Jump to content

coping with changes while coping with loss


Recommended Posts

  • Members

Sorry if I am stating the obvious, but much of this is really new to me.

Its strange that its new because in my life before my wife Anita died I had already gone though the loss of a closest friend (like a friend from childhood, growing up together in the same small neighborhood) and (more recently) my mothers and my fathers passing (dad died just a month before my wife, his was expected my wifes was just not).

Of course I've read the works in the common literature about grief (and disagree with some points and their vagaries) but it seems to me that they have missed a significant point. It is the synergy of loss and change which seems to make things worse than either of them individually.

NOTE: if you are religious and unable to tolerate other views and easily offended by others views (paradoxically, meaning you're probably a christian of some sect or another. It is curious that of all the religions on the planet that it is the ones how preach tolerance, compassion, turning the other cheek, caring for others ... are the least likely to do any of that) then I ask you to cease reading at this point.

I was asked to edit this to remove the points which were contentious. I understand, this is a place where people are suffering, they are grieving and they are angry. But its a family show and all opinions are tolerated except ones which differ too much. Its ok to be angry, but don't show it in any way.

When I first wrote this I didn't know what to say. It was a stream of consciousness that flowed from my mind. However I have found that do have something to say. It is this:

Everyone here knows the pain of being told something hurtful by a friend or family, stuff that's actually meant well but hurts. Stuff like:

* I know just how you feel, my dog died / my wife left me ...

* You'll find someone else soon

but you know what ... being told "god is all caring and loves you" can hurt just as much. Being told that "jesus is carrying you through the tough times" that can hurt too.

Now, maybe I'm wrong (or gosh maybe you are) but its possible that I'm entitled to my views of how god is, and its possible that while I am not an atheist that I don't follow the main-stream views of god. Things aren't always black and white in the world. So don't be surprised that telling someone who is grieving that "god loves you" actually feels like a slap in the face.

This is now my story of why (as well as perhaps some thoughts on suicide which may help anyone who is feeling that way)

Coping with changes is difficult. Interestingly the word in Japanese for difficult is "Taihen" which breaks down into big change (unlike complex-kind-of-difficult which would be better served with the word muzukashi). Moving house, moving jobs, having kids ... all these are about managing changes. Often in themselves they are stressful.

Obviously coping with death is about loss. She was here for me to talk to, share my life with, participate in hers and (most importantly) was the woman I loved, who loved me, who supported me and whom I supported. The instantaneous removal of that is Taihen!

But it also comes with many changes which are to be coped with at the same time. The empty room, noone to cook for, noone who cooks (the best cinnamon rolls on the planet) for me. Noone who shares the daily things. You know, task allocations. I do the washing, she does the yard, I do the home maintenance ...

Worse, every time I do her jobs I'm simply reminded of her absence ... when I look to see the things she loved doing remaining undone, its simply heart breaking. So I have do them myself (change) or leave them undone (accepting this is also change). Typically what happens is that I do them myself but without the flair that she put into it, and seeing this is also distressing.

So now I'm going to perhaps whinge a little ... but its not my intention to whine about my situation.

My wife died of a brain tumor. Mystically noone knew she had it till an MRI done some 8 hours before she had a seizure and died. She apparently had one of the most agressive types of brain tumor. We have no idea about when it started or how long it took, but we can speculate somewhat.

The only blessing in this is that she did not suffer years of treatment and surgery and hospital debilitation.

Anita was a fine strong woman who loved the outdoors, loved farming, and hated hospitals. I know about the hospitals because about a year before she died I had to go to hospital to have an aortic aneurysm repaired. Some have told me it was lucky that we found it (an accident really) or I would have died from it (out skiiing or struggling with something heavy in the home renovations)

She coped with the fear and anxiety by doing fun things to entertain herself (and others, sometimes even me) like drawing in my toes in the ICU


That was November 2011. She watched with happiness as I got better daily, I'm sure she had a strong fear that she would loose me. I know that she confided in her friends that she did not want to become a young widow.

While they had the "hood up and the hoses off" they also fitted a mechanical aortic valve to me, which of course means that now I'm adjusting to a lifetime of being on blood thinners to prevent the valve from throwing a clot which would give me a stroke. This was discussed with me pre-surgery and I chose this path because I did not want to risk another surgery (perhaps dying there) to replace a tissue valve (which mostly is free from needing warfarin) that would inevitably fail and require replacement. I wanted to focus on getting well regaining my strength and having a family with my wife.

Some months later and all had returned to "normal" (although I was still struggling with the new valve, the management of medication and whatnot) I found that my father hand cancer. I took time off work to help him to oncology and radiation therapy. When my father died it was a great sadness but ... well he was suffering badly.

So what did the "loving god" do next to help me along? Did he send an angel to comfort me for the time? To help me along? No, the all powerful God arranged for the death of my wife.

