Andy

Want to share my experience.

695 posts in this topic

It is said that without hope, we don't have anything. I guess my *hope*, is to get through this life the best I can. Not the way I expected and wanted, but life itself doesn't care about what you expect or want. Life has a force all its own and we have no choice but to go with the flow of it. To continue looking for the *good* in each day, that little spot of brightness, is meant to give us affirmation that we are on the right path. Thank you, KayC.

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4 hours ago, KMB said:

HHFaith, Andy, It would be nice if we had the directions written out for us so we could follow them without the  floundering, the constant stress, heartache, of wanting our beloveds here to help and guide us. We each have our own path to travel and I believe that deep down in us we have the directions and the answers.We take it slow and easy and listen to our *inner voice*. We do have God on our side along with His Angels and our beloveds. They all want to see us succeed in our journey.

Indeed, a map would come in handy, but I suppose any "lessons" meant for us wouldn't have the impact. I'm a journey over destination guy anyway, so I'm okay with that part, it's finding direction and the desire that's tough. I'm still at it though. 

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3 hours ago, KayC said:

We go on because we need to hope and we continue looking for good...

Hope is essential. Without it, there really is no point. 

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KMB, hope is the fire of battle, the thing that makes us look over the next rise. It can guide us, it can inspire us, sometimes we inspire it in others, no doubt it's a transformative force. The desolation of hopelessness is one of, if not the worst, of human experiences. I hope we all find that place where life, acceptance and memory exist together, acknowledging our grief, our loss, seeing beyond those things, living again. We are all so fragile and strong, the two linked together. Our strength is often revealed in our darkest moments, when weakness seems ready to consume us. We can make it to wherever we are intended to go. It isn't the past, we can't go back there, and it isn't forever in the "now", it's out there though. Waiting for us is a very uncertain future, filled with shadows, but it takes light to cast a shadow, so I'll look for that. It's not what we wanted or imagined, but we will go forward anyway, we must. I must. Next week, I might be ready to give up, but I know it'll pass. I have to go forward, my wife, our memories, her legacy, with me every step of the way. 

Peace and comfort,

Andy

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Here is a review on C.S. Lewis' book, "A Grief Observed"...
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/27/hilary-mantel-rereading-cs-lewis-a-grief-observed 

I'm attempting to copy and paste because of the plaguing pop up advertisements I want to cut out.  Sorry about the formatting issues...

Hilary Mantel on grief

How does grief work? Your former life still seems to exist, but you can’t get back to it. You feel panic, guilt, bewilderment. Hilary Mantel reflects on a universal process, examined in many books, among them a classic by CS Lewis
Henry Peach Robinson's <em>Fading Away</em>, 1858. Henry Peach Robinson's Fading Away, 1858. Photograph: Henry Peach Robinson/Royal Photographic Society

Saturday 27 December 2014 04.39 ESTLast modified on Wednesday 1 March 2017 09.06 EST

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” With his first line, CS Lewis’s A Grief Observed reacquaints his reader with the physiology of mourning; he brings into each mouth the common taste of private and personal loss. “I know something of this,” you think. Even if you have not experienced a “front line” bereavement, such as the loss of partner, parent or child, you have certainly lost something you value: a marriage or a job, an internal organ or some aspect of mind or body that defines who you are.

Perhaps you have just lost yourself on your way through life, lost your chances or your reputation or your integrity, or chosen to lose bad memories by pushing them into a personal and portable tomb. Perhaps you have merely wasted time, and seethe with frustration because you can’t recall it. The pattern of all losses mirrors the pattern of the gravest losses. Disbelief is followed by numbness, numbness by distraction, despair, exhaustion. Your former life still seems to exist, but you can’t get back to it; there is a glimpse in dreams of those peacock lawns and fountains, but you’re fenced out, and each morning you wake up to the loss over again.

