Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas

 

I had been married for only three years when my husband died suddenly.

We were just about to start a family – and now it's all over. It's been a year now and I'm still feeling desperately lonely. I've joined all kinds of clubs, had counselling, and I do some voluntary work – all along with a full-time job – but every time I'm on my own at home I feel not only so bereaved but so alone. Everyone says I'll find another man, but firstly, there's no sign and secondly, I'm not sure I want one at the moment. What can I do? Yours sincerely, Deirdre

Virginia says... Of course you feel lonely. You're bereaved – and if by any chance it's almost exactly a year since your husband died then you're probably suffering from something called Anniversary Bereavement. This can hit bereaved people years on, when they imagine they've "got over it". Suddenly the date of their loved one's death comes along, and they can't work out why they feel utterly frightful, often getting not just depressed but ill – until they remember the date and everything falls into place.

So do wait a few months before you get professional help – which you might need if this feeling goes on unrelentingly. In the meantime, you've been absolutely amazing by joining all these organisations and keeping yourself busy, but it seems to me that you haven't left much time for yourself, alone at home. It's no wonder you feel upset when you're alone. You're practiced in getting away from yourself, but not in being with yourself.

Of course you don't want another relationship right now. But what about a relationship with yourself? And with your home? After reeling off a list of relations he described as "his family", my small grandson recently asked me what my family was. Startled, I said that it was much the same as his. He seemed doubtful. Then, struck by a revelation, he said: "Your family is your house!"

And I was struck by the truth of it. After all, you don't just have relationships with people or animals (though actually a cat might be a very comforting companion, despite this being rather an old-ladyish suggestion). No, we also have relationships with things. When you're next alone at home, ask yourself what you're having a relationship with. It could be with the food you're cooking for yourself and eating. It could be a relationship with the wall you're painting. These inanimate objects can't talk back, but you're having a relationship with them, changing them, despite that. I think if you try to see what you probably now think of as things connected to mundane tasks as, instead, friendly companions, you might feel that life on your own is less pointless.

You make an impact all the time, not just when you're doing good or socialising.

If you think this is just a lot of barmy "om" stuff, then fair enough. But at least give it a go. And don't forget Cruse, a wonderful organisation that has volunteers to help bereaved people like yourself.

 

Readers say...

Take it slowly

 

There is no specific time frame for grieving. I'm glad you have had counselling and maintain an active life, but please don't feel you have to "pull yourself together". I speak from experience, having lost the father of my children. You will never get over it, but learn to live with it in your own time.

Christina Burton By email

 

Be easy on yourself

My heart goes out to you. It really isn't very helpful of all those people who say you will find another man. You will never find one quite like the one you lost and it was the relationship you lost, not the man so much as what was between you. Your personal existence does not depend on having another man: you are still a whole woman, but a grieving one.

It sounds as if you have done all the right things, except perhaps giving yourself time to mourn, until you are all mourned out and can laugh again. There will be something you used to enjoy doing on your own before you married. Go do it, and begin to live again, for yourself.

Mary Harris By email

 

Next week's dilemma

Dear Virginia,

Ever since I married four years ago I've wondered whether my husband's the right man (we have a small child we both adore). He's totally undemonstrative, a workaholic, and doesn't understand where I'm coming from. We were going to go for counselling, but then I got a job that means I work nights three times a week and though I'm tired, we're getting on better – probably because we don't see so much of each other. I'm worried, though, that the job is just a distraction, a plaster stuck on, and we're not facing up to the real problems. What do you think?

Yours sincerely, Celia

 

What would you advise Celia to do? Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas @independent. co.uk, or go to independent. co.uk/dilemmas. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers (finewine sellers.co.uk)

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

    High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

    £70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

    Teaching Assistant

    £50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

    Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments