It’s 28 days since I lost my best friend and soulmate and the question I’m answering the most at the moment is, ‘How are you?’. Which is totally the appropriate question for people to be asking. It would be weird if they pretended nothing had happened!
But … I’m starting to feel like a broken record (as I’m saying the same things over and over). Also, I deeply crave conversations that are not about me at the moment. I very much want to hear about the mundanities and everydayness of other people’s lives.
So, given I have this platform that allows me to reach a large number of the people who care about me, I thought I’d offer an update. One that answers all the main questions and concerns everyone has and will hopefully allow people to start feeling comfortable telling me what’s going on in their lives again 😊
Kelly, how are you going?
The best way I can describe it is I feel I’m an actress in a movie, playing the part of heartbroken, grieving wife. I’m fully invested in the part – feeling all the feelings and working through the process. But there’s still a part of me that thinks I will be finishing the filming of this movie soon and I’ll get to go home to Ant at the end of it all.
Another way to put it: I’ve had no trouble accepting he died, but I’m having a lot of trouble accepting he’s not coming back.
My predominant feeling right now is sadness.
But mixed in there is …
Immense gratitude for the gift of having Ant’s love in my life for 23 years.
Despair that there’s no way I can do life without him.
Hope that maybe I can with the help of all the people in our lives who cannot fill the hole he has left behind, but collectively, can certainly plug it a little.
I’ve also – surprisingly – been able to find joy in the sadness and darkness. Watching my little brother marry his soulmate. Watching my sister run our businesses and do a fist pump every time she solves yet another impossible problem. Watching my kids become closer with some of my oldest and dearest friends. Watching Jaden’s indoor soccer team win their first ever game. Watching the sun rise over the back fence each morning.
So, while I’m really sad, I’m also grateful the sadness isn’t (currently) stopping me moving through the world and being a functional human being.
Are you getting any professional help?
Yes, I have a psychologist who was helping me work through some anxiety stuff last year. Now she’s helping me sit gently with my grief.
What have the four weeks since Ant died looked like?
The first week was a blur of organisation ahead of the funeral and wake on the Saturday followed by the Wildcats on the Sunday. (A huge thanks to the Wildcats for everything they did to show their support for us. It meant the world to me and the kids.)
The second week, I gave myself permission to lie on the couch, cry and not talk to anyone. And I did that for three days. (Thank goodness for the tennis – it gave me something to stare blankly at.) For whatever reason, when I woke up on Thursday morning in that week, I felt functional and was able to start doing functional things. So, I did.
The third week I focused on work stuff – trying to help my sister sort out a few things with Swish Design and Swish Online; touching base with my Swish Publishing clients – while also helping Jaden get his mind right for two days of basketball trials. (He did so well and made the team he wanted to make. So … yay.)
The fourth week, the kids went back to school. I was really looking forward to that for the normality and routine of it, but that week has been perhaps the most difficult so far. Ant and I both work(ed) from home and I’d forgotten how many little rituals we’d built up around those workdays. The kids, however, have benefited from the normality and routine, and being with their friends during the day.
Are you ok financially?
Yes, thank you. With big thanks to these guys who’ve been helping us manage our affairs for more than 10 years and helped set us up appropriately for the unthinkable. (Side note: if you don’t have an appropriate amount of life insurance for your personal situation and a properly executed will … please get these as soon as you can. If you don’t have them it makes an already hard time even harder. Thankfully, we had them.)
Are you doing any exercise?
Yes. In the first two weeks I couldn’t do anything because my heart hurt too much. But after that, whenever there has been another adult sleeping over at my place (and there has been someone pretty much every night), I’ve gone for a run in the morning.
Are you working?
I had to let one of my writing contracts for 2019 go. And I’m not taking on new clients currently. But I’m continuing with the remaining writing contracts and am slowly getting back into them all. Huge thanks to all my clients who have given me the time and space to come back slowly.
The journal I was working on with my friend Darren last year has also gone live so that is something to smile about.
What are you going to do with your house?
Stay here. Yes, it’s much easier to notice Ant’s absence here and that is painful. But we know everyone in our street, they are looking out for us, it’s close to the kids’ school and many of their friends live close by. Also, this was our forever house. We both loved it so much. I couldn’t imagine leaving it.
How are the kids?
They are ok. They miss their dad badly and when they think about him, they feel sad. And angry that he’s been taken from them. But they’ve been kept busy with friends, family and sport, and are also seeing a psychologist to help them work through their grief.
Are you getting the space you need to grieve in a healthy fashion?
Yes. Our friends and family have been amazing in this regard.
I live far away from you. Is there any point sending my love and support from afar?
Honestly, it might feel like you’re not doing anything helpful, but every message of love and support we’ve received has helped more than you can imagine.
How are you getting through each day?
Ant would be proud because the main management technique I’m using is to ‘live in the moment’. (Ant was quite literally the most ‘live in the moment’ person I’ve ever come across and had spent much of our 23 years together trying to get me to do the same.)
Whenever my mind starts casting ahead to next week, next month, next year and I get overwhelmed by how on earth the kids and I can possibly do life without him, I bring myself back to the moment and have conversations with myself that look like this:
What are you doing right now?
Where are you going?
To the shops.
What are you getting from the shops?
Some fruit for the kids’ lunch boxes.
And that is very literally how I am getting through the days. Minute by minute. Hour by hour.
Is there anything else anyone can be doing for you right now?
I feel like we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to support. Parents from school have created a roster and are dropping a meal over every day. We have someone taking care of all the paperwork involved with the various insurances and management of Ant’s estate. My amazing sister is running two of our three businesses with my mum’s help. One of my best friends took five days out of her life to come and stay with me. And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
There have been countless kindnesses shown over the past four weeks – big and small – that have made things easier for us at this terrible time. So right at this moment, we are good. But if I can think of anything someone else can help with, I will make sure to ask.
In fact, here’s one thing. At Ant’s funeral I shared his 6 rules for life, knowing full well there were more than 6 … but 6 were all I could think of at the time. I’ve now had time to expand on and edit them properly. I’d love you to read the expanded version here.