Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Good days, bad days... and how to cope with both

Some days are good, some not so much. I guess that is pretty much the same for everyone to varying degrees. But when you lose someone to cancer, the two become more starkly contrasting. It seems almost disrespectful to have a good day when you’ve lost such an important person in your life so cruelly.
But good days and bad days have nothing to do with emptiness and loneliness. They have nothing to do with the actual loss. That gaping hole in your life that is left will always be there. It’s right that it should always be there. You learn to live with the emptiness, that’s your duty. But the emptiness will never go away, how could it? How could someone that important in your life go and it not make a difference to the rest of your life?
My life changed the moment Diane went. It will never be the same again, even if I wanted to fill that gap, I wouldn’t be able to.
There is no need to fill the gap. My life is poorer for not having Diane physically here to share the highs and lows of it with. But I must simply accept it. I must learn to live with this black hole of emptiness.
But don’t confuse emptiness with loneliness. The emptiness becomes a part of your daily life. It is just something that exists, like a sudden, unforeseen disability. You learn how to cope with it. Eventually it becomes part of that which identifies you as who you are.
Loneliness is quite different. Whether you’re lonely or not is entirely up to you. The future is the only thing in your control. Not the past, that’s gone and cannot be altered. Surround yourself with friends, spend as much time as you can with family, fill your life with people. People are the cure for loneliness and eventually, if you’re lucky, one of those people will emerge as the one you want to share all your life with, not just some of it. If you’re lucky. I hope I will be.
For now, I have more good days than bad. I can ask for no more.
Even during the darkest times of Diane’s illness there were good days.
The day we got Bonny, the little King Charles Cavalier Diane had always wanted and who became her constant companion through it all. That was one.
The day we thought we’d beaten the terrible disease. That was a very good day.
The day I realised we hadn’t beaten it was one of the worst. One of many very bad days.
When you start having good days, there is a sense of guilt, a worry that you’re starting to forget her, to cope without her. Then you realise those are two very different things.
I will never forget her. The effect she had on my life, the joy she brought, the happiness she gave me just by being there. I’ll never forget any of that. But coping without her? That’s different. You learn to cope with the hole in your life that she left. But that hole never gets any smaller.
Now, nearly four years on, I realise I will always have that emptiness but It is possible to have fun, to enjoy life and to feel positive about the future while still having this emptiness in your life. And I will not feel guilty about having days when I feel like a million dollars. I know there’ll be days when I feel the exact opposite so I’ll take the good stuff whenever I can.
The emptiness reminds me what I lost and it is why I will never forget the woman who was so much a part of my life.
I’ve been reminded of all this by a magazine article out today, Thursday October 13 in all good, right-thinking supermarkets. Love It! magazine are dedicating this issue to the fight against breast cancer and a portion of the cover price will go to Breast Cancer Care, the charity closest to my heart.
The work they do to raise awareness of the disease and to help the 50,000 women and men newly diagnosed with it each year is incredible. We must never stop supporting them. I will never stop, thanks to Diane.

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