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fzald

The loss of physical intimacy (safe place to share)

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GoldenPoppy, Sorry for your loss. Yes, we miss everything, our beloveds and everything about them. I admire your sense of humor. Says a lot about your coping skills. My husband's name was also Ed. Many wonderful, caring souls here. I hope you keep posting. Family and friends fade away, but we are all here for each other.

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Tomorrow will mark 6 months from the last night I got to spend with my wife. I went to bed before her; she stayed up late, as she was enrolled in an online college. That had become something of a routine for us and I'd gotten used to going to bed alone most nights. In a sense, I'd already been missing the intimacy of having her there with me at night.

I still hear her in my mind. She was funny and opinionated. So, as much as I miss her every day, I still have that part of her with me all the time. In that sense, she's still with me and always will be. Physical intimacy, though, is something I've had to mourn every day and every night. As everyone agrees, it's not just sex (although that is a part of it), but her touch, her smell, just her presence, is very, very hard for me, because it's not something I can ever have again.

I will admit to the thought of what it would look like to date again someday. That day is a very long way off, if it ever comes. Never say never, they say. But you know, there's just nothing out there that I want. I had what I wanted and it's gone. I am human, and I desire companionship, and so I'll leave the future open for that possibility someday. For now, though, there is simply nothing out there that could take her place, and for me it feels like that's what it would be - a poor substitute for what I truly desire, which is forever out of reach.

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4Hdad,

Your wife passed from pretty much the same thing my girlfriend passed from. My girl was only 22 years old. She was on a short vacation with her family, and suddenly passed out, pretty much mid-sentence, and never woke up again. It was a burst aneurysm. Completely sudden and unexpected. The pain of sudden loss is in a lot of ways even harder than anticipated loss. I had previously lost a very close friend to cancer at a young age, but I had a year or so to "prepare" for the possibility. With my girlfriend, she was here one day, gone the next. We spoke the morning she passed out. She was fine. She passed out during the day, so she was able to be rushed to the hospital and she held on to life for five days in coma, but never woke up and passed away. The day she passed was the same day she was supposed to come back to town and see me again. For the first couple of weeks I struggled so much with that, because we also had Valentine's day plans together. 

As I've said on this thread we had an active intimate life, but like you I grieve not just the loss of sex itself but the loss of her physical presence, her closeness. It felt amazing just sitting next to her with an arm around her, even if there was nothing sexual about it. When she would come over, she would often sit on my couch with me and we'd find ourselves dozing off, in each other's arms, with my head on her shoulder. It was the most amazing feeling, to be physically close in person to someone you love so much, even if there was nothing sexual going on. Of course we were sexually active, and I miss that too. But more than anything I just wish I could curl up with her again, hold her, smell her fragrance, hear her sweet voice, feel her warmth and her soft skin and her soft touch. 

I have thought, too, of whether I'll ever want to date again. I have only been in this for a month. So right now, everything is still so fresh, and all I can think of day in and day out is her. I miss her every second of every day and night. I know that if I even tried to date anyone right now, I would be comparing that person to her every single step of the way. Everyone will be "inferior" in my mind to her. I had everything I wanted in her, she wanted to move in with me, we talked of marriage after we got our careers in order, even talked about raising a family. I was living the dream. I had everything a man could want - a good job, a comfortable home, and a truly amazing soulmate partner. In the space of a day, all of that was taken from me. Sure I still have my job and my home, but they feel so meaningless, so empty, so pointless without her by my side.

 

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Fzald,

I hear you and I feel for you. After one month I was still spinning. Everything was an unknown. I had no idea how I was going to move forward, in any respect.

I'm still there in some ways. And, I'm with you still on the feeling of having a suddenly pointless existence. All of these things like the house and the job have only become means to an end - but it's an end to which there is no longer any meaning, other than the kids. They're the only reason I have to go on, honestly. I'm not a suicidal person, but if I didn't have those kids, I'd just as soon be done with it all. I do my best to keep up appearances, for them and for everyone else, because nobody wants to hear how meaningless and empty the world truly feels. I avoid the platitudes that way, for the most part, that well meaning-folks can sometimes offer when they're trying their best to lift us up. I appreciate all of it, I really do, but none of it does a thing to relieve the emptiness for someone like me.

My wife wasn't perfect, but she was mine. We married young and went through a whole lot together, the very good and the very bad, across a couple of decades where we both grew into the people we were. I have no idea where I'd be if I didn't have her in my life, and I know in my heart that if our roles had been reversed and it had happened to me instead, she'd be feeling the exact same way I am - lost and alone in the world.

