Thoughts and Musings

Life After Death

When I lost Hector I was an athiest. I did not believe in God and I also believed that when you died, that was it. My whole world was turned upside down and shattered on that day in February. Since that day, I have had to re-evaluate everything I believed in.

Is there life after death? Is there a God? What is death?

Early on, I got what I could only interpret as a sign. There is no doubt that the total disbelief that Hector was no more, and the incredible desire to have him back gave me pause. Was this really a sign? Sheer coincidence? I have decided against talking about the specifics of the'signs' I have had. The first time, the chances of it being a coincidence was so great I really began to question myself. I decided that if it had been help from Hector that I had to say 'thank you' to him. If it was a 'sign', if it was help from Hector, how could I not say 'thank you'?
Following that, and a few more incredible coincidences, once I was able to read more than a sentence or two at a time, I started doing research into life after death. Is there 100% guaranteed proof of life after death? No. Is there a mountain of data from all over the world, from all different sources, from all different ages that indicate there is life after death? Yes.
So, what do I believe now? At times I am 100% certain there is life after death. There is so much evidence. Other times I want proof positive. Something where I know with 100% certainty that Hector is here with me in spirit. Will I get that? Probably not. My thoughts now are that God is the combined force of all souls - not a single powerful being, but the joining of millions of souls to make a powerful force. I also believe that empirical scientific proof of life after death will never happen and that as human we are not meant to know with certainty that there is life after death.
In the end, my total inability to comprehend that Hector is no more almost certainly clouds my judgement, but I do however hope and pray that there is life after death, and that I will see Hector once again. If I am right, then I will once again be with Hector when I die. If I am wrong, I will never know.

Mourning, Grieving, Cracking Up

So, what about greiving and coping? All I can say is that when you have loved someone heart and soul; life, death and grief is nothing like on TV. You cannot just be sad for a few weeks and then everything is fine. You cannot decide that you will get through the grieving process quicker. You cannot just forget and get on with life. I tried. I really tried. I wanted so much to make Hector proud by mourning him, always loving him, but working hard to get through the pain and remembering him with a smile rather than tears. For the first time in my life, sheer determination has not got me where I wanted to be. This has affected me to the depths of my heart and soul. It has affected the very basal primitive side of me where logic and reasoning has no impact. Almost 15 months on I have been told that I still have much unresolved grief. Physically I will continue to keep getting sick and emotionally I will continue to struggle to cope unless I talk, talk, talk about my pain, my loss, my memories.

Physical Effects of Grief

Grief isn't just emotional. It affects the whole body. Dying of a broken heart is real, and there is much written about Stress Cardiomyopathy (aka Broken Heart Syndrome). Along with that deep, deep ache in the core of your body, there are so many other physical effects.

Breakdowns

Last night I thought that the next thing I would add would be something about analogies, and the analogies I have to describe the grief journey. I guess Hector or my mind or my body had other ideas. Seems to me that no matter how well you think you are doing, suddenly without warning, almost 18 months down the tracks, you suddenly find that you are curled up on the floor in the bathroom at work sobbing uncontrollably. I finally pulled myself together and began to feel okay again tonight when the full breakdown came. Tears. Wailing. Sobbing. Screaming. What a damn surprise. I know I still have a lot to work through, but I didn't realise I still had so much pain inside me that needed to get out. Actually, that's a lie. I know that there is a obscene amount of pain still trapped inside me. Stupidly however, I "pulled myself together" before I was totally spent - before I was emotionally and physically exhausted from the crying. In my gut I know I have more tears and screaming and wailing and sobbing that I have to get out. I should have just screamed and cried until I couldn't cry anymore.

In my journal today, just a few hours ago, I told Hector that I didn't want anymore pain. That I would always love him, and that being in so much pain from losing him didn't mean that I no longer loved him so why not be happy. I told him that I loved him, and that I would always love him, regardless of whether I was in pain or not. I guess this falls under "bargaining". I've given up on bargaining for another day, another minute, another 5 seconds with Hector so now I'm bargaining for a release from the pain. None of it helps. No matter how much I want to make Hector proud and make Hector happy by being happy myself and living life to the full I am still an emotional cripple, totally lost and stranded since his death. God I feel like I am letting him down. Like I am disappointing him. It just doesn't seem to help.

An Analogy or Two

Well, here it is, 19 months down the road. Mostly I'm good, and I always invite Hector to join me when I am doing something that I think that he would enjoy. As they say, not a day goes by when I do not think of Hector, and if I'm truthful, there's not many hours that go by when I do not think of him, and while I am mostly good now, there are times, such as right now, when I get the all too familiar ache, and the tears still come. Regardless, I've decided I'm going to write some of those analogies which helped me to explain how I was feeling.

