From a Year of 'Us' to a Year of 'Me': Starting the Year as a Young Widow

09/02/2015 00:02 GMT | Updated 10/04/2015 10:59 BST

Intentions of change are par for the course in the New Year. Many people take time in the post-Christmas sugar slump to re-evaluate their lives and seek out areas for improvement or difference. Regardless of the motivations behind the resolutions, they all share one key characteristic: they should make our lives better.

No one starts the year endeavouring to make life worse; to do intentional damage to themselves; or end up worse off next NYE than they were this year. We humans are always seeking better; whether that is a massive career change or a couple of extra glasses of water each day. There are steps we can take towards perfection, towards our dreams and the best versions of ourselves.

I have never come across a person who has successfully achieved their resolutions each year but I have wondered what they would be like.

Anyway, I digress. Summing up 2014 and looking forward in 2015 is a particularly difficult task for me. In many ways, 2014 was a year of achieving life goals. I started the year off with an engagement. I designed, decorated and moved into my first grown up home. I got married to the love of my life. I tried new recipes and added to my culinary skills. I went to the gym regularly and felt fitter than I ever had before.

In many, many other ways 2014 was a nightmare of a year. My wonderful fiancé was terminally ill and early in the year we received the news he was out of treatment options. Two weeks into our marriage, while on 'honeymoon' at a clinic in Germany, he fractured his neck and had to have emergency surgery. I had to take a leave of absence from my PhD studies and teaching commitments and adjust to life as a carer. When he had recovered from the neck surgery, he started having seizures. It was a case of coping with disaster after disaster and blow after blow until on 16th December 2014, a week after the anniversary of when we met, he lost his battle but with it the suffering and pain he'd endured for so long.

2014 was definitely a year for 'us'. We had spent 2013 living life to the full while we could. We went to festivals and concerts, for weekends away and roadtrips, on walks and cycles, for dinners and coffees. We had fun and made fun.

In 2014, we knew things would change. We committed to each other and celebrated that commitment with our nearest and dearest. We took on the year together, save those 15 days at the end of December. Although, even those days were built on a joint vision of us.

Since Fintan's death, and sometimes even before, people have told me how I got him this far and how if it wasn't for me he would have given up long ago. While these are lovely words, and probably do contain an element of accuracy, the truth is we got each other through. He met as many of my needs as I met of his. We provided the other with the balance needed to carry on. We saw the best in each other in bad situations and placed that at the forefront of our lives, as changeable and intrepid as they were.

2014 was not a year of illness, deterioration or tragedy. 2014 was a year of 'us'. Together as one.

However, 2014 is over and 2015 has arrived whether it was welcomed or not. If 2014 was a year of 'us', it seems 2015 will be a year of 'me'. My focus has been someone else for so long and I'm not yet comfortable with this new solitary mind set. A lot of adjustment has to take place upon the death of a loved one, especially if you were their spouse/carer. Having this change come at the beginning of the year, when the rest of the world is also reconfiguring their life plan, is both a reassurance and a source of fear.

I haven't made any resolutions, new year or otherwise. There are so many things up in the air: the house, my career, my relationships, travel options, the creation of a legacy, potential loneliness. However, I have a few hopes about what the year will bring...

I hope I will have fun. Throughout the darkest of times there was always an element of fun and enjoyment and I hope that I can remember and carry that sentiment into this year. That even when I feel sad or lonely, I can still find enjoyment. In the 30 odd days of the year I have already lived I have found this to be true and I thank my incredible friends for ensuring I don't spend my days wallowing in self-pity.

I hope I will strive. I have no idea what I am striving towards but I hope that a sense of ambition and a desire to achieve will become evident this year, even if the end goals remain hard to see.

I hope there will be a balance. I don't want to throw myself into distractions or focus on work to avoid difficult emotions (or focus on difficult emotions to avoid work, this might be more the case). Hopefully I can achieve some kind of balance. Similarly, a balance between crisps and vegetables or diet coke and water would also be helpful to my existence this year!

These hopes may not be realised in 2015 but I have set them as rough intentions and hope that this blog will go some way in creating a focus on them and remind me to be thankful of the life I have to live.

Love and blessings for the year ahead,


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