So when Anita's grandmother became ill it was obvious that (as she wanted to do so) she should go home to visit the family, have a bit of a holiday and help her grandmother for a month or so. She arrived and died 2 days after the flight. Seems she had a brain tumor which we didn't know was there and the flight caused it to start bleeding ... Well her sudden death like that hurt as much as you can expect it did.

But I can't be angry about this, as this is "Gods Love".

God hadn't finished with me yet, and to show his love he gave me another "character building event" , he had arranged for an infection to be left behind under my sternum back in Nov 2011, waiting for me. Within a month of the funeral (about a year after my surgery) it was time to emerge.


and I had to undergo some "debridement" surgeries (please, look that up here) where they essentially dig out anything which seems suspicious. I will not show you the holes where they dug in behind my sternum.

So from November through to May my life was hospitals, deep wounds, dressing changes, PIC lines and you know what ... we still don't know if we've killed it. I've got to wait another 6 months to see if there is more mining operations.

With even my father being dead just the month before my wife and my mother some years earlier I didn't even have any family to share the load with. Luckilly I'm a strong relationship builder and have two or three really good friends (who live in different towns, but help as they can).

As I mentioned my wife flew home to visit family. Well that's Finland and our home was in Australia, so 14,000Km or so away (or about 26 hours flying).

Of course I flew to Finland as soon as I'd heard she was ill. But sadly I never go to be by her side, and was informed at one of the mid-transit stops (Singapore) that she had passed away. Of course the next 12 hours in "cattle class" economy air was just hell.

I needed to resolve things in Australia so I returned after some weeks (after the funeral) with the intention of settling my job, closing up the house and returning to Finland to at least be with her family.

But as mentioned the loving god arranged thing to happen to me to prevent that. I finally became well enough to make it here (and be confident that I didn't need another surgery immediately while in a foreign country) a month before the one hear anniversary of her funeral.

So here I am, coping with change and coping with loss. Staring my own problems down while trying to regain my balance from the loss of my wife and wondering if I've even really dealt with the loss of my father properly ... that (but a month earlier) seems like a long ago past.

I can tell you soundly that I've looked at that 12guage shotgun with careful consideration.

While in hospital getting prepped for my first "chest scrape" cleanup operation I wished for death. Sadly it was a comparatively minor surgery, so death was unlikely.

But you know what? I learned something from that. I saw that the more I wished for death the more I sobbed. The more I wanted to dead the more difficult it felt. Like putting the N pole of two magnets together. The closer they get the harder it is. It is in that final fractions of a millimeter that (if the magnets are strong enough) that you simply can't get them together.

I have since read a little about suicide ... interestingly I see something in common among all the cases (of survivors of attempts). The all felt increasingly sad and increasingly cried with intensity as they neared their point of no return. Almost all the survivors reported regretting it on the way down.

Clearly the shotgun has the advantage that you don't get any time to reflect on the way between trigger pull and impact (unlike bridge jumpers or ODers).

My point however is that all of this has made it clear to me (if not you) that choosing to kill myself has struck me as being somehow the wrong alternative. That the idea seems attractive is (I believe) motivated by my desire to be with her (which I can assure you remains strong), that the act itself seemingly provides so much resistance is curious. Is this because the act itself is simply repulsive to a healthy mind? Is the force which stays me something from my internal programming? I wrote my thoughts on the suicide issue on my blog (here) so I won't go into that all here.

Yet I've stood atop a ski jump (think Olympic Ski Jumping) here in Finland and looked down, and having seen quite a many young kids go down that slope and the closer I got the the edge the more I was aware of the slippery conditions and how my grip on the rope was tightening. I know this well, as this is fear. As a kid I started rock climbing and abseiling and I can recall well the first 'jumps' from the top.

Is my repulsion to suicide similar to my fear on the cliff edge? Up there (years ago) I could see others do it, and had a rope in my hand. Something tangible, something to hold onto. Killing myself lacks that safety line and so far as I know you don't come back. Perhaps its fear of what isn't there? Perhaps its just like shutting down a simulation, it just ceases.

This brings me to my last point.

Where is she?

Is she somewhere?

Is she simply dissipated into nothing?

Will I ever be with her again?

These are questions which I struggle for some glimmer of answer to. If I was somehow possessed of faith then perhaps I could simply believe that it will all be ok.

Please .... do not reply to tell me that we'll see each other in heaven. You may believe unquestioningly (for that is the nature of faith) but I am not able to simply believe. Never have been probably never will be. But I keep looking.

So what is this post all about? Is it about loss? Is it about grief? Is it about "god" ... I guess that's what we all ask.

I don't have answers yet. But one thing is for sure, I can say that no angel has come to comfort me and when look back in the sand those are clearly MY footprints walking alone. I wish it was otherwise. If there is any help it has come from the assets we built together in preparing for a family we wanted to have. Now that that is impossible I am simply digesting that which we put aside for our future. So in some ways she helped me to prepare time of coping with her death.

