Courage

Strength in weakness.

on
January 29, 2018

When I sent out that tweet the day after Gemma died on 24th November, I did it for nothing more then this simple reason – I just wanted people to know. I didn’t do it for attention, I didn’t do it to make me feel a bit better, and I certainly never expected the reaction it sparked. As I lay weeping on our bed on that grimmest of Saturday afternoons in complete and utter shock at what on earth had just happened, the messages of support started to flood in, and they didn’t stop on that day, they have continued ever since.

Whatever I write, whatever feeling I share, whatever photo I put on Instagram, I am constantly taken by surprise at just how many people this story appears to be touching.

I’m no more important than anyone else. My job is no more important than any other, in fact compared to most peoples jobs, mine is of very little importance, yet the last few weeks have at times taken my breath away. I’ve had messages from those that have lost loved ones and those that haven’t. I’ve had messages from those that have lost family and friends to the same devastating Leukaemia that took Gemma, and I’ve had messages from people here in the UK and messages from around the world, even a farmer in the Australian outback! At times its been the messages of encouragement, not just from my close friends, but also from complete strangers that have kept me going and kept me from drowning. The vast majority have been lovely, touching and really helpful, a few haven’t; but the recurring message has been ‘be strong.’

Now before I go any further, I know that the vast majority of people who have said this over the past nine weeks have said it because they care. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t bother to even write, but I want to explain why being strong is so very very hard and why actually, right now, I am anything but strong.

As I write now, it’s just after three thirty in the morning. I’m into the tenth week of severe sleep deprivation. One thirty is the earliest I’ve been up, four thirty feels like a lie in, and some nights I’ve not slept at all. I’ve tried most drugs, but nothing works anymore. I’ve stopped fighting it. I’ve stopped getting angry and come to realise that this is just another grim part of this strange path called grief. My body is weak. My mind is frazzled. I’ve taken peoples advice and tried to exercise, but after five lengths of the pool I’m exhausted (it’s only 25m). Gemma suffered with insomnia for many years, some nights she wouldn’t sleep at all and yet somehow was able to function the next day, but she always said that I was useless when I had nights like that. Most of the time now I do feel useless. Physically I feel the weakest I’ve ever felt, I couldn’t be strong even if I tried. But out of the weakness of my sleep deprived body I have managed to keep my head above the water. I manage to get my boy up each morning and get him ready for school, I manage to keep myself busy and not leave myself too many long periods alone in our house with my thoughts, and I somehow manage to get to the end of each day. I’m not being physically strong, I’m merely surviving at the moment until that day the sleep begins to return and my body starts to grow in strength again.

A wonderful Christian man called Pete Grieg posted this on social media yesterday and I was really struck by it, because in every way it speaks powerfully to me where I’m at now – “When life is tough they tell you to be strong. Don’t be strong. Be weak. Unclench your fists. Dare to vulnerable. Honest weakness takes courage. It affirms our common humanity, deepens friendship and elicits grace.” This is me. This is why I think my story has touched people in a way I never intended or expected, I have dared to be vulnerable, I have dared to admit I feel weak, and particularly for a bloke this isn’t something we do very well, if at all, but for me, I can’t be any other way. Part of the reason I got up in those early hours this morning was because my mind was gripped by fear, those recurring fears of the past few weeks were crashing in. How the hell can I do life without Gemma? How can I ever get used to life without the woman I loved beyond words? How on earth can I survive as a single parent when five minutes ago I was happily married? How can I ever sit in front of a TV camera again with the same confidence that has helped me through my career? What if I never get used to being in our beautiful house without the woman who was the heart and soul of our home? Will I have to move and start again? Will I ever smile properly again? When people ask me how I’m doing, I long for the day I can say with authenticity that I am OK; but right now I can’t say anything other than I’m not OK, I’m really struggling.

All I can do at the moment is unclench those fists, stop trying to be strong and just say to people this is me. This is what grief feels like.

