Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Coping with Grief Barbara Want

Why Not Me? by Barbara Want

Grief today is the last taboo, never discussed or mentioned.

In a frank and revealing interview journalist Barbara Want describes the torment she went through after the death of her husband from cancer. It left her as the sole carer for their two young sons, and after three years she still feels the raw pain of the loss. She talks to Owen Benett-Jones about grief and why she thinks many people aren't very good at dealing with it. She has also written a book about the subject.

This  BBC  Interview Podcast should be essential listening to any married woman young or old because death of a partner is never discussed. The nearest I got to this subject is my GP  husband when he proposed telling me that the age difference between us might mean I was left a widow for a considerable length of time so I can hardly claim now that I was not warned.

I did not expect him to die so soon, in such a horrendous fashion and leave me alone to find out just how cruel the world can be to a newly bereaved widow.

Barbara Want describes in detail almost exactly what happened to me. To begin I was left completely alone. The support system that was so wonderful during my husband's illness was cut off abruptly. The hospice angels never returned, my pension was cut off from UK and I was told to pay the unused portion back in a cold unemotional way that is beyond belief.  It was a year before my UK pension came through.

My biggest disappointment and one I still find unfathomable is my neighbours, friends and my husband's family found it impossible to visit me. And except for one neighbour who did bring a casserole for me a card and some flowers were all that was offered as support. I was allowed a month to get over it! Now I am never allowed to talk about my husband in public. It is not done!

My daughter who was 24 could not be expected to help as she was dealing with her own grief and could hardly be expected to cope with mine too. She had a difficult partner who was unsympathetic to me and her Masters Degree plus losing a beloved father at the age of 24. She did her best, better than I should have done at her age.

It was so sad that I wrote this poem which says it all. A cup of tea is all it takes. surely that is not to hard! I do not blame my friends, they were not to know. I only hope one day they do not experience a similar event. Married women be warned this could happen to you.

To My Friends

Why did you not come?
    I called because I needed you to come.
You were kind, sympathetic and I realized you cared
    But still you did not come.

I longed for you to come.
    I had hoped to see you standing by the door as I returned                               
To comfort me, to wipe away my tears, to make me tea,
    But you did not come.

Your absence only added to my grief
    Alone I entered the home of twenty years, without my love
Now I know how alone, alone feels
    For you were not to come.

I waited day after week, surely you would come
    You rang, you asked what you could do
You sent flowers to my beloved. You went to see him
    But for me you did not come.
No flowers, no tea, no nothing.

Oh my dear friends, now I do not care if you do not come
    Alone I survived and I am proud of my achievement
I do not need you now, I can survive without you.
    Do not be afraid I shall not ask you “to come” again
For I know what your answer will be!

In spite of your weakness I crave for your friendship.
    Only those who are truly alone grasp at indifference
It is better than nothing. But do not ask me to come
    For I shall remember that you did not come.

If another friend in times of need asks you to come
    Go! Go at once. Tomorrow is too late!
    Go if uninvited, make some tea.
    Your friend will be grateful and remember that you came.

Have no fear. Your friend will not impose upon your time.
    Grief is transitory. It will pass.
A few spare minutes of concern will glean
    Years of friendship and the knowledge that
        Your friend will come.

                    Janette Heffernan

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