Starting Afresh

Starting Afresh – My Personal Journey

In November 2008 it felt like my whole world had come to an abrupt halt. I realise looking back that my life had become just a struggle to keep both myself and my husband, John going. I knew John had mental health problems when I first met him although he was not diagnosed with bipolar disorder until he was in his mid 40s. However, over the years, his ability to cope became less and less, and I found myself having to take responsibility for an ever increasing number of things in our lives, including making a simple doctor’s appointment for John. I was trying to cope with a full-time job as well as struggling with Chronic Fatigue and I sometimes wondered how I could keep going.

John had a history of attempted suicides and in November 2008 his 3rd attempt that year resulted in his death by suicide. I can recall the shock and horror of it all when I arrived home and found him, yet a total certainty that this was the end and that was how it was meant to be. That certainty helped me to cope but nonetheless I was left feeling bereft, dazed and shocked. I remember the lady from the coroner’s office being so concerned that I had nobody to be with me that she called me the next day (a Sunday) to see how I was. Then on the Monday two work colleagues arrived bearing bags of food from M&S – it seemed a life saver as was the company and the chance to talk to someone face to face. The weeks up to Christmas were a real blur and I felt I wanted to be at home for Christmas with my three wonderful dogs so had arranged to visit my father on 28th December, But my loss was compounded when the day before I had a policeman arrive at my home to tell me my father had died peacefully at home.

So that is how I was at a point in January 2009 where I was going to need to start afresh. I remember over the first twelve month I saw a lot of a very old friend and now we laugh at how I was a bit like the Churchill nodding dog saying “Yes Yes” to whatever she suggested as I moved through that first year almost mechanically, dealing with my down days the best I could. Yes, it was hard, very hard, but as time went on I began to rediscover Louise – not John’s wife, not my father’s daughter but me, Louise.

I admit it’s still not easy sometimes but I’ve learnt a lot on my journey from then to now. Sometimes it’s been painful, uncomfortable, rocky – but at 51 I knew I still had a good number of years left – a third of my life if I was lucky – to live and live then I would. I couldn’t change what happened but I could take responsibility for how my life developed as a single person.

So is my personal journey complete now? Most definitely not as I don’t believe we ever stop growing and developing. And you may be wondering, how I feel about my life now? Well overall it’s pretty darn good – yes I get sad moments, reflective moments, wistful moments, which often creep up on me unexpectedly. There is much joy and fulfilment now too – I love my work, my life and have some wonderful friends around me. I have rediscovered my love of live music and dancing. I go out to the theatre, socialise with friends and enjoy eating out or just grabbing a coffee both with friends and by myself with a notepad to write or good book. If any of you reading this are friends with me on Facebook you will see I grab life with both hands and have lots of fun. But I also have lots of quiet moments too, I write sometimes, meditate regularly, do a daily (or almost daily!) short yoga practice and I swim a couple of times a week. I also get periods where I feel low and I constantly struggle with the feelings of aloneness, such as when something goes wrong in the home or, as recently, one of my dogs is unwell. But that is all part of me, what I am and I hope that I can help some others in Starting Afresh when they feel their life has come to a halt whether because, like me, they have been widowed, or for another reason.


Louise Clare works from her home in Eastbourne, East Sussex as the healing space there is truly magical and relaxing.