My Journey

2 years

2 years. 2 years since you were sadly taken away from us. 2 long years. 2 long and lonely years. 2 years where so much has happened, some good and some bad. Still each day goes slowly but time moves quickly. 2 years as a solo parent. 2 years on my own. With my own thoughts and no one to talk to. I miss that.

It’s been a tough few days, reliving the moments 2 years ago. Remembering the good and unfortunately the bad. With daily life and other things going on too, it’s really stressful and hectic. Don’t know whether I’m coming or going half the time.

But this ‘new’ life of ours goes on, one day at a time. Having to find strength I didn’t know I had, having to fight to get through each day. And it is a battle. Every time I think things can’t get worse, life challenges me.

One thing I have learnt is most people don’t want to know the truth. No one wants to know what’s going on inside my head. Yes, they empathise. Yes, they try to understand. Yes they are sorry. But no one needs to know what it’s like. No one deserves this pain.

Each day is the same, feeling the pain in our loss. For myself and the kids it’s a living nightmare. Their daily tears, crying ‘I miss mummy’ emphasises that grief does not go away. There are just better, more manageable days. Certain special days doesn’t make it worse as some people think, it’s hard every day. Anniversaries make our loss even more poignant. More painful. As time moves on, no one knows what lies ahead. Life is what we make it. I can only hope one day I will start to live again, not just survive.

Lockdown

It’s been a while since my last post, certain things have happened which has made it difficult to focus and mentally it’s been exhausting. One battle after another, it’s all taken its toll. But I’m continuing to plod on and trying my best to get through it all.

It’s a weird time we’re all experiencing. This time of lockdown because of the coronavirus. The loneliness, struggle, exhaustion, worries, changing moods and daily difficulties. It feels like I’m beginning my grieving process all over again. Everyone is isolated from each other, and for a good reason. Or at least meant to be. Staying away from loved ones and friends, only able to speak to them from a distance, by video call or on the phone. Using our daily exercise allowance for some fresh air, a change of scenery and as a bit of normality. Even though it is eerily quiet everywhere. We don’t have a garden, the daily exercise is the only escape we all have. None of this is easy. Our generation are all very fortunate to have not experienced anything like this before. It is a steep learning curve for us all. As hard as it is, it is a short term loss for our long term gain.

Lyanda’s birthday was on the 20th of April. She would have been 39 this year. Another year closer to the big 4-0 she was dreading getting too. Sadly, she won’t see it and I won’t get to wind her up about being nearly 40 either. For her, that’s probably a good thing. The kids drew some pictures for Mummy and we stuck them in the windows on her birthday. They are still there now.

As difficult as this is to say, for the first time in nearly 2 years I am glad Lyanda isn’t here. Not in a horrible way, but I honestly don’t know how she would have coped during these troubled times. With her health issues and her disability it would have been an extremely tough and traumatic time. Her anxiety would have been off the scale, her panic attacks would be constant and the worrying would have driven her to insanity. For her to not have to witness all of this is a blessing. Stay safe everyone 💜

A special day out

Amidst all the chaos and stress, good things have happened. Sometimes these are small things. Other times they have a bigger impact. This particular day is one of those.

A local shopping centre to us, merlins walk in Carmarthen had an event on a few weeks ago. One of several throughout the year, aimed at children but the adults can join in too. On this particular one, they had a fairy godmother asking people for their Xmas wishes. My (realistic) wish was to treat the kids to a nice day out. A few days after the event, I had a phone call saying they would like to grant me my wish. They wanted to gift us a day out at a local railway on the santa train.

It was arranged for the 21st December, just before Xmas which made it more special. There was face painting, a bouncy castle and a magician all at the venue for the kids to enjoy. And of course, Santa. Each child saw Santa, had a chat with him and his helpers and received a gift.

Despite the difficulty and emotional time of Xmas for all of us, it was a nice day to get away from it all. In no way have we all forgotten, but it was nice to see them all be kids again.

A massive thankyou to Merlins Walk shopping centre, Carmarthen for gifting us this really nice and much needed day out.

My ongoing thoughts and feelings

Apparently I don’t talk enough, or not at all as it seems
Thought I’d write all this down, a bit daunting and extreme

Yes, I have the kids. And yes I am still here.
It doesn’t make it easier, with a head filled full of fear

Worrying constantly about my debt, finances out of control
Not sure what’s happening next, or what the future holds

Along with grief, hate and anger, it’s one hell of a heavy load
To carry inside all by myself on a long, lonely, winding road

This journey isn’t wanted, needed or even asked for
Struggling with it every day I just want to walk out the door

Depression getting worse, anxiety soaring high
A constant battle going on to see each day go by

The stress is unbelievable, the headache never ending
Worrying about every single thing. I’m fine, I keep pretending

