It has now been four years since my late wife Rachida passed away from a brain tumour. In some respects, four years feels like a long time ago but it also seems like yesterday when she passed away.
Juggling the ongoing pressures and demands of daily life whilst also grieving can be a challenge but I have learnt over time to accept my circumstances and focus on rebuilding my life again.
It has become apparent to me through media coverage and people that I have had the privilege of meeting that brain tumours affect a significant number of people both directly and indirectly. Some of the stories I have read and heard are truly heartbreaking and this always brings home the thought that there are others in more difficult situations that what I have experienced.
Society in general can appear to be consumed with the never-ending search for perfection and inspirational stories. Being extremely busy is like a badge of honour that we should all be proud of without necessarily realising that pausing to think and reflect is important. This became particularly apparent to me during the first year of grieving when the slower pace of life that I was seeking seemed to be completely out of sync with everyone else who were leading relentless, fast-paced lifestyles.
In contrast to this search for perfection and inspirational stories, loss and grieving continues to be a difficult subject to discuss openly which can unfortunately contribute to people feeling isolated and not being able to talk about the difficult situation they find themselves in.
In my everyday life as a widower, I have had various experiences where someone has asked me if I am married and as soon as I mentioned that I am a widower, the conversation quickly becomes uncomfortable for both parties and the subject of discussion moves on to something else.
I have been fortunate to have a great support network of friends and family as well as forming new friendships through The Brain Tumour Charity. The support that we have provided to each other has been invaluable and helps to make those particularly difficult days a bit easier to get through.
This has further reinforced my view that it is important for me to talk candidly and share my experiences with others who may find it helpful or as a source of comfort.
Talking to others can often be one of the hardest parts of going through a difficult experience. We're encouraging all those whose lives have been affected by brain tumours to share their experiences and help others. Leave nothing unsaid.