Monday, 20 March 2017


I received a text  from friends yesterday letting me know they are about to book tickets for them and for me to an open air theatre production in July and asking "is that OK?" in a way that implied they expected it would be. Kev really loved this particular event; we've attended it along with these friends for years and always aimed to have a picnic in the grounds first depending on the weather. I've got a real dilemma now as I just don't know if I will be able to go.
One problem I've had since Kev's death is that I've struggled to return to places that evoke strong memories, whether good or bad. It is not just that the experience is emotionally painful, I get physical reactions such as intense nausea, heart pounding and shaking, then often flashback nightmares which will involve that particular context. Sometimes these reactions take me completely by surprise. For example, just recently I had to drive past the turning to the canal where we often used to walk the dog/ go for a cup of tea. As I approached the turn off, I had the feelings of nausea again and began shaking so badly that I had to pull over as I didn't feel safe to drive.
The reason for this is very likely to be the sudden, unexpected and traumatic nature of Kev's death ( I found him along with my son and attempted to resuscitate him, the flashback nightmares always involve this.) In fact my doctor has suggested it may be a form of post traumatic stress syndrome and given me medication which stops the heart pounding but has little effect on feelings of nausea and distress or  the nightmares which follow and/ or precede a visit to places with strong memories. These reactions began very soon after Kev's death, I never anticipated that I would still be suffering from them five months later. My doctor has explained that having had a history of childhood sexual abuse has made me more likely to develop PTSD and has offered to refer me for bereavement counselling.I'd like to say that I will be OK to go to the play in July but I can't be in any way confident that this will be the case.
Although this couple are in many ways very good friends, we always did things together, we never really talked at any deep level. I've been out with them for lunch and been round to theirs for a meal  but if I have ever mentioned Kev, I've sensed they feel uncomfortable. Their incredibly kind way of helping me is to offer company and trips out rather than talking. In many ways I have to say this suits me just fine but I suspect if I told them why I don't want to go they would be uncomfortable and embarrassed -and I might be as well.
So, what to do? I could a. tell them b. make a general excuse c. say to book and then cancel later if needed. Why does life have to be so complicated?


  1. Could you not just say you appreciate their kindness but are not sure you feel up to it this year.?
    Unless they are very insensitive they should assume you are not able to 'go it alone' yet.
    It does sound as though you should be having some counselling but whether grief counselling or something else would be right for you only you, and possibly your doctor, would know.
    For what it's worth, my advice would be to agree to nothing in terms of dates with friends unless you are really certain you want to go.

  2. Thanks Ray.My son phoned last night and he said much the same, that they should and will accept it if I just say I am not up to it. I am going to a production at the Lowry with them at Easter so I am worried they will think I am being a bit weird/ precious to go to one and not the other- the difference is that we only went to the Lowry very occasionally- I know I can cope with one but not with the other! I had felt things were getting a bit better but the way I had a meltdown when I got the text has thrown me a bit. I will text them back and say I can't face it.

  3. I agree with both Ray and your son, you must be true to yourself in this and real friends can understand if you back off. So ,tell them, seem the best way. We all have friends of different character, some we have activities with and some we turn to for deep conversation and comfort. We need both kinds, and have to live with the fact that not all our friends are at ease with situations like yours, but nevertheless they love you. Be wise and true, you need time. I hope and pray that you will eventually feel better both in soul and body, they go together both in despair and times of healing. Bless you!!

  4. Thanks Fairtrader. I've texted them back now and trying get it in perspective!