Trigger warning: Discussions of death, including violent death
It's October. The days are getting shorter, the leaves are starting to turn yellow and red and gold. The nights are getting colder and there's a hint of frost in the air. The shops are filling with orange and black. With pumpkins, costumes and masks. And if you live somewhere where people decorate their houses and gardens, there might be skulls and coffins and ghosts all over the place. There'll be children dressed up knocking on the door for sweets. And then, a few days later, Remember remember! The fifth of November, with bonfires and fireworks. Parties, food, drinks, dressing up, playing games. It's just fun, after all.
For some widows, though, Halloween and Bonfire Night can be really hard.
The imagery of death around Halloween all over shops, people's houses and gardens, and in social media, such as skulls, skeletons, fake tombstones and coffins, can bring back awful memories and trigger flashbacks. The coffins bring back some of the intrusive thoughts that I have fought to deal with over the past four and a half years.
For people whose partners have died a violent death, the images of bodies with nooses around their neck, or with bleeding wounds, can be devastating. Halloween depicts graveyards as scary, with bones and reaching arms, not as the safe resting places that we have created for the people we love.
The sounds and smells of Bonfire Night can be particularly hard where death by fire or gunshot has left widows with PTSD. These can also be difficult for autistic widows.
What to do?
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.