There was an initial phase of grief in which I was cocooned from the world. I could cry whenever my eyes welled up, curl up wherever my limbs started to curl. In that phase I wore Matthew’s clothes and spent time with his body. My own body was in shock. A small core of people fed me and took me for walks and organised to get Matthew home.

The first opening up came when we held the funeral. That was a shift from five people around me to fifty. The sense of love was enormous. The grief was different too. I swung between numbness and a despair that came with wailing. But I had more control than in the first few days.

Exactly a month after Matthew died I went back to work. I have cried in the office, but only once or twice. Mostly I’m not consciously holding back tears. Mostly working is a distraction. I do not forget for a moment that Matthew is dead, but there are other questions pulling at my brain as well. I’ve been in the office more than my doctor wanted, so that I didn’t have to be on my own.

Now at nearly ten weeks there is an underlying sadness to everything I do, but I’m largely back in my old weekday routines. That is, I am capable of turning up in person everywhere I am meant to turn up. Except in therapy sessions the wailing has gone. Instead the physicality is back. I’m feeling sudden grasps of my breath when I think I’m going to die and a physical pain in my chest as though my heart has stopped.

It’s the memorial service on Monday. The orders of service have gone to print. I don’t know who will be able to make it, or how I will feel. I do know that somehow we’ll get through.

There is, unsurprisingly, a progression in grief. At its most basic it is a progression in time: it is one day since he died, a week, a month. Tomorrow it will be seven weeks. (That means incidentally that seven weeks ago today my darling Matthew was still alive and driving towards a dinner with friends in Chamonix, and that is knowledge almost too much to bear.)

So time. Through its progression the edges of my grief are softening. I do not believe that. My grief still feels raw. (I know that other people’s does as well.) But – looking objectively – I am not crying as much as I was in those first days. I am sleeping better, able to concentrate more, can do more over the course of a day.

That softening is kindly. Time has a cruelty as well. Time makes events recede, takes Matthew away from me into the past (forces me, with guilt, to walk away from him into the future). On 1st September I was in a month that Matthew did not get the chance to see. The season now has changed: this autumn will never see him, nor the coming winter, nor the spring.

And time is brushing away as well at my memories. As early as day one I was scared I was forgetting him. Kind people told me I wasn’t, that I’d never forget him, that I couldn’t. ‘He’ll always be with you,’ they said, and they were right.

But I was right as well. Because with every passing minute, hour, day, week Matthew is less clear in my mind. What ‘remembering’ meant to me in those first days, what the remembering I yearned for was, was the ability to recall him so vividly in every one of my senses that it was as though he was standing there in the room, laughing, putting his arms around me, making plans for the next day. That was what I wanted and already on day one it was impossible. I wanted a level of remembering that allowed me to deny reality. I still want that. And every day as my senses are not reprimed by his presence the vividness of my memory is getting further away. I want him back. He’s not coming back. In that sense there’s no more to say.

But I ran the park run this morning (he would have loved that); had brunch with friends (he would have done that as well); and today I’ll read and write and see more friends, and time will continue its softening and its blurring in tandem. That’s it. That’s the way it goes.

A few years ago as part of my post-breakdown recovery I deliberately tested my ability to build helpful new neural networks which improved my mood. The exercise I used was this: every time I stepped onto a Tube platform (usually several times a day), I looked at when the train was due and if it was approaching told myself I was grateful not to have to wait, and if there was a wait told myself I was grateful to have time to get the the right place on the platform. After about a month that thinking became automatic, and since then I have not got stressed while waiting on the Tube; the gratitude pops up automatically, regardless of the situation. I then extended it to other situations, and that was what made my life get better. But above all it was an exercise in changing automatic thoughts.

Since Matthew died I observe my brain going through an analogous process. I think automatically of him every few minutes, and for the first days that is all my brain did. But now each mini Matthew thought is followed by another automatic thought that says he’s dead. That’s not a deliberate practice, but it’s real. At some point the ‘must tell Matthew’ thoughts will arrive simultaneously with the knowledge he is dead, and later still they will be preceded by that awareness, will arrive already coloured by that irreversible fact. I’m dreading that day. Unfortunately this one’s not under my control. So I’m trying deliberately to add gratitude thoughts to the chain: Matthew would like to know that – and he’s dead – and I’m so grateful for all the time that I had with him.

I’m wondering how I feel about mountains having lost eight friends in the Himalaya in May and now my darling beloved Matthew as well as the consequence of a climbing accident.

A mountaineer friend experienced in death as well as climbing said to me back in July that the mountains give more than they ever take. I told Matthew that and he strongly agreed.

But now as a simple equation that statement doesn’t work. Matthew was (is) my central point, my tether to the world as I know it, and having that torn away changes everything. The worst thing that could possibly have happened to me has happened. How can the mountains, much though he loved them, still give more than they take?

And yet.

I was in the hills on Tuesday and found them beautiful, vast, solid, reassuring. I walked in the Alps in the days after Matthew’s death and there was joy in the height, the views, the sense of physical exertion. Today I’ve been to the climbing wall for the first time and still, as before, I find the concentration hard climbing requires distracts my brain from this catastrophe even if only briefly.

So the plan is to keep my fitness up, to keep hard-earned finger strength, to continue to train muscle memory for technique, and, when the time is right, to be back in the mountains not just to walk, run and ski, but also in due course to climb. And then to see whether or not it’s what I want.