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multiple reasons to grieve simultaneously


Elkse

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We were married 45 years. He was amazing and we were always so much in love.  He helped me overcome abuse and depression. I had several miscarriages but we were finally blessed with two sons, then daughters-in-law and grandchildren--although they lived far away. He helped me endure a long illness. Toward the end of my recovery, we optimisticly bought a motorhome. We planned to retire, and travel to escape the stress of being tied down by his work and my health problems. After 10 years,  I was out of bed, no longer using a walker, then not even needing my cane. I began to wear street clothes.  Things were looking up! Retirement got delayed with his company buy-out, then we learned I have a slow-growing cancer. Three months after the cancer diagnosis, we both got sick (COVID?) and he suddenly died. The morning after his funeral. I left with my son to live with him and his family out west--a thousand miles away,--taking my few belongings along in a U-haul. Now it's a year later and my stuff is still in storage awaiting completion of my own apartment in my son's  basement. Instead of excitement about getting my own place, I just feel tired and sad. Some symptoms of my old illness have returned. There is physical pain.  I have never visited my husband's grave. Even though not my fault,  there is guilt. Severe allergies bother me and create limitations. There is a painful skin condition which flares up and makes me ashamed to be seen. I don't drive. I gave up on travel. I'll never go to the places I longed to see in Canada. They are too far, the trip too expensive, (am not sure if the border is still closed). It would be a lonely trip without the one I wanted to share it with. It feels like there is nothing to look forward to now. I am depressed but it will be nice moving from my granddaughter's room into my own space..won't it? I have so little energy though, I dread moving. Even with my kid's help moving my boxes out of storage, there will be sorting, organizing, decorating ... AND I HAVE A HUGH FEAR OF FACING MY HUSBAND'S THINGS. Will that rekindle sadness? Anger? Am I just moving to the last place I will ever live-- the place where I will die?  I had such joy between what I thought was the end of sickness and learning about the cancer. Our joy while anticipating retirement, my joy in cooking again. I'll have my own little kitchen in the basement but I'm too tired to cook now and my sweet man isn't going to be here to eat. The only joy is being with kids and grandkids but they're all so active and I am exhausted. Even in an active household, I'm lonely. I thought I'd feel better than this after a year. Does the sadness ever end?

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I'm so sorry for your loss. I think the sadness ending is not a yes or no question...you'll never stop missing your loved one, but over time it becomes much more manageable to something you simply learn to live with. Yes, it is possible to feel "alive" and even be happy again, believe it or not, although of course it will never be the same.  It just takes time and yes more than is fair. Best to you 

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@Elkse  Welcome here, you've found a good place to be with a group of people that "get it."  You ask about the sadness ending, I think widower is spot on, it's not easy to answer as we're all individual and our relationship not all the same but our grief journey evolves over much time, we do continue to love and miss them and I know for myself there is that hollow spot in my heart that will always be...it's been almost 16 years.  I can smile, enjoy some things, but life is forever changed and Covid seemed to set me back as it destroyed the social network I'd worked so hard to build, nothing is as it was, I live alone and this social isolation is very different from those who have their spouse or families living with them...something the news and authorities fail to address. 

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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10 hours ago, Elkse said:

I HAVE A HUGH FEAR OF FACING MY HUSBAND'S THINGS

They can sit there as long as you want or you can deal with them a little bit at a time...we're all different.  My mom came home from my dad's funeral and threw all his clothes, etc. away SAME DAY!  I don't even begin to get that, they were married about 30 years and he adored her.

I donated my husband's clothes to a cause of his, he always had a heart for people who were down and out, so I chose Sponsor's which aids prisoners getting out with the shirt on their backs, it was all in due time and I knew that's what he'd want done with them, but I kept a few items and gave his kids each his sweaters to hold onto.  I kept his bathrobe, which I hold still, and his fishing vest, and it took me nine years to part with his fishing hat, I gave it to his best friend, I always knew I would, it just took me that long to be able to let go of it.  He had a tear slip down his cheek as he clutched it, and said, "My Buddy."  Again, it's what I knew George would have wanted.

You can take all the time you want for this or never at all, it's up to you, there is no timetable.  Only what seems right to YOU.

 

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