This is what it feels like when the person you loved so deeply suddenly disappears from your life. This is what it feels like when your hopes, dreams and plans as a family get ripped apart and shredded. This is what vulnerability looks like, and right now I can’t be any other way, and as I’ve now discovered, this is what being strong actually looks like. I’ve been a Christian all my life and in a book in the Bible called 2 Corinthians it says this – “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Tough though it might be to admit (some ignorant people might even call me a snowflake) but it is out of the weakness I feel now will come the strength to start a new life, to redraw and replan those hopes and dreams for the future with my boy.

Like Pete Grieg says, honest weakness takes courage and in doing that it affirms our common humanity. One day I will rise again from the ashes of these painful past few weeks, but for now this is me. Broken, fearful, weak, vulnerable and tear filled and if by admitting this it helps one person, then it’s worth it.

God bless you this week and don’t stay strong, be you.

Simon

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124 Comments
  1. jonstannard

    January 29, 2018

    Keep sharing Simon. Shalom

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much Jon. Hope you’re well.

  2. Poetry Cottage

    January 29, 2018

    It takes such a strong heart to admit weakness. May the Lord wrap His arms around you, and your little one. May you feel His comfort, strength and guidance in this deep valley called Grief. So many have travelled this road, but there is only one precious rose growing that is forever uniquely yours. God bless.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much.

  3. victoriawhyte

    January 29, 2018

    Thank you for openly and honestly sharing your thoughts with us. I love your quote from Pete Greig.
    Another Pete Greig quote that I have found helpful in my journey through grief since my daughter died is:
    “When we are hurting and the pain seems senseless, we may find it hard to think clearly or pray diligently. But we can still trust, resting quietly in the Father’s love for us ……. receiving the kindness of people as gifts from God. ”
    Please keep writing and sharing your heart, you are helping so many to feel that they are not alone.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Victoria thank you so very much. x

  4. claire

    January 29, 2018

    Your grief is so palpable Simon, and for those of us who have experience sudden death, the path is so comparable. Individual to each person, but the footsteps are the same. I like the phrase ‘it doesn’t get better, you just get better at it’. Dragging your mind away from that place is physically exhausting and one foot infront of the other is draining right now. But that genuinely will get easier. Keep being kind to yourself and don’t stop talking x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Claire thank you so very much. x

  5. Nicky

    January 29, 2018

    Strong comes in different shapes and sizes; for now strong is getting up and being there for Ethan, strong is showing that you are weak and vulnerable. It has only been a few weeks, don’t expect too much of yourself. We lost our 31 year old daughter last August to asthma so I can relate to the utter devastation and loss you are feeling. Time doesn’t heal but it does help to make room for the grief. You will get through this with His help. It sounds like you were blessed with an amazing lady it us no wonder you miss her so much

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Nicky thank you so very much.

  6. Andy

    January 29, 2018

    Tear jerking post Simon but amazing and so true. Just be who you are right now and the rest will come in time & you will sore again like the wings of eagles (one of my favorite Christian song). Thanks for sharing, I’m sure you are inspiring many by your posts. All the best bro.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Andy thank you so very much.

  7. Helen

    January 29, 2018

    This is heartbreaking but your grief shared and writing in a blog will help you with your grief I’m sure.
    I lost my mum at 18 to that same dreadful disease 27 years ago.
    I did not deal with it well as it was so sudden , my father was dealing with his own grief. Then there was no FB or instagram don’t even think I had a mibile phone.
    You are a inspiration and very strong for other people to read going through grief , you are helping me as I lost my best friend on Friday to cancer too young to leave. Your son will remember everything you are doing everyday . It’s giod to cry , it’s good to shout out and it’s good to remember..

  8. Nessie

    January 29, 2018

    Your sentiments are perfect, Stength will rise when we wait upon the Lord, but we are moulded by the potters hand. Keep getting through each day, just to function basically is enough! Praying for you! xnx

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much.

  9. Emma woolf

    January 29, 2018

    Simon, you may feel like your not being strong, but that’s ridiculous. How many other people can say they’ve gone through what you’ve gone through and still at points found the energy to smile. You are stronger than you will ever believe. Remember that you are never alone, you have a huge amount of support and love, and when that is not enough remember she is always by your side.
    I’d like to give you something that I believe may help you, can you message me? I’ve tried sendind you an Instagram message but I know you must be inundated so you haven’t seen it.
    Can you find a way of contacting me.

