My heart kept on beating, my lungs were still breathing, my body was somehow still working in all its physiologic functions, but I was not there, I was gone!
During my long grief, I felt as if I was walking alone, with only the company of my unbearable pain, in a long dark tunnel. That’s the way I figured myself, walking, tired, dragging my body, step after step, along a dark endless tunnel. It was a hopeless tunnel, without light at its end. “My tunnel”, I still call it!
I kept on walking because I had been gifted by this life and had to live! Both for Antonio and myself. I was what remained of the two of us in this world and had the duty to live also for him, because he couldn’t even cry or walk the dark tunnel. Antonio was next to me, which was the only strength which helped me in my journey. He was my Angel, loving me unconditionally, protecting me and looking after me.
Though, in my daily life, I had to go to work, go to the supermarket, do the laundry, eat, cook. I never let myself go completely. How tired I was! Everything was so energy-demanding, even just to shower and get dressed! I was surviving, kept on doing all I had to do! I was waiting for “my day” to arrive and take me up there, where Antonio was waiting for me!
My friends were amazingly nice, they cared for me, they supported me. However, nobody could understand what I really needed. They thought the best help was distracting me from my thoughts (impossible), to force me to go out for dinner, watch a movie, go to the beach with them. I couldn’t explain what I really needed and that all those efforts to “pretend” living a normal life were costing me a huge piece of the little energy I had left.
Tiredness, this was my constant body feeling. Sadness, desperation, pain were my emotions. I needed to talk about Antonio, to share my emotions with a close friend, to have a warm hug, a nice hand wiping my tears, this was all I needed!
The old approach
At the time of my childhood, 40 years ago, I lived with my family in a village in Sardinia. When walking my dark tunnel, my memory went constantly back to my childhood and to some pictures which were etched in my mind.
I could clearly remember the life of a young widow. She had to stay home for one year, no TV, no celebrations for Christmas or birthday, even if there were little kids in the family. She spent the whole day in front of the open fire, black-dressed, surrounded by the warmth of the other women of the family or close friends and neighbours who were sitting next to the widow, giving her comfort and support. Letting her cry, talking, sharing and praying for the late husband.
Those female friends cared for her, doing the shopping, cooking for her and the kids, cleaning her house, walking her to the cemetery after having bought the flowers, helping her in whatever she needed. They made sure that the widow was never alone. They listened to her, cried together, let her express her pain, take all feelings off, and comforting her.
She was grieving; she couldn’t do anything but live her sorrow deeply, moment after moment. Just the way it came. Those widows were allowed to grieve openly and freely, to express and share their emotions without shame, without the need to put a smile on their face and pretend being fine. They had the chance to grieve and get to the completion of their grief.
They were not alone, not isolated by a “happy” society.
With this memory in my mind, I kept on repeating that I should have been widow 40 years earlier, when grieving freely was allowed! When the support was given in terms of comfort, when “the widow” had her proper place in the society.
Although I was very grateful to all my friends, I missed that kind of support. I was not allowed to grieve. The modern world has no place for a bereaved person. There is only place for actions and the widow is invited, forced often, to react! My friends wanted me to react, to stop thinking, to turn page and go ahead. “Life continues ” was a recurrent sentence. “Move on! Why don’t you enroll in a gym … go on a trip… read a book… watch the television?”
Why don’t you….go……go……go, ….do….do……do..!!!
After many long years, when I have completed my grief, seen the light at the end of my tunnel and eventually walked out of it, living in a foreign country, I feel blessed for having had such a deep and intense experience of life and love and I feel called by the strong need to help other people through their grief. I am happy to share the inner richness which I have been gifted by life. I recently became a “grief recovery method” specialist, and accompany those bereaved people who are lonely in their journey of grieving and who need to be emotionally understood in their pain, given support, comfort and hope.