Despite his vagueness, he was an enthusiast who could speak for hours and knowledgably of Tudor history, cricket, Top of the Pops circa 1973. He held strong views on subjects others might dismiss as trivia. He had an opinion, often heated, on just about everything. He was, incredibly perhaps, an optimist.
I was two months pregnant when he died, and hadn't told him in case it upset him to think he wouldn't live to see a new grandchild. I was numb with new hormones. Three months later, my surrogate uncle died. It was expected, as he'd suffered a stroke and a bad fall some time before the stroke that killed him.
Then, when I was seven months pregnant, my grandmother died very suddenly. I didn't take the news well. Left to my own devices I would've gone into full grieving mode. I did in fact lie on a stone floor and wail at the ceiling. Which scared everyone, myself included. But I was about to have my first child; I couldn't have a meltdown. I put the grief to one side.
Now, nearly nine years later, it is still coming out. A little at a time. Some days I don't think about it at all. Other days I can hardly function because of it. Added to which, since giving birth, I have been prey to what I am told are 'perfectly normal hormones' which would be fine had I, for instance, ever experienced PMT before the birth of my child. As it was I glided through puberty on the wing'd feet of The Pill, which suppressed I suspect all sorts of chemicals with which my body now delights in tormenting me once a month and often more frequently (well, it's making up for lost time).
I have done some things I am not proud of in the last nine years. I have avoided thinking about the three deaths that came so quickly one after the other. I have avoided grieving. I have given in to rage against nothing and no one in particular, without seeking a proper cause for it. I have hurt some of the people I love, and others whom I hardly know.
On the other hand, I have raised a happy child. I have made my mother's welfare a priority. I have survived, which in itself seems a minor miracle when I try for a proper perspective on that period of time when I was so far from myself that it's extraordinary I never called out for help, in panic if nothing else.
In conclusion, I am a work in progress. I have no salient lessons to offer, expect perhaps to say that if you have grieving to do - do it. Give yourself space, even just a little at a time, five minutes every other day. Happy memories; it doesn't have to be Grief with a capital G. Give thanks for what you had, and for what you have. Get help if you need it, and be patient with yourself and others.