There’s nothing particularly dignified about grief, I thought yesterday, standing in Superdrug looking at a shelf of laxatives. The antidepressants my doctor has given me do help me sleep but they have also left me with a swollen stomach and constipation. That is a good summary of bereavement, really: a stomach ache you can’t get rid of and a whole lot of inconvenience.
There’s a lot more to it too, of course, but that’s a place to start. Ten days ago my husband Kieran took his own life a few hours after texting me that we should think up a list of places we could go on holiday next year. There are all these things now on the surface that we – I – have to deal with in the aftermath of this, lots of stomach aches and inconveniences; things skating above a much deeper pain, darker water.
I already know that one day I will reach the other side of this open water, even though I can’t see the shore, even what the shape of it is like; it is beyond the horizon. I know that because I know myself. But I know this is going to be very long and exhausting swimming and sometimes I will need you to help me along, or even just help me tread water.
I loved Kieran for more than a third of my life so far; he loved me too. I never expected that he would go anywhere I couldn’t follow. But here I am, with my swollen stomach and tired eyes and a determination to keep taking one stroke at a time. Because in his own deeply hurting way, what Kieran wanted was for me to have a better life. I already had that, with him. I am glad that for most of his life he knew it, too.