    • agriefshared

      January 29, 2018

      Think you’ve slightly misread what I’m saying. It’s out of my weakness that I’m finding strength. What did you want to send? x

      • Emma woolf

        January 29, 2018

        I’ll send you a message on instagram..

  10. Gwen

    January 29, 2018

    Hello Simon
    I have been praying for you and Ethan and your family and friends around you.

    The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Gwen thank you so very much. x

  11. FS23

    January 29, 2018

    You are so right Simon. In my experience of grief, being strong wasn’t helpful in fact all it did was store up problems for the future. After my 4th miscarriage I finally learned to let go of being strong and experience grief for what it is – painful, bloody painful. You and your son will work out your own path. Life will never be the same again but, in time, you will both find glimmers of light. God Bless. FS x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much. x

  12. Kathy Sandison

    January 29, 2018

    Dear Simon
    I have thought about you every day since the shock of reading your first tweet that morning in November. Your writing is so eloquent and full of your pain I’m sure you will be able to use it to help others at some time in the future.
    Continue to feel the weakness, put one foot in front of the other, care for your boy and yourself and slowly, very slowly, a life for two will appear.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Kathy thank you so very much. x

  13. Audrey leeves

    January 29, 2018

    Hi Simon,

    Everybody is different ,you just go with whatever your feeling but you can do it ,there is light at the end of what must seem a bloody long tunnel (i know im sure loads of people say this and i must sound like a broken record ) sending you and the little guy much love from Hamburg Germany x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Audrey thank you so very much.x

  14. Tracey

    January 29, 2018

    Simon, you are making me realise what I have and how I need to appreciate it more. You write so beautifully, completely from the heart and maybe this is where your path will now lead you. But all in good time…you’re doing exactly what is right for you and your son at this moment.
    Sending love x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Tracey thank you so very much. x

  15. Pauline

    January 29, 2018

    God bless you Simon and do whatever helps you get through this. When my best friend had terminal cancer aged 46, people used constantly tell her she was so strong etc her answer was I’m not I have no other option but deal with it, her only source of comfort was she wouldn’t live to ever see her children die. You’ve lost the love of your life. Your planned future , what other way could you to but enveloped in grief, thinking of you and some time when the time is right you will be able to feel happy again

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Pauline thank you so very much.

  16. Silke

    January 29, 2018

    Dear simon ,
    Your Lines Touch me deeply, what Happenend to you is very bad.
    I wish you and your son Ethan only the best .
    Every day i pray for you and your son . God bless you both .
    ( Sorry , my english is not very good ) .
    Much love , Silke

  17. jenny74.torres@yahoo.co.uk

    January 29, 2018

    Dear Simon, I wrote a reply on your first post but not sure if you’ve received it. I am so glad that you have heard of Pete Grieg as he is such a committed and real Christian who tells it as it is. I met him at Holy Brompton Trinity where he was promoting his new book and his friend the equally amazing Christian sunger/songwriter Jason Upton was there and it was a powerful night of ministry and testimony. I’ve also seen Pete Grieg at The Big Church Day Out and his love and passion for his Lord is so evident. If you could meet up with him one day I know he would encourage you and be a great support. Also i would like to send you a cd of Jason Upton’s if that’s ok with you because his music is so prophetic and beautiful.

    God bless you and Ethan always. Jennifer x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Jenny thank you so very much.x

  18. Jessica Pearce

    January 29, 2018

    Simon, I have been following your posts on all platforms. You are my inspiration, I admire how well you are doing! I have said to you a few times don’t be strong as so many people were telling you to be so. We cannot be strong all the time we have to let our emotions and weaknesses clear. Male or female.

    Your story has really touched home with my family. My partner Jason lost his fiancée in a motorbike accident in France 13 and a bit years ago, he was not at fault, no speeding involved a car pulled out into his friends bike which had him and his wife on. Jason could not avoid the car or other bike. Trish was on the back and unfortunately did not survive, Jason was in a coma for many weeks. The similarity here? They had a 6 month old little boy back in England waiting for them, called Ethan.

