Monday 8 April 2019

"Life" after Kinga - the Early Days.

Hello everyone... Still seems wrong to not see posts on this blog start with 'hello jelly beans!' or similarly adorable things. It is even weirder to think that these are not her words. That these words are not filled with her energy and bursting with her personality. I hope she would be happy with my continued, more sombre posting on her blog... As I stated in the last post I made here, I would like to continue posting here to keep this space alive... To keep Kinga alive.

I would like to talk today about my own experience with grief. I am still early into this journey - it is a little under four months since she was killed. I don't claim to be an expert on the topic - my head still isn't particularly straight. But I hope that this may have an impact on those who choose to read it. My message to those that haven't experience may come to understand how fragile, unpredictable and precious life is... Life is made worth living by the people around you; the rest is noise, in reality. Those who have experienced grief... Well, I have gained so much from reading your stories - and I hope you may gain some comfort from hearing my own.

Grief is something that we as a western society do not talk openly about - but almost all will experience. If we go by the 'plan', we will all say goodbye to our Grandparents, parents, pets, and potentially partners. This grief is real and can be beyond painful - but society should prepare us to expect this at some point - I'm certain nobody would dispute that it is far better for a child to bury a parent that the other way around. The thing is, despite this, people do not talk about death - leaving the majority of us completely unprepared when it strikes - even when the death has become expected. I believe that society should be more open to talking about death - accepting that it is always a possibility - to better equip people for this eventuality. My Nan was a Marie Curie nurse before she died - she would often talk about death, and it was always so awkward. After this experience - I think she had the right idea.

Kinga's death was not, however, part of the 'plan'. She was 26 - and is survived by her relatively young parents, and even a couple of Grandparents. I always thought she would outlive me, if we are being completely honest - I am actually 11 months older than her. The thought that I have lived more than she did is... Eerie at best. She was not ill. There was no hint or warning that this would happen. As readers of this blog will know - she was a careful, kind young woman, with plans, goals and ambitions - really just at the beginning her life into adulthood. She was not meant to die. All grief can come with shock: but the extremely sudden death of such a young, healthy woman adds so extra many layers to this.

Kinga was killed on a mundane, and unremarkable day - a Wednesday, no less. A reminder that any day could spell the end of your life. She was on her way to work - taking the same route she had taken for four and a half years. The day started like any other - I was working a 12 hour shift, and left the house at 6am - she was asleep. We talked via texting a little when she was getting ready - as always. The last text I received from her was simply a complaint that her route was too long (she had slightly modified her route that day - due to mud - but she was killed on part of her regular route). I didn't hear from her for a couple of hours - but didn't think too much of it at the time.

I got the call at midday on the 12th December. I was told there had been an accident and the police were coming to get me. I waited 40 minutes - the longest 40 minutes of my entire life - before the police came and told me what had happened. The rest of that day is a blur. I know that after informing her parents (out of respect for them, I shall not go into this), I went home and laid on her side of the bed a while, before feeling compelled to leave and walk up to the spot where it had happened. I remember needing to see it to believe it (I didn't see her until later on). By the time I had gotten there, the road was open - there was only an outline left to indicate anything had happened at all. My world was gone, and there was almost nothing to show that it had happened. I do remember a lot of shouting and screaming, and lashing out at inanimate objects at this time, as my brain tried to make some form of sense as to what had just happened - and fighting against completely shutting down. But it is such a blur.

I remember that as I was working late that day, I had to wait a while for my train home. Kinga would often send me to the supermarket whilst I waited - and put together a list on her phone. She wouldn't send it until literally five minutes before I was at the shop as she knew I wouldn't remember otherwise. That day was one where this was meant to happen - I later found that list on her phone, ready to be sent to me later in the day. It is strange how such a silly plan  can hold so much power over you at times like this. Just a reminder that her death was not part of any 'plan' - one of many, many reminders.

