Grief shit, the stuck zipper & the 1st year anniversary

The 1st anniversary of Bob’s death is approaching, a week away actually. This time a year ago he had less than one week to live (sobs uncontrollably, not for the first time this week/month/year)

I’m hoping that the build up to this anniversary is worse than the day itself (a bit like Christmas was). I’m hoping that I’ll be feeling a bit better after the day itself because quite honestly this grief shit is exhausting. I’m so tired of crying.

Everyone says that the first year is the worst. That it gets better. That time is a great healer and all those other clichés …so after next week things should be improving right?

I’ve been reading a few blogs on grief lately. I’ve avoided searching out grief stuff until now but I found a great blog by chance last week called Wife After Death I found it via another blog from a guy called Ben Brooks-Dutton, following his appearance on breakfast television life as a widowerread them both they’re brilliant!

There was such a ring of truth and a refreshing honesty in what I read (and heard) …Until this point I thought I was going mad!  Really…how can I be feeling worse now than I did six months ago? But, hearing how others are dealing with this has really helped. So much resonated with me, so much I could relate to. I found myself, smiling and nodding…yes I’ve done that, yes I feel like that!

Of course, I also did my usual comparing and contrasting grief situations. Both these people are much younger than me, with young children…so sad and so awful. Both were still young themselves, in their thirties, in love and grieving for the future they will never have together…heartbreaking. I, on the other hand had 30 years with Bobby. Years more than they will ever have…how could my grief compare to theirs.

STOP PRESS!!!….Since reading both blogs I’ve stopped comparing. I have allowed myself to grieve selfishly and without guilt. Was a bit of a break though in the whole grief journey shit!

So where am I now?

Well, I’ve cried a lot more than usual lately…by usual I mean this last year’s usual…  I wasn’t much of a crier at all before then really.  I broke down in the pub on Sunday (not for the first time). No idea where it came from. I started in a happy mood and then WHAM! ….

I hate crying in public. I hate crying in front of anyone actually. Mainly because I’m now acutely aware that once the floodgates open there’s no shutting them ...I left the pub. Walked up the village high street, sobbing all the way and when I got home a major “blub fest began.

It doesn’t take a lot to set me off at the moment.

There’s the big stuff of course…bills, mortgage, being the only one to make major decisions…. ABOUT EVERYTHING.  I’ve cried out ‘what should I do Bobby? – Endless times. I shout at his photograph… with no reply, of course.

There’s the everyday “man” stuff …cutting the lawn and managing the garden (with or without dead pigeon) …. Heavy lifting…. the sofa is still sitting in the garden from a party last summer. I can’t move it. I can’t move the garden furniture back to where it should be because it takes two people to lift it (or one strong man)…the curtain pole fell down months ago and I can’t put it back up again. It lies on the table near the window as a reminder of how shit I am on my own….where do you start with this stuff???

I’ve cried…at some point about all this …. But, last night I lost it… big time!


Because I couldn’t unzip my dress. Pathetic I know!

The zipper at the back had got stuck. I struggled for a while and then collapsed in a heap on the bed, blubbing, uncontrollably. It was like my whole world had collapsed.

I’m aware that some of the stuff I’m dealing with (on a practical level) is not dissimilar to any of my divorced friends. You don’t get to 51 without having a number of friends, male and female who have gone through divorce. The loss, the pain is, I’m sure, horrible. But, for me the shit of doing everything on my own (even unzipping my own dress when the zip is stuck) adds to the torment of being bereaved. It reminds me each day of the fact he’s dead. It reminds me how on my own I am. It compounds my grief. And, unlike divorced friends, however their relationship ended…however sad that was, at some point one or both of them made a decision to end it. whether by having an affair or falling out of love (or numerous other reasons) it was one way or another a choice or a decision they made. We didn’t choose to end our relationship. That decision was out of both of our hands. It was final…as final as it gets and it’s not the same.

I spoke to a good friend tonight. He said something that made me realise why I’m struggling so much at the moment. Something I’d never actually thought about before. Silly really, because I should have.

 The thing is, the last year has been the most difficult of my life. The one person I’ve relied on all of my adult life. The one person I’ve turned to in times of grief and trouble (big and small). The one person I trusted above anyone else. My one true confidant, my best friend and the one person I NEED RIGHT NOW to get through this is the person I am grieving for…and I miss him more than words can say.


People tell me I’m coping really well. whatever that means. Friends tell me I’m a strong person. I don’t feel very strong at the moment. Maybe after next week I’ll feel more positive again, but for now I’m wallowing in the shit that is grief…

Thankfully though, I have a holiday planned with my daughters. This will give me something positive and fun to look forward to instead of the only thing on the horizon being the date that marked my husbands death. And maybe…just a thought, I should start planning a new wardrobe. One without dresses with zips at the back. 

About Oxfordshire Family Support Network

Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OxFSN) is a not-for-profit organisation run by and for family carers of people with learning disabilities – both children and adults. Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OXFSN) was set up in 2007 by family carers who wanted to use their experience to help others in the same situation, based on our belief that family carers are experts by their lived experience.
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6 Responses to Grief shit, the stuck zipper & the 1st year anniversary

  1. KAL says:

    Words I know are pretty futile right now Gail but hang on in there!

  2. wisegrannie says:

    What good sense about the unzippered dresses! Practical planning for a different kind of life – see it as a brave small step towards the future. One day at a time! All best wishes.
    PS You don’t have to be brave all the time – far too exhausting. & Don’t be too hard on the divorced – It’s not the same sort of grief, but it is a horrid kind of bereavement knowing the person you loved and thought loved you is off and living happily in the world, giving no thought to you at all. Makes you feel so rejected and invisible and worthless 😦

  3. Kathy says:

    How brave are you to write a blog, it is awful and indescribable, but you do a fab job of describing it. Do give yourself time and space to grieve, there are no rules is what I learnt. A very good friend gave me the best advice, which was that they never entirely go away as the memories are always there. Remember those always, cherish them at the darkest times, and you will find your way forward when it is right.

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