    Ethan is now 14, jason and I sit with him, go through photos, cards etc we all cry myself included it is still very raw for them both. Jason coped, but he still misses Trish everyday always questions that will never be answered. But he is strong now, his and Ethans bond is fantastic. Ethan is doing so well at school and outside of school, but there is no question that is down to Jason and how well he did just like you are.

    Take every second as it comes, don’t rush. I loved you on Sky but work is work. Fmailiy is the most important thing we have in life. Keep going #TeamThomas

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Jessica thank you so very much. x

  19. Frankie

    January 29, 2018

    Hi Simon, this is such a beautifully written blog post. I’ve been thinking about you lots and willing you and your son on. It’s a horrible, horrendous thing to go through and as well as grieving the loss of your wonderful wife you’ll also still be in a great deal of shock as it happened so fast. I think the way our society deals with grief and loss leaves a lot to be desired – we get scared of people being sad and so people say things like ‘be strong’, ‘keep strong’. It also reminds me that so often that people (particularly the older generation) say to children “Don’t cry!” when they’re upset about something, which isn’t what we should say at all. I think you’re doing a genuinely amazing thing by sharing what you’re going through and I’m in no doubt it will help others. I think it’s really brave and impressive as well. Frankie xxx ps. There’s a lovely blog post written by the author Hannah Richell who lost her husband Matt in a surfing accident. It’s called ‘Books for the Broken-hearted’ if you google it and she talks about books that have helped her and her children. X

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much. x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Frankie thank you so very much. x

  20. Trevor Ranger

    January 29, 2018

    Thank you Simon. Praying!

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much.

  21. Just us family :)

    January 29, 2018

    Dear Simon – You don’t know me, but I’ve been following your story over the past couple of months and just felt compelled to let you know I think your blogs are amazing and I’ve shed many a tear reading them. You write in a beautiful way, it is so thought provoking and emotional. I can’t even begin to imagine what Ethan and yourself are going through. I’m not in your position, however I did lose someone very close to me a few years ago so I’ve had just a tiny fraction and have felt a little of that pain. Do whatever works for you, to get through that next hour. You’ve helped me put a lot into perspective so thank you. Please continue sharing, you are clearly helping so many people. I check every morning for the latest #snacknote and you’ve inspired me to make sure my son now gets one every day – he’s loving them! 🙂 I wish you all the best x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much. x

  22. TribunalJudge Robert Wilson

    January 29, 2018

    Simon , I am sorry for your loss. My story is different , I am soon to lose my wife to cancer after 35 years of marriage. For me now is not the time for grief . I am told that my brief is to be strong , ( solid I prefer to call it) and to water the seeds of happiness in wife for the remaining time that she has. Grief can be overwhelming and is not easy to be with continually. A trick that I deploy when grief becomes overwhelming is to come back in to the present moment, and just notice your in and out breath and just listen to the sounds that you hear. A modicum of peace can come in these moments . So much pain comes from dwelling on what might of been or what might happen in the future. The present moment can be a peaceful one what ever your situation. I do wish you well may friend

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Robert thank you so very much and I am so sorry to hear about your wife. I pray that you would find strength in these last precious days with your wife. God bless you.

  23. PoweredByCoffee

    January 29, 2018

    Hi Simon, I don’t know you. I saw your story on the BBC website and recognised your face from watching Blue Peter.

    I have no real words, I know nothing a random internet weirdo says is going to make things better, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m praying for you and your beautiful boy. I have an 8 year old son too.

    And just a gentle push to lean on God right now, read His word. God bless you both.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much.

  24. Louise

    January 29, 2018

    My brother died very suddenly when I was 28. He was only 19. I had just started my career as a lawyer in London and I remember lots of people telling me to be strong for my parents. I think my vulnerability scared people as I’d always been so strong and capable, I suppose. But I loved him more than I could bear and his loss made life seem so empty. Everyday was a slog. Getting out of bed and having a shower felt like a major achievement.
    A friend of mine who had lost too told me something that really helped me. She said, be kind to yourself. Only if you have been there can you really understand how utterly devastating losing a loved one so young is. So, be kind to yourself. You’re allowed to take your time. You’re allowed to be vulnerable.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Louise thank you so very much. x

  25. healthchaplain

    January 29, 2018

    As someone who deals with grief of others on a daily basis I find your words very powerful and honest. Yes be yourself however you feel. No one can or should tell anyone else how they should feel. One day you will rise for the ashes, but for now you unclench those fists and stop trying to be something you’re not. I agree with the words from 2 Corinthians. May you find that strength through weakness.
    I believe your words & thoughts will ring true with so many people and be of help to them
    May God bless you and all your family as you journey through your grief. And thank you for sharing

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so very much.

