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KayC

Nighttime

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I received this today from What's Your Grief, and I know it's something a lot of us have struggled with so I want to share it with you.

What's Your Grief

There's a new article on What's Your Grief.  Although you can read the post below, we recommend you head over the the site for optimal reading experience.

Nighttime Rumination in Grief - 2017-12-12 16:22:49-05

Some nights feel like an abyss.  It starts small, with a thought or a memory or a worry that cracks the ground beneath me and before I know it my foundation has crumbled away and I am tumbling into darkness. These thoughts are no different than those I have during the day, but in the hurried daylight hours, they seem more random and fleeting. Whereas in the evening they appear while I’m brushing my teeth or putting on pajamas as though on cue, and in the quiet of the night, when working hours are over and my family is asleep and when I know I should be asleep, there is little to stand in the way of the snowballing inertia of my mind’s most distressing thoughts.

I think it’s safe to say that my nighttime brooding is a form of rumination. Rumination definitions vary but generally speaking it is when a person continuously goes over a thought, issue, memory, or problem without making progress, reaching conclusions, or finding peace of mind. Rumination is something everyone does, but for some, it is an itch that they can’t help but scratch raw.

There have been many studies on what psychologists call ‘depressive rumination’ as well as ‘grief rumination’ which may be defined as, “repetitive and recurrent thinking about causes and consequences of the loss and loss-related emotions.” (Eisma & Stroebe, 2017). Both are associated with poorer outcomes following the death of a loved one as compared to non-ruminators, as well as experiences like depression, PTSD, poor problem solving, negative thoughts, and self-blame.

So why do people do it? Is it in hopes of stumbling on some tidbit that might make their worries seem more bearable? Or are these thoughts simply a symptom of an overarching struggle the person has yet to make peace with?The answer to these questions depends on which theorist you ask. Some theorists view rumination as ineffective attempts to confront or problem-solve one’s worries, experiences, and anxieties. Other theorists view rumination as an efforts to avoid accepting reality. For example, if a person continuously ruminates over what they could have been different in the past (you know those old familiar “if-onlys”), they may never get around to accepting the reality of the present. Eisma & Stroebe (2017) explain how this avoidance could potentially have a negative impact on coping with grief,

“This may have negative consequences because such avoidance could interfere with acceptance of the loss and/or could impede integration of one’s personal memories about the loss with existing memories, thereby fueling grief complications”

Coping with Nighttime Rumination

I’m writing this article from the perspective of someone who is searching for a solution, just like many of you. As someone with a background in counseling and grief, my first question was whether a person should try and put their thoughts at bay, or attempt to confront the underlying issues in a more effective way. Interestingly, I think the answer may be both, especially if your ultimate goal is getting a good night’s sleep. Below are a few suggestions that I’ve put together after doing a little reading. You may also wish to read our article Grief and Getting a Good Night’s Sleep for a more in-depth discussion on good sleep hygiene.

Examine your stress-level and how you are coping with grief and stress during the day:

Stress is bound to increase the number of problems and worries that keep you awake at night. If you can reduce your stress during the day, theoretically you should feel calmer and more in control at night. To the extent that you can, get rid of unnecessary stressors and then take a look at how you are coping with the stress that remains. Do you set aside time to engage in self-care activities that will boost positive thoughts and emotions? Do you take the time to constructively cope with your own grief? Does it seem like you problem-solving effectively?

Keep in mind, it’s important to address both stressors related to day-to-day logistics as well as emotions related to your grief. If you are grappling with rumination, guilt, anxiety, fear, intrusive thoughts, etc that are causing you significant personal distress or impacting your day-to-day functioning, you may want to consider seeing a counselor.

Unwind before bed:

Most sleep experts recommend establishing some type of calming bedtime routine that lasts at least 30 minutes. I know it’s hard, but you should turn off all screens. Not only are devices portholes to further stressors (think annoying social media posts, depressing late-night television, and stressful work emails), but the light from these devices can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime and prevent the secretion of your body’s natural sleep chemical, melatonin. Instead, opt for calming (and boring) activities like taking a shower or bath, meditation, reading, listening to music, etc.