At the house, there were so many more reminders. Spare shoes by the door. A cereal bowl in the sink from that morning - waiting to be washed up. Her tablet casually laid on the bed; she would watch videos whilst doing her makeup in the mornings. A crappy Disney Princess advent calendar I had bought her (something that was so bad it had made us laugh daily) - ominously ending at door 12 - never to be finished by her. She wasn't meant to die. There was no 'fate'. It wasn't her time. My head - even now - cannot understand that she has died. I know she is gone - but I don't know she is gone. And everything in that house was a reminder of that. When I think - really think - about the fact she is gone, I am overcome by dizziness - like my brain literally cannot comprehend what has happened. Any thoughts that extend beyond the immediate future are like daggers to my brain.

I spent a few days afterwards with Kinga's parents - going to the house only to make sure the hamster was fed. This period is such a complete blur - most of this time has been - but the earliest days... I remember almost nothing. I know that I did reach out to people - but whatever I said is a mystery to me. One thing I do remember is being inundated with official phone calls about her death. The day after I answered one from some life insurance company - ironically. Completely unrelated. Was just an example of how the world outside had continued spinning - when ours had been completely shattered. A couple of days later we all went to a supermarket, to get flowers to lay at the site of where it had happened - we were all pretty messed up at the time. It struck me as to how many normal, smiling happy people were there. How could they be happy after what had happened? Why had the world carried on like this? This was exceptionally hard to understand at the time.

For quite some time I was acting on auto-pilot. Things had to happen and I was best placed to deal with a lot of them. Debts. Funeral. Finances. Hell, I had to move house - couldn't make our rent alone. I've always been a fairly reserved guy, who found it difficult to talk to strangers - but nothing seemed hard any more. It was a complete daze. I kept thinking about how Kinga must be feeling - knowing what had happened... And then seeing me having to handle everything. She was a control freak in life - the idea of me sorting out everything after her death would have given her so much anxiety. Urgh... I miss that about her too. Just... Everything. Such a complete person - here one moment and gone the next. And the world; just robbed of her vibrance and intelligence. It is just so wrong.

But over time, things have changed a little. I function now, to a degree. I am back at work full time. There is not any part of the day where she is out of my head - not one second - but I have learned to put on a front that protects me from most triggers. It is still absolute utter Hell - but it is slightly less all-consuming now - enough that I am able to write at least. In the off chance someone comes here from a similar situation looking for support - I can highly recommend the support group WAY - Widowed and Young. This group is for people who have been widowed before their 51st birthday - people who have suffered a loss too young. It is sad that so many people are eligible for it... But I have found a great deal of support through there. I have been able to vent in a safe space - and heard from so many in my situation. If you are in crisis, I would urge you to contact Samaritans, or one of the many hotlines. I can't validate their usefulness - but they are there for a reason. The most powerful thing I have been reminded of throughout my grief is that I am not alone. Grief is the loneliest place - but it is sadly far from uncommon - even at this age.

I also have to say that people have been immensely supportive. Despite us being a pretty reserved couple (reading Kinga's blog that might surprise you), people who I have never considered close have been there and offered support. I mean - grief is Hell, there is no other word that comes close to describing it. But it has meant so much that so many have offered their genuine support when it was needed most - I know her parents feel the same way. Her funeral was very well attended - which was not fully expected, but very welcomed. It has just been immensely powerful to know that so many people have genuinely cared about her passing.

I hope you all don't mind me using this outlet to talk a little more about my own grief. It is all to do with the Kay you know and love - but perhaps less directly than my previous posts. I would like to talk more about grief - as I said,  I think it may be a little constructive to do so - as well being a little cathartic for my own selfish recovery. I intend to keep posting - one post I want to do soon is to highlight some of my personal favourite posts that Kinga made here - I have read every single one that she has written when she posted them - it would be nice to bring some her writing to light again.

Thank you all again for reading; if this is your first time here, then I invite you to read some of the previous posts I have written about Kinga here: as well as the three years worth of posts Kinga made. She was an incredibly special woman, who deserved so much more than she got... Words just don't do her justice. I doubt they ever will.


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