Posted - 18/12/2014 : 21:31:30
This is such a subjective set of emotions and deeply personal and we each react to the loss of a comrade, friend, partner, close relative or spouse in our own way.
When Mum died in 1982 I was numb and could not express any emotions; this was not a sudden death because she had struggled against cancer for a long time; yet I felt nothing.
My expectation as a Combat Medic was that I would feel something, but there was nothing; it took many decades to recognize that I was deeply angered that she had left me and that anger turned inside into deep depression.
Yet, on the surface, I was as I always was, withdrawn from people, eccentric in behaviour and trying to cope with a world I did not (and still do not) understand.
I left the army and went into a major breakdown - 2 years in lockup, 1 year in full-time psychotherapy and 2 years at half-way house.
I talked of many things but never about Mum's death and it is now 31 years since she died and Nell's parting 2 years ago and my recent marriage; now feels the right time and I feel mature enough to understand about the level of grief that I could not admit to myself that I was feeling.
In a way it is true to say that 'Death has been my constant companion' for most of my life - family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers - perhaps that is why, later in life I became a live-in carer for terminally-ill people.
Always in the past my world has been safe and padded, yet when Nell died, all of that was torn away and all I could do was feel stripped of everything that made us into a single entity.
Later, when the shock wears off one screams from deep inside one's mind and body - the primal scream of agony.
One rages at everything, yet one locks it away in the mind until people push too hard and the rage is released.
Depression follows and one must allow oneself to be depressed because you cannot progress to acceptance until you do.
Now 2 years on from Nell's death I understand what happened when Mum died - I never accepted that she was gone and so kept the anger and depression inside me.
Looking back, for me, it was important to preserve our living space and not to have it contaminated by other people coming into our nest; to keep the scents and the position of things, to hear her voice in my mind and to talk with her.
I kept some stuff that belonged to Nell - a dress, a pullover, some jewellery and photos. The rest was given to Save The Children and to her relatives.
For me it was important that she had the funeral that we had planned together because this is an act of love and respect and it was important that her gravestone should reflect who she was as a real person as much as a token of my love for her.
I think that a well-planned funeral is the first step to acceptance and to healing, followed 6 months later by the erection of the headstone.
My grief lasted just over a year and then I looked round for another lady friend and after some while I met Mabale and married her 8 days ago.
'Marriage is finding someone really annoying and then spending the rest of your life with them'
She has a similar sense of humour to me and we both remember those we have lost.
Service before self
'A Poppy in My Buttonhole' available now SEE:
My next book will be "The Crcodile Chronicles" and is projected to be launched 2015 or a quarter past eight in time for Christmas.