Goodbye to the shoes and waves of grief

Those who know me well will know how much I enjoy my shoes (well at least I used to!), I think men can enjoy them in the same way as women?  Or am I unusual? Anyway, my point is we are beginning to look through my wardrobe, and we were going through all my old shoes. I was hoping I could at least wear some but alas none would fit my swollen left foot. A very brave decision was taken. They were reluctantly all put into a black bin liner and disposed of. It was painful as it represented that part of my life which is now finally over!  I inevitably cried at another loss. 

I find my memory of my losses hit me sometimes unexpectedly, like waves and it can feel immensely painful. The pain appears to emerge from the depth of my being. I have an overwhelming sense of not knowing what to do and how to survive my horrific situation. I have said it several times but the thought of not being able to do what I used to be able to do for the rest of my life is incredibly distressing, overwhelmingly so. I cannot fathom it. The thought of not being able to ride my bike, kneel down in the garden and feel the soil, walk along the beach, feel the sea wash over my feet and feel the sand beneath them, to walk along the footpaths of the Cornish cliffs especially those I remember as a child and which I have visited from time to time since then. The ability to walk into town and pop into the local shops indeed to drive into one of the local cities (Norwich, Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds), and go shopping, to go to Waitrose on my own, oh the joy!  All these things, and many more are not going to be easy to do if at all, and certainly not on my own in the future. Life has changed beyond recognition for me.  Am I going to be trapped inside the house, sitting in a chair reading, reflective writing, watching TV for the rest of my days (I can recite the daily TV schedule for you if you wish!!)? Is this the best it is going to get?

Hey! Stop feeling sorry for yourself (I can hear my mother say!!), but my pain (as I describe it) is there, it is real and I need to have it validated. Yes, I experience physical pain (from my various fractures, my shoulder, caused by the neuropathic pain – the nerve endings damaged by the stroke down the left side of my body). By the way I had another fall on Christmas Eve ending up in A&E resulting in a fractured shoulder (will this ever end?) But it is the emotional and spiritual pain I experience that washes over me on a regular, often unexpected times which feels much worse than the physical pain. I do wonder sometimes if others really understand what it is I am experiencing. But what the heck, what can they do about it anyway? I always think when I experience my grief episodes that there is going to be help at the end of this, that one day I will look back and recount “do you remember when?” I also think life will return to my old normal, but I know that is not going to happen.  I remain in hope that I will regain some form of function that will allow me to lead a reasonable life, but I know it will take a good few years.  My emotional pain increases when I think about this. I had my stroke when I was 58 I am now 60 years old and 70 will soon be upon me!  Time is drifting away, I hope I am table to achieve more before I die!

We are all currently experiencing the national lockdown. This has caused a lot of people serious challenges for their mental health. Depression, frustration and loneliness are all common experiences, but knowing this will one day come to an end helps us to cope with the situation, I wonder if it will make much difference to me? 

3 thoughts on “Goodbye to the shoes and waves of grief

  1. Hi, Peter
    Thank you once again for your beautiful honesty. And what can any of us say but send you lots of virtual hugs and wrap you up and bathe you in love.
    I think what you are experiencing is the reality that most of us in the Western world are cocooned from most of the time this past 100 years, with antibiotics, healthcare, reasonably comfortable homes and incomes and being able to enjoy leisure and holidays and good times with friends and family. As I read about the lack of healthcare in so many countries, the risk of dying young from preventable disease, the lack of clean water and sanitation, little education for many girls, the poverty and lack of opportunity, the constant threat of civil war and extremism, I realise that what I have isn’t the norm.
    Coronavirus has given a taste of reality to some people. Flooded homes bring disaster on a few. We are all affected to some degree by lockdown. But most of us still haven’t faced up to the reality of pain, of our mortality and of human existence that, like the animal world, is actually very brief. We are inured to it.
    By contrast, you, my friend, have suffered that huge dose of reality that most of us avoid most of the time but cannot escape for ever.
    I realise as I write that this probably isn’t cheering you up!!! But your heart’s outpouring resonated with much I have reflected on in retirement, although for me it’s 90% an academic exercise. I have come to experience in a fresh way why the incarnation – embodiment – is so important. Health, wealth and prosperity christianity have sought to falsely protect Christians from common suffering but it can’t be done. Nor should it be attempted. We don’t read of Jesus actually suffering pain until his final hours. I often feel like he never experienced real loneliness with his friends all around him. And that his temptations weren’t anything like as difficult as mine!! And I often tell him so! (Never get a reply, though!!!) But I do dimly understand that God living in a body is as important as what happened in the final week of Jesus’s life, and actually that final week was all part of God experiencing my reality.
    I never intended to get into theology when I started this!! It just grew, like Topsy. It’s me stumbling to make sense of my own experience and hoping that dimly I can relate to your own utterly painful reality.
    Hoping that snowdrops and longer days can bring a little bit of encouragement, Peter. God bless
    James

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  2. Dear Peter, I have read your blog many times before commenting. Your first paragraph resonated with me so much! Unlike you, I have not yet had the courage to dispose of all those gorgeous heeled shoes I love so much. My lower back will never permit me to wear them again (even if there was somewhere to wear them to!)
    Your heartfelt piece made me think a lot over the last few days about loss. As I/we get older we realise that so much of what we have loved and enjoyed in our lives has gone, people, work, physical fitness and certainly in my case sharp mental alertness. So we have some experience, albeit to a very much lesser extent than you, the great loss you are being asked to endure. I think what I am trying to say is that we do have an small and ongoing understanding of your awful emotional pain, small but there nevertheless.
    What you have certainly not lost is the love of so very many, probably because you are such a hugely loveable man!
    Nuala xxxx
    PS Jon particularly wanted to remind you that that you are only 60 and 70 is not “nearly upon you”, you have 9 years and 2 months to plan your big party!! Much love from us both xx

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