What is life like now – after Bonnie?
In some ways I still don’t know – it is early days and I am aware of a process that always happens after a death. You just get on with things and as time passes and takes you further and further away from the old life, you pass through various stages of grieving. First there is the public phase but gradually it all moves inside your head and heart and you don’t really talk to anyone about it any more. People stop asking how you feel and before you know it the name isn’t often mentioned.
But Bonnie is on my mind almost all the time.
I have got past the ‘first time’ for so many things – the first walk, the first visit to the vet, the first day on the beach. Haven’t been down to the parks yet but then why would I go?
Today I am going back to Sant Nicolau for the ‘first time’. I am looking forward to it as I feel I left Bonnie there and I want to return and hope to feel her presence – I haven’t felt her near me yet.
I was thinking about death and grief and customs. Last week I saw a friend who I hadn’t seen for many months. She told me that she hadn’t known that my brother died two years ago and only just read about it on the blog. She apologised for not having said anything before. I replied that I had assumed she had her own reasons for not mentioning it. Afterwards I felt bad – as if I had accused her of something rather unkind while the truth was that there were many people at that time who did behave strangely, not exactly crossing the street but certainly not inquiring too deeply. I came to expect it. One person in our Catalan family sent a message to my partner asking him to pass on his condolence. Even though he had my mobile phone number and could have written directly to me!
I try to forget that but it still niggles. It is true that people have their own ways of responding to another’s grief and each mourner has their own way of expressing what they feel – or not. I tend to come out on the side of communication and expression but it was interesting for me to notice that with my friend – the one I met last week – I hadn’t dared to bring the subject up. She said nothing so neither did I. I just assumed she knew (from my blog and my Facebook entries at that time) and then I kept quiet. It was entirely down to me that she had been meeting me unaware for almost two years. If you are reading this – I am so sorry.
When my brother died I didn’t write too much about it as it was a shared grief with the rest of my family and I thought others would want privacy. But when Bonnie died it felt like ‘my grief. I was able to write about it as much as I wanted and did so – even while worrying that some readers would find it too emotional. Perhaps some of you did but I know there were others who appreciated it.
This summer it will be two years since my brother’s death and as I was preparing lunch today a passing feeling made me pause in what I was doing. The feeling was of pain and the attached thought was ‘sometimes it is unbearable to me that he is dead’. I then asked myself who I could commuicate this feeling to and realised it isn’t that simple. People might not know what to say in reply and it would be awkward. I didn’t need to tell anyone but I thought it was amazing how strong it was – just for a flash of a moment.
So I am writing it here – here where god knows who is reading and I won’t know your reaction or have to feel your discomfort. I am not looking for sympathy or trying to manipulate you into writing back to me. I really am fine but it feels important to writes about grief in a way that is real for me. How do we know what goes on for other people in the privacy of their hearts and minds? Death is something totally natural and yet we can feel alone when it touches our lives. Mostly life goes on as normal and then there are moments when you touch the emotion and it is raw and alive, then this too passes. I always find it strange that at the beginning people talk a lot, and then they stop. they might mention the individual who has died but they rarely say how it is affecting them,
We have a candle lit for Bonnie on the dresser in the living room and a new large photo of her on the wall. Today I can go to collect her ashes at last and have them with me until I decide where to scatter them. Do you think it is odd having your dogs ashes at home? And where should they be kept?
Does anyone know if there is a problem taking ashes on an airplane?
Noone in my partners family has said a word about Bonnie’s death. From the lesson learnt after my brother died I am think I should write and tell them. Then if they fail to respond I can take it from there. Soon there will be family events and I will meet them so it is better to confront this issue in advance otherwise I am going to meet them feeling even more distant than I do already.
Life and relationships – complicated aren’t they? I wish we could all speak more openly about everything we feel. Having things in your head that noone else ever says is a lonely way to live. That is why it is so important for me to voice things – not because I think my feelings are so important but because I imagine other people out there who might feel better if they knew there were not alone.
Here is a photo I found today of Bonnie’s mother and siblings. There is Bonnie sucking away in the middle. I hate that she was probably the first to die. So sad
I have been busy and going out a lot which is wonderfully distracting. My last post described just such a day in Barcelona visiting the Hospital San Pau. I am planning trips to Menorca, Scotland, Norfolk, Granada. I am doing my exercises every day and baking bread and have started a new course Immunity to Change which is hopefully going to help me be a better and more confident me. I am looking at dogs on the street and wondering what I can do to help animals here in Catalunya but I am scared to start working in a shelter as I can’t bring any home with me yet. Not yet.
I am also hugging this lovely loveliness as often as I can – 5 months today!
If you got this far – thank you! No apologies for the length – I just felt like writing. That’s all for now.