This is how I do it

So many people ask me this… “How do you do it, being a widow?”. I guess at 30, married 7 months, with a 19 week old alien growing in my belly, the question would never have entered my head. I didn’t know any young widows. I had no experience of it or no book to read. It’s quite a hard thing to explain to be honest. I hate the word widow for starters. People just think of black clothes (never liked black), take to the bed for a year (erm, I had a baby to feed), look sad all the time, (well there’s conflicting feedback on this!) sit by your spouses grave and cry (ok fine I do that, but very very rarely now). I am the exact contradiction of what the traditional widow is.

But being a young widow (or old one) can be exhausting. Instantly you start to consider everyone around you. My biggest struggle is trying to consider everyone’s feelings, taking every possible outcome into consideration. What will people think? How will they treat me? What are they saying behind my back? His family, my family? How do I keep everyone happy? Is this or that the right thing to do?! Sadly, it’s caused the breakdown of new relationships. I focus on doing the right thing by everyone else so much that I neglect to enjoy what’s right in front of my eyes. The judgement is real. You get into another relationship & all you hear is “it’s too soon”, “she’s not ready”, “she mustn’t have loved her husband very much”. If that relationship breaks down, for whatever reason, all you get is “it was too soon”, “she wasn’t ready”, “she obviously loved her husband so much she can’t move on”. Why does anyone feel the need to comment on someone else’s life, or how they do things? I am fully capable of loving another human being with my whole heart. It may be the same feeling as I had before, it may not, but how is that different to any other relationship? I am the only one who knows (well maybe my counsellor too) if I am “ready”. I have learned in the last few weeks that it’s time I stopped caring so much, and start doing what I know is going to make me smile.
My next struggle, and it’s a massive one for me, is feeling like I can’t talk about my husband. If I bring him up people get all weird and awkward. If I write a blog about him it’s unfair on other people. I honestly don’t understand why. When he was breathing I talked about him all the time, now if I post a picture of him, it’s too upsetting for people?! (I do get that, but consider for a second having his mini me, living and breathing and following you around all day? A pic doesn’t seem so bad now does it?!) Well…. he was my husband. He is the Father of my little girl. I am literally incapable of pretending that he never existed, and it’s so tiring feeling like you can’t post a memory that once made you smile. People do it all the time on Facebook now, but I feel like I shouldn’t. It doesn’t mean I am dwelling, or not able to move on, it simply means he was a huge part of my life, as much as any possible husband will be in the future and I’d like to be able share a wonderful moment we had together without feeling conscious about it. Just like this one… 


So like I said, I have one, very delicious tiny human. She is the centre of my universe, and to be quite honest, my reason for doing everything I do. It was bloody hard at the beginning. Even being pregnant and not having him around towards the end when he should have been here rubbing my feet. Delivering her  without him was one of the worst experiences of my life, when it should have been exciting. I had never been a Mommy before, and had zero intention of ever having to raise a child alone. I was absolutely petrified, but I have a seriously sturdy support network around me, and with my Mother/Father/Siblings & incredible friends, we literally raised her together. She is almost 5 and has turned out to be quite the perfect tiny human so far. Yes she’s a diva, yes she screams at me when things don’t go her way (I swear she doesn’t get that from me 🤔) but overall I am so lucky that she is so placid, just like…. her Father! 

I have a new found dependance on people and have realised that asking people for help isn’t as shameful as I once believed. I depend on my brothers to do some of the man bits, I depend on my friends & cousins to hang out with me and ask me to do things so I don’t feel so incredibly lonely all the time and to continue to keep me sane and glued together, and to listen to my worries & moans. I depend on my sister to get to Dublin from Belfast so Lily can hang out with her 3 cousins, and to come on holidays with me every year, again so I don’t feel so alone. I depend on my Hockey girls, the ones who just accept me for who I am, and treat me no different to every other team mate, they make me feel “normal”!  


And I depend on my Mom. My incredible, wonderfully understanding, supportive Mom. She has let me shout, cry, laugh inappropriately… Without her, life would be a real struggle. All of these people together, make life bearable. 