Grief is like fear in the way it gnaws the gut. Your mind is on a short tether, turning round and round. You fear to focus on your grief but cannot concentrate on anything else. You look with incredulity at those going about their ordinary lives. There is a gulf between you and them, as if you had been stranded on an island for lepers; indeed, Lewis wonders whether a grieving person should be put in isolation like a leper, to avoid the awkwardness of encounters with the unbereaved, who don’t know what to say and, though they feel goodwill, exhibit something like shame. Lewis, now most celebrated as a writer for children, was also one of the great Christian thinkers of the last century. His memoir Surprised by Joy, written before his marriage, is an absorbing account of childhood and a luminous description of his conversion experience. In 1956 he was lured out of his donnish bachelor state by Joy Davidman, an American poet. By his marriage he became stepfather to two boys. His life flowered. But four years later Joy died of cancer.

Born in 1898, educated at a public school, an officer in the first world war, an intellectual, a man who (by his own account) feared the collective and feared the feminine, Lewis found himself plunged into an experience against which intellect could not defend him, a process that is as common as the air we breathe, a process that involves a feminine dissolution into “pathos and tears”.

In his memoir he recalls the death of his mother when he was a small boy. “Grief was overwhelmed by terror” at the sight of her corpse, and he was not helped to mourn, his natural grief subsumed into the violent reactions of adults. The work of mourning, if not performed when it is due, seems to be stored up for us, often for many years. It compounds and complicates our later griefs. The loss of his wife plunged Lewis into a crisis of faith.

Why had she been taken away, when his marriage had made him a more complete human being? As a theologian he would come to credit God with some subtlety, but as a man he must have felt he had been thrown back into the classroom at his prep school, with its routinely hellish regime of arbitrary beatings. He soon saw that mourning kicks away the props we rely on. It confiscates our cognitive assets and undermines our rationality. It frequently undermines any religious faith we may have, and did so in this case. In his 1940 book The Problem of Pain, Lewis tackled what Muriel Spark, in the title of a novel, called The Only Problem: if God is good, why does he permit the innocent to suffer? Lewis had worked over the ground in theory. After his wife’s death he had to do the work again, this time in raw dismay: dismay not only at the terrible event itself, but at his reaction to it. Unless his faith in the afterlife is childish and literal, the pain of loss is often intensified for a believer, because he feels angry with his god and feels shame and guilt about that anger; this being so, you wonder how the idea began, that religion is a consolation.

It is not that Lewis ceases to believe in God. It is that he is horrified at what he suspects about God’s nature. How can one not rebel against such perceived cruelty? Conventional consolations are offered to him, and seem to miss the point. “You tell me ‘she goes on’. But my heart and body are crying out, come back, come back.” The Christian finds himself at heart a pagan, wishing to descend, like Orpheus, into the underworld, to lead the lost person back into the light.

Gradually the shape of loss emerges, but it is complex and ever-changing. Grief gives the whole of life “a permanently provisional feeling”. Sorrow is “a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape”. The dead person recedes, losing selfhood, losing integrity, becoming an artifact of memory. The process creates panic and guilt; are we remembering properly? Are we remembering enough? A year passes, but each day the loss strikes us as an absolute novelty. When Lewis wrote A Grief Observed, he did not objectify his grief in the language of psychology, but alternated between the terms available to, on the one hand, the spiritual seeker, and on the other hand the stricken child.

Nowadays, most of us have a humanist vocabulary at our command, but sometimes it seems no help at all. In 1969, in her influential book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defined five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The model she created is apt to be misunderstood as a linear model, and can be used, by inept counsellors or half-informed friends, as a way of bullying the bereaved. What, are you stuck? Going round and round instead of forwards? Still mired in “depression”, two years on? Perhaps you need a psychiatrist.

 

CS Lewis in his Cambridge study, early 1950s. CS Lewis in his Cambridge study, early 1950s. Photograph: Arthur Strong/Camera Press

Mechanical efficacy is attributed to the passage of time, but those in mourning know how time doubles and deceives. And though, in Britain, self-restraint is said to have vanished with Princess Diana, sometimes it seems the world still expects the bereaved person to “move on” briskly, and meanwhile behave in a way that does not embarrass the rest of us. In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s memoir of her husband’s death, she writes of our dread of self-pity: Lewis too experienced this. We would rather be harsh to ourselves, harsher than a stranger would be, than be accused of “wallowing”, of “dwelling on it”.

