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I used to avoid every social gathering. Going to the local shop, a night in the pub or a wedding, were and still can be, an ordeal for me. I definitely have withdrawn from the social side of life a lot and indeed from friendships.   In the beginning of ‘Life After Triona’ I withdrew from the outside world almost completely, apart from work and essential errands, I stayed at home.  I had a crippling anxiety and fear attached to any suggestion of leaving the house to socialise and mix with others, I just couldn’t do it.  Some days I could cope better than others, there was no real rhyme or reason to it, it was all based on my feelings and emotions at any given time.  I would agree to plans to go somewhere and think to myself, ‘yep, you can go there, there should be no problem with that, it seems manageable’ but when the time came to get ready to go I would feel the panic bubbling inside and I would be crying, begging Kevin to leave me alone and let me stay at home.  I know this was difficult for Kevin, we had only been married a year and I was fast becoming a recluse.  He just couldn’t understand how, when after 12 months had passed since Triona died, I still couldn’t go for a quiet drink with him.  Sure I didn’t know myself so I couldn’t even explain it to him.  I just didn’t want to go, I couldn’t go, anxious at the very thought of it.

Withdrawing from the world.

People were so kind, inviting me out to places and in the beginning I would say yes and then cry off later with some silly excuse.  I felt bad but I couldn’t just bring myself to say ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘I don’t feel like it’, it felt rude and ungrateful of me.  Eventually I was running out of excuses to avoid social events and people and I had to admit to my cousins who were getting married what was really going on. I feel so bad that I couldn’t go to their big days, I love my cousins and I used to love a good wedding, (me and Triona were often the others plus one!) I felt my family deserved an explanation, especially as they had been to my wedding and been so generous with their love and gifts.  I was as honest as I could and explained that my mental health wasn’t that great and that I was plagued with anxiety especially around family events.  Triona’s absence at these was just too difficult to endure.  The fact that most of my cousins are around the same age as Triona, doing things she would never get to do – get married, go on honeymoon, have children – is incredibly difficult too. 

Persevere and have faith

I think I have somewhat come to terms with the fact that there are many things I can’t do anymore and I don’t feel I have to lie about it or make excuses either.  I accept my limitations and don’t expect too much of myself either.  It’s about being kind to myself, doing things that help me heal and not doing things that don’t. This is part of my new normal. 

A woman whose son died aged 18 told me about life with grief, she said, “It’s a harder, more difficult life, but it’s life.”  I agree wholeheartedly with her description, life is harder with grief but there is still love, fun, laughter, joy, happiness and enjoyment alongside it. It takes time to get to the point when happiness and sadness can co-exist.  It takes time to figure this stuff out, take all the time you need.Grief is Love -x💜x-

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