  26. Louise Highton

    January 29, 2018

    I’ve just read your blog and the words from 2 Corinthians reminded me of a song that we our choir sing at Church that says it all…

    We can only know the power that He holds
    When we truly see how deep our weakness goes
    His strength in us begins where ours comes to an end
    He hears our humble cry and proves again

    His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
    He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
    Raised in His power, the weak become strong
    His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

    xx

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Louise thank you so very much. x

  27. Catherine

    January 29, 2018

    It is amazing you are writing this. Hang in there. Take an hour at a time, then it will be two, then eventually it will be a day. The hoping, dreaming and rising again from the ashes you talk about will come. Many people are praying for you.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Catherine thank you so very much. x

  28. Lindsay

    January 29, 2018

    So heartbreaking to read about your raw grief, I’ve worked in the nhs for years and come across all manner of grieving people in all manner of situations. People seem to have a prescribed way that we should grieve but I have found that for most people it’s just a case of clinging on until the day arrives when they feel stronger…. whenever this may be for you I’m sure that even if you don’t know it now, by putting down your feelings in this way, you will be doing some kind of healing
    I continue to hold you and your family in my prayers
    Take care x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Lindsay thank you so very much. x

  29. rtl100

    January 29, 2018

    Hi Simon,

    I’ve been following your posts ever since the horrible news but never written – I am just one voice of so many that care and sympathise so very much after all.

    But reading this post about finding strength out of your weakness really struck a chord with me.

    One of my favourite books as a child was Goodnight Mr Tom. And one of his sayings has always stuck with me. “Everything takes its own time.”

    I wanted to share those words with you now. Because no one can tell you how to grieve, or how to feel. It is a very personal journey you are going on and everything will take its own time. I feel like I’m rambling now so keep sharing and know, as I’m sure you do, that so many people are rooting for you and keeping you and your boy in their thoughts.

    Ryan

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Ryan thank you so very much.

  30. John

    January 29, 2018

    Hi Simon. You don’t know me and I don’t really know you (not being a fan of pay TV!) but I felt called to share with you.

    My wife died suddenly and left me with an eight year old daughter. This was twelve years ago and whilst there have been some very hard times I can tell you that as a man bringing up a child to adulthood is one of the greatest privileges there is.

    My daughter is now at one of the top universities and I have changed careers to something I always wanted to do, after a full six years not working and bringing her up.

    It will always hurt but life will also bring unexpected joys. Take each day as it comes, if not a day an hour, if not an hour a minute.

    God bless

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      John thank you so very much.

  31. Nick Coe

    January 29, 2018

    Hey man, you’re doing ok even though it feels like utter shite to you right now. I’ve been there and there are times when, well… everything is total crap. Am I going to be patronising? Deliver platitudes? Nope. I’m in my 60’s, I don’t need that shit anymore.
    My gut says those who say be strong are actually trying to will you some strength, to push some energy your way to help you cope, not to just smooth things over.
    From our deepest weakness comes our greatest strength, though we often don’t realise this until later. Been there.
    Seemingly endless grief, dismay, unhappiness and that awful tearful loneliness never quite goes away. Always remember those who matter understand that, they don’t feel a need to try and repair you. You will eventually come to some internal compromise, thereafter it’s whether that compromise is healthy or not.
    I wish you well, and would love to transfer some of my blokey stubbornness over to you though it is a double edged sword…
    Take care fella and look after your nipper as best you can. Only the stupid and ignorant believe in their personal perfection.
    With the best of thoughts and a prayer, god bless mate…
    Nick

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Nick thank you so very much.

  32. Rich

    January 29, 2018

    Breaks my heart reading your words Simon; the depth of both the love and loss for your soulmate is so incredibly palpable. As a father myself, I realise how impossible it must be for you not to also hurt immensely at your sons loss too. Your loss is being magnified beyond measure and you are reminded of it every single day of the week. How could anyone feel strong in those circumstances?

