could pass you on the dog walking path. I'd give a hug and ask if you'd like to chat. I found walking and talking are the best when it comes to coping with what to do next after loss.

    I'm sending love and hugs across the way to you. And I'm hoping for you these things: peace, sleep, comfort, and companionship

  26. Dear Friko - I am so pleased to see the loving thoughtful comments ... it's at times like these that sharing in the blogging world can be so 'easing' (helpful, positive etc) ... we get comments that lighten the load a little. I'd love to be nearer ... but the south coast is somewhat way away.

    It's lovely to be able to read about Beloved's Service and how much you were able to gain from it ... ideas and subjects perhaps to add to with new meetings with those who added to the Service.

    I hope perhaps once things are more settled you can make some journeys to see old friends of yore, to get to London to see some museums - as too other places near you that you haven't had a chance to visit or to find out about.

    But please don't stop writing here - you set examples for us all ... certainly I have learned loads and I love your style and the thought provoking way you write for us - for yourself.

    Explore around ... test and experiment ... at least you will be doing something you wish to do - while time adjusts itself. Not easy ... and you will sorely miss Beloved's companionship ... we each adjust in our own way ... I wish you all the contentment you can manage at the moment and have some of those local hugs to keep you going for now ... Sally says it well ... peace, sleep, comfort and companionship with a few friends developing.

    Enjoy the garden and the summer months with Millie and I'll be thinking of you - with many thoughts - Hilary

  27. so good to see this entry as have been checking daily.
    understand your words, alone for 40 years, many suitors but stayed alone.
    mine was divorce not death and much still causes heartaches.
    when children as what they can do, I say a hug and just love me.
    so take care and go forward as nothing else to do. your words have helped me
    stay healthy, so much is changing in my life at 80, but one day at a time..

  28. Dear Friko, a lifetime of "couple-hood" cannot be set aside in a few months. I think you should allow yourself to state specific needs, out loud. The rule is: Would you respond to someone who asked you? I know you would. People are hesitant, not knowing if you need "space" or "time". Maybe your answer can turn that around: "Thank you so much for asking. I am done with solitude and need human companionship. Can we meet for coffee? I'd like to catch up with your news."

  29. Awake at three in the morning I wondered how you were doing.
    I am glad that the service for your husband was such - in a way - a happy event, but now you have to concentrate on yourself.

    One thing Leo`s illnesses have taught me is that people who offer help generally mean it...but you have to say what you want as the same peope are not mind readers nor, perhaps, know you well enough to know instinctively what is needed.

  30. The send-off does sound to have been wonderful, and fitting to Beloved's life with you and in music, including performing a viola solo from a Walton work with Walton conducting! You bring to mind those wonderful posts about a life in music--and cartoons, as well. It's always good to "see" you here, and we send you hugs and love from across the miles.

  31. Sending caring thoughts your way. We each find our own path through the new life we lead by following our instincts, I think. Ten years ago when I suddenly was alone my actions were rather erratic for a long time. In the beginning I listened to a lot of recorded music my husband and I enjoyed, though he had long since stopped playing. Months later I began attending a monthly live concert. I was not surrounded by others once our children returned across country to their homes. Friends here had long since moved away, died or both, so contacts were mostly more casual. Since you're already an established blogger, computer user, you can more easily incorporate this activity, as much or as little as you feel like, into your activities. There may be times when you'll want to reach out to someone in your community and other times you may prefer being alone -- and that's okay. In the beginning, I recall at times feeling I needed to get out of the house and so I did -- sometimes spending long hours at a local book store, though I had books at home I could have read. I rather liked knowing no one there, though curiously to me, after frequent visits over weeks, a young man employee became friendly. I was surprised to eventually learn he was a musician who played in a touring group. There were other times I could just be driving for some errands and would suddenly feel an overwhelming need to be home, so did so. I made a point of going various places, including out to eat, alone sometimes. There were occasions when memories surfaced...a gamut of emotions could emerge...not all positive...but that was life. Hugs to you!

  32. Consider this a virtual hug from across the Atlantic and an encouragement to you to continue blogging -- you have much to teach us.

  33. The tea sounds lovely. Those who ask 'How can I help?' either haven't been where you are currently or just can't actually manage the help they offer. It's a shame.

    May blogging provide you with a modicum of comfort. Es freut mich immer, die Beiträge lesen zu können.

    Grüsse aus Kalifornien! x

  34. Dear Friko. I can't believe it's been two days since you posted, and I just found it! Every single day I have been checking. It is wonderful to hear from you. I never expect any frivolity from you. Directly to the point you go. And I love it and appreciate it. I won't repeat what many commenters have said. I just want my name on the list of those who are so glad to have you back here!! If only technology could beam us somewhere, I would give you such a hug!

  35. Lovely to see you back on the blog. Yes, it's going to be hard I'm sure to find a way forward although I have no doubt at all that you will. Words are funny things, aren't they, so powerful yet sometimes so helpless. Yet I believe honesty helps and we can do that sometimes with words. I look forward to reading more of your ungarnished outpourings - although I don't think they will ever fail to be elegant! Xxx

  36. Dear Friko, now is your "hour of lead" as Emily Dickinson said. And I believe that when Anne Morrow Lindbergh went through a loss through death she used those words as a title to her memoir. My thoughts are with you. Peace.

  37. I am glad to see you posting, and see you are surrounded by Love here.

  38. I suppose those who ask if they can help really don't know what to say. Nothing can actually take away the huge pain for you. But time does heal, although I know that sounds like a platitude. Still it is true, and your idea of seeking some healing through blogging is a very good one. A virtual hug from London.

  39. Hi Friko
    I am two weeks behind reading posts. I am so glad we got to hear from you. I understand the emptiness and the now what and I an delighted that you put it into words and shared it. The send off for Beloved as you described it made me reflect. It was touching. Tea and the garden and walks with Millie help pass the days. And do not worrynabout Brexit now.. The future of that may change.
    Do carry on posting as all your followers have encouraged. We are hear to take in the wise words you share. You are good with descrition and getting us to 'see' your points.

  40. I am so, so sorry. You have a rough road to peace ahead and I am holding you in my heart,

  41. Thinking of you, friend Friko ... Much love, cat.


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