I don’t know what you do, but I clean. I clean everything I can get my hands on, the things that have been bugging me for months, but I haven’t got round to it, the piles of accumulating clutter that only takes a minute, but I never seemed to have time for. I used up every duster in the house, and then washed them and started again.
When somebody dies, it is never not sad. As a person you love becomes older and frailer, and there are only hard, heartbreaking decisions before you, you can tell yourself that it is a good thing you don’t have to make them. And it is. But that’s because they’re dead. And that realisation catches you out, when you are trying to tell everyone it’s fine.
Grief is something heavy and uncomfortable that you carry everywhere with you. It doesn’t slow you down, or get in your way, and you carry on with your life, but there’s a load hanging about you somewhere, and it makes you tired. It distracts you when you want to get on with the incredible amount of routine admin you suddenly have to do, and you lose your place and have to start all over again.
It changes your focus. You have to protect everybody else you love. You have to cook and light fires and wrap them all up in whatever it takes to make them feel that life is okay and you love them. You hate to sit still, but you’re so tired.
This is how it takes me, anyway. My mother-in-law, Leonie Rimmer died on the 9th of September. She was ninety-three, and managed to live in the home she’d been in for almost sixty years. She was among friends when she fell, and her family was with her when she died, so it was as good as it could be. But it’s never not sad.