In the early days of grief a like being caught in a dumper wave. You are tossed mercilessly and have no idea which way is up, while you struggle desperately just to survive.

Later on I felt like I was struggling up a steep, muddy slope. Some days it is so slippery you wonder if you are going backwards. Some days you know that on the whole, you are making forward progress but it is exhausting, such incredibly hard work. Then there are the days that the slope appears to dry up enough that you cautiously move forward with hope. Occasionally, you feel confident enough to stride forward - you begin to feel that finally you have turned the corner. It is at these times, when you are feeling confident, striding forward, that you inevitably slip, and tumble, way back down the slope that you thought you had conquered.

There are so many other analogies, but for today, that's it.

I Believe

I do feel like I have turned the proverbial corner with my grief. I KNOW that Hector is still with me, that love does not die, that we continue to exist, even after our physical bodies perish. Knowing that Hector was with me, enjoying the moments, at those times I have invited him along, knowing that one day I will be with him again, just knowing has helped my healing. One day I might detail the research I've done, and all that has occurred which has caused me to do a 180. Until then, (and for many, even then), you may just think I am one more deluded individual. If so, that is life - we are each free to believe what we want to believe. It has taken a lot for me to change my thinking, so if you are anything like me, my few brief words will not convince you, but I myself do now know.

Love

I would never have thought it possible, but with the recent events, I am finding that my love for you has grown. I love you more today than I did yesterday. My heart has grown unbelieveably to accomodate the parts of you I didn't know, and the family I didn't know. It is amazing how your heart can just expand and expand to accomodate every new person that you love, yet never contracts when one is taken away ("inside me now a gaping hole...". Hearts appear to be elastic in one direction only. Ever capable of expanding to accomodate a new loved one, yet never contracting when a love is taken from you.

It's odd actually. Why is it that I have a gaping hole in my heart when I continue to love you, and you continue to love me? I can only assume that the hole is for the "here and now"., as I will never have you in the physical form again. I know love is eternal, and all of the associated stuff, but it cannot stop me from wanting the one I love in the form I understand, the form I can touch. I love you Hector, I will always love you.

Almost 2 years on...

The strangest thing about grief is what it does to time. Time no longer seems to be a linear thing that is made up of identically sized units. It dips & flows, shrinks and expands. It moves so fast yet at the same time doesn't move at all. I feel like I have been grieving forever, yet I can't believe that it was 23 months ago I lost the man of my dreams and the world as I knew it was turned upside down and shaken hard. It is said that major life traumas change you - losing the one you love, life-threatening illnesses etc. I think it's impossible to avoid, and I know I've changed. Ever so slowly and imperceptibly to some people, but from within the change has been dramatic. Your priorities change, your attitude changes, so much changes, yet so much stays the same.

Advice I remember reading in the early days was "no major changes in the first year" - the theory being that you are struggling to cope with a massive change already and don't need the added stresses of moving or changing jobs etc. For so many people this is not an option, but for me it was. I think the corollary is that if after a year or so you still feel the need to change - DO IT. Don't think to yourself "I will wait until I am coping better". In the weeks before Hector died, I had decided it was time to look for a new job. Things were getting stale, there was no challenge, I was bored. 14 or so months later I began feeling the same again. I wondered if I was strong enough to cope with the stress of a job move yet. I waited a bit. Things got worse. I decided I needed to wait a bit longer, maybe things would improve at work, and I knew I wasn't mentally up to changing jobs.

Then the "carrot" - my day-to-day job was going to be "offshored", so I figured I could concentrate on healing myself while waiting for my package. At no time did it occur to me back then that I was still dealing with the loss of Hector, but I was now dealing with a huge inner conflict. When Hector died, it was brought home to me with a crash that no one remembers you for how hard you worked. Hector gave Unisys so much more than they gave him. He worked hard, real hard, but in the end, that meant nothing. It was Hector the father, Hector the lover, Hector the brother, Hector the son, Hector the friend that everyone remembered. The laughter, the smile, the generosity, the warmth. Among all the other things, the realisation that life is precious, and that I needed to make the most of it. "Making the most of it" did not include sitting around either doing nothing at work, or worse, being made to do things that had absolutely no value to me, or to the company. Wasting time is a crime, being forced to waste time is criminal and I began lashing out at those who were making me do it - an insane situation, here I am suddenly a far more compassionate person, lashing out and wanting to cause pain. No wonder I fell apart.

The good news - I finish up at work in March. As soon as I made that decision a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. I've now stopped drinking heavily, started eating properly, and have discovered that instead of my mind being occupied with how much I hate work, I am again able to work on my grief. People have started commenting on how much better I seem to be.