If you think this was written with dry eyes you're deluded

If you are stuggling with the same things as me, I wish you peace.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I wish you peace as well though I don't see it coming for any of us any time soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Thank you for your thoughtful post. I too hope you can find peace. I struggle with the same questions and if you don't mind I would like to reply with my thoughts on them. I am not a religious person so this is not coming from rhetoric spouted from a pulpit somewhere. I do believe there is something much bigger than me..God, Muhammad, Buddha, (insert deity of your choice) are all the same entity.Your comment about all the major religions teaching the same core values in my mind supports this.

Suicide, or thoughts in that direction have not been an issue for me. At least not yet. Loneliness is my biggest issue, although crushing at times, I am slowly learning to deal with it.

Anyway, my personal beliefs on the questions:

1. Where is she? I don't know.

2. Is she somewhere? Yes, although I have no direct evidence.

3. Is she just dissipated into nothing? No ... this is solely based on my personal belief that the "essence" that controls this

machine we call our body. The force that makes me "me" and you "you" survives

and goes somewhere.

4. Will I be with her again? Something deep inside me tells me yes. The feeling is so strong that I can't

dismiss it as wishful thinking. And, is one of the biggest things that is bringing

me strength and some degree of peace.

Again just my personal thoughts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members


Thank you for your thoughtful post.

and likewise thank your for your patience and time.

I struggle with the same questions

I suspected others 'here' did ...

and if you don't mind I would like to reply with my thoughts on them.

very glad of them

2. Is she somewhere? Yes, although I have no direct evidence.

that's how my feelings have been too ... I have friends who are atheists and naturally many of them are down the "off like a light" path. I can see the logic (having had some surgeries in the past I felt and knew nothing till I awoke), however it pulls at something inside me ... they argue this is the Catholic upbringing that has implanted that meme in my head.

I just don't know. Certainly I can't reasonably expect anyone here to "know" either ... but for reasons I can't explain I come back to talking about it ... as I just can't put it away.

3. Is she just dissipated into nothing? - No ... this is solely based on my personal belief that the "essence" that controls this machine we call our body. The force that makes me "me" and you "you" survives and goes

its an idea that I share too ... I view that as we attempt to conceptualize it more accurately the more specifically we are wrong, so I react against the "angels" visions of the religious around me yet am uncomfortable with the "cessation" of the atheists.

Being an over analytical science trained geek I have tried to imagine this in terms that I can do. Physics and Maths have a few viewpoints which seem to leave that door of possibility open.

Thanks for listening.

Yesterday was one of those "slide down the slope" days ... you know, crying, irrational ... stuff like that.

Anyway, while typing this, someone has eaten my chocolate .. this always happens when I'm typing and thinking with chocolate on my desk ... I really should follow my own rule against having it on the desk while I'm writing.

The days (well that's most of them) when the valve thump makes itself clear and present to me are reminders that perhaps it would have been nicer if no one had found the aneurysm. Then I wouldn't be sitting here without her.

If only I wanted to do something else with my time ... sigh

Again, thanks :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

All change has loss at its heart....it may be an inconsequential loss or it may be an earthshattering one, but as the saying goes, you cant make an omelette without breaking eggs, and in any change something is always let go. This isnt a lot of comfort, but it is a reality. In my life ive been thru many changes and losses and i thought i was doing ok....thought i had a handle on it. Boy, was i wrong. One thing that this has taught me, is to never underestimate anothers pain. I would never have imagined that i could feel as broken and bereft as i do regularly these days.

As for suicide........well, yes ive been tempted.....but i have no desire to make anyone else suffer (tho at times im not sure if anyone would)....having said that, i feel a little like Stephen Fry, the actor who when talking about his bi polarity, and hitting the depths of depression, said that "i wouldnt seek death out, just not worry too much if it arrived" and i know for a fact that im not the only one who has felt that way.

As to the questions you posed.........this all comes down to personal belief. Myself, i feel that when someone (be that someone a person or an animal) dies, they become part of something else........not to put it too indelicately, their bodies become part of the world. In a very real sense, this means that Alex is all around me all the time and thats a little bit of comfort. What happens to their minds? i dont know....no one does, but energy does not just disappear, so i choose to believe that they remain somewhere. I might be wrong, but i choose not to accept that......itll be too late to care by the time i know for sure anyway ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members


thanks for your comments. I don't know why I feel "company" when I see a Kiwi in the same group. Probably because I somehow feel Kiwi's are about as close to Aussies as one is likely to find.

itll be too late to care by the time i know for sure anyway ;)

or just too late to tell us ;-)

best wishes

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

This site uses cookies We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. and uses these terms of services Terms of Use.