They say you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have left. I now know that I was in a state of shock and bewilderment so deep that it would take months, years even, for the feelings to surface and for me to be able to feel them.
So yes, I was strong – I had a funeral to organize and I had other people’s grief to deal with. For a while I was so overwhelmed that I had no idea what I might be feeling or thinking.
But looking back, it is mostly a blur: an adrenalin-fuelled state of survival where, by putting one foot in front of the other, you manage to keep going. Meanwhile, as if through the mirror, the outside world goes on relentlessly as though nothing at all has changed.
Try not being strong and see where it gets you. If you set down on the floor and sob, you may find that no one will come near you. We do not know how to witness another’s pain or simply to stand by them as they grieve. So grief and sadness become private and hidden. We even find it hard to cry in private. Perhaps we are afraid that if we do go into the sadness that we might never find our way out.
Eight years on and I know that I am strong, but that strength comes from vulnerability; from allowing myself to experience feelings rather than hide them.