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My girlfriend died a month ago. Need tips on enduring waves of grief.


Jerrold

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Thank you, @Dawn Wms. I'm very sorry for your loss, too. The shock and trauma of sudden death is unbelievable. Perhaps "guidance" would have been a better term instead of "tips." I suppose it's just me being in problem-solving mode (I blame my profession), which on second thought might not be the best way to look at grief, since it's not so much a problem as a process we all have to go through. 

But I think you're right. It may be all about sheer endurance. Taking it day by day in our own ways. This is so difficult.

I've read "It's OK that you're not OK" and I agree that it's the most relatable. I'm on my fifth book now and I still think that one's the best. "Resilient Grieving" comes in second. If you haven't read that, you may want to try it, too. 

Thank you again. I really appreciate the reply and I wish you well in your healing. 

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14 hours ago, Jerrold said:

I'd like to know how other people endure the grief

Everything in life is now "before" or "after" that point in time.  He was my everything.  My soulmate, best friend, love, we understood each other, lit up each other's world, had amazing communication and connection.  I was married for 23 years before him, we never had that.  Not even close.  It's been 16+ years since George died, there is no one like him...

I have learned more on this grief journey than I've learned in my whole life put together.  Rich lessons, about myself.  I've learned I'm strong, resilient, that I can count on myself, I've grown moxie since he died...he was my protector, now I have to be that for myself.  I've survived much since that time, surgeries alone, other losses (mom, sister, friends, dogs, cats) and am now losing another sister to dementia.  She counts on me as she lost her husband a year ago.  I've survived job losses, age discrimination, snowpocalypse (no elec or water for over 8 days, no phone for 18 days, couldn't go anywhere, too much snow, hwy closed, no plow, food gone bad), I know George would be proud of me, and he is with me in spirit.  I look forward to the day we can be together again.  Meanwhile I've learned to treasure, embrace, whatever good there is, I've learned the practice of living in the present moment.  I've learned not to compare as it devalues.

I hope you will continue coming here and posting/reading...the people here are like a family, we support and encourage each other, we truly care about each other.  And as Dr. Phil says, it helps to have a routine.  I've found that to be true.

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.

13 hours ago, Jerrold said:

"It's OK that you're not OK"

Megan Devine, excellent book, also CS Lewis A Grief Observed.

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Jerrold, My deepest condolences on your loss.  You’ve gotten some great insight here.  

5 hours ago, Jerrold said:

I just want to be happy again someday. I’m 44, approximately in the middle of my life unless Life wants to make me the butt of another stupid joke. I want to honor Eliza by trying to live a full life with the remaining years I have. I look forward to the day when this pain becomes bearable. 

I think you are on the right path in healing, and adjusting to your new normal. 

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5 hours ago, Jerrold said:

I want to honor Eliza by trying to live a full life with the remaining years I have.

That is a beautiful way to look at it.  The pain does dull eventually, although none of us can say when, it's different for everyone.  With your amazing attitude I think you will be resilient, our attitude factors in.  I hope that for you.

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On 11/12/2021 at 9:24 AM, SSC said:

Routine is good as is letting yourself feel all your feelings.  It’s a horrible balance until hopefully crying becomes less a part of your day.

SSC:  I have found that having some sort of routine every day helps. It acts as a distraction. I'm not trying to push my grief away but rather, I am almost able to control the tears now. I try to keep busy with a routine and then have a crying session later. Sometimes it works, sometimes not but I do know that when I am busy with trying to meet my goals for the day (chores) I feel a little better. 

 

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On 11/11/2021 at 7:57 PM, Jerrold said:

Get some chores and minimal work done, but the waves of grief keep hitting at random times and places. I cry whenever I can. I have a goal in mind of being happy again in the future.

Jerrold:  I am very sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one is extremely painful. I think it's good that you are trying to keep some sort of a routine. That's what I do. But it's not easy because yes, the waves of grief keep hitting at random times. It's good that you cry. And it's good that you are setting goals, especially to be happy again. That is what I am going to try doing. I want to honor my husband's memory and see if I can make it. I want to enjoy life again. I don't know what "that life" will look like but I want to try. I've come to realize that I might have to carry my grief with me into the future. It's a part of me because my husband was. I am going to have to carry it with me like any other baggage I have. And I wouldn't say the other baggage I have has necessarily prevented me from enjoying life so....

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2 hours ago, SDC said:

Grief, especially new grief,  is consuming and that is OK

So true, we do well to get out of bed and get dressed.  Let alone function.  Eating/drinking is hard to remember.  Focus is nigh impossible.  All at a time when we have more demands made upon us, people to call, funeral to plan, medical bills to figure out, bank, insurance and soc. sec. to contact, let alone trying to grieve...

