“In the first few weeks of ‘auto-pilot’ following James’ death, I amazed myself at just how well I was doing. Complete control – all the necessary legal and memorial arrangements had been made and passed off well and I had even gone back to work.
It was only when it eventually dawned on me that ‘this was the way it was going to be’ and that the world had moved remorselessly on, that I finally realised how angry I was. My fury was of an intensity previously unknown to me and was directed, not at my son for dying, nor at the people in church for abandoning us, but at the One in whom I had laid my unquestioning trust. This was out of character and I felt showed my weakness. It was therefore not to be shared with those that I loved.
I took to walking long distances and sought answers through solitude, suffering deep mood swings while trying to keep a level ‘dad/husband’ pretence. I shouted one-way conversations with God, informing Him in no uncertain way just what I thought of Him, His so-called plans and His heritage – I have since apologised profusely! I had never felt so alone.
Listening to advice from Bereaved Parent Support I began to understand that my fury was a natural release of grief and, after opening a dialogue just one night a week with my wonderful wife, the ‘storm’ began to subside.”
It is now 15 years since James died. On rereading his thoughts from the early years on that painful path through his tangled emotions and the jungle of chaotic feelings, Nich has now added to his earlier writing with the perspective of time…
“People, who do not know, are wrong when they say ‘time heals all’ – my emotions are just as strong, but more contained. My tears flow when I want them to and my conversations with God are more questioning than in anger, more declarations in faith of love towards our son. I have made my peace with our surviving children for my feelings of guilt of not being there for them, when they needed me most. I hope by our actions now that we may sometimes make amends.
Fifteen years on, we are a very different family from that in July 1998, irrevocably changed. Outwardly we look the same – older, but the same. But inwardly we are more empathetic to others, more selective in the things we do and content to build new memories rather than empires.
Our ’new normal’ has taken on a positive outlook and a focus on doing much for others to give this life its meaning – others before self. Whilst I cannot pretend to understand ‘why’, I am now a very different but stronger and more resilient person, learning to help others through Bereaved Parent Support.
As we move forward, we pause every now and then to look back at how far we have come, reflecting how fortunate we were to have had James with us for all those years. I miss him every day – and that’s OK.”
Nich and Diana are Befrienders with the Bereaved Parent Support team.