At some stage in grief there comes a time when you look at a photo, or pick up an object that belonged to your loved one, and realisation slaps you in the face.

“I’m never going to see him again. Never!”

It’s a hard fact to face. Suddenly, all the special occasions you will never share flash before your eyes – birthdays, Mother’s Day, Christmases – and, if you have lost someone young, formals, engagements, weddings and the birth of grandchildren.

Of course, it is not just the special occasions that you will never share. You will never share a smile or a laugh again. You will never share a hug or a joke. And you will never share being in that person’s company, even if no words or gestures are exchanged.

I can’t remember when this first happened to me after Barry died, but I can tell you that since Christmas, it has happened repeatedly.

And every time is like the first time.

Imagine those repeated slaps in the face. Over and over again. Non relenting and ever so cruel. It’s hard for me to explain, and understand. How can I look at Barry’s photo three times in the same week and have this feeling hit me so strongly? I honestly don’t know, but it’s happening.

Gary tells me that he looks at Barry’s photos or belongings, and a feeling of anger or sadness or loss or guilt sweeps over him. He still asks if we could have done more.

I look at photos of Barry often. Because my mind isn’t working 100%, I’m terrified that I’ll forget what he looked like. I have photos of him everywhere – at home, at work, in my bag, on my keyring. I look at these photos every day. Sometimes…I smile. Sometimes…I cry. Sometimes…I get a slap in the face.

I always believed that after the shock had subsided, the realisation would set in, and that’s when true grief takes hold. But now I’m unsure. The shock took its toll and went away. Realisation isn’t so forgiving. Realisation insists on making you pay … over and over and over again.