Let’s think of Hayley, reflect a while. Do you see her little tempers or infectious smile? And what of grief and loss? How do you cope? Well, first you make a stone of your heart so not to feel but the inflicted wounds cut too deep to heal. I climb the stairs for fitful sleep, these thoughts like daggers are mine to keep. An empty chair in front of me, a table meant for four laid only for three. The longing for this person does not pass nor the heaviness in our hearts.

It describes the permanent feelings of loss and deals with the impact of trauma. Loss is pure sadness but dealing with the demise of someone in shocking, traumatic circumstances cause a whole host of issues.

I’ve always been open about loss and get entirely frustrated when people won’t talk to me about Hayley. She was ill for eight weeks but lived for 38 years so to not speak about her is upsetting. People are often afraid to go into that territory even if it’s obvious that’s exactly what I need. Immediately distance occurs between myself and these people and strong bonds develop with those who talk to me and share memories. I think people should be brave and make the effort with people if it looks like that’s what is required. Saying the wrong thing is a worry but it’s better than not saying anything at all.
When you lose someone fairly suddenly it’s very hard to describe what happens or what goes through our heads. My responsibility and the weight of it dawned on me very quickly but this coincides with a complete numbness. I was able to make decisions and perform tasks with complete clarity and from the outside seemed largely unaffected by the traumatic experience of other people. It’s like a delay. I would surely have capitulated both mentally and physically. So grief and trauma slowly started to descend on me when I was better placed to cope with it. A show of strength from myself and the community is fronted and we all lean on one another but as things settle the undeniable sense of loss starts to take hold when many others are moving on and forgetting. When you’re a family there is a shared burden and for a while after they’ve died that burden is shared with many. That support slips away about the same time grief hits. This is a deadly combination.
The loss of Hayley in a practical sense has also taken its toll on me as successful relationships work due to shared burdens and responsibilities. Hayley was always the one who dealt with our finances and the school issues for the boys. I have found out that remaining focused on being Mum and Dad is nigh on impossible because it is totally draining, having to cope with thinking about work, school, appointments and financial matters simultaneously. Although it’s hard trying to sort all of this out, it’s nowhere near as bad as facing the reality and isolation of doing it on your own. This is where the loss of a soul mate becomes unbearable. At times I have thought ‘what’s the point’ and the combination of loneliness with responsibility is all too much. I’ve been fortunate to have family and truly great friends nearby and often get advice from different perspectives.
To seek help and advice is almost medicinal in terms of sharing responsibilities. 
The initial loss of Hayley was a terrible shock for everyone and I remember looking at her handbag and hospital bag with emptiness. I just couldn’t process what I’d witnessed. I still can’t really. We went to King's embarking on what we thought was the start of a journey towards a bone marrow transplant and it spiralled out of control at breathtaking speed. Hayley seemed to be in good health. So much so that people just didn’t believe she was that ill. The high level of trauma of seeing someone you love slip away leaves it’s mark permanently. A sense of unreality and a fear that bad things happening are a certainty really take hold.
Constantly talking to people but only the right people is vital to get support and a sense of reality.

Blog by Duane, Hayley's husband, father of two boys