    The love in your words and which you are continuing to demonstrate to your son is Gemma’s legacy though. Her light will continue to live through you and your son. I wish I could send every ounce of strength to help you both through this – except my wish is really for you and your son to find happiness together through the rest of your life and to one day smile at the beautiful memories of Gemma. I’m sure if Gemma had one wish now, it would be to see you both happy. Forever.

    All my love and hopes for you both

    Rich

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Rich thank you so very much.

  33. AJ

    January 29, 2018

    Dear Simon,
    This is first for me, adding a comment to a post, but the words of Peter Grieg resonated with me too. I’m not gripped by grief but I am recovering from a breakdown. In the run up to my D-DAY, Thursday 21st November, I was in a permanent state of anxiety. Frequent bouts of insomnia, an irrational fear which caused an increasing number of panic attacks. All of these symptoms were physically draining. I felt like an old person when climbing stairs. I was convinced weights had been secretly attached to my limbs. It was the worst feeling. I broke at work, complete with an audience, but at the time I couldn’t have cared less. All I needed was to be taken out of the situation, which I was. Peter’s words, or at least the same sentiments, were spoken to me by my brilliantly compassionate G.P. He told me to stop being strong, stop resisting my feelings and embrace what I was in that moment. I can tell you I wasn’t a pretty sight, nor did I have any strength to be strong, all I could do was reveal my vulnerability. It wasn’t the only time my vulnerability was displayed to a stranger. Yet, I was again met with more compassion, and more understanding. The journey of recovery is still ongoing, and I know I will still have moments when all I can offer is a perceived lack of strength. I have reached a place where I am not ashamed of my breakdown, nor will pretend it didn’t happen. What I will do is be more forgiving of myself, be a kinder person to myself and most importantly use my experience as a positive because mental health is that silent illness borne out of grief, stress many different causes. Simon, your emotional well-being will take as long as it takes and your strength is you ability to recognise the person you currently are. Peter is so right having the courage to accept ourselves, even when we are most vulnerable is an underestimated strength. God bless you and Ethan.

    AJ x

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      AJ thank you so much. There is so so much strength in your words.

  34. katejurkschat

    January 29, 2018

    Simon. My heart breaks for you and Ethan. My husband,Angus, died from leukeamia two years ago aged 50. May God be with you in every part of this toughest of journeys and may there be unexpected blessings along the way. I am a Christian and it is still so incredibly hard. I will pray for you as you move forward inch by inch , moment by moment .
    Kate

    Cancer stories
    cancernursecancerwife.wordpress.com

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Katie thank you so much and I am so sorry you lost your husband to this horrible disease. God Bless x

  35. abcdefgeorg

    January 29, 2018

    Thank you for these words, they really resonate. I too didn’t expect the support from the online community when I posted a photo of my son, Henry, on Instagram for the first time a month after he died. I just wanted to let people know and share his face with the world, the face of the person I love the most in the world. And from there I found a whole group of wonderful, supportive people who understand the pain, who offered words of support and whose own words have offered me some comfort at a time I didn’t think any was possible. Comfort that others have survived this, that the terrible thoughts and feelings I have are shared by others, that I am not alone.

    By talking about your grief you have done a great thing. We live in a culture that doesn’t easily talk about feelings, especially painful ones. Having someone like you who is in the public eye talk openly and honestly about grief helps all of us, it raises awareness and helps normalise what is a very normal but at times a very lonely and quite isolating experience.

    I have been told I am strong but have found it hard to hear because right now I feel the weakest I have ever felt, both emotionally and physically. I don’t know how I am going to rebuild my life without Henry or what our family’s future looks like but reading your words has helped. I feel weak but that’s OK. Henry is my strength. Thank you Simon.

    Georgia

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Georgia all I can say is thank you so much.

