Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My brother in-law Tone's thoughts on Widowhood & Fatherhood after you lose a partner

Not everyone loses a sister, daughter or mom...some have lost the love of their life.  So it got me thinking.......I decided to ask my brother in law Tone if he would contribute his thoughts on grief and its challenges from a man's point of view...also as a father and widower.

The post is long and I tried to edit it, but I couldn't, everything resonated with me too.

I found his words to be sad however honest and made me look at his loss of my sister from a totally different perspective.....his!  He continues to do an amazing job, on his own of raising their four beautiful souls.  I am so proud of him as would be my sister!  Here is his take.....THANK YOU TONE! x

Try at "my perspective as a widower on grief and its challenges?"

So there are five or three stages of grief according to the 'net', and a few words only can help me set out an answer to the question. Which as me, I think it's a strange type of question, one that I don't usually want to answer. I want to avoid or dishonestly answer so not to cause hurt. But how can I get this wrong? I cannot. It is just an answer, not to be pulled apart. Truthful too.........

I am forty-nine now, the eldest son of six children. When I started going out with Tarnia we were both twenty years old, and when we married, nearly thirty.  At thirty-nine, we had four healthy beautiful children. I think you could call me a "SNAG".(Sensitive New Age Guy)

After nearly 18 years in the oilfield as a geologist, I had been out of it for 18 months because of retrenchments and scrounged menial jobs until an oil field job opportunity came past. The house she had found for us was, again, going to be paid off quickly!

My sister Tarnia and Tone

When Tarnia, my children's mum died at thirty-nine years of age, my boys were eight and five, and my twin girls six months old.  Their first teeth to erupt the day of the funeral. They were with their mum in a car accident.

When I was told about the accident, I was numb and shocked with the knowledge that nobody could be with her ever again,.....and, that the kids were okay. 

I had just started a new job two days before. We were planning many things, like going overseas while the kids were young enough, somewhere like KL or Singapore with the new position.

Did I do the right thing telling the boys she was dead that evening?

At the time it felt right, no one stopped me to think about it first.

I have never had to fire someone or break off a relationship. It appeared straight forward.

And I had to tell people. I could not let others do it, could I?

Right now that feels so selfish, telling people and not leaving it to others. I think I was trying to punish myself and others for my own loss.  Let someone else suffer right now, and I will cause it!

It was my decision to buy the passenger van she was killed in and maybe she couldn't handle the van after all.

Why why why. Anger. I don't like it. The tears of why why why?

Grief, a deep sadness, alcohol damped it down in the right company.

Expressing my grief was somewhat covered in a tough guy show no tears, dont talk about it if it can be casually brushed over attitude.

My sense of the absurd, my sense of humour, my casualness, was an armour against people prying.

Grief. Was it the feeling that I was guilty that the kids did not have a caring loving mum anymore?  They just had this grumpy selfish man getting into middle age and not sporty anymore......that would read or watch TV when they were busy doing something.

A few years after the death, I was on a medication because I felt so sad and alone at work.

Just sad that Tarn was gone forever and absence of Tarn from my life and what others were missing out on, mainly the kids!

And the grief to come as more expected unavoidable losses would be happening within the family and what was I going to do then?

I wanted the grieving, if that is what I felt, to be over as soon as possible and that life go on.  To enjoy life as it happened.

If I talked to anyone, it would have been about anything except deep down, because I don't face the grief.

At the time I was surprised that everyone wanted me to go back to work as soon as possible.

I had no idea how long I could avoid work, forever if possible was on my mind too!  Yes I went back to work, why, was it to get a sad person away from the children for a while?

Yes I let others almost take over or direct my life!

Yes I let others help me raise and care for the children too.

I felt that it must be self evident to everyone that I did care or not....or was sad, angry, and wanted not to be bothered.

I was not really asked or prodded how I felt.  I must have put up such a farcically brave face that I was not confronted and if I was, I do not remember. Or was too casual or indifferent, rude if you like.

A challenge of grief is not succumbing to it I suppose.

From my perspective, grief is a smell, or sound, or taste, or sight of something that lets/makes me remember how it was, and what could have been, and bad luck, at least I am alive!

If I went through it, I would not nor know. Has it ended?

Without a partner, raising two boys and two girls was only going to be difficult, definitely not impossible!

I knew I could do it.....Tarnia had given me her favorite menu and methods to look after a household. I was raised to be able to do it as well, which may have surprised her.....or not.

I would just impart my ideals and Tarnia's to the kids, and hope that they will turn out all right.  My 60 year old in-laws, and my parents too possibly did not think I could do it.  But I was chafing at the bit.  Circumstances allowed me to show them, even if I do have help offered I accepted it then and now.

Dealing with the kids problems were easy.  I only had to think about it and deal with it, or call someone, as kindly instructed by all close to me. "anytime" was a good thing.

Another challenge is new relationships.

I made a mistake by throwing out lines like, "I think I need a secretary so I don't forget things!"  Apparently it drew in a friend, too close.  I was still on the medication.  I tried, and failed.  I believe the meds allowed me to start it off, the warning signs over-ruled, new love might strike. No. Too many differences and arguments.

Six kids were to be involved, not just two adults.

I was told, "I should stop comparing to what I had. That I was in a different kind of relationship, a new one. Forget and catchup...get a job.....feel better. Talk things out!"  I could not do that- speaking was so difficult.  That did not help.  I could not let it go on, redevelop, or change.

I went to a counsellor to see how to get out of this situation. Her methods did not help much, and I really felt a heel. Even talking about me.....it was not real.

So in Conclusion............

My grief is that she is not here.

Ruling my conscious anyway but ever more faintly? Probably until I die.

Challenges? What Challenges. I do the right things in my mind. Nearly all the time.

Just need a steady job that lets me make a few human mistakes and doesn't sink the ship.

My children have afforded me many compliments from others, which is a comfort.  Knowing that what I have been through, what I have achieved, more or less alone, can be acknowledged by strangers and friends and family.

How does it feel to be a widowed guy?

I am a loner in any case. Also a Gemini type, two-faced in that I hide my feelings.  And can be so sidetracked and one-eyed that things slip past......like a warm kettle sitting waiting to be boiled yet again as I fix something up or hang out the laundry......or the cold coffee waiting to be finished while I finish this.

Being who I am, I do not feel the need for a constant companion ship. But I would like a companion like Tarnia was, same loner type I guess.

I enjoy being the house dad, the cook, the cleaner, taxi driver and candlestick maker. The brewer, the cordial maker, baker and host. I may need reminding of things all the time, that's okay I reckon.

I feel so sorry for those that cannot leap into it as I have.......for those that do not have the help I did, and have still.

I think people are so prejudiced against single dads too. That annoys me. Which reminds me, have I told the world how much I appreciate all that looked out for us? I would like to think so, but being a loner, possibly not.

There were times when I was scratching all this out, but right now the tears well with sadness, and I want to do something else.......