A journey into openness and honesty… Distilling truths about ourselves, others and life from shared experiences… Learning to live consistently with that truth… Becoming free to be who we truly are…

Winter Grief

It’s been a long time since my previous blog post… there’s a reason for this…

This winter has reflected my internal world… long, dark nights interspersed with cold, grey days occasionally broken by welcome stretches of warm, winter sun. Having a tough time was not unexpected… the only way to handle the grief process is to go through it… but that doesn’t make it easier.

Autumn finished with an exciting three week adventure in Perth and the beautiful south-west corner of Western Australia. I had a load of fun and it was great spending time with my son and pregnant daughter-in-law. But when the trip was over I arrived home to an empty house… not empty of kids and visitors, but empty of Rosie… yet full of reminders of her absence.

My mood sank immediately and for some weeks a dark cloud of depression hung over my head. Earlier in the year I had growing sense of freedom and excitement about moving into a new phase of life. It was gone. Instead I carried a deep anxiety telling me I had to find new purpose, meaning and activities in life and start living them out, instead of sitting there wasting my life. But I had no energy or motivation to get moving… just a deep weariness and confused grief.

Grief for me has two key aspects
As expected I grieve losing Rosie, my faithful loving marriage partner, friend and life companion for over 33 years. Not expected has been a deep grief over issues in our relationship that despite years of hard work and counselling separately and together, were never resolved.

No marriage is perfect and ours was no exception. Many issues arise in every marriage and need to be resolved… marriage is a working partnership… but sometimes in the real world of imperfect people and imperfect relationships some issues cannot be fully resolved. The key here is being able to accept these issues for what they are and keep moving on, but this does not mean it is easy. (Note: Sometimes moving on means moving on separately.)

For Rosie and I there were significant areas in which we struggled to really connect… not unusual in a marriage but painful for us both. I won’t go into further detail now… maybe it will be appropriate at a future time. (Don’t misunderstand me however… Rosie and I were deeply committed to one another and shared genuine love and deep trust.)

My grief over these unresolved issues seemed to be blocking my grief over losing Rosie, and feeling that I was stuck in the grief process was only reinforcing the depression.

I then went on a whirlwind 4WD trip across the Simpson Desert. 5000km in 13 days! New friends, so many things to see and do… an experience of a lifetime… but also very tiring! The trip temporarily distracted me from grief and depression… but it was all waiting for me when I got home exhausted.

It dawned on me that I need some grief counseling (why hadn’t I thought of this before??) so last week I spoke to a counseling administrator to assist with choosing a suitable grief counselor. I told her that the grief counseling I needed was different from normal. I needed a counselor not only experienced with addressing ‘regular grief’ (dealing with the loss of a loved one), but also capable of addressing unresolved relationship issues.

The administrator’s reply was both insightful and encouraging… one of the most common aspects of grief counseling is helping a person dealing with unresolved relationship issues. What I am going through is very normal!

My counseling sessions begin next week… I don’t look forward to facing and dealing with tough issues within myself but I do look forward to the healing and freedom this will bring. Even though the depression has now lifted (thankfully) I believe grief counseling is essential for me to rediscover who I am now without Rosie and be free to move on into a new life.

For those who pray, I’d value your prayers. For those not into praying (and to me that’s perfectly fine) I’d value your thoughts. As always I greatly value the amazing support I receive from my family and close mates and the encouragement I receive from you, my friends.

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Comments on: "Winter Grief" (4)

  1. Rob Perkins said:

    Thanks for sharing your winter grief in your latest blog Ian. Whilst I can’t Know the kind of grief you feel, I have some empathy from my own areas of grief which I find when shared with a trusted friend can bring a great deal of comfort to me.

  2. Thoughts and prayers for you on this ongoing journey. I trust you find the counselling sessions helpful and that you are “surprised” by joy and comfort and light (where there has been darkness). Rosie is not forgotten. Thank you for sharing. You are loved. Hugs.

  3. Greif… it is a debilitating and wonderful thing at the same time. We are surrounded by the wonderful memories our loved one shared with us, that also remind us of how hard it to bear the loss of one who we loved so much. We want to keep those precious memories ever so close but so to does the pain of our loss remain just as close. How do we separate the pain from the memories… Grief, that is the grieving process, something as individual as fingerprints for each of us. The time it takes, the depth of the pain, our ability to realise we need help… its all a very individual experience.

    The one thing that changes each of those is the support of our family and friends. I am extremely fortunate to count you amongst my group of family and friends Ian.

  4. justrodwilldo said:

    You never cease to amaze with your self-understanding and your perseverance. Very glad to hear the depression has eased off and you are taking steps in the right direction. I look forward to being part of your brighter future, but also to walking nearby on the journey from here to there. Thanks again for sharing your insights this way – I’m sure you are not the only obe benefitting from that.

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