  36. Ninja Biscuit

    January 29, 2018

    I’ve been lifting you and your boy up in prayer lots tonight. Lots and lots. I pray that you will know His peace and His unfailing love at this time. I pray for restoring sleep. I pray for all the practical things too. I thank God that he can and will provide for you and Ethan what I can’t even begin to articulate to ask for. Because He knows what you need and He loves you. I am so sorry for your loss. I am thankful for your honest words on grief and losss. I pray that your blog will be as rich a blessing for you (and more!) as it has already been to those (me) who have found blessing in it too. I was so well supported in our hour of darkness, is there anything we could do for Team Thomas? Hugs

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so much.

  37. Natalie

    January 29, 2018

    Hi Simon. I lost my husband to suicide 2 and a half years ago. I was 36, my kids 10 and 12. I thought I’d never go back to work- I’m a Vicar, so in a funny sort of way have a similar job to yours in terms of standing up with confidence. I went back after 6 months and was only really surviving day to day by working publically and then crashing privately. I’m just beginning to see a life ahead of me, and although I’ve always kept faith, I’ve not always ‘felt’ it. Don’t ever feel pressure to be better or cope better or be together. For me, finally letting myself be vulnerable wasthe way i allowed myself to be helped by others, shown love, and got through each day- and other people are desperate to help, and that allows them to. Well done for writing this blog- although I wish you didn’t have to. It really will help other people to read it, and even though I’m a little further along it’s reassuring to hear shared experience.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Natalie thank you so much and I am so so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  38. willcallbarry2014

    January 30, 2018

    Dear Simon, all I can say is that I wish you and your son all the very best and deeply sorry for your loss. I will keep both of you in my prayers. God bless.

  39. John

    January 30, 2018

    Simon. This is so hard to type but your words are so encouraging. I lost my Mom to AML (sorry, having a drink of white wine here, like she did). Beatiiful words.you say and I so like them.from April 2016 I really send hugs at you and your son 🙂 So much. John

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      John than you so much. I’m so sorry you lost your dear Mum to this horrible disease. God Bless.

  40. James

    January 30, 2018

    Hello Simon,

    Firstly my condolences for your loss. I lost my wife last year, she was also 40, so now it’s just me and my 5 year old boy. I have no real advice other than to hang in there. If you ever want to chat let me know. Will light a candle for your wife tonight.

    James.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      James thank you so much.

  41. David Stratton

    January 30, 2018

    Hello Simon,

    I lost my wife 10 months ago to Brain Cancer and today is our 30th Wedding anniversary so reading your blog has come at a good time to help me get through another challenging day on my journey. I dislike people giving me platitudes and telling me it is okay to feel how I do and as in reality I find I don’t have much control over them sometimes, as my emotions come and go with the merest thought of my wife, so I won’t be telling you anything just sharing a little of my journey with you. As usual, I was reflecting on things earlier today and came to the conclusion that my journey over the last 10 months has been like building something out of lego – seems a strange analogy but that what came to me. Every day a piece goes in and I get more whole. It took a while to get sturdy but I did and now I continue to slowly build a whole new life. At least that image gives me an idea of progress and that I will end up with something out of nothing. All the best on your own journey and thank you for sharing your thoughts and importantly letting others share theirs.

    David

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      David thank you so much. I am so so sorry to hear about your dear wife. I’m glad you found what I wrote helpful, especially on a day like your wedding anniversary. My boy loves Lego so I totally get your lego analogy. God Bless mate.

  42. John

    January 30, 2018

    I’m so, so sorry. No words can describe things. I lost my Mom to AML in April 2016 and at least she’d been in hospital for a few months so my Dad, Sister and I could could come to terms with it. It must be so difficult for your son and yourself. It has taken me a long time to type this message but every day that I weep I know I’m getting better, and understanding the help and understanding that the carers provide.

    John

    • agriefshared

      January 30, 2018

      So sorry John you too lost a mum to this horrible disease. Thank you for your courage for being in touch. God Bless.

      • John

        January 30, 2018

        Thank you. That was a very nice reply. I don’t quite know what to say. Every day it gets better…and you love her more than ever you can imagine. I remember my Mom more than ever now, thinking of the times we spent together and the funniest of happenings we had 🙂 I hope you do too.

        Take care to your son and yourself.