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4Hdad,

I envy you, I only wish I had had more than the mere 5+ years I had with my girlfriend. We also met when she was young, still in high school, but there was immediate attraction and my position in life was just right for it. I was going back to school and she was planning to start college, so we ended up going to college together. We grew and morphed into different, better people through the time we had. I still just can't stop feeling sad about how she was taken from the world so young. It's never easy to lose anyone at any age, but it does feel like the younger the person is when they pass, the more the loss stings, because you have so much future, so much ambition, so much purpose that just goes unfulfilled. My girl had plans for her life, for our lives together. She did everything as right as she could. Got a job quickly, worked hard in school and at work, was careful with money, always was helpful to everyone. And like you said, she wasn't perfect. We had our moments where we almost broke up. But we always found our way back together. She was mine, but even more importantly, I was hers, and we were ours. 

If I had had 15 more years with her, it still wouldn't have been enough. 40 more years wouldn't have been enough. But to have her gone when she was only 22, just starting to live life, just starting to really spread her wings, just beginning to truly experience the joys of life. She lived a lot in her time here, but she had so much more life left to live. We had plans to travel together, she wanted so badly to travel around the world and see the beauties of this round ball we call the Earth. She was a true embodiment of life. 

I can't blame anyone for her passing. i know this. It was a freak medical accident that nobody, not even her, saw coming. In retrospect I did notice she was slowing down a little her last month, but nothing that would be alarming in any way. She was just more tired and having more headaches and a little dizziness. We think now that this was the aneurysm, affecting the pressure in parts of her brain and causing symptoms, but how would you know that? Headaches and nausea are common indicators of all sorts of things, many of them totally benign. I can't blame anyone. I won't even blame "the Universe" because I don't believe that any self-conscious entity, even supernatural, would have caused this. The physics make sense, when a blood vessel bursts in your head, blood rushes into places it doesn't belong, and too much of that kills you. But on a spiritual, emotional level, I can't totally face and cope with the loss.

She truly made my life worth living. What I thought was happiness and purpose became dull compared to what I felt with her. I knew it, too. I often thanked "the stars" or whatever, and even her directly, for being with me. She chose me, I knew this, and I couldn't have been more honored. I was on top of the world. I felt that nothing could be better. I had what everyone wants: a great job I loved, a comfortable place to live, food on my table, and a soulmate who I could share this world with. I honestly couldn't have asked for any more in my life only a couple months ago. When she passed, she took all the joy out of my life with her. She took my purpose. I exist now, I don't live. 

Just for the heck of it I went on one of the free dating sites, just to see how it would make me feel. I realized I was right. In my head, I immediately "compared" everyone I saw to my girlfriend, and then immediately thought of all the ways anyone on the site differed from her. I'm of course not ready, it was more just a thought experiment and it was free. But I still don't know if I'll ever be able to truly give myself to another relationship. I'm young enough that I still should be able to find a long-term relationship. But I don't know if I will be able to, even if I want to...

 

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I did the exact same thing, for the exact same reasons, with the exact same results. None of that was interesting in the least. I've played it out some in my head and realized that not only am I so not ready for anything like that, nor convinced that I ever will be, but that even if I found a new relationship, it wouldn't be fair to that other woman. I've already had and lost everything I ever wanted. In the spirit of 'never say never,' I cant say what the future will bring, but it just doesn't feel like that is ever going to change.

About a decade ago, a friend of mine lost her husband. They were in their 50's, together since high school, and had never dated anyone else in their lives. Over the years since, I never expressed but always hoped that she'd get to a place where she could find someone, just so she wouldn't be alone. She's a lovely woman and a wonderful person, and I wanted to see her happy again. Of course that never happened, because she'd already had everything she ever wanted. It took my experiencing what she had experienced for me to even begin to understand what she felt. I can't tell you if it's ever going to change. I just don't know. But, even if I don't believe I'll ever get there, I'm going to try to be open to the possibility that I just might someday. We're both still very new to this, and we don't have to have the answers just yet.

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I had those thoughts of never being able to find someone to measure up when I was with my previous girlfriend. I was depressed for a good 6 months or more wondering if I would ever be able to date again. I did stay single for about 2 years. Then along came my girl, the one who I lost. She wasn't like my ex. She was better in every possible way. Suddenly I realized yes, I can love again.

