My first conversation with Tim was during one of those silly ice-breakers at university. You know the kind: you learn a bit about the other person, then introduce them to the rest of the class. From the start, I was struck by his great sense of humour and sparkly green eyes.
Three months later he slipped a business card under my windscreen with the words “Wanna Go Steady?” on them. I still have it all these years later.
After years in corporate life Tim took a redundancy and happily nominated himself into his new role as “Dobby the house elf”. Tim delighted in his role as dad to our three little ones (a.k.a. Nutlets) and as mentor and advisor to his two older children. Our family motto was (and still is) “adventure”.
Tim was my best mate for 17 years and the love of my life. Late last year, he passed away suddenly, aged 54. This was so far from what I imagined for my family. I became a widow in my forties, and our world shifted overnight.
Now that some of the fog has lifted, I want to share a few things that I’ve learned, to offer hope to those trying to navigate through their own challenges.
It’s a fine line between grief and resilience
I found the finality of death to be intensely confronting. There would be no more calls on my way home with my trusted partner, no more shared parenting, no more lovingly made dinners waiting for me after a day at the office.
At the same time though, this feeling of finality stirred something in me. I have to step up, I still have a life to live and children to raise. From grief I’ve found an energy and a desire to readjust to these new circumstances and think about what options I do have.
I still have days where I am overcome with sadness and loss, but I can’t live in this space for long before grief gives me a kick in the butt with a “so what are you going to do about it?”
Sometimes you can’t fit your own oxygen mask first
When Tim passed away, all I could focus on was my children. I couldn’t find the space or desire to look after my interests until I knew they were OK. With a background working in the airline industry many people said to me – “Are you looking after yourself, you know you need to fit your own oxygen mask first, right?" I was eating and sleeping (and crying), but what got me up every single day was my kids.