This is a blog about family. About life, and coping when it gets harder than you ever imagined. I don’t pretend to be a counsellor, an advisor, an expert. I just want to share my story and hope that in doing so I can offload some of the trauma of the past eighteen months and perhaps find a few of you out there who have experienced, or are experiencing, something similar. Because I believe that sharing stories is what makes us human. It’s what bonds us together and lets us see we’re not alone. No matter what happens to us. There will be someone else out there who understands.

Out of the woods is the story of my family. In June 2014 life was ticking along nicely until my husband of 8 years became critically ill and almost died. The story spans from that time up to the present day, when my family are still trying to make sense of what happened and learn to move forwards.

The name “Out of the Woods” stems from a phrase I got sick of hearing during the time when Marc was in hospital fighting for his life. I wanted to know if he was stable, if he was going to be ok, if he would live. At this early stage, the hospital staff clearly couldn’t assure me that he would be. Everyone I knew kept asking if he was “out of the woods” yet. When someone is in hospital and no-one quite knows what to say there are a lot of platitudes. People use phrases which, when examined, at best mean absolutely nothing and at worst are positively insulting. To be “out of the woods” means to be out of danger, and Marc was most certainly not out of danger for a very long time. I’d like to say that eighteen months later we are out of the woods, but we are not quite there yet.

We might never be.

What we are is coping with being in the woods. Coping admirably, I like to think. Some days are better than others, and few people truly understand what it is like to still be “in the woods” when to the outsider’s eye there appears to be nothing very much wrong any more. But still, in the woods or out, we are surviving, getting on with life and certainly appreciating it more than we ever did.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is our motto now, and we try to live by it. That driver who cut you up at the roundabout, the colleague who spills coffee on your desk, the friend who is late for a night out: small stuff. Definitely not worth getting stressed about.

Instead, I try to find a little thing each day to be thankful for. It doesn’t matter how small. Just something which makes me smile and feel grateful. For me today it was the insignificant little conversation I had with my children in the car on the way home from school about their day. The one where they were both happy and eager to share with me, rather than being sulky or tearful after a long day at school.

So it’s out of the woods we are headed. Hopeful that life will now treat us well, knowing that it may not. But with an idea that we will be able to cope, even if it doesn’t.