But where else can the bereft person dwell, except in his grief? He is like a vagrant, carrying with him the package of tribulation that is all he owns. As Lewis says, “So many roads once; now so many culs de sac.” It is hard to spot signs of recovery, hard to evaluate them. Lewis asks: “Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?” The first acute agony cannot last, but the sufferer dreads what will replace it. For Lewis, a lightening of the heart produces, paradoxically, a more vivid impression of his dead wife than he could conjure when he was in a pit of despair. Recovery can seem like a betrayal. Passionately, you desire a way back to the lost object, but the only possible road, the road to life, leads away.

A Grief Observed is a lucid description of an obscure, muddled process, a process almost universal, one with no logic and no timetable. It is an honest attempt to write about aspects of the human and the divine which, he fears, “won’t go into language at all”. At the heart of the enterprise is this quarrel with God and in the end god wins first philosophically and then emotionally.

But there is a puzzle as to how to categorise the book: where should it be shelved? Lewis’s reputation being what it is, it would be natural to place it under “religion”. But many of the people who need it would not find it there because, like Lewis, they are angrily running away from God, hurtling to abandon a being who seems to have abandoned them. It is more a book about doubt than about faith; it does not warn, exhort or seek to convince. Anger finds a voice in this book, more anger than the faithful are usually able to acknowledge. But it doesn’t belong in the “self-help” section either: it has no bullet points, suggests no programme, offers no cheering anecdotes.

What it does do is to make the reader live more consciously. Testimony from a sensitive and eloquent witness, it should be placed on a shelf that doesn’t exist, in the section called “The Human Condition”. It offers an interrogation of experience and a glimmer of hard-won hope. It allows one bewildered mind to reach out to another. Death is no barrier to that.

 A Grief Observed: Readers’ Edition is published by Faber next month.

 

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KayC - I saw this a few months ago and read it again last night - most interesting.

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Thank you KayC, that was very thoughtful of you to share this. C.S. Lewis, an accomplished writer and noted thinker, reduced to the same basic mechanisms of grief as we all are. Obviously, his ability to eloquently describe his state separates him, but the pain is no less. Such horrible pain. How unlike many human experiences, this one still defies a formula for coping, a prescription for navigating this new reality. We are as lost and filled with despair as we were 5000 years ago.

 

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My mood is grim today. No reason more so than any other day, it just is. The weather is windy, unseasonably cool, damp and rainy. I'm not sure who mirrors who, my mood reflecting the weather or the weather mirroring me? I think with so much on my mind, my thoughts become mired in this tangle of grief and uncertainty. At the top of this mess is my wife. Then, in no set order, is my daughter, my parents, time, work, loneliness, idle moments of self doubt, purpose of being, and a few discarded thoughts about my home, chores, suitable food for the week and the always obscene money side of things. I sometimes want to shut down, close the windows and sit in darkness. To what end? To do it all again in a week? Two weeks? 

Forgive my melancholy disposition today. This is the only place I have to express my feelings and that they will be "heard". Only you know these things, these dark and terrible things. Oh how I wish none of us did, how I wish we were all so ignorant and happy and thinking of trivial things and holding hands with those we mourn. 

God bless all of you, my sad and wonderful friends, my family of the broken hearted and the broken. To better days. 

Andy

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Andy, Sorry for your grim mood today.  We all experience the roller coaster this journey is. My whole last week was grim or bordered on it.  A rainy spell, a morning where I found myself shoveling 2 inches of snow off the steps, then another rainy spell. It is ironic how the weather affects our moods. The past few days have been nice, so I can be outside again. Get myself out of the sometimes confining four walls. My home is my sanctuary, and the outside area has the same benefits for me. I cannot believe we are going into another month. I actually forgot to flip the wall calendar over the first couple of days. Never have I forgotten that, but it has happened twice now in my unwanted aloneness. I've been keeping busy with various projects. Hard to maintain concentration, so I find myself flitting from one thing to another. Just taking my time. Eventually things will get finished. I'm in no rush with anything. I've got many years to be here. I wish I had a time frame for my longevity. Maybe that information would give me a purpose, the motivation to accomplish whatever it is I'm still here for..20 to 30+ years seems daunting when the fantasy in my mind had me going for more of those years with my husband.  