I eat too much late at night as there’s nothing else to do
Putting on too much weight as its silent without you

I’m really lonely deep inside and there’s no one around to see
No adult around to talk to. No one here, just me

The thoughts inside my head, people wouldn’t understand
The way I come across to them, nothing is that grand

I say that all is good and there’s nothing wrong with me
A smile for the outside world. That’s what people want to see

I don’t talk about my problems, no one needs to feel my pain
Trying to survive til night time just to do it all over again

Unfortunately I’m now like this, a sad and lonely sole
No motivation at all, no more personal goals

I laugh, I’m sad, upset and fine all mixed up together
I cry pretty much everyday, it feels like it will be forever

Now I’m all messed up, a complete mixed bag of emotions
Failing to find my way through life like a shipwreck on the ocean

I once was an outgoing and happy, sociable person
Now I’m lonely with no self worth and it only seems to worsen

The friends I have are great, I couldn’t do this without them
Each and every one of you are amazing and absolute gems

For those I’ve pushed away, I’m sorry it came to that
My fault, without realising, I’ve been an utter prat

I’m trying my best to do it, whichever way I can
It’s not easy to do it all, I’m just an emotional man

I can’t help the way I feel, even though I have really tried
To be the person that I want, even with a brain that’s fried

Now that this is written, with my mind still filled with dread
That is me in a nutshell. And the thoughts inside my head

Special people

A lot of people I have known for almost my entire life. Some I have met over the past months, years and decade. Some I haven’t met at all. Yet all these people I class as family and friends. We talk either in person, online or message each other. Doesn’t matter how or how often, the sentiment is there and is always really appreciated. They might not ask how I am each time or check to see if I’m coping. But, just chatting can mean so much.

Some people have come into my life after Lyanda sadly passed away. A handful of these are still around. Some more than others, which is fine. We all have our own lives and our own battles to deal with. Life is not a competition. But, for someone to come into my life when I am extremely vulnerable, at my worst, struggling, unable to communicate or cope with daily life and still be there today is amazing.

I know I’ve not been the easiest of people to deal with over the past year and a half, but I am trying my best. It’s all I can do. There will be good and bad times ahead, I know that. The unpredictability of grief isn’t easy, especially when there are children involved. I hope these people know how much I appreciate them and how helpful and supportive they have been. I just hope, as my journey continues, I don’t push them away.

I am normally the person that will help anyone with whatever they need. It is difficult to accept help, even though deep down I know I probably need it. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier, and I won’t ask anyone for anything. But all these people already help more than they probably realise, and for that I am grateful.

A child friendly memorial

The kids have various toys, but one thing they all have a few of is funko pop vinyl figures. I too have a few I’ve started collecting now. I found some groups for these on Facebook which I joined. It was here I found out about custom pops and that people can make them to order. It got me thinking. Aside from pictures and a few other things, there isn’t a massive choice of things that children can relate to as a memorial for a loved one.

Thinking of this, I messaged someone who was recommended to me. A company on Facebook called F.P.D. Funko POP Displays. After agreeing to do this difficult task, a lot of information was discussed to make sure he could do the pop justice. Pictures were sent, changes and additions were made. But we got there in the end.

Then a package turned up. I couldn’t bring myself to open it. It sat for 2 days as I looked at the box, knowing what was inside. I then managed to open it. Wow! The pictures didn’t do it justice. Amazing attention to detail and captures what I wanted.

I showed the kids when they came home from school. They took it in turns holding the statue, touching it and finding the small details. They were silent.

Expecting the worst, I prepared for their reaction. I was wrong. Suddenly, they smiled. They talked. They laughed. It was lovely. Something small like this they could relate to. It had the power to make them ask questions and talk about Mummy freely, without tears for once. We talked about Mummy for ages and they enjoyed remembering the good times with her. Then they all asked could I get each of them done too, I think it went down really well.

A massive thank you to Chris at F.P.D. for turning an idea into something special. It doesn’t change the reality of our lives, but it definitely gives the children something to relate to. F.P.D. Funko Pop Displays

Just being there….

I have found there are a few different types of people when it comes to talking or dealing with this taboo subject.

There are the ones that will talk to you about anything and everything, these people are good. They don’t judge, will listen and won’t react no matter what you say or do. No matter how good or bad. Then there are those that won’t or don’t talk to you, simply because they don’t know what to say. But they smile, nod, wave or similar, at least acknowledging you are exist. This is OK too, completely understandable. Then there are those that stare, point and whisper between each other. No need for it at all. All of this unfortunately is true for most people, whatever their situation.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, just ask. You’d be surprised how open we are about things and that we can actually hold a conversation about other things too. We have to carry on with our lives, raise children, move forward etc. As people we might change a bit, but that’s only us adapting to our ‘new normal’ lives.

