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Recent Loss


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Diane R. E.

I just lost my husband 2 weeks and 2 days ago. We have been married for 37 years and had just moved to Arizona to live our dream retirement together. My husband ended up in the hospital 1 week after we moved. He spent 4 weeks in intensive care, and we thought he was on the road to recovery when he took a turn for the worse and passed away the next day. I am completely devastated and miss him so very much. We've been together all day, every day since I had to start working from home last March. At least I was able to visit him every day at the hospital and I'm thankful for that. But now I am home alone most days and need to learn how to cope with that. I have a sister close by and she's been so supportive, but she has her own life to live. My husband and I do not have children, and the rest of my family is back in Minnesota. I want to say thank you to everyone for sharing your stories - I have been reading them but this is my first post. Please keep posting helpful tips and suggestions. 

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Gail 8588

Diane, 

I am so very sorry for your loss. I am glad you have the support of your sister near by. 

I also lost my husband just as we were entering our retirement years. I kept working for a little over a year after he died, mostly to give my life some structure. I was in a brain fog for much of that time, so I am not sure how fair that was to my employer, but I do think the structure helped me to keep some connection to the world.  

I don't know it you have the option to keep working, or if you retired before you moved to Arizona, but if you have the option to keep working, I would strongly consider it.  Too much unstructured time, especially in this pandemic, can be very hard mentally. 

Again, I am so sorry you find yourself on this unwanted journey of grief. None of us want to be here, but hopefully we can provide some small amount of support and caring to each other as we find our way forward. 

Gail

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KayC

Diane, I am so sorry for your loss.  I'm glad you have a nearby sister, I do too, she doesn't drive and is disabled and her husband recently passed so I'm trying to be there for her, give her rides, bring her her mail (her mailbox is two blocks away from her as they don't deliver on her road), take out her garbage, bring her food, etc, and we always talk on the phone every day but I know it's a drop in the bucket.  Her husband took complete care of her and his death was very sudden, unexpected.  She had five days from when she knew he wasn't going to make it (cancer) until he died.  I took her to the crematorium and paid for it, she has no money.  I really don't either but she paid when mine passed.  This is what sisters are for, we are friends from birth!  I wish the rest of your family was close by but telephones are wonderful connections.

I'm glad you found this place, it was a place such as this that literally saved my life 15+ years ago!  You will miss and love your husband always, getting used to being alone and on your own will be a very gradual process, unwelcome as it is.

As Gail mentioned, the pandemic makes the worst thing possible...worse yet.  I, too, am glad I was still working when I went through this.  But that only took up M-F daytime hours, it was evenings and weekends that were really tough, all our friends disappeared, literally!  I did make a new friend and we were besties, but she moved to another state five years ago when she remarried.  I keep busy and my son brought me a puppy before Christmas (after my sweet Arlie (dog) passed from cancer...it helps to have Kodie with me so at least I have someone to love.  But sometimes I feel like I want someone with skin on!  (my husband)...
"A little boy reached that terrifying time of day when his mother would turn out the lights in his room and leave him for the night. Afraid of the dark and of being by himself he cried out for his mother to stay. Being a woman of faith, she reassured her son that God would be with him through the night. 'But, Mama,' he cried, 'I need God with skin on!' "

I want to post this in your thread so you can refer back to it if/when you want, even though you may have already seen it elsewhere...

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

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Diane R. E.

Thank you so much Gail and Kay; your replies and the article are very helpful. I retired last June before we moved to Arizona, but I am seriously thinking about somewhere to volunteer.

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foreverhis

Hi Diane.  I want to welcome you here, though that's scant comfort, I know.  I wish none of us had to be here, but because we are, we can help each other through the worst imaginable loss, pain, and grief.  Finding this forum and the members on it almost literally saved my life when I found it several months after I lost my beloved.  I was feeling hopeless, useless, and wondering why I should even go on living.  Being here helped over time.  Now I am stronger, more able to cope with my pain, and learning to carry my grief and my love as part of my life, rather than all and everything.  It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do (save holding my husband's hand as he took his last breath).  It's not easy because we who have loved deeply feel the loss deeply too.  We were lucky in so many ways to find our one person, the one imperfect soulmate who was perfect for us and who accepted us flaws and all.

Reading through our stories is an excellent place to start.  As you are able and ready, we want to hear more about you and your husband.  We want to know how you feel, what you think, and what we can do to help; we really do.  We understand in ways that others cannot.  We will not lecture or tell you what you should or should not think, do, or feel.  We will comfort you as we can and we will always listen.

I'm so very sorry you are dealing with so much.  Between a recent move, COVID restrictions, and losing your husband, you're bound to have times when you wonder if life is really worth it now.  Coming here made me see that it is.  Oh, I'm not "better" or anything like that.  It doesn't work that way.  But I have taken steps forward into a life I think I can live without my husband. I have faith that someday, when it's my time, I will be with him again in that mysterious world beyond this one.  I have better days and horrible ones because we do not move on or get over it.  But we can take baby steps forward.  We all walk our unique path, but we are on the same road together.

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jmmosley53

Hello Diane R.E.

First I am very sorry for your loss.  My story is similar to your own.  To me your hurt is so new, so raw, your pain and loneliness are almost intolerable.  You may consider waiting just a bit before making life changing decisions. I say this from personal experience.  My first reaction after my husbands death was to rid the house of his favorite possessions, because it caused me to cry so much to see them.  Now at 6 months of grieving I find myself taking those things out again.  Putting those items away was a knee jerk reaction.  Luckily I only put them away so I still had them when I was ready.  Of course you must do what you think is best, but giving yourself a little time is an option also.