Say “Not tonight!” to distressing thoughts: 

When you notice yourself starting to ruminate, it may be helpful to stop the cycle in its tracks by distracting yourself. Focus on something boring or mundane like making a meaningless list (ex. boys names that begin with each letter of the alphabet). Sometimes I find it helpful to daydream (at night) and make up fictional stories. Or try distracting yourselfrabbit-768x493.jpg from thinking about the past and/or the future is by focusing on the present. For example, try naming 5 things you hear around you and 5 things you feel, then 4 of each, 3…2…1…you get the idea. And if all else fails, go ahead and count those sheep.

Learn relaxation techniques:

We’re always quick to recommend easy tools like breathing exercises (focusing on your breathing), progressive muscle relaxation (progressively tensing and relaxing each muscle group from your head down to your toes), meditation, guided imagery, and mantras (repeating a simple word or phrase to focus and calm your mind). I know these may seem new agey to some of you, but they are actually really simple and accessible coping tools.  This is a big topic that begs its own article, but in the meantime check out the following:

UCLA Health has 8 free guided meditations ranging in length from 3 minutes to 19 minutes

Headspace: Headspace is a meditation app that you can also access from your computer. It has paid options, but you can sign up for their free version which walks you through a 10-day introduction. I like the introductory meditations because the incorporate short, engaging videos that explain different meditation techniques.

YouTube: YouTube has a ton of mindfulness and meditation videos. For example, the searches “meditation for sleep” and “progressive muscle relaxation” bring up many different results.

Practice accepting your thoughts:

Sometimes the harder you try to stop thinking about something, the more you wind up thinking about it. In these instances, instead of trying to avoid the thought, you may want to work on changing your relationship with the thought and how you respond to it. Now I’ll admit this does take some work, often through things already mentioned like therapy and meditation, but it’s a worthwhile effort.

Something you could try include:

  • Remind yourself that these thoughts are a normal part of your grief and/or anxiety and that they can’t hurt you.
  • Remember that sometimes thoughts, especially those related to grief, depression, and anxiety, are untrue and irrational and search for evidence that refutes your worst-case scenarios.
  • Try to think of one positive or optimistic thought for every negative
  • Get up and go write about whatever is on your mind in a dimly lit room. Not only do sleep experts recommend you get up and do something like reading and writing when you can’t sleep, but people often find that writing helps them to get a handle on their worries.

Whew, now I’m exhausted! Subscribe to receive our posts straight to your email inbox.

 

The post Nighttime Rumination in Grief appeared first on What's Your Grief.

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Great suggestions. I dread going to bed. It’s amazing how a worry during the day is 100x worse at night. 

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I take double my anxiety medicine at night.  I get through the day, nightime looms differently.

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Good reading.  During the day, I'm better equipped to handle the grief better than at night.  Charles was the one who had trouble sleeping at night and I slept like a baby.  Since he's no longer here, it seems as if I've taken over his sleep problems.  Maybe its psychological, who knows.  Haven't taken any meds on the problem even the doctor was more than willing to write a prescription, but I never was a med person and don't want to start know.  I eventually fall sleep but it's broken sleep.  On occasion I'll try to get a nap during the day.

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Thank you  for sharing the article, KayC. I agree that night time is the worst. I have found that writing and reading at bedtime work best for me. I still wake up every hour or two, something I have gotten used to. Some of the article's suggestions require commitment and consistency in practice, for those willing to give them a try. Well written article.

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Night is hard because that's when we slept together, that's when we shared our alone time, daytime has work and activities to keep us busy.  I have a hard time staying asleep, and if I wake up, I don't usually go back to sleep.  It's in the wee hours anxiety comes to visit so I have to deal with that.  I've heard lavender is relaxing and calming but unfortunately I don't like the smell.

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Nights are very difficult. Nightmares and bizarre dreams are now what I experience. I'm tired of waking up crying, screaming or soaking wet from sweating (I assume it's from a nightmare). Night time used to be my favorite time because everyday stuff faded away. It was just me and Lauri snuggled up together. Sigh... I miss her so much. 

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We cuddled up at night too, "spooned", our legs entwined.  Ahh, nothing could faze us with each other!

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Sleeping without my wife never became a problem until I was two months into the grief.  I think in the earlier months, I was so consumed with the grief that when I went to bed, I immediately crashed because of exhaustion.   

