If this discussion is elsewhere I apologise for repeating it.  I am now at 14 months out from my husband's death.

So far everyone has been correct, in that the first year is an awful, horrible fog of shock.  

Now I am finding it very extremely hard (as the magical thinking is slowing down) to "think of" my husband's remains being in the ground.  I think to myself 'he is supposed to be here!', and 'this isn't right!'. 

We were inseparable.  I'm finding it very hard to cope with or truly understand about his body being in the ground - and feel I must be completely crazy and fragile compared to everyone else, and just wonder if anyone else has felt this.  It is very intense and very very hard.

Yes I've had bereavement counselling, before you ask.

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Hi Petal,

I'm so sorry that you're having this trouble--it's heartbreaking enough to lose a spouse, it's extra suffering for us to have these intrusive thoughts.  I think that I might understand what you're talking about.  I lost my dear husband four months ago and am still in a fog (so bear with me).  Anyway, even though I could barely think straight I absolutely knew that I could never stand to go the burial route---I'm way too OCD and I knew how my mind would act, rather like what you're describing.  I had my poor baby cremated (which is just a less crappy alternative, if you ask me) but I have trouble not obsessing on the aspects of that.

So, here is what I do, I practice CBT (cognitive behavior therapy).  It's the art of identifying an intrusive, unwanted thought and not allowing it to get any attention from me.  Identify it for what it is, command it to stop and then----hum a song (we can't think and hum or sing at the same time) until the intrusive thought stops hammering at you.  Repeat as need (this can take a while) after a while your mind will get the idea that intrusive, sad thoughts are not wanted.  Maybe find a good therapist that will help you master the art of this technique.

Again, I'm sorry that you're suffering on top of your suffering, I know what it is like.  This is all that I can offer you for help.  I hope that you feel better soon.


I don't want to stop the thought I want to work through it and deal with it.  

The thought is there for a reason, and as I've stated on three occasions, I would really like hear from someone (or several people) who have had their husband or wife buried, and who has experienced the same thought and worked through it.

Thank you for your reply and attempt to help.

thx Jane

"laying his body to rest" helps a bit

but he's not with me, I feel he should be with me, so I'm not at a place of peace by a long shot.

"laying his body to rest" is about as far as I can go for the foreseeable future.

thx again


Your discussion has grabbed hold of me. It's not really what I should be thinking about today (my Charlie breathed his last on April 9, 2012). I just came back from the cemetery.Perhaps that seems hypocrtical when I say I say that I know he is not there. I go to honor him and because it was in that little church next to the cemetery that I saw his earthly remains for the last time. The grave does mean something. We humans do not just abandon the physical bodies that we loved so much.


On the other hand, I believe you do have a very real problem. If you feel or believe that every part (including the soul, essence, spirit) of your husband is buried in that grave, it is not surprising that you are having such a hard time working through it. Both of us know what is happening to the bodies that we buried. That's not a thougt you can "deal with." The thought is unbearable if that is all that is left of the one we love most.


"but he's not with me", you say.  My Charlie IS with me. While I had an amazing, inseparable marriage, I would venture to say yours was similar. Why  shouild your husband be any less desiring of still being with you?

Does this mean I don't still want him every second of my life? Absolutely not. I will always want to be with him physically. The pain is no less. Put simply, I have not taken my life because I will not jeopardize our chance to be together again.

I wouldn't say this if I didn't care. What you are going through right now is not something that can be dealt with by using logic. Feelings and logic are on opposite ends of the spectrum.


Still wishing you peace.     Julie

Petal, I had a difficult time watching them lower my husband's coffin into the grave. I am a bit claustrophobic, and I could not bear it. I have been to his gravesite once, and I did not go alone. I realized that he was not there, but with me where ever I am. I try to not think of his body being buried. I hang on to the fact that without his spirit, it is an empty vessel. Dave died on December 2, 2010. The year of firsts was difficult. The second year was also difficult, but in a different way. I had to come to terms with the fact that I am alone! I will probably spend the rest of my life alone. This year, I have been trying to find my footing in this new life. Some days are easier than others. I till miss him, I still cry, but it is different.

I understand that my experience is different from yours, but still similar.
Hugs to you! Hugs are good!
I'm very glad to discover I am not the only person with this issue. Just the sams, I cannot stomach the thought of my love in the ground. It is simply that basic, inescapable fact, that he is in the ground.

I have explored this with a counsellor; was it the dark? The cold? Decomposition? The strongest element of this feeling for me is the cold and the isolation. The injustice: he was undeserving of this, this which is the ultimate hell on earth.

Interesting to me is that I am medical too, also undertaken morbid anatomy etc. Our professions do become part of our self-identity. Does our deep comprehension of the human anatomical function, down to a cellular level, become part of our intrinsic psych?

Religious belief undoubtedly has a part to play for me too. By definition I am atheist; that is I do not believe in any deity, God allah or Zeus. However I do not reject spiritualism in the sense of a person being more than their physical components. Hence I do not believe in heaven, hell or any afterlife, but follow the law of physics that matter is neither created nor destroyed, but changes form. Hence the spirit may exist past death, it may give its energy to other things.. Who knows?