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9 hours ago, Lost My Love said:

I lost my Wonderful Love of my life of 20 years Nov.19th to covid

I am so sorry, way too young and the hardest journey of my life!  My husband died suddenly/unexpectedly just after his 51st bdy.  I came home from the hospitall, empty handed, facing his birthday banner, still up.

No one should have to go through this.  I didn't know where to start.  Three weeks later I found a grief site and it was a lifesaver to me.  I hope you'll continue to come here to read and post, it helps for processing our grief and also having a place where others understand and get it.  A place you don't feel so on your own with it.  Family/friends may care but not have a clue what you're going through.  Until it happens to you...and we don't wish that on anyone.  All these years later my sister lost her husband of 50 years and she knows I get it.

This is an ever evolving journey, and my "tips" aren't a one-size-fits-all, random order, just shared for consideration...if something doesn't strike you today, it could on down the road so I hope you'll save/print this for future reference...
 

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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Lost My Love

Thank You All for the support and suggestions, Thank You Gail, I will use the "Doing the best I can" as my default response, I am just not much of an open person, and Karla, my wife was the only person I was ever comfortable opening up to and actually talking feelings with. Talking feelings, She used to give me a little hard time for not showing my feelings, 20 years and She never seen me cry, not that I did not tear up at times, but certainly making up for it now over Her...

 Jerrold, the real depression for me I think is just starting to sink in, think I am still in shock and disbelief right now, I do go walking quite often weather permitting, something Her and I loved to do together and I really want to keep it up for myself and Her.

KayC, Thank You also, I will most likely do more reading than posting but that is just me, again I am just not a real open person but I do appreciate and understand now how hard this is for so many people,  Your Tips are Very Well written, You are obviously a very carrying, smart and compassionate, reminds me a lot of Karla... I noticed You are from Oregon, Karla lived there from 3 to 12 years old, in Grants Pass, said it was the most beautiful place in the country, She loved going up into the mountains and the huge trees.

Again Thank You All 

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12 hours ago, Jerrold said:

Grief consumes, but I know I'm not just my grief and I have to keep reminding myself that every day.

Jerrold:  I like what you posted. That is a very good way of looking at it and maybe it's because it's the truth. I figure the grief will always be with me, so I think I need to figure out how to carry it as I try to move forward.    

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23 hours ago, Lost My Love said:

She loved going up into the mountains and the huge trees.

Her and I are cut from the same cloth then!  I live in the mountains above Oakridge, have my own forest and 1st Creek (sounds like Roaring Rapids right now!)...I like her already!  I'm a nature/wildlife kind of person.  Grants Pass is beautiful.  I grew up in Eugene, it was vastly different when I was a child, back then there was no crime and traffic wasn't so heavy. ;)  Beautiful city though with lots of greenery and a river running through it (Willamette).

This is the hardest journey I've ever embarked on, with a beginning but no end.  I hope having this site helps you through this, it was one like this (but smaller) that saved my life when I lost my George.  If I had died, he'd have found this site and been on it!  He was very much a people person.

On 1/9/2022 at 3:55 AM, Jerrold said:

I'm not just my grief and I have to keep reminding myself that every day.

That is a very good quote, I haven't thought of it that way and it IS good to remind ourselves of that!

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Lost My Love

Yes, She had been back since She was a kid, and said it had changed a lot from when she was little, She really loved it though, We were planning a trip some day, of course we had lots of plans, Her Dad is in His 80's  is in a wheel chair (Guillain-Barré syndrome) the last 9 or 10 years and we could not get far away from Him. I think I will still go out there some time just to see, in Her memory, She really wanted to take me out there, she also owns property in Ontario Canada that I have never seen yet either, but that would be Her Brothers (Think He may still go with me some day) now since it was in both there names... Karla was very much a People person, everyone She knew absolutely Loved Her, She said there is good in everyone, for some reason it seems I always encounter the opposite type of people...

Jerrold;

Thanks for this, I also am going keep reminding myself of this, seems as sometimes Grief consumes me takes over, going to keep telling myself this quote. Thank You 

Grief consumes, but I know I'm not just my grief and I have to keep reminding myself that every day

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@Lost My Love Your post is very touching, you can tell what you have together, it doesn't justt go away because they transitioned to what's next, always our love is with us. :wub:

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On 11/11/2021 at 8:57 PM, Jerrold said:

My girlfriend Eliza died last month from pulmonary embolism. Some stupid doctor prescribed pills that Eliza should not be taking at all. We weren't together long, roughly 8 months, but as a person who's been trying to find happiness for literally decades, I found everything I could ever hope for in those 8 months with her. 

 

 

@Jerrold, so sorry to hear about your loss. I think the duration of the relationship does not matter, but rather the intensity and closeness of it. I can’t offer too many tips other than what has been already as I have also been in this situation for about 7 weeks only and trying to cope.

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