        John
        xx

  43. Belinda Johnston

    January 30, 2018

    Thank you …your sage words are very timely. I have always believed that our invisible vulnerability can be supported when it becomes visible to others. Your beautifully written words encouraging others to be honest about weakness and to be themselves, are very inspiring and need to be said.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Belinda thank you so much x

  44. Hannah

    January 30, 2018

    Dear Simon,
    I was reading a magazine recently and you were in it. It was a Christian one and I remarked how I had grown up watching you on Blue Peter and it was just so wonderful to me that you believed in Jesus and had faith. I became a Christian at 16 and now work for UCCF with the Christian Unions and long for my students to grow and love Jesus wherever God takes them. Know you are a huge encouragement to me and many of them in this! Especially the sporty guys.

    I was going to write at the top dear Brother (but thought you might think I was odd hahah) and yet, brother, I am praying for you and Ethan. Words escape how to comfort or encourage a smile. So instead I’ll pray that in this valley in the wake of your loss, you will know the Fathers closeness to you and His rod and Staff leading and protecting you. That Ethan will know peace and that you both will together know yourselves wrapped in the embrace of our kind God. That His comforting arms would be your safety and life. I pray in that place you would be able to bring your heart to him continually and I pray that even in the darkest of nights, you will know light, maybe literally. Isn’t it wonderful that even the tiniest flicker of light alays the darkness. I pray this for you!

    Thank you for you honesty and vulnerability, for your humanity in this and in it still pointing to Jesus. I will keep praying.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Hannah

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Hannah thank you so much x

  45. Emily

    January 30, 2018

    Hi Simon, this article is brave and frank – I admire it. I lost my dad 2 1/2 years ago at the age of 23. I battle with my own grief but so much of it is for my mother losing the love of her life. I can only imagine what it feels like to think your life is going to be one way and then suddenly having it turned unrecognisably upside down. The Grieg quote resonated with me, ‘dare to be vulnerable’.

    A few weeks ago, my therapist suggested I watch this TED talk called The Power of Vulnerability. It’s not about grief specifically (which I like) but the importance of being vulnerable in life – give it try. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

    Your wife may not physically be here anymore, but she is still with you, it’s just in a different way now. That’s how I try to deal with my loss anyway.

    Love,

    Emily

    P.S. The exhaustion is relentless – but it passes, I promise.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Emily thank you so much x

  46. Michael Aldridge

    January 30, 2018

    I think each one of us hurts in a way that no-one else can ever truly understand. And I think that some pain never goes away. But I also think it can be possible to learn to live with pain. Not to ‘solve’ it – it can’t be solved, only experienced. But to live a life that includes some pain because, hopefully (big word, I know), it can also include a lot of joy.
    Thank you for being willing to tell people how you feel. I think you only have to see the response it has provoked to know that it has made a difference.

    M.P.Aldridge.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so much.

      • Michael Aldridge

        February 1, 2018

        I think what I was trying to say was this:
        I hope, with all my heart, that you are able to find something – no matter how difficult or impossible seeming it might feel at times – that can help you and your son through this.
        Best wishes,
        M.P.Aldridge.

  47. Carole

    January 30, 2018

    Simon, I have first hand experience of the verse you have quoted. God is indeed at work in our weakness and strength will come, but for now it is one day at a time, sometimes just one hour at a time. Be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much of yourself at this time. Do what you need to get through each day with your son, and slowly, slowly a new ‘normal’ will start to evolve. I am so very sorry for your loss. God bless

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you Carole so much x

  48. amberino13

    January 30, 2018

    Who says strong means not showing emotion and feeling. I think going on, continuing despite all is strong. Being there for your son, considering his feelings and not just your own is strong. You may not feel like you are, you may not believe you are, but even by sharing any of this with the world at large is a sign of strength and courage most people don’t every demonstrate in their lifetimes. I hope your pain eases and you can live with the happy memories. Keep going.

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Thank you so much.

  49. Miles

    January 30, 2018

    Simon
    Thank you so much for this blog. Going through something similar and lost my wife last october. I was starting to think i was just the only person who could not cope and needed to “pull myself together”. Your blog has helped me so much
    Miles

    • agriefshared

      January 31, 2018

      Miles thank you. When I wrote it and published it I wasn’t sure if anyone would find it helpful – I’m so glad you have and I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. God Bless you mate.

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