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MICA Travels are a group of family and friends that are dedicated to raise awareness of Bile duct cancer and sepsis, two illnesses that claim 1000’s of lives each year and are barely known about. I lost my wife; our sons lost their mother and many others lost a dear friend. We as group will be doing a series of endurance activities to raise money for these charities as a lasting memorial to Carol, so that our sudden loss is not in vain.

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14/214 Fells completed

Context and Perspective

Posted in Coping With Bereavement by Mike Hall
snow globe


I live a life in the form of a split personality, a “Jekyll and Hyde” of sorts. I’m getting good at flicking between these two personalities, but in real life Mr. Jekyll only wants to keep you focussed on the past with only one perspective, a very narrow vanishing point, like looking down a train track, where your past extends along the track for as far as you can see, littered with memories as regular as the sleepers extending before you. Mr. Hyde wants you to get off the track and give you a different perspective.

This is where context plays a part. You know what has happened and despite your desire to go back to the familiarities and rewards of that life, you know you can’t, that’s fact, but you still yearn for those events, that’s not wrong, I’ve spent a life enjoying all that a loving relationship had to offer, the unconditional love, intimacies, excitements, protection, companionship and spontaneity as well as the arguments, silences and difficult decisions to name but a few, but overall the smorgasbord of our relationship was good, very good, so it’s only normal to want that back, after all, you have lost your most cherished thing and you are very upset, lost and scared.

Time they say is a great healer, well some 2 years in I’m not sure. I would say that your understanding grows with time, but you don’t always accept the fact that she has gone for good and this life is all you have. Now obviously it’s true, but it doesn’t feel true at times and at these times of momentary disbelief you hang on to any sign that presents itself, fate, destiny, feathers and many spiritual and coincidental occurrences that for a moment give you comfort. Now don’t get me wrong, who am I to judge forces I do not understand and in fact at times of need, I actually look for these signs,  but they tend to drag me back to the vortex of the disappearing train line stretching out before me. Time however is allowing me to balance these events and whilst I get comfort from the past, I understand that they are in the past and confined to nothing more than a warm cherished memory which cannot be changed.

Moving forward, as much as I hate that saying, is exactly that, you are moving forward whether you like it or not. The more you move forward the more you want to drag the past with you. There are feelings of guilt, disloyalty, judgement if you dare to not think of your sweetheart every waking minute of the day or berate yourself if you enjoy the company of others or be happy for a minute. These are all natural feelings but I have to say they are largely imposed upon you by you.

You have to come to a point in time when you need to be kind to yourself; after all, my wife would not want me to live a life perpetual penance. I would like to think she would say, you are a good man, you have lived an honourable life, you have loved and you have lost, but now as a widower you have earnt the right to do what you want, whenever you want, as long as you don’t trample on the feelings of others, cause new regrets or act dishonourably.

Therefore you must create new perspectives in life. No natural view in life has one fixed focal point, there is depth in everything we see and in the actions we take. Loss can make you two dimensional, the point at which you are standing and the single vanishing point of the past stretching out in front. It is hard to look away from the past, it’s a default position when suffering grief but in time you will remove your blinkers and you sore eyes will experience new depths, new horizons, new memories.


I like to try and think of things like this, my past life as husband and father with my wife is all contained within a sealed snow dome, but now I’m on the outside with the dome in my hands, my wife and our life together is on the inside, the snowflakes are our memories, good and bad. I look inside knowing I can never be inside that dome, I stare at the life immortalised as an image and that’s all I can see. I shake the dome and the memories play out in front of me. In the early days of loss, the memories are painful to see as you want to be inside that dome experiencing them together, enjoying all the happiness together as you remind each other how good it was.

My life now is being played out in a new snow dome, I’m no longer a husband but still a father and more importantly the dome is not sealed, so I can add new memories in this, my dome. Yes they won’t be memories as a husband and wife, but there will be good memories for sure and no doubt some bittersweet ones as well. Who knows what will end up in there with me and in time someone else will shake the dome and look back at the life I had alone.

But to put this scenario into perspective, instead of just looking at the snow dome of my past, I need to see what’s in my new snow dome. So I have to look from a different perspective. If hypothetically I put myself on the outside of this new snow dome I can of course see me, but if you look carefully, in my hand is the snow dome of my past.  When I shake the dome, the dome in my grasp within is shaken as well and memories both old and new surround us all, locked in its watery encapsulation forever.

So the context is, don’t get bogged down or fixated on just one thing, in this case the circumstances of past events, you can’t change them.  Time is affording me a new perspective and I am starting to more fully understand my past, so with this knowledge and especially when Mr. Jekyll tries to drag you back to the past within the dome that’s sealed, look up and at what is going on around you and with you from the outside of your new dome and you might just get some clarity that will help you understand that there is more to life than the life that’s in the past and in time you will learn to embrace this life, not through choice but as through this cruel twist of fate, you will walk a different life full of the joy of memories past and present.