Am I scared? Of course - scared sh*tless, it's a big change after all these years, but I know in my heart that it was the right decision, and I know I have survived far, far worse. I also know Hector is with me 100% on this. How do I know? Well that goes back to the 'signs'. I have now had two 'signs' from Hector that are so far beyond coincidence they are impossible to ignore. The first was ages ago, the second just a couple of weeks ago. Once again, I won't go into details, but it was once again, hard to ignore. Yes, absolutely, it could be written off completely as a huge coincidence, but sometimes you just know, and I know it was Hector telling me that he's with me.

People Who Are Grieving Are Scary People

Well that's the way it seems sometimes. I'm the first to admit that when someone shows they care just a little bit, I tend to "dump", and that scares the bejesus out of them. It's never something I plan to do, but it happens still. I guess it comes from keeping everything inside most of the time. Getting the "permission" to talk about Hector, or my feelings tends to open the floodgates if I'm not careful, and suddenly I can see the person is regretting asking. Guess I'm an "all or nothing" person.

The day Hector died, his name almost seemed to become taboo. Up until that day, his name was liberally, if carefully, sprinkled in my conversations. Now, I am almost never "allowed" to mention his name in day to day conversations. Not that anyone specifically tells me not to talk about him, it's just that when I do there'll be an awkward silence, a sidestep, or a change in subject - it's almost like an unwritten rule: "No talking about people who have died - it scares those who have never lost someone".

Songs In Your Head

Every night I say goodnight to Hector. Some nights I talk to him, other nights I just tell him that I will always love him. Earlier this year, I registered that the same song kept playing into my head when I said goodnight to Hector. Every night. Once I realised that the same song had been coming to mind night after night, I paid attention and listened to the lyrics going through my mind. It may be all in my mind, or maybe, just maybe, Hector put it there...

You are the sunshine of my life,
Thats why I'll always stay around,
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever youll stay in my heart,

You must have known that I was lonely,
Because you came to my rescue,
And I know that this must be heaven,
How could so much love be inside of you?

The Hector I Knew

I haven't really written much about the Hector I knew. The man I fell in love with. Others have shared memories of Hector with me that have made me smile - things that were "so Hector". On one hand, I have so many memories of Hector, on the other, far too few - I wanted a lifetime of them. Of the memories I do have, some his friends would smile at and say "oh, yeah, that's Hector", others that I suspect may surprise them. A lot of my memories are ones that I will never share, ones that were private, and between Hector and I only. Others are fun, and just "so Hector" that I will definitely share. The other day I started to write down my memories of Hector in my journal. The memories of the Hector I knew. At the moment, what I write is for me, part of the healing process, but eventually I will share some of my memories of Hector.

The Last Time Ever I Saw Your Face

There is the song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"
The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the empty skies my love

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move through my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command my love

The first time ever I lay with you
And felt your heart so close to mine
The first time ever I saw your face

I still remember the first time I saw your face, and I still remember that first kiss. I still remember your heart so close to mine. I also remember the last time. The last kiss. That last kiss I have relived so many times. That last kiss is still so fresh in my mind even though it was now so long ago. It has been burned into my memory. So many other memories have faded, but that last kiss is forever burned in my mind.

My life is continuing, and I am hoping that Hector is proud of me. I have a new job, and although I work hard, I am firmly focused on "Work to Live" not "Live to Work".

I would be lying if I said that everything was roses now. Even now, I have times when I miss Hector more than I could say. Life is still very much a roller-coaster of emotions, and I still think of Hector every day, but more often than not the memories bring smiles to my face now. It's maybe a 60/40 split now, which is way off the 95/5 split I so dilligently aimed for 2 years ago, but I am ever so slowly working my way there.

I love you Hector. Always and Forever.....

Two and a half years....

About a month ago, I realised that I could honestly say that I was healing. I had noticed a spark of life in me again. I could actually see that I was getting better. I hadn't noticed that I looked bad, but one day I looked in the mirror and I could see that I appeared better. That surprised me, but I knew it was a good sign.

What's tough however is that I still crumble. Little things trigger memories, and occasionally the wall that I put up doesn't hold up, and all the emotions spill out. I miss him so much. Until I met Hector I would never have believed it was possible to love someone so much. Our time was so short. Too short. Way too short.

On the whole, I really am doing well, but on days like today, I just feel so sad.

Over three years....

I can honestly say I'm more than just surviving, I'm starting to live again. Things aren't perfect, and I doubt they ever will be, but I'm okay. I still miss Hector, but 99% of the time I no longer have the pain. I don't know if I'm making Hector proud yet, but I'm working on it.

Ten years on....

I am living my life and I'm sure Hector is proud of me (mostly!) I still have his photo on my desk, but the times I cry now are few and far between. There is still no doubt that he is and was the best thing to ever happen to me. I love you Hector and I always will.