Dear Richard: ‘Six months on from my wife’s death, I’m still pole-axed by grief’

Dear Richard,

My world is lost. My wife of more than 50 years died in June. Since then I’ve been in hell. Everyone has been so caring and full of good advice, yet inside I’m in agony. I walk down the street, everyone seems happy and normal, yet I’m in agony.

When I get home, the tears just flow; I scream in anger; I weep for hours; I curse everything and everyone. The pain inside is killing me. Writing to you now has just made it come washing back, and the tears are starting again. What can I do?

– Joe, N Yorks

Dear Joe,

AI am so glad you wrote to me, because I want to offer you the crumb of comfort you so badly need at this awful time in your life.

However absurd, impossible, and unbelievable this may sound to you now, there really is hope. You will begin to recover from this fearful blow. How do I know this? Because that is the collective human experience of grief. It fades, eventually. That’s not to say it doesn’t leave us altered – for ever – but the sheer undiluted agony you are suffering now will begin to ease. I promise you this with all my heart. And when it does, you must not feel a shred of guilt. Your wife would have hated to see you suffer so. She would have longed for you to find a path out of the anguish you are ­feeling at the moment.

You lost your beloved barely six months ago. Of course you are still in torment, and I fear you have some way yet to go before you, too, wake up one morning and realise you feel slightly, yet unmistakeably, that the pain is at last a little less intense. But hold on, Joe, because that day is surely coming. I give you my word.

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