Either way, the body, the body that I loved, held, interacted with for so many years, lays in that cold place. You describe the 'noooooo', followed by your mind shutting it out. I forced myself to stay with it. To feel the screaming pain of the 'nooooo'. Quite simply forced myself to stay with that. I rocked, shouted, cried, wanted to run.. Then came anger. The 'nooooo' is about accepting the raw agony of him being where he is.

It still bothers me psychologically in a way it clearly doesn't for the vast majority of people. But I can think of it without shutting down or the screaming mental reaction. It sits uncomfortably, it lives with me, but it sits.

Rah, I buried my husband and what you are discussing has never entered my mind.  I believe the body is a vessel to carry ones soul.  Once the soul parts from the body, life leaves that person as we once known them causing death.  There are no feeling within the buried body.  Your feelings of nooooooo, decomposition, darkness, cold,  are just that, they are your feelings because you possess a soul, the life in ones body.  

Death is a mystery within itself.  No one has ever returned to verify where they are, what they are doing, where are they now.  There will always be unanswered questions if one dwells on the unknown.  Life support keeps a body's blood flowing but is that person still alive?  They have no brain functions to communicate or even breath on their own.  The person is classified as being medically alive.

Burials are for the living, to be able to say good-bye to those we loved it is a form of closure.  But life for us does not end there we are stuck here picking up all the pieces trying to move forward.  

I don't have answers to your questions, or feelings I can only share with you my believes and hope for you.   Hugs, Jane P.

Thank you, Jane P. You seem to be a very kind thoughtful person.

Your first statement is exactly right, what Petal Watson and I are experiencing doesn't enter people's minds much. It was a relief in a sense to discover that someone, Petal, had the same response.

With regard to life support, life cannot be sustained without certain cerebral functions, regardless of medical intervention such as life support. As long as the brain functions in particular areas, then yes the person is still 'alive' since they are still capable of experience, wether or not they can express it. Understanding of the human brain has developed enormously in recent years through studying the electrical signals in the brain, nuclear medicine and functional MRI scanning.

You are right to say those are my feelings, burial is for the living and death is certainly a mystery. I am not so concerned with what is unknown, so much as what I do know.

Thank you Jane, I appreciate it

Petal, I just lost my husband suddenly of colon cancer almost three months now and buried him, I did not want to cremate him as I was trying to do the very best I could do to honor God from what I understand. Also he is from a small town nearby and wanted to move back there, so that is where I buried him and bought a plot right next to his for myself, he just turned 51, I am 44 and together we have a three and a half year old. Also my Mother died suddenly of Leukemia when I was just 14 and she and I were close, that was the biggest shock of my young life. That was 30 years ago, and as I aged I think more and more about her, my thoughts are of loss for my whole life and not having a mother, no one to run to when I needed a mom, no one to put a roof over my head if I needed one but also my thoughts go to her body rotting in the grave and what it looks like. I have thought about it for thirty years. So when my mother died I thought well at least when I marry I will have someone who loves me again and someone to love. Now my husband just died and it's like lightning striking me twice, and the loss is even greater, and different as well as the same as in NOT AGAIN, NO NO NO ! And knowing it has happened and not having control but giving it to God in faith. I know if I don't if I try and control it it will control me, so I (for my own sake) choose to give it back to God. That doesent mean it's all better it just means in that moment I relieve myself of the torture in my head. My husband wanted to be creamated at first when we met 20 plus years ago (because he didn't like the thought of being buried in the ground alive) but told me later to do what I thought best. So when he thought about being buried he thought alive, he couldn't imagine dead. I think you may be thinking he (your husband) is alive down there, seems though you are still in shock or haven't accepted his death, I am saying this because that is the state I beleive I am currently in. I have not accepted my husbands death nor accepted it yet. I know this because I accepted my mothers death much quicker, I did not have thoughts of her coming back to me like I do with my husband. I also kept asking the funeral director to do tests on my husband to make sure he was dead so I would not bury him alive yet I am still thinking a part of him being alive is in the grave knowing this is illogical. So therefore I think it's shock, loss and not letting go. I also think of his body rotting down there, and what it looks like. I loved his body and I miss him, his touch, his presence, his life. I do think its normal for you, you are a doctor and this is part of who you are, someone who thinks about the body and all its functions and how to fix it, and you can't fix it even in all your training, hard work and knowledge and that is hard to swallow. I totally get it. I wanted to be a doctor myself, but did not have the confidence or the drive and I still wish I coulve achieved that. I put my faith in God as hard as it can be to do that. In grieving sympathy, Elizabeth

Rah, you have me thinking now!  I guess deep down I was concerned about certain issues by not allowing  myself to dwell on the ones you have raised.  Our plots are at the top of the hill with a slight slope for water run off.  I do remember when choosing a casket I made sure I purchased one that offered a tight seal and was water proof.  The vault the casket went into was also air tight and of the highest standards.  But who knows I took all of their word for what they were selling me.  I did my best for him with no regrets in life and after death.

After doing some searching on the internet I realized you knowledge would impose concerns more so then I would as a lay person.   I do hope someday you can overcome these feelings and just remember the life you shared together.  Hugs, Jane P.



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