I use to gently nudge my wife with my foot in the middle of the night just to make sure she was still there.  It's almost like a young child wanting that security that he/she was not alone.  These days, there's no point of nudging.   I don't even try it.  My mind already knows she's not here.  It's part of my reality.

Knowing the reality is my killer these days.

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4 weeks to the day of his passing and the nights are painful. There are days I can't even fall asleep. I go to bed and cry for hours until I  can finally close my eyes and rest. On our last day together, I hugged him in the morning, in bed, told him I loved him, and went to work. He smiled and told me he loved me back. I'll never get to experience that again, and it makes the idea of bedtime so very painful.

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1 minute ago, lovingstill said:

On our last day together, I hugged him in the morning, in bed, told him I loved him, and went to work. He smiled and told me he loved me back. I'll never get to experience that again, and it makes the idea of bedtime so very painful.

When I see other couples out in the world, I think about how lucky they are to have each other.  I think the average couple has no idea how wonderful it is to have someone to come home to.  They will never know what it means to lose someone special like this until they are gone.

I feel so defeated and feel so sorry that each and everyone of us have to go through this lifetime of misery.

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1 minute ago, Azipod said:

When I see other couples out in the world, I think about how lucky they are to have each other.  I think the average couple has no idea how wonderful it is to have someone to come home to.  They will never know what it means to lose someone special like this until they are gone.

I feel so defeated and feel so sorry that each and everyone of us have to go through this lifetime of misery.

Every day is so painful for me. Just thinking about everything I didn't get with him makes it that much harder to be awake: children, a future, a life. We were just getting started and it was taken away from us so suddenly. I don't understand why we met this "fate" but I hate waking up every day and remembering that he's not with me.

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I drink.  That's what helps me to sleep.  Half a bottle of wine on weeknights.  Fridzys and Saturdays I just keep drinking until I can't stay awake.  A bottle or a bottle and a half usually does it (I'm up to a bottle and a half tonight with another half bottle to go before I run out)

 I'm usually fast asleep by now but today I did something completely mad and it's keeping me awake - I booked a diving holiday in Indonesia for March.  I'm going alone, flying from Heathrow to Singapore to Indonesia.   Its way too expensive and I dont really know what I'm hoping to get out of it - I  think I just want to lose myself underwater for a couple of weeks. . . With luck I'll drown and never have to come back!  At the very least it's giving me a glimmer of something to look forward to in this neverending hellhole that my life has become.  Clive never enjoyed diving so its something I did without him which means there's no baggage there.  I wont be diving and thinking about times we did it together because we never did.  Does that make sense? No, I know that none of this makes sense.  But here I am, fat, fair and fifties, about to head off into the jungle alone. It feels like a huge step.  Like I'm putting the first bit of distance between myself and Clive and I feel so guilty about it.  But it also feels like something I have to do.  At any rate, it's got to be better than heading to Mexico in search of Nembutal hasn't it?

Anyway - on with the next glass of wine.

 

Goodnight all.  I'm sending you all hugs and hoping that we all get a nights sleep tonight. The Gods know we deserve it.

(((((((Hugs))))))

 

Aly

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26 minutes ago, Skywise said:

I drink.  That's what helps me to sleep.  Half a bottle of wine on weeknights.  Fridzys and Saturdays I just keep drinking until I can't stay awake.  A bottle or a bottle and a half usually does it (I'm up to a bottle and a half tonight with another half bottle to go before I run out)

 I'm usually fast asleep by now but today I did something completely mad and it's keeping me awake - I booked a diving holiday in Indonesia for March.  I'm going alone, flying from Heathrow to Singapore to Indonesia.   Its way too expensive and I dont really know what I'm hoping to get out of it - I  think I just want to lose myself underwater for a couple of weeks. . . With luck I'll drown and never have to come back!  At the very least it's giving me a glimmer of something to look forward to in this neverending hellhole that my life has become.  Clive never enjoyed diving so its something I did without him which means there's no baggage there.  I wont be diving and thinking about times we did it together because we never did.  Does that make sense? No, I know that none of this makes sense.  But here I am, fat, fair and fifties, about to head off into the jungle alone. It feels like a huge step.  Like I'm putting the first bit of distance between myself and Clive and I feel so guilty about it.  But it also feels like something I have to do.  At any rate, it's got to be better than heading to Mexico in search of Nembutal hasn't it?

