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THINGS I HAVE LEARNT FROM BEING WIDOWED AND YOUNG

By Nicola Campbell of Widows Don't Wear Black

“I lost my husband at 36. He was 38. Our babies were 22 months and nine weeks old. At the time it felt unliveable, undoable, quite literally impossible to survive. But I did. I seemed to live up to the things my friends and family were saying about me: my braveness, strength and courage, amazing me. That’s not the truth though. I have been stumbling forward, blindly putting one in foot in front of the other for two years. Only now does it feel like I have carved a new life worth living. I have learnt a number of things. Here they are…”

ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG

“This was said many times in a placatory way to me when Colin died. I wanted to scream, ‘Am I so evil that I have to stay behind?’ and ‘He had his faults ­­– why does he get to skip off and leave me alone?’ Col was a good man and he is gone. He leaves behind on earth a considerable number of numpties. I was watching Jeremy Kyle, zombified, feeding our three-month old when this epiphany hit: Col didn’t bad-mouth people. He wasn’t terribly materialistic. He was happy with his lot. If there is some ethereal judge judging us for our worthiness to go to a better place, maybe Col ticked all the boxes, early. I have to stay here until I learn not to be a cow.”

THERE’S NOWT QUEERER THAN FOLK

“People who haven’t been affected by death are often ill-equipped to deal with it. In the weeks after Col died, I saw a previously chatty neighbour leg it, high-speed, up a ladder. I saw former acquaintances so crucified by what to do or say to me they checked their watches/crossed the road/took a sudden ‘call’ from an unlit mobile, rather than look me in the eye. On the flipside, I’ve had strangers ask me the most direct questions about my husband’s death. ‘Did he have life insurance?’ has been the best one so far. I’ve decided not to take it personally. To those who don’t know what to do with me, I’d prefer you to act as normally as possible, ask me how I am (and listen to the answer) or just hug me, no words needed.”

YOUTH IS WASTED ON THE YOUNG

“If only I knew then what I know now. This thought often pops into my head on the motorway, when I check my mirror to see who it is hugging my bumper to find a teenager with bum fluff on his chin in his mum’s Vauxhall Corsa. Really, does getting somewhere two minutes quicker matter so much you’d risk an accident? Col thought I drove like an old lady with my nose against the windscreen. But I have learnt that life is precarious. And that it’s not about the getting there, it’s about the journey.”

 

Nicola Campbell is the founder of Widows Don’t Wear Black