I felt numb and even though I knew he was dying, quite shocked. In the days after I felt the emotions, poor me, anger, relief, huge sadness as he was my best friend as well as my spouse. Initially not denial or depression that I can remember. I found sleeping difficult because for so long I had woken every time he turned over, or coughed or wanted something, but gradually this improved. My french friends asked me if had I been to see the Doctor for medication. I chose not to have any pills, as I felt that taking tablets which be unhelpful for me.
I have no family in France but great friends who support me, in fact two were with me when he died. I had quite a bit of paperwork to do in the following days and was glad of the distraction as this kept me busy. Fortunately the funeral director is also a friend and did most of the work for me.
In the weeks that followed I was still almost in a trance doing every days things but not really taking part. Probably not eating properly and drinking a little too much. I sometimes thought that it was a bad dream and would wake up and he would still be with me thats denial. I felt that I could not laugh anymore as this would be disrespectful to his memory. I also found it very difficult to make a decision on my own and that has taken me a long time to achieve.
I am a person thats glass is half full and I think that this has helped me with my bereavement. People kept asking me what was I going to do? I remember someone saying do not make any rash decisions by selling up and moving back to the UK. It took me months before I could sort through his personal belongings and clothes and that was very difficult.
So after twelve months I decided to remain here in France, and because I am a way off retirement I decided to find a job, not easy when your French is poor as my husband did all the talking, I just stood in the background and nodded and occasionally said oui or non, bonjour or merci. I registered with the job centre and after six months I started work at the local hospital as a cleaner, and worked there for two years. I have never been a cleaner in my life before, but was trained and I can honestly say I enjoyed my work. Since then I have found other work and my french has improved so I am slowly building a new life on my own. I believe getting out and meeting and talking to people helped tremendously. One thing I had to do was to start back driving a car again, I passed my driving test in the UK many years ago but I had not driven for about twenty years but with help from a good friend gave me the confidence to drive again. My family friends and I tried to let everyone know of his death, but one day out shopping I met someone who asked after Tony and that was very hard to explain that he had died.
I was dreading the first Christmas, his birthday and our wedding anniversary and yes it was tough, but I remember my husband every day. I still talk to him and no I am not nutty. I feel that he is still with me somehow, as sometimes when I am driving especially down the country lanes, I need to slow down and nine times out of ten there is a tractor or sheep or a cow in the way. You can take that which way you like. I couldn't play certain music as this would trigger floods of tears and yes some days I spent quite of the time crying which now I think was such a good thing to do as I was not bottling up emotions.
Here I am after almost four years February 8th and this last Christmas was the first one I felt myself as the person I once was. His birthday and our wedding anniversary are both in January and yes I still cried but I feel it is getting easier. I really did not want to use the cliche but time is a healer. Please believe I still miss him and will always.
But I hope that someone who is grieving, who takes the time to read this, may take some comfort from parts of it and I hope it helps.
Thanks for sharing your story, it is heartwarming to hear how you have coped and I am sure this will be of huge benefit to anyone experiencing the same painful loss as you have done.
Someone once said to me that you never "get over" the loss which will always be with you, but grieving enables you, eventually, to accept it. I have lost two close friends to cancer, both of a similar age to me, one in 2009 and one in 2014. I can say that the trite "time is a great healer" is also true for me.