 

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Diane R. E.

Thank you both for your kind words and sharing your thoughts. I'm so sorry for everyone's loss. I had a bad day yesterday - I was going through some of Doug's things; not putting them away, just doing some reorganizing, and that triggered a whole afternoon and evening of crying. I keep being overwhelmed with thoughts that he should be here to share all our plans for retirement. I also keep thinking that if the hospital had only done certainly things differently, he would not have died.  

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jmmosley53

Hi again Diane R.E.

Crying so so appropriate for you right now.  I believe your Doug was worth some tears.  That being said, it takes so much energy out of you when those painful sobs happen.  Protect your health, get sleep, eat food, breath, wash your poor tear steaked face with cold water.  I have days like you describe still but, they are fewer than before.  One thought I had that helps me when I get really weepy is that my beloved would have hated to think he caused me pain.  So even though I still cry - that thought keeps me from going into total despair.

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My husband was sick for years before his death. On top of the loss, it also felt like a failure, like I had to accept defeat that after all these years, all the effort of trying with all my might, I wasn't able to save him. And I had survivor's guilt on top of all that.

Nine months later, I'm grateful for the distraction of work. It gives me a sense of purpose. I don't have any living children, and don't know anybody outside of work.

Whenver I have too much time of my hands, like a long weekend, that's when the grief is the most intense for me now. After investing so much of my life into caring for my husband, I'm at a loss for what to do now. I'm still searching for a way forward. 

 

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KayC

Diane, my sister that I'm closest to is at the same timetable as you.  Today I went over there and she had brought some things from his fishing store home and had them about.  It's so hard to watch her going through it, so fresh, especially since I do know how it feels...we never forget. 

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Missy1

@Diane R. E. My husband and I had just moved and a year and a half in he died  at the age of 58. Together almost 30 years, I am going on 9 months and still break down daily. I feel so alone I don’t feel at home without him. Everything is locked down, which makes it more surreal. I work a lot, it has kept me distracted, there is nothing left. I am so sorry you lost him at this juncture in life. It is just not right, all those dreams together now lost. I totally understand. Keep breathing, take small steps, cry and let out your pain. We understand like most people don’t. I wish you strength on your journey.

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Diane R. E.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my husband Doug, who passed away almost 4 weeks ago. It shows his mischievous side, which is something everyone loved about him. I miss him SO much. We had only moved here to the Phoenix area 6 days before he had to be admitted to the hospital, but nobody expected he wouldn't recover, which is grief on top of the losing him grief. We had so many plans for our retirement, so losing those plans is another grief. Triple whammy! We did not have children, and although I have a sister nearby who is supportive, I'm home alone so much, and sometimes wish I was back in our home in MN, where we lived for 24 years. (But really would rather be here.) Back in MN they have snow and cold, which makes me so sad that Doug isn't here to enjoy 80 and 90 degree weather at the end of October. He would have loved it so much! 

Favorite Picture Doug 2010.JPG

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foreverhis
1 hour ago, Diane R. E. said:

It shows his mischievous side, which is something everyone loved about him.

Indeed.  Even before I read your post, I looked at your Doug's picture and thought these words:  He's got an impish twinkle in his eye that's so familiar."  My husband was the same way.  In his short obituary's list of characteristics, I included both "silly humor" and "playful charm."  He had both in abundance. 

One of the first things that caught my eye, looking down from the stage during a dress rehearsal, was his smile and laugh.  We had two new trombone players in the orchestra of that show.  The other, who I actually ended up working with at my real job, was very classically handsome and also turned out to be a nice man.  But my good looking, yet slightly quirky, husband captured my heart in a single moment.  We were waiting for some technical thing or another to be corrected.  Someone in the orchestra said something funny and his face lit up, his blue eyes crinkled, and he laughed the most contagious laugh ever.  That was it.  I knew somehow I needed to meet that man.  About a year later we had become casual friends through other friends.  About 6 months after that, he asked me out on a date and that was it for both of us.  We were bonded from that first day together.

I'm so sorry.  I do know what it is to miss that light, that humor, and just everything.

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KayC

Diane, I love your husband, just from looking at this picture!  You can see his spirit, yes, that twinkle in his eye!  I do understand what you mean.  It's so hard to get a picture that adequately captures their spirit, this one does that.  My husband always reminded me of a puppy wagging it's tail, he also had so much spirit and zest for life!  I miss him so much.  I've never met anyone like him.  

Grief is part of me, it's in my soul now, I live with it.  Yes I can enjoy bits of life here and there but it comes with the grief on the side, coloring it, because he's not here to share in any of it with me.

foreverhis, I love that, what memories we have!  That your husband's smile captured your heart...I think we all get that. ;)

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foreverhis
4 hours ago, KayC said:

foreverhis, I love that, what memories we have!  That your husband's smile captured your heart...I think we all get that.

Yes, I think we do.  The light we see isn't dependent on outward appearances, though my husband was certainly good looking to others and perfectly handsome in my eyes.  There's a connection of the spirit that is permanent.  I think that's why after decades together we still found each other attractive in every way.  I saw him, just him, and he certainly seemed to feel the same way.  I have to confess I miss physical intimacy with him, the snuggle, the hug, the taking my hand and giving it a squeeze, the arm draped around my shoulders, the sneaking up behind me to give me a quick kiss on the neck.  I don't desire it in general, just with him.

And your George clearly had that twinkle and spark too, for you and for life.  It's so unfair.  Then again, no one ever told us life is fair.  I'd still risk it all, even knowing what life would be like now.  I think we all would.

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