Our Worst Nightmare

I told my friend Leah it was my worst nightmare.

“It’s everyone’s worst nightmare” she replied.

And across oceans we sat in disbelief, both horrified by the fickleness of life.

I wonder if it’s amplified when you’re an expat? Knowing that if it happened you’d be isolated, no family with you in a foreign land with foreign laws. Just you and the children in those first few hours trying to work out what has to happen next. How to get everyone home? The paperwork. Logistics. If the police come to your door with news in a foreign accent does it make it even harder to believe?

Only a couple of days ago I was in the midst of my own pathetic turmoil. Miserable about leaving. Our last few days of holiday. My goodbyes with friends and the rush of fitting everything in before we left. The packing, the washing, the cleaning. What had I missed on this visit? Should I buy a pair of converse sneakers for the boys?

Stupid. Completely irrelevant, material bullshit.

As we were rushing to load the children in the car I made my way to the front door with my phone in my hand. I scrolled down to read a message quite sure that it would say something about an impending visit to Qatar or a suggestion of a get together in Dubai. Twenty seconds later I was motionless, looking at G, bewildered.

“What’s happened?”

“It’s Louise. It’s awful. There’s been some sort of an accident. Their holiday. Her husband…”

Often when I begin to type here on this blank space, I wonder what my words mean to you. Which bits strike a chord more than others. Too much of the expat? Too much Australia? Too much mother? Too much wife? Not this time, this is universally awful. It doesn’t matter where you are. It’s unbearably sad. A wife losing her greatest love, children losing their father. Too soon, and in the middle of the story rather than the end.

A holiday that punctuated a move, before work began and new schools were started. I’d been watching with envy at updates and pictures filled with sunshine and big smiles.

I cannot begin to imagine where or how I would start the process. The continual stabbing pain of loss and grief while comforting my children. All of this combined with the job of getting everyone home and having to decide exactly where home will be. Shipments to another country stopped, school places cancelled. A family map that is usually navigated by two at helm is suddenly a solo adventure under treacherous conditions.

Louise, if I could transfer all my strength to you right now I would. Please know that we’re all here. This entire community. Thinking of you. Wishing we could help, ready to do anything.

Our worst nightmare.

*This is not my heartbreak, so please no sympathy for me – but if you’d like to leave a message of support for Louise that would be lovely.*

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  1. Love and light to your friend Kirst. I can’t even imagine 🙁

  2. 🙁

    A terrible fear grips my heart when I hear things like this and then my mind cartwheels into all the “what ifs”, that are even more complicated by the expat lifestyle.


  3. I have tears streaming down my face, this is truly my worst fear. Something we talk about when we do the “what if’s…” conversations. There are no words to take the heartache away. Sending prayers for strength for your friend and her children.

  4. My sister in law lost her husband suddenly this spring. I was there with her and it was bloody awful
    Never the right words but hugs are always good. Love and light and positive energy xo

  5. I don’t even know what to say, other than wanting to say *something* to register Louise’s loss and confusion. Louise – lean on your loved ones and friends. I am sure they will all step up and offer what they can.

  6. Dear Louise, no words. just imagining. probably not even correct imagining of what its like for you and your children. I have nothing to share or give that will make any difference …
    Does it matter that I have “seen” this in my mind as we travel, my husband goes away on work trips, we live miles from family and friends, we live where we don’t speak the language (how would I do it all in another language, one that is not my own), all those plans – what to do now (how to even contemplate another future) …
    thinking of you all, sending hugs from strangers …
    … alone you have to do it, but you don’t have to do it alone.
    love and light
    sarah xx

  7. So incredibly awful. I don’t know what to say to your friend Louise. I never do in times of loss, which is hard to explain for a wordsmith. Sending strength to your friend in what is absolutely my very worst nightmare.

  8. Louisa, as I read this post my heart aches for you and your children. I pray at this moment and here on out you feel the strength of God carry you through this. Prayers and love for you and your babies

  9. This is something I worry about a lot, the distance between us when he is so far away in another country. The inability to get to him quickly or him to us, the knowledge that I have many friends to help me here but it is family you want.
    My heart aches for your friend and their children, thinking of them.

  10. I don’t really have any words for Louise except to say that I know from experience that expat communities are strong and supportive and fiercely loyal. They are an abundant and willing extended family and I hope they are in a position to offer support and you are in a position to accept it in the difficult times ahead. x

  11. Sending all my love to Louise. There are no words xx

  12. Dear Louise, I have just stopped what I was doing and said a prayer for you and your family. I hope to God that the love and support of your family and friends can get you through the unbearable pain that you must be feeling right now. And I hope that in time you will all find some happiness and peace again. Your husband left his best legacy for you – children to love and treasure for the rest of your life. xxx

  13. My heart breaks for Louise and her children. I’m so very very sorry that this has happened.

  14. Dear Louise, when something awful like this happens one would crawl up in bed and wait until the worst pain is over but you have to be braver than brave with organising everything from a non-home place. We would all help if we could and move you and your children by foot, box by box if we could. Be strong, our thoughts are with you.

  15. So sorry to hear this. It is truly my worst nightmare. Sending love, prayers, and support to Louise. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  16. My thoughts are with you Louise. Such a sad/hard time. So sorry to read of your loss. X

  17. Dear Lousie and Kids
    My heartfelt sympathied to you. I do not what to say, you and the family are in my prayers, may the almighty give you the strength to handle this worst situation in your life and lots of love and hugs to you. I am so sorry

  18. I cannot imagine how you must be feeling, Louise. I cannot imagine there is time for grief when there are children to care for and belongings to track and re-assign and a move to undo. Please know that I am thinking of you and praying that you have strength and support to get you to a place where you can stop and grieve.

  19. I was widowed when my children were in their teens. (All circumstances are different. There is no competition when it comes to grieving.) Just a few words for those who love Louise. You will get it wrong – whatever you do, because at the moment she feels as if nothing will be right in her world ever again. In time the world will turn, reshape itself, and may even make sense again. But right now all you can do is be constant, and loving, and let her know you are thinking of her, and of the children.

    And, Louise – I’m so sorry. This is the worst thing that can possibly happen. One day you’ll find resources you didn’t know you had. But let others care for you and the children now. I don’t do praying, but am thinking of you.

  20. My heart breaks, Louise, my sympathies to you and your family.

  21. It is a worst nightmare. Louise, you and your family are in my thoughts. I hope that you find the strength you need to pull you forward. Much love x

  22. So sorry for your tragic loss. Stay strong and don’t forget to ask for help.

  23. Oh, Louise, I am so so very sorry.. Words do not suffice, but my warmest thoughts are with you. Hoping the love of those around you can carry you in the days and months and years to come…

  24. So very sorry for this absolute tragedy … Louise, you and your family are in our thoughts, prayers and as everyone else has said, we wish we could come straight to you to offer help, support and kindness.

  25. So sorry for the loss of your friend, and your friend’s loss. An awfullly hard thing, made harder by distance.

  26. Louise, my heart reaches out to yours during this terribly unexpected and sad time. Know that we are here for you and will do anything to help.

  27. So sad and definitely made harder in her situation. Please pass on my thoughts.

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