But this is different. This relationship didn't end in a breakup. It wasn't "broken". She passed away. It's totally different.

Maybe I will find someone. I mean, I didn't think I could before, and I did. But at the same time. I loved this girl so much more completely than my ex. My ex was great, but had some emotional issues. That's not to say my girlfriend who passed didn't.  But our relationship was far more mature and serious. 

I know I should keep myself open to possibilities. But death is a totally different kind of loss than a breakup. I am only in my early 30s, more than young enough to find someone. I have said it before, and this might sound shallow, but I don't think anyone will ever truly measure up to her. 

 

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I am nowhere close to even thinking of dating again.  I am not at a mental place right now where I could be of any value to another person dealing with their emotional issues if they didn't directly relate to my own.  I don't know if I ever will be in that place, and I kind of doubt it, but I won't slam the door on the eventual possibility.  All that said, this measuring up stuff doesn't hit me quite right.

It's been a long time since "dating" was anything other than a husband and wife doing date night for me, but from what I do remember of it, it didn't involve expecting the other person to measure up to anything.  It was more along the lines of "I like this person, she is attractive and interesting, so I think I will see if she wants to get dinner".  I know when I met Christine, I certainly didn't think to myself "this one will be my soulmate".  It went more along the lines of "This lady seems nice, she rescued my dog", then she had me pretend to be her boyfriend because there was a guy that had been hitting on her that she didn't want to deal with.

Even before Christine, I didn't really think "This one needs to be better than the last one".  Think back to other relationships in your past, not your lost love.  Now think how they would react if you were keeping a check list of how they matched up to previous relationships.  My bet is that wouldn't be real pretty.  Sure you keep some mental tabs, "I like her smile more", "I wish she had my ex's taste in music", that sort of thing, but a real check list?  I know I never did that.

My point is that if any of us do ever get to a point where we would want to date again, I am not sure if the whole measuring up thing would be healthy.  I also doubt it would happen.  I don't think that's how it works.  If you want to date, you want to get to know a person, experience them, see what the two of you interacting is like, not grade them.

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Herc,

You have an interesting point. Like you said, when I met my girl this time, I didn't plan for us to become "soulmates". I knew there was instant attraction between us, but at the time I didn't know where things were going. I enjoyed her company. She made me laugh. She was attractive. She opened me up to the idea that maybe I could date again, because like I said I'd been out of the loop for a couple years. I invited her to a dance event, that was the first time we were "physically" close, and I remember, something awoke in me, a feeling I hadn't had in years.  That was also the night she said she fell in love with me. Only a few weeks later, we were dating. We still didn't know where anything was going, but we were just happy to "be together". The I love you's flowed so naturally. No awkwardness. Just enjoyment and happiness together. 

You're right, I never had a checklist comparing her to my ex. By the time I was starting with her I think I had finally reached a point of being able to remember the relationship with my ex as the past. The difference was, my ex still was, and is, alive. We eventually opened up to being casual friends and she was one of the first people who actually called to ask if I was OK when the news of my girlfriend's death hit Facebook. So there's one thing that's different. But as the relationship with my girlfriend progressed we just got more and more connected and involved. There's no point at which I could say she became a "soulmate", but thinking back on it I feel like she truly was the one I was meant to be with, and so many things happened at the right time to bring her into my life - like me finally being able to open up to dating again. 

I also had a little smile when you mentioned pretending to date, because my friend, who lost her husband (who was my childhood friend) when he was 22 also, started out that way. They pretended to date because he was annoyed at a girl who was hitting on him that he wanted nothing to do with. But the pretending quickly became a lot more, and they were eventually married and planning a life together. His life was cut short by cancer. Every relationship has a unique beginning, just like every life has a unique ending, I suppose. 

If I ever do date again, I know I have to be in a place where I can be receptive to it. It took me maybe a little over 16 months last time to start to feel like maybe I could try again. But that time, it was a breakup, not a death. And as I said, that relationship was much shorter and had many more problems than the one I just had. So maybe I will be able to date, but right now, it doesn't feel like that will ever be the case. 

 

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This has been in the back of my mind for a while now, but has just recently come to the fore.

I've been writing letters to my girlfriend, a page or two every day, starting a week after she passed.  Just recently I was writing to her about the things that I missed, not for the first time of course.  But this time it quickly turned very sexual.  No need to go into details, but some of it was pretty graphic.  I think I was probably more open, and more specific, about what I enjoyed about our sex life in that letter than I ever was when she was alive.  And afterwards I felt awful about it.  Like, how dare I concern myself with that when losing her already meant losing so many "more important" things.