Anyway - on with the next glass of wine.

 

Goodnight all.  I'm sending you all hugs and hoping that we all get a nights sleep tonight. The Gods know we deserve it.

(((((((Hugs))))))

 

Aly

I'm so sorry for all of us who are going through this. I'm glad you're going to diving -- sounds fun. Unfortunately for me, it's still too early to think of vacationing, to think of being without him. My heart aches thinking about all of the things I can't have because I don't have him anymore. He loved the ocean; he loved tropical climates; he loved warm summer breezes. He hated snow with a passion; he grew up with it but he never loved it and spent his whole life trying to run away from it. He died in the one place he always dreamed he would spend the rest of his life, and if nothing else can bring me comfort, that does.

 

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4 hours ago, lovingstill said:

I'm so sorry for all of us who are going through this. I'm glad you're going to diving -- sounds fun. Unfortunately for me, it's still too early to think of vacationing, to think of being without him. My heart aches thinking about all of the things I can't have because I don't have him anymore. He loved the ocean; he loved tropical climates; he loved warm summer breezes. He hated snow with a passion; he grew up with it but he never loved it and spent his whole life trying to run away from it. He died in the one place he always dreamed he would spend the rest of his life, and if nothing else can bring me comfort, that does.

I'm almost at 6-months but I don't think that I will be going on any vacations soon.   It's not that its not possible for me to do.  But I just feel that I won't be able to enjoy a trip on my own, without my wife with me.  It's somehow ingrained in my mind that vacations are times where we left the dramas of every day life, so that we could celebrate and be at a place of our choosing on our own.   Because of this, there's no way I would be able to enjoy a vacation --- at least not at this time.  I'll just keep thinking about her, and about why she is not with me.  I know it's going to take some mental work for me to get over this... but it's just not right for me at this time.     Heck, I can't even enjoy the wonders of everyday life.  How in the world am I suppose to go somewhere else and then suddenly, expect everything is OK and then have a good time?

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4 hours ago, Skywise said:

I drink.  That's what helps me to sleep.  Half a bottle of wine on weeknights.  Fridzys and Saturdays I just keep drinking until I can't stay awake.  A bottle or a bottle and a half usually does it (I'm up to a bottle and a half tonight with another half bottle to go before I run out)

 I'm usually fast asleep by now but today I did something completely mad and it's keeping me awake - I booked a diving holiday in Indonesia for March.  I'm going alone, flying from Heathrow to Singapore to Indonesia.   Its way too expensive and I dont really know what I'm hoping to get out of it - I  think I just want to lose myself underwater for a couple of weeks. . . With luck I'll drown and never have to come back!  At the very least it's giving me a glimmer of something to look forward to in this neverending hellhole that my life has become.  Clive never enjoyed diving so its something I did without him which means there's no baggage there.  I wont be diving and thinking about times we did it together because we never did.  Does that make sense? No, I know that none of this makes sense.  But here I am, fat, fair and fifties, about to head off into the jungle alone. It feels like a huge step.  Like I'm putting the first bit of distance between myself and Clive and I feel so guilty about it.  But it also feels like something I have to do.  At any rate, it's got to be better than heading to Mexico in search of Nembutal hasn't it?

Anyway - on with the next glass of wine.

 

Goodnight all.  I'm sending you all hugs and hoping that we all get a nights sleep tonight. The Gods know we deserve it.

(((((((Hugs))))))

 

Aly

Be careful with all the drinking.  It might help you sleep but it might hinder your ability to process the grief.  Also, be careful when you're going to other countries.  Drinking and doing ultra-hazardous activities on foreign soil may be a recipe for disaster!

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9 hours ago, lovingstill said:

Every day is so painful for me. Just thinking about everything I didn't get with him makes it that much harder to be awake: children, a future, a life. We were just getting started and it was taken away from us so suddenly. I don't understand why we met this "fate" but I hate waking up every day and remembering that he's not with me.

I know what you mean.   Friends in my age group are busy posting pictures of their romance or young kids.  And I'm here as a grieving widower who lost the love of my life.   Its scary to think about what "my future" will look like.   Waking up, going to sleep, being asleep, or going through each day..... it's all terrible.  And there's no end to this.   I wish someone would take me out of this misery!

