Friday, 11 March 2011

Bereavement and its aftermath

Where to start?

It has been a period of such conflicting emotions, constant work, much talking, and cannot be readily or easily categorised.

I have woken to find myself weeping, morning after morning. Mourning and mourning. About all the good things and all the bad things. While much was good, and while the love endured, there were many times when I did not think I could see it through. Partly I did because we did love each other, and wanted to be together. Partly I did because my options were limited, once I  resigned from my job and moved here to live with him. And that meant there really was no going back. And, in truth, I was the one who made the compromises and the sacrifices. He was not a man to compromise or to change his mind. It took years for me to rebuild my life, to make friends and to make a life of my own. Because we were very different in interests and personality, I had to do things on my own. I did things with him, but he did not do things with me. It was necessary to struggle in order to maintain friendships and family connections. As time passed it became more and more difficult to keep up those friendships, and the visits to other cities became infrequent. He was afraid of flying, and so was reluctant to travel with me. And as real old age set in, he lost the energy and the interest. He became very deaf, and social occasions eventually  became rare events. Apart from the love, there was pity and sympathy. As well as aggravation and annoyance. I am no saint.

The last year was very difficult indeed, and as his physical and mental decline increased, with substantial memory loss and confusion, it was easy to lose sight of the man he had been. He became incapable of managing his affairs. While I grieved for this, and mourned the loss of the man I had married, the practical difficulties, and the need to make all the decisions about his care meant that I bore this burden substantially alone. Somehow I had to find the strength, and to become assertive towards a man who had mostly overridden my opinions and preferences, and who did not understand the meaning of compromise. I did find the strength, but it was not easy, and I doubted myself continually. It was always easy for him to browbeat me, but I did learn, needs must, to resist and to persist, to initiate and to make decisions, and eventually I became capable of withstanding the pressure and the disagreements.

In his last year, in many ways I think he did come to understand my true nature better, and to appreciate the care I gave him. This is a consolation. I think he was a person who found it difficult to feel and express emotion. This dated from his boyhood, when he arrived in Australia at the age of fourteen and was promptly put into boarding school, while his parents established their business. When war broke out they became enemy aliens. I always thought it was significant that he retained so few memories of his childhood before arriving in Australia, and think that perhaps the change in languages somehow shut off his early memories. I think he thought you could buy love, and did not understand that while temptation could be aroused it was in truth no substitute for the real thing, for the giving of self and the acting of love. He meant well, but money was very important to him, and I think he never did understand that money and love are not synonymous.

It is necessary to do many things after a death, but I won't describe this process now. Suffice to say that it is nearly all done, after much hard work, and what happens next seems sure to be an epic. I will need all my strength and that of other people too.

5 comments:

Molly said...

You sound to me like a strong and capable woman, no matter how much you doubt yourself. Good luck with this next chapter of your life!

Isabelle said...

Much sympathy, IP. I'm not suggesting that I know how you feel, but I do remember what it was like when my very strongminded father was losing his mental capacities - but not his choleric personality. Very hard.

Hope things become easier for you as the days go by.

rhubarbwhine said...

I have no words, and they'd be trite to the ear even if I did, so I am sending you a cup of tea and hug x

den said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
den said...

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x