But, the more I think about it, the more I realize how important that part of our relationship really was.  I mean, she was the only partner I've ever had who I knew wanted me as much as I wanted her.  And, damn, that felt good.  And I have never felt more loved and accepted than afterward, when we'd just lay together for a little while and she'd stroke my hair and we'd share a cigarette.

It's hard, but I'm trying to convince myself that it's okay to miss that.  I think part of it is my Catholic upbringing where sex is sinful and something to be ashamed of.  And part of it is that it feels like I'm being disrespectful toward her even though I know that, when she was still here, she enjoyed feeling wanted in that way just as much as I did.

And it's not just the sex, but the non-sexual physical intimacy as well.  The first week or two after it happened, I had a fair amount of family members wanting to hug me.  But I've realized that, in the four months since then, I haven't touched or been touched by another human being in any way.  Not so much as a handshake or a pat on the back.  She was my only source for that, and I miss it terribly.

I've been putting her body spray on a big pillow to make it smell like her, and holding it close to me when I go to sleep.  But that's such an utterly pathetic substitute that half the time it just leaves me feeling worse.  And, even worse than that, sometimes it'll trick me for a moment, right when I wake up.  I'll think it's really her next to me just for a second or two and then, as I fully awaken, I'll remember and I'll start my day with a crying fit.

The lack of any kind of physical intimacy is already driving me a bit crazy.  I don't know how I'm supposed to go the rest of my life without it.  But, at the same time, the thought of having that with anyone but her is... I can't think of the right word.  Repellent?  That sounds about right.  I don't know what to do with myself. 

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On 3/17/2017 at 1:22 AM, Gonz said:

Like, how dare I concern myself with that when losing her already meant losing so many "more important" things.

We don't rate the things we miss about them, each and every one of these things is a loss in and of itself.  Loss of sexual contact and intimacy are one more thing we face and deal with when we lose our partner to death.  It is a very real and vital part of our relationship and now it's gone.  Don't berate yourself for being human!

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Agree with KayC. I started this thread myself because I wanted people to be able to talk about missing intimacy safely. It is a very real part of almost every good relationship. Actual sex is definitely one part of it, but intimacy goes beyond just the physical act of sex. Like you describe, it's the physical closeness, touching, human contact, smelling each others' fragrances, feeling your skin against each other, warmth, cuddling, touching hair, holding hands, all of those things. They all amount to intimacy.

Here in the US at least, we tend to be pretty "touch-averse". People may shake hands, and maybe pat each other on the back, but for the most part people tend to shy away from any physical contact with people other than their closest friends, family members and partners. We teach children at a young age in school that people should respect each other's "personal space". We even punish kids who get "too close" to other kids or touch them in any way. 

Of course intimate touching should be reserved for partners, things like sex itself of course but also cuddling, being naked together, touching private areas, that sorta stuff. But I wonder a lot if our lives would be just a little less empty if people were willing to embrace this basic human need. It's evident from infancy that people need to be touched. Babies that aren't held, touched, played with enough do sometimes suffer adverse effects from it. There are other cultures which do not have such an aversion to physical contact. 

I do know that since my love died, I have physically ached for touch. I have felt an urgent physical need to be hugged, cuddled, touched even non-sexually. Just to feel physically close to someone. But like you said Gonz, I also can't imagine being physically close with anyone other than her. Friends have hugged me but it doesn't do anything to help. Sometimes a strong hug will bring on some tears, because it reminds me of how much I miss her hugs. 

Gonz, I also know the feeling of being with someone who wanted me badly. I have a conversation on my phone from sometime last year, when she was so incredibly turned o that she told me she wanted to ask to leave work early so we could go to it. her words were along the lines of "I don't know why but I need you right now, so badly." She said she was even considering taking me into the family single-room bathroom. (lol) We did actually cut out of work early, we went to my place, it was amazing, and afterwards the cuddling and just the closeness, kissing, laying on top of each other... That day was so blissful, so great. Those are the kind of days I lived for, not just the sex but the intimacy, the closeness. The pure spiritual and emotional connection to her. The thing is, even if another woman told me she wanted me that bad, right now it would mean nothing. I wouldn't be able to do it. It is still as if my girl took all of my spirit with her, leaving behind just a shell, a functional brain but without a soul. 

I don't know how anyone gets through it.

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