I know that one person's grief is not worse than another's ... when a spouse dies.
I know that the shock of losing a husband or wife has the ability to affect us physically. From weight gain to heart problems. From weight loss to becoming diabetic.
I know that we have all experienced the freefall into that deep dark place ... and then crawled back out of it. Time and time again.
I know that grief is more tiring than anything else I have ever experienced.
I don't express the saying, "there's a thin line between sanity and insanity" as a platitude any more. I now express it as a truth, as a given.
I know that this pain, this loss, has put everything in my life firmly into perspective. But it wasn't a lesson that I learned with the luxury of a mentor. It was more like being thrown into a freezing ocean ... without a lifebelt ... and finding myself marooned and broken, somewhere in a land that was alien to me. And being terrified. Bullied into realization.
But imagine this.
Imagine having to endure all that you have so far, the relentless battle that you win ... and sometimes lose on a daily basis, knowing that the war against this monster that we call grief is far from over.
Imagine this ... as well as ...
... being blamed for your husband dying. Being called a witch. Being considered as "bad luck".
Imagine washing your dead husband's body and then being forced to drink the water.
Imagine your brother-in-law taking all your possessions, even your home.
Imagine being raped by your brother-in-law because it is thought that you need to be "cleansed" of the sin of causing the death of your husband. No matter how he died, even if he was killed in an accident.
Imagine your children no longer being able to go to school. And not being able to feed them.
Imagine your daughter being forced into the sex trade at an unimaginable age.
Imagine losing your children.
I tried to. But I really couldn't quite imagine it. A bit like I couldn't imagine what it would feel like should the unthinkable happen. Before.
And for some widows ... what we cannot quite imagine ... is their nightmare reality.
Yesterday, I spent time with Patsy Robertson and Kate Young from Widow's Rights International to think about ways in which I can help them raise awareness and funds. Simply put, to help them fight for widows' basic human rights.
And I'll be brutally honest, I'm not doing this out of the goodness of my heart. I'm doing it because it's grounding and humbling and it's the right thing to do. Empathy? If I've swapped my husband for empathy, albeit unwillingly, I may as well put it to good use.
I need to be grounded ... every now and again. This pain threatens to overtake my life. Smother it.
If I can let a tiny shard of light into their darkness, it will allow the reflection of that white into my own black.
I need to be grounded.
The pain would not be worse if I were in their position, but my life would.
Imagine that ... I find it hard to.