Vantage points


Vantage point – it makes such a difference. So much that I’ve written about rebuilding my life after Mark’s death has been from a position of grief and mourning. Even as I write those words, I think how easily they gloss over the physical, muscular pain that comes with loss. When I think of those early days, I often think of the shadowy figure I cut as I walked through the streets of Athens during my visit in January – for some reason that trip really sticks out as it was so excruciating, so visceral. More recently there’s been a glimmer of hope that the future might not be a write off, that out of the rubble of loss, something new, something different, might emerge.

A year on, I’m realising that actually rebuilding, as opposed to thinking about it, or contemplating it, requires something altogether different from survival. I seem to be in a new phase, and although it’s in no way comparable to the shock, the ripped-apart grief, it’s also tough, very tough. It’s also one that I don’t really have much understanding of, haven’t really got to grips with. The photo overlooking Tower Bridge was taken from The Ting Restaurant in the Shard, where I went with Lou for tea to mark my birthday and to talk about my work. Since the start of the year, my focus has been on work, and building that part of my life. My paid work during this past year has been functional, incidental, almost. So it’s been deeply challenging to invest time and effort into working, to think about what it is I want to do, and what I am going to do in order to achieve that.

For the last few days I’ve been looking after a friend’s dogs – staying at her house, which is why I’ve been working in this cafe. I’ve also been reading Beatrice Chestnut’s The Wisdom of the Enneagram, which is helping me realise the extent to which melancholy, grief and frustration generate a sense of familiarity that is close to being comfortable. It’s very difficult to make the transition towards being proactive, however. Every frustration, knock back or misunderstanding leaves me teetering, and sometimes I do tumble into the torrid mix of misery, despair and grief.

Hard as it has been, I do feel that I’ve turned a corner. The initial question I set out to answer in this blog is whether we can make a difference in the world. The focus since Mark died has been surviving the unimaginable, how we get through the earthquake. But now it’s time for the graft of rebuilding to begin.

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