How I long for a normal Friday evening of going out for a meal with my hubby. Memories are all the more precious now.

Hang in there, Andy. Day by day -------- (HUGS)

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KMB, you mentioned hard to concentrate, flitting from one thing to another, wow, you just described my level of function. And the weather, absolutely it effects me, now more so than ever. I have always been subject to foul moods when there's a prolonged period of grey, but now all it takes is a day or two and I'm down. AND you summed up my overall feeling tonight, spending this empty Friday evening meandering around trying to find something worthwhile. I sit at work, hating it, waiting until it's time to go, then I finally get home, and...nothing. I drive to town and it's like either I'm an alien in a strange world or I'm on earth surrounded by aliens. Either way, nothing looks the same, feels the same, things I used to enjoy have lost meaning. As a fitting analogy to my life, I bought the entire run of Twilight Zone on bluray while I was out. I think we all can relate to feeling like we somehow stumbled into one of these episodes where nothing makes sense and everything is "off". 

Thank you KMB, as always your words bring peace and a little illumination. 

Andy

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Couldn't agree more with you both about the weather. Very gray, rainy and cold here too. And several more days coming with no sun. It is definitely affecting me more now. I really crave the sun and blue skies now. I did get out to dinner with a friend tonight which was a great distraction but feeling the loneliness now that I'm home. As KMB said, I also wish it had been dinner with Pat. And as Andy said, this journey really does feel like an episode of the Twilight Zone. It's still all so surreal. Trying hard to learn how to get used to this new life and how to live a good life while missing him every day. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Good luck with the weekend everyone!

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After tornado warnings yesterday it was a beautiful perfect weather day in the lowcountry.  Friends and neighbors came by and a friend tried fishing in the river from our backyard. He caught three fish (he put back) in six casts. As the song goes "there's got to be a morning after." Nature can do wonders, sometimes. 

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HHFaith, you have a wonderful weekend, be safe and take care. That goes for all of my family here. All of you be safe.  

I'm missing my wife a little more today than the normal "miss her like crazy" on every other day. My daughter is gone for the weekend, things are a little quite. I can't stop thinking about her smile, how it brought me so much comfort over the years. Just seeing it was reassuring in a way nothing else ever was. I'm thinking about the smell of her hair, how it made me feel "real", as if it grounded me in our world, a fixture I could cling to. And her head on my shoulder. Oh God how I miss that. That simple gesture that made me feel like I was the most important person in the world, how I wish I could've told her that. I didn't. I never told her how much that meant to me. And I regret that so much, how I let it slip away. I hope she knows now, but I should've told her, so she could know that she made me so very happy by just such a sweet little thing. So many things I want to say. So many things I can't. I hope she isn't upset with me, I love her so much. If I could do it all over, I'd tell her everyday not just that I love her, but all the reasons why. I miss you Tracie, every moment of each day, I look for you in the wind and in the silence. I hope you think of me from time to time. Forever and always, I will love you as I always have. 

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Andy,

I wish you were here, the sun is out for the moment, it might lift your spirits a little.  

Reading through your thoughts and feelings, oh how I can identify, I've had those same thoughts over and over and fight them still.  Fortunately, every day is not grim, and some days might even have something to look forward to in it!

Go ahead, tell her you love her, I tell George all the time, maybe they hear us!

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13 hours ago, KayC said:

Andy,

I wish you were here, the sun is out for the moment, it might lift your spirits a little.  

Reading through your thoughts and feelings, oh how I can identify, I've had those same thoughts over and over and fight them still.  Fortunately, every day is not grim, and some days might even have something to look forward to in it!

Go ahead, tell her you love her, I tell George all the time, maybe they hear us!

Thank you KayC, I'd love to visit your part of the country. Never been there, on my "list" of places. Sun and green trees always work miracles for my disposition. 

I do tell her I love her, all the time. How I'd love to hear her say it back. I know she does, and that'll have to do, but hearing it would be so incredibly wonderful. Just one more time. I miss her so much, what am I going to do? 

Some days KayC, I honestly don't know where this is all going. I just feel broken. 