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10 hours ago, Azipod said:

When I see other couples out in the world, I think about how lucky they are to have each other.  I think the average couple has no idea how wonderful it is to have someone to come home to.  They will never know what it means to lose someone special like this until they are gone.

I feel so defeated and feel so sorry that each and everyone of us have to go through this lifetime of misery.

Yes seeing other peoples make me realize how lucky they are and they should thank their fate for this every single moment. One day in my office in lunch time one boy was making arrangements for his lady to sit and i was looking them and felt so nice and bad at same time bcs my goli not here to take of me or do all this stuff. 

That time i was blank for some moments and then my friends  interrupted in between,i guess they knew i was lost that moment in my memories.

Friday evening everyone feels so happy going home to someone waiting for them and i go to home with fear how i am gonna spend my 2 days. We never imagined this life ever, this is bad than dieing , you die at once but living like this dieing each and every moment.

 

 

 

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I don't think I'm going on holiday so much as running away.  I'm finding it so hard to stay in our home, sleep in our bed, watch our TV, sit by our fire, all alone.  Everywhere I turn he's here.  Every breath I take is full of him.  We renovated the whole house together from the floorboards up so everything I touch or see was put there by Clive.   If I turn on a light I can see his hands screwing the switch plates to the wall and hear him teaching me how to do it.  When I light the fire, I can see his hands re-bricking it and see him sighting down the timbers to choose the straights ones to construct the fire surround.  He built the kitchen ,  laid the floors, built the garage, put up the conservatory, chose the furniture, the curtains, the paintings on the bloody walls.  It's all him. He even built our bed with his own hands.  Where I now have to sleep without him every night.  He built us this home and now I'm here on my own and it's driving me slowly mad.  Hence the drinking to get me to sleep.  Its either alcohol or go to the doctor for sleeping tablets and, quite honestly, I don't want that sort of temptation in the house because I promised him I wouldn't "do anything stupid".

That's why I'm running away and going as far as I can afford to go.  Believe me, if I had more money I'd be going a lot further and staying away a lot longer.  If I could go tomorrow then I would. Maybe if I go far enough to somewhere with no memories of us being together, I'll be able to take a full breath again and not feel as if I'm suffocating on all this pain

And if I die whilst I'm diving? Well, that would just be doing me a favour and it wouldn't be suicide so it wouldn't break my promise. It would be a win-win as far as I'm concerned.

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1 hour ago, Skywise said:

I don't think I'm going on holiday so much as running away.  I'm finding it so hard to stay in our home, sleep in our bed, watch our TV, sit by our fire, all alone.  Everywhere I turn he's here.  Every breath I take is full of him.  We renovated the whole house together from the floorboards up so everything I touch or see was put there by Clive.   If I turn on a light I can see his hands screwing the switch plates to the wall and hear him teaching me how to do it.  When I light the fire, I can see his hands re-bricking it and see him sighting down the timbers to choose the straights ones to construct the fire surround.  He built the kitchen ,  laid the floors, built the garage, put up the conservatory, chose the furniture, the curtains, the paintings on the bloody walls.  It's all him. He even built our bed with his own hands.  Where I now have to sleep without him every night.  He built us this home and now I'm here on my own and it's driving me slowly mad.  Hence the drinking to get me to sleep.  Its either alcohol or go to the doctor for sleeping tablets and, quite honestly, I don't want that sort of temptation in the house because I promised him I wouldn't "do anything stupid".

That's why I'm running away and going as far as I can afford to go.  Believe me, if I had more money I'd be going a lot further and staying away a lot longer.  If I could go tomorrow then I would. Maybe if I go far enough to somewhere with no memories of us being together, I'll be able to take a full breath again and not feel as if I'm suffocating on all this pain

And if I die whilst I'm diving? Well, that would just be doing me a favour and it wouldn't be suicide so it wouldn't break my promise. It would be a win-win as far as I'm concerned.

So much of this resonates with me. I wouldn’t mind dying but I wouldn’t do it to myself. I was so scared of death before his passing; now I spend every day wishing that I could go too. I moved out of our home, away from our town, across the United States, because the pain was just too much. Also, I’ve always had issues with insomnia so I already take tablets to sleep but they don’t really work anymore. It’s like my brain is my own worst enemy now. 

