Saturday, 9 January 2016

Long-term loneliness and being fostered

When my late wife Jane was still alive we used to get invitations to a wide range of family events. My problem was that I felt that I was only invited because I was Jane's husband and that was the label that almost everybody at these gatherings attached to me. I felt like a shadowy figure always doomed to be sitting in the corner trying to make polite conversation with other people who were in the same position as me while the "proper family" swapped memories and looked at old photographs. I never gave, I hope, Jane any hint that I felt quite left out at these events. She loved them and I would never have wanted to spoilt things for her.

Jane was very keen on family photographs and one of my favourite memories of her final few months was her trying to understand how to enter information into some genealogy software she had got from a family history magazine. Jane was very organised and she always used to write on the back of photos who all the people were and what event was being photographed. Sometimes she would add extra information years later like "Aunty Floss - died 6 months later"  or "Cousin Frank - the first signs of his drink problem?".

When Jane died I returned most the photographs to her family. I thought they would be of more interest to them than they would be to me as a bit of an outsider. I was worried that if I kept them and then suddenly died the old photos might get thrown away without people thinking. I went through a rather black spell after her funeral and I made some decisions that perhaps were not sensible but returning the photos really wasn't one of them.

I had always got on well enough with Jane's family so it was disappointing that I ended up feeling rather lonely and abandoned after the funeral. I suppose they didn't want to intrude but as I didn't have any other family to help with all the jobs that need doing when somebody dies it might have been nice if they could have made more effort to help me.

Without my best friend Mike and his famous check-lists of jobs that needed doing I don't know how I would have managed.

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