Love and hugs,

Andy

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Andy, I am sorry you are having such a struggle at present.  You write such beautiful, comforting, inspiring words to others and I am pleased that you feel able to tell us when you're feeling down - maybe one of us will have just the right words to ease your grief.

Believe me, your wife would have known you treasured those simple gestures and loved you all the more for them.  Gestures like that don't go unnoticed or appreciated by a woman ;-)  

You are still early in the grief journey, Andy.  Maybe even coming into the most difficult times as shock wears off.  I hope you will continue to post about how you are feeling.  This forum is such a good place to share your emotions. 

Your daughter being away will no doubt be having an effect on your emotions as well. My daughter spent a lot of time at our home in the eary months after Gerry's death.  I encouraged her to get back into living and enjoying her life and now we may go two or three days before we catch up on the ph. and I am ok with that.  I get a lot of 'old out of town friends' coming to stay a night or two which lifts the spirit nicely, 

i hope you've had a good nights sleep will have a better day. 

Sending strength and hugs, Andy.

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Andy,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss, as well. As you had mentioned, this is a terrible club that nobody wants to join or to be a member of. And yet, because we are all human and none of us are immortal, this is something that will affect each and every one of us eventually. It's just that the thought is so terrifying that people can't seem to truly empathize with others until they have gone through it themselves. And that is where, when we go through something like this, we can often find ourselves amongst large groups of people and yet we feel utterly alone. There is a sense of everything seeming so surreal and I'm certain that anyone going through the early stages of loss and grief has experienced the thought, "How can the world keep spinning and other people and things still appear to be so normal when my whole existence has been irrevocably changed forever.' This is why sites like this can be so very helpful and comforting. As well as communicating with people that are also experiencing the loss of a loved one. To know that we are not alone and many of the thoughts and feelings that we experience are indeed shared by others going through this walk.  

You had reached out and commented on my post and I read your post about your experience and the comments that you have made on other peoples posts. You had mentioned that you would like to be able to help others to ease their grief and pain and I just wanted to point out that you really do seem to have a unique and precious  gift in conveying your thoughts through the spoken word. What you have written about your own experience and the comments that you have made on other people's posts has been so insightful and beautiful that I think that you will indeed be able to provide comfort to others and in turn, this will help you in the healing process, too. Perhaps that is the true path to healing and to fulfilling life's purpose during our time here on Earth. Reaching out to others and connecting on a heartfelt level instead of the somewhat, superficial level that we tend to do when we perceive people to be strangers. Loss and grief have a way of stripping away that veil and of showing us just how fragile, fleeting and precious life can be. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and observations. I wish for you and your daughter, continued healing and blessings.

Zuzuspetals

 

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On 5/5/2017 at 8:34 PM, Andy said:

KMB, you mentioned hard to concentrate, flitting from one thing to another, wow, you just described my level of function. And the weather, absolutely it effects me, now more so than ever. I have always been subject to foul moods when there's a prolonged period of grey, but now all it takes is a day or two and I'm down. AND you summed up my overall feeling tonight, spending this empty Friday evening meandering around trying to find something worthwhile. I sit at work, hating it, waiting until it's time to go, then I finally get home, and...nothing. I drive to town and it's like either I'm an alien in a strange world or I'm on earth surrounded by aliens. Either way, nothing looks the same, feels the same, things I used to enjoy have lost meaning. As a fitting analogy to my life, I bought the entire run of Twilight Zone on bluray while I was out. I think we all can relate to feeling like we somehow stumbled into one of these episodes where nothing makes sense and everything is "off". 

Thank you KMB, as always your words bring peace and a little illumination. 

Andy

Andy,

Go to the link, and open the book to "view inside".  Read the first entry for January 1.  I think it applies to how you were feeling...

 

https://www.amazon.com/Healing-After-Loss-Meditations-Working/dp/0380773384

Mike

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Zuzuspetals, thank you for your kind words of encouragement and sharing your insight with me. 