I hope you’re able to find peace, though I know it’s hard. Is it silly that the thought of an afterlife reunion is what keeps me going, but also what has me praying every day for an exit? 

I’ve always avoided situations that put me anywhere near death, now I’m not at all scared. 

 

I completely understand where you’re coming from and I’m sure that if I didn’t already have these tablets I’d probably be doing what you are. In the end, I’m not as strong as I thought I was.

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Right now my anxiety is at an all time high.  I slept two hours last night and four the night before.  Nothing helps me sleep.  Sleeping pills make me tired but sleep still eludes me.  I don't need anything to make me tired, I already am.

I couldn't drink like that, bad liver, besides alcoholism runs in the family, I'm not but I've seen enough to not want to go there.

Skywise, it sounds like this trip is something you need to do so I hope it will be beneficial for you.  I'm not the adventuresome type, I'd never do something like that on my own, but I can see it'll be good for you to.  If you don't want sleeping pills around, how about a Benedryl?  It's for allergies but a side effect is extreme drowsiness.

Azipod, my heart goes out to you.  I understand what you're saying.  :(

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7 hours ago, lovingstill said:

I moved out of our home, away from our town, across the United States, because the pain was just too much

Believe me, I've thought of moving but I don't have the courage to leave permanently.  I know that the worst thing I can do is turn our home into a shrine but that's exactly what I can't help doing. I can't bear to move anything from where he put them.  His shoes are still out in the hall where he left them; his coat is hanging on the hook on the bannister; his slippers are down beside his chair. I still have the towel, flannel and bar of soap that I used when I washed him down the morning of the day he died and the shirt he wearing when he actually passed away; the magazine he was reading the day he died is next to the bed where he put it down when he had the pain breakthrough and I had to call the nurse out to give him the morphine injection the afternoon he died; there's a couple of cans of beer in the fridge that he didn't drink and a couple of containers of beef consommé in the freezer which was the only thing he was managing to keep down at the end, together with a bag of ice cubes that I was putting in his drinks because he wanted everything ice cold - they can't used, they'll never be used.  I want to keep them forever - in fact I've frozen just about all the little bits and pieces of food that I bought or made to try and tempt his appetite, just so I can keep them forever.  There's a log that he put down in front of the woodburner that I can't bring myself to burn now, because he touched it, so many little things that I can't allow to be moved, not even to dust them.  If Clive touched them then no-one else can ever touch them or move them. 

I know I can't outrun the pain but, maybe, if I can spend a bit of time away then I might get a bit of perspective back and, at least, be able to move some of his things from where he put them.

 

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There's nothing wrong with turning your home into a shrine either.  Whatever brings YOU comfort, that is what you should do for now.  If you're to do something different at some point, you will know and be more ready then.  It's very soon for you, it's hard to even absorb that this is happened at this point.

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On 12/15/2017 at 9:36 PM, LoveGoli said:

Yes seeing other peoples make me realize how lucky they are and they should thank their fate for this every single moment. One day in my office in lunch time one boy was making arrangements for his lady to sit and i was looking them and felt so nice and bad at same time bcs my goli not here to take of me or do all this stuff. 

That time i was blank for some moments and then my friends  interrupted in between,i guess they knew i was lost that moment in my memories.

Friday evening everyone feels so happy going home to someone waiting for them and i go to home with fear how i am gonna spend my 2 days. We never imagined this life ever, this is bad than dieing , you die at once but living like this dieing each and every moment.

You couldn't have said it better.  I share the same challenges.  Now, after work, I have nobody to go home to.  I just go home to an empty house.  It's so much easier to just die so we don't have to deal with this misery.  It's like a waiting game these days.   I just wake up, work, eat, go to bed.... all while in pain.   It's the same thing every week.

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22 minutes ago, Azipod said:

You couldn't have said it better.  I share the same challenges.  Now, after work, I have nobody to go home to.  I just go home to an empty house.  It's so much easier to just die so we don't have to deal with this misery.  It's like a waiting game these days.   I just wake up, work, eat, go to bed.... all while in pain.   It's the same thing every week.

I was actually expecting your reply on my post. Its so strange we connected to people and expecting replies from them whom we never met. 

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