Yes, we are dealing with something traumatic, and yes, it is difficult. But, there is no need to make us feel worse by pointing and staring like we have an incurable contagious disease.

Life is not a competition. Everyone goes through good and bad times. We all have thoughts and feelings. We are all only human after all.

Horrendous times

Struggling with this one, but it needs to be done. One of the worst months I’ve encountered so far. And still having to do it alone. I feel completely useless. The loneliness is harrowing and the silence is deafening. Doesn’t make sense to me either.

I keep getting told I’m and amazing dad, to still be this strong after all this time, no one knows how I cope, that they couldn’t do it if it was them. I haven’t chosen to do this, I have to do this. Big difference.

I am merely existing. I’m on auto pilot. I don’t know what I’m doing from one day to the next. I haven’t experienced headaches like this for years. Or ones that have lasted this long. The stress of everything is unbearable, painful and never ending. I struggle to get to the end of each day, when I do the loneliness hits with a vengeance once again. Then it all repeats itself.

Suddenly, this amazing person isn’t so amazing after all.

My ‘new normal’ life

This ‘new normal’ life sucks. Being a solo parent sucks. There, I said it.

Not having someone to talk to whenever you want a chat is horrible. No one to help or share problems with. No one to share the burden and responsibilies of daily life. Having to do everything, all day and every day yourself is hard.

With 4 children, it’s not easy under ‘normal’ circumstances. The added strain of my own grief and their grief, while supporting and raising them makes it a lot harder.

Unfortunately, this is the way it is now. I keep getting told I need to live for us now. I know I need to, but it’s not always that easy.

This article describes grief and all the feelings that come with it really well. Not something you can explain easily either.

12 things I wish I’d known about grief

Filling a void

This is quite a difficult one to write about. Not in the sense of subject matter, more the effect it has had on me. When Lyanda was in too much pain to get out of bed, which was most days, she would watch TV, listen to music, watch her tablet and shop online. A lot of shopping. Daily, parcels would arrive. This went on for months. I spoke to her about it one night and she said there’s not much else she can do. Browsing online and buying things filled a gap of the ‘normal’ things she wanted to do, but couldn’t. I didn’t fully get it, but understood what she meant. Now I completely understand it.

Over the past few months I have had no motivation to do anything. Being indoors constantly I begun doing the same. It begun at what was probably the most difficult time so far, but has also lasted the longest. From the beginning of June to the end of July. The same period last year that everything happened. The last few weeks of Lyanda’s life, her sad and sudden passing, the funeral and coming to terms with it all at the beginning. It hit me harder than I could have imagined. I was not a pleasant person to be around. I did what I needed to during this time, nothing more.

I found myself looking at shops online and ordering things. Parcels started arriving at the house. Not necessarily stuff we needed either. But nice things. As they turned up day after day I excitedly opened everything. Some things were a mystery which made it all even more exciting. I didn’t know why I was doing this, but I felt I needed to. I had to. It was a compulsion. An addiction.

Realisation hit me the other night. The reason I did all this? Trying not to relive it all again. Trying not to think about it. A distraction. Trying to be happy again. Not an excuse, just the truth. I sat there and looked at everything. I started to question myself, thinking I’d gone mad. I stared blankly at everything I had ordered, thinking why? Then I remembered the conversation I’d had with Lyanda and what she said. I too was trying to fill a gap. An emptiness, this massive void.

I felt really upset. I was annoyed, angry and ashamed. I cried. Just sat there, looking at everything, crying. Nothing has changed, everything is still the same. The emptiness remains and we’re all still missing someone important in our lives.

The next day I was thinking a bit clearer about it all. I wasn’t trying to replace Lyanda with stuff I’d bought, just trying to fill the void I feel inside. Putting myself in debt in the process. I thought back to these past couple of months. In my mind I believed that all this stuff would make things a bit better. A bit more bearable possibly. Maybe even a bit happier. I was wrong. If anything I feel more miserable now. I know I could have easily become a drug addict, an alcoholic, or worse. I could have lost all the kids because of it too, but I haven’t. We are all still here, together, in our home. Knowing this is a great feeling, and one thing I cherish. But I also feel like I’ve failed everyone.

Everyone has been great with their help in all ways and I appreciate it all. Now I feel like I have betrayed them and let them all down. I know I probably haven’t, but can’t help the way I feel. I’ve been very hesitant about publishing this post, as a lot of close and important people will read it. Some of these people have been a massive help, who I should have spoken to about it all, but didn’t. I am sorry.

I know I have to sort out this mess I’m in, somehow. I’m worried about it, scared even. I shouldn’t have started, but I did. In a way its good I realised what I was doing this early on and put a stop to it. Things could be a lot worse. At the time I thought it was helping, but it hasn’t. Buying things cannot fill an emptiness or a void in life. It might seem like it does at the time, but it won’t when the dust settles.