So how do I do it? I just do. I take each day as it comes. I take pictures, lots and lots of pictures, so when I’m feeling sad I can look back on the days that made me smile! I am so lucky in so many ways. We (thanks Mom & Dad) have a roof over our heads and food in our mouths and I get to make amazing new memories with a very beautiful tiny person. No, life isn’t or will never be the same, it can’t be. Yes there are days when I literally feel a pain in my chest because of the new life I’ve had to embrace. I hate what happened to us, but overall, when I take a step back, and think of how much worse things could have been, I feel…. content. 

I’m still breathing and getting to enjoy (most of) my life, which is something a lot of people never get the chance to do 💕

Huss X

Live, Laugh (innappropriatly) Love!

Recently I had a wonderful evening with four wonderful friends. You might be thinking “wow, you were at dinner, how normal” but I can assure you, there is nothing “normal” about us. We met in the most heartbreaking of circumstances. 

Orla:

When my husband died I was inundated with email and texts of support. But one stands out in my mind. I received a Facebook message from a girl called Orla, who told me her husband had died suddenly just 24 days before Geoff. He was 36, and she too had been pregnant (with her 3rd child, still don’t know how she does it!!). At the time I discarded the mail, obviously in my head my pain was so much worse than hers,  but a mutual friend told me I really should go for coffee with her. We had our first “widow” date in Dundrum in 2012, and I just remember thinking to myself that Geoff had most certainly sent her to me! We realised we had the most messed up bond, and it was so comforting to know she “got it”. Her hubby had died suddenly at home, and she was pregnant with their son. They already had 2 year old twins. We decided to make it a regular thing, and that we did! 

Mary: 

I’m sitting at Geoffs grave one day and a girl comes over to me and asked me quite sweetly “Hi, are you Sinéad, I’m Mary”. I had been on Joe Duffy not long before that and she had heard me (I know, I know, I’m not even 70 yet). Initially I’m thinking “here we go, and other one who wants to tell me they’re so sorry… blah blah” but she then informed me her hubby was buried just opposite Geoff (same row!) and he had died suddenly just 18 days before him!!!!(At this point I’m looking for the camera somewhere!) I remember feeling so sorry for her loss, completely forgetting about my own for that split second. She was just 34 when he died. I told her about my wonderful new friend Orla…..

Joanne: 

Orla had met the lovely Joanne, again through mutual friends, who’s hubby had died after a 5 year battle with cancer in 2009, at 30. A Mom of 1, to a bouncing 14 month old and again, pregnant with no.2 when he died. They had become quite close and she suggested we all go for dinner together. As it turned out my godmother also knew her, and had mentioned her to me soon after we had met, such a small world we live in! 

The 4 of us met,  like a weird blind/double date type thing in Fillies in Leopardstown. It was like we had always known each other. We talked/cried/laughed and the one thing we had in common was our ridiculously dark sense of humour, which no one else got. We all live within 15 minutes of each other. Scary I know, but yet incredibly comforting. 

Since then we meet on a regular basis and have our own little “Merry Widows” whatsapp group to keep in touch and organise our next date. We even took the plunge and went on a night away in January together, and it was one of the best nights I have had in the past 4.5 years. 

I cannot begin to describe how lucky I am to have these incredible women in my life. They have listened to me rant, given me advice, and most importantly,  let me feel how I want to feel. There is no judgement, no uncomfortableness, nothing. They make me feel sane. It’s just 4 women, who have shared the most unimaginable pain you could ever think of, 4 women who had their whole lives ahead of them with their hubbies, 4 woman who have pieced their broken life back together again and have lived to tell the tale, 4 women who, to the naked eye, are absolutely amazing at looking “normal” but I can assure you, there is absolutely nothing “normal” about us! 

Mary had the most perfect words to describe us back in January:

“In Autumn 2011, through a serious of serendipitous meetings and bizarre coincidences, I met 3 extraordinary women in their early 30’s all of whom had recently lost their young husbands. All 3 were pregnant when their husbands died and although I had not experienced the unbelievable pain that comes with giving birth without your baby’s Dad in the world, the 4 of us still formed an extraordinary bond. Almost 5 years on we have laughed, cried, been unbelievably irreverent and gone through every up and down that grief throws at you. I’m privileged to know these three fantastic women as we’ve healed together. Here’s to all of us having wonderful futures, creating new memories while never forgetting the very special men that are gone but never forgotten. You’re an inspiring bunch. Lovely to have an evening away with you all. x Mary”

How lucky we are to have met each other, how privileged I am to be able to call them my friends. 

Huss X