Unlike Bridget Jones, my widowhood is all wine and no roses

Appearances of 'coping' can be deceptive - and time doesn't heal

Lucie Brownlee
Sunday 20 October 2013 16:00
Bridget Jones, played by Renée Zellwegger, in the big-screen version
Bridget Jones, played by Renée Zellwegger, in the big-screen version

I haven't yet read how Mark Darcy met his demise, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest ways in which I reckon Bridget Jones may have dealt with it.

If he died suddenly, as my husband Mark did, she probably stood there while a stout, little paramedic conveyed the news, and then found she neither cried nor fell to the floor, but rather calmly opened the Rioja and decided whom she should call first.

The crying would come later in epic jags, as would the feelings of hopelessness, guilt and rage; this would be interspersed with the inexplicable desire to sleep with anything with a penis and then possibly a couple of doses of the morning-after pill.

There might follow profligate spending, a new puppy and a red wine addiction. And the alarming weight loss incurred by the trauma and the grief would render the obsessive calorie-counting of the pre-death diary null and void.

But right there, at that moment when the paramedic delivered his devastating verdict, the translucent "widow screen" which would henceforth divide her inexorably from the rest of the non-bereaved world would have descended. Bridget would find that contrary to her own belief and that of others around her, she appeared to be "coping".

It is 20 months since my Mark dropped dead, aged 37. He suffered a catastrophic arrhythmia as we made love one idle Saturday night in February 2012, just before Take Me Out.

My Mark was a man of devotion and integrity, which is why part of me still feels convinced that he couldn't possibly have left us, and that Beadle may come wheedling his way out of the cupboard and tell me it's all been a joke. (I never quite came to terms with his death either.)

Like Bridget, I have a child. Since her daddy's death, my daughter has had two birthdays. She was nearly four when he died.

Aware that disaster had struck the household, she was torn between dealing with it and eating Haribo. Now aged five and with a keener sense of the despair which teeters around my being like coins on a push-penny machine, she doesn't talk about it, or him, in any detail.

Rather, she saves it for the teachers and the dinner ladies at school, regaling them with blow-by-blow accounts of the night he died, when she, asleep in an adjoining room, heard my screams and prowled about in the doorway of our room, wailing and asking why Daddy wasn't waking up.

Bridget may have fielded oddly complex statements from her tiny offspring, as I did last week, such as: "You can't be still married to Daddy, he's dead."

She almost certainly would have had moments of feeling like the worst parent in the world, especially on those mornings when she woke up, hung-over and mascara-stained, alongside her child, not remembering how either of them got to bed.

In Helen Fielding's novel, Mad About The Boy, Mark Darcy has been dead for several years. But time, much as those around her would like it to, will not have been the "great healer" it was cracked up to be for Bridget. For as those who are bereaved know, time does little more than widen the void between you and your dearly departed; your heart aches more briskly the further behind in the past you leave them.

One thing I'm certain of is that in her wildest dreams of finding Mr Right, like me, Bridget would never have imagined herself to be a widowed, single mother at the age of 38.

Bring back the days of calorie-counting and blue soup, all is forgiven.

Lucie Brownlee's Wife after Death has just won Best Personal Blog in the Blog North Awards

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