I'm on one of those rough pieces of road now, nothing unexpected, but difficult nonetheless. It's the deeper parts of the valley that I struggle with, mostly due to the variance of the experience. If it were a recurring issue or a familiar pain each time, I think it's impact would be somehow "less". These valleys seem to present new aspects of my grief, things unseen and therefore take me unaware. Loneliness, aspects of memory, guilt, losing my confidence, struggling to find reasons and purpose, the world around me losing its connection with me, feeling like something is wrong with me, and the list just grows. As I start to cope with one, another comes along and knocks me down again. I'm not saying anything thats any sort of revelation to anyone here, but it's new for me, my road to walk. And like all of you, I walk alone. Some days are actually close to a "normalized" version of what was. I go through the day without falling apart or wanting to crawl back into bed. I know those are momentary respites from the storm, my minds way of letting itself rest. Other days are a maelstrom of dark emotions, loss, grief, longing, guilt, all making this perfect storm of sorrow. Sometimes I question how much I can endure. I'm confident that I will manage, I have a daughter who continues to need her dad, and I won't let her, or my wife, down. Some days are just harder than others. 

Thank you again for those kind things you say, I really do appreciate your thoughts. As I've said, my confidence is questionable, so it's nice to hear that my words make sense and actually may do some good. Thank you.

Andy

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7 hours ago, soundmankeysman1 said:

 

 

Andy,

Go to the link, and open the book to "view inside".  Read the first entry for January 1.  I think it applies to how you were feeling...

 

https://www.amazon.com/Healing-After-Loss-Meditations-Working/dp/0380773384

Mike

Thank you, that's very thoughtful of you. This is such a great site, everyone here willing to take the time to reach out and help. After going to the link, I'm going to get that book.

Again, thank you so much,

Andy

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Andy,

It's true, you really do help others, from posting notes of encouragement to others, to just being authentic about how you're feeling, it lets us all know we are not alone in what we face, and our feelings are normal.

Oregon is green and gorgeous but it can rain on our parades!  

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Just some thoughts about Mothers Day. 

As Mothers Day gets closer, it's beginning to bother me more than I thought it would, after all, I lost my wife, not my mom. She is, however, the mother of my daughter, so it'll be forever linked in my thoughts. Never before have I not spent Mothers Day with both my mom and my wife. All the tv commercials, the displays in stores, the endless reminders. Valentine's Day, Easter, now this. Just another day now, lacking definition and substance. My daughter, oh bless her heart, will mark this as the first of all the rest of Mother's Day without her mom. Her mommy, momma, sometimes mom, will be absent this time, looming larger because of it. I'm feeling worse as the day gets closer, anticipatory grief I suppose. I'm glad it's not a day I have to be at work. I sit and think of all this on a constant basis as it is, I don't need this added. 

My wife's single greatest joy was being a mom, it helped define her, gave her a reason. She lived for our daughter (s), she gave everything she could, and then some. Even at 42, she often talked of children, imagining what it would be like. Her devotion to her baby was absolute and unconditional. My daughter doesn't have that now, her mom is never coming home. Her mom, the guide she needs, the inspiration she needs, the comfort and reassurance she needs. She will never hear her say "happy birthday", "merry Christmas", "it'll be okay", or "I love you" again. I don't know how this will unfold Sunday, I'm utterly depressed. I wish I could fly away, hide from my sorrow, but we know there is no such place. Besides, my daughter needs me. 

Anyway,  I wanted to think "out loud", put my emotions in word form, share with my grief family.

Peace and comfort,

Andy 

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Hugs Andy.  I'm sorry I probably don't have adequate words to bring you much comfort but I do want you to know that I understand your apprehension. Celebrating Mother's Day was always looked forward to in our family too.  

Sending you strength and hugs. 

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Dear Andy,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I'm so sorry for your pain and sorrow. I, too, wish I could hide or fly away. I will be thinking of you and your daughter this weekend. You sound like such a good daddy. Everything you write touches my heart.

Sending you all my thoughts and prayers.

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Mother's Day is going to be tough.  I haven't heard from my kids.  My daughter is going through a really tough time with losing her baby and then her husband.  My mom has been gone 2 3/4 years.  Am not sure if I'll be spending the day alone.  Everyone is busy with their own families, you know how the holidays are.

I'm sorry you're in so much pain, Andy.  This is a tough road, isn't it.

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