My husband Bruce died January 9, 2014. He was 62. Not a short or a long life. He died of agressive prostate cancer that spread into his pelvis, his hip, his back and caused a very active man to lose the use of his legs and to kill him in three years despite all the researching, arguing with doctors, treatments and support from family and friends. His last month was spent in hospice and I took a leave from work to be home with him. I miss him tremendously but I feel like I grieved so much while he was dying that I am empty. I am not angry. I am sad and wistful when I think of him. I do not blame God. I am still angry that he didn't have access to medical marijuana but that anger is being channeled into activism. I bargained with God before he passed. I offered my first husband in his place. I offered myself. Nothing worked so I've opted for acceptance. A friend told me I am intellectualizing the experience but I don't think so. I still cry. I cried as I cleaned out his clothes and gave them to a free clothing store. I cried when I paid off the mortgage and he wasn't here to celebrate. I cried when I sorted his books. I cried when I gave his car to my nephews but with each action I feel like he is right there, guiding and approving the things I do. I went back to work a couple weeks ago and am starting to feel that passion for working with food security that I placed on hold 4 months ago but I still feel something is not there--his love is still present. His cremains are in the library of our house near his favorite books. The girls, our two springers, are starting to heal but I don't know what is next. I have chronic clinical depression and can't tell them apart at this point. I've talked to the psychiatrist and psychologist and haven't raised any flags. My biggest concern right now is sleep. Some nights, if I take medication, I can sleep 12-14 hours. If I don't take it, I get 3-4 hours of sleep and dream and dream. Not necessarily good dreams. How do I separate the grief from the depression?

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Hello Theresa, I can relate so much to what you are saying, I lost my husband exactly one month after your husband, he had just turned 59 on January 7th, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer & basically given 2 yrs of life only to die less than a month later to a cardiac arrest, not a day goes by that I do not cry my eyes out, so I hear you loud & clear, most of the time I can't sleep, my head just thinks & questions if I could have done something to change the outcome, I went to the mausoleum for the 2nd time yesterday & it was extremely hard but I feel if I don't go he is going to think that I abandoned him, I am still in limbo thinking, WHAT HAPPENED? but there is no answer, my youngest son is very worried because he says at this point my health is being affected & he does not want to lose another parent, he is getting married on July 12th & my husband Pablo wanted to be there so much for his son like he was for our oldest sons wedding, I know I need to go on for my sons but I don't feel I have the strength to go on, so I can certainly sympathize with everything you said & wish I could give say things that would help you, I can't but just know there are some of us in the same situation, very hard to lose someone after knowing each other for over 40 years & having just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary this past October, I hope u can find some peace, like I hope I can.

Thank you for your kind words. I have family members who check up on me all the time and who worry over me although I tell them not to. I cannot help but miss Bruce after 22years of marriage. We didn't have children, we married in our late 30's and I miscarried one child. I still struggle with that. Bruce never wanted to adopt children but I do have two wonderful nephews and a niece who I am close to. I sometimes feel like people would feel better if I wore sackcloth and smudged myself with ashes or committed suttee but I promised Bruce that I would go on because he didn't want me to grieve for a long time. So, yesterday I went shopping and tomorrow I'll keep on working but I can't sleep and am not very hungry. I am lucky that I had time with him so we could share our grief but still his going was difficult, final, his end. I still feel him with me though. He will always be there.
Sorry about your loss,( Revelation 21:3,4)

----Based on Help for Your Grief, by Dr. Arthur Freese, pages 23-6---
The Process of Grief
" This does not imply that grief has any fixed schedule or program. Grief reactions can overlap and take varying lengths of time, depending on the individual."

Early reactions:
"Initial shock; disbelief, denial; numbness; guilt feelings; anger"

Acute grief may include:
"Memory loss and insomnia; extreme fatigue; abrupt changes of mood; flawed judgment and thinking; bouts of crying; appetite changes, with resultant weight loss or gain; a variety of symptoms of disturbed health; lethargy; reduced work capacity; hallucinations—feeling, hearing, seeing the deceased"

Leveling-off period:
"Sadness with nostalgia; more pleasant memories of the deceased, even tinged with humor"
That is why I can't remember anything?
So, what can I do? Just accept that these things will happen? Be frustrated?

"That is why I can't remember anything?" - Yes, it is true.  The pain of our losses really messes with our ability to focus, to remember and to complete seemingly easy tasks.  Since Molly died, I live by lists.  If it isn't written down, I have little chance of remembering it.  The act of adding something to a list also reduces the anxiety associated with forgetting it.

"So, what can I do? Just accept that these things will happen? Be frustrated?" - My bereavement group leader continues to point out the grief is a healing process.  But, I believe that it is one that you need to participate in.  Talking about my feelings, the frustration that I am experiencing, the loneliness, and even the few things that have gone right for a change with people who understand has helped me a lot.  I don't think it is a matter of accepting that there are typical physical manifestations of grief, but understanding that there are reasons we feel the way that we do and that this is normal.  The goal is to learn to adapt and in doing so to start to rebuild our lives.  The best thing that we can do is to take care of ourselves (mind, body and spirit...to quote my bereavement group leader again).  Eat well, get as much sleep as possible, share feelings with friends and family, and find solace in whatever belief system we have.

Amen MikeF. .....The best thing that we can do is take care of ourselves and remember healing takes time...it's hard to throw our anxieties on the Lord (Psalms 55:22)

Hi Theresa ...  Here is a line re grief depression and other depression:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/02/23/the-two-worlds-of-...

I am so sorry your husband had to go through so much.  My husband also had a rough time with pancreatic cancer and like you, I spent many times arguing with doctors because of mistakes and misinformation of their part and trying to stay up-beat for him while crying inside.  It is true that the grieving process starts as soon as we know their illness is terminal.  I also bargained with God and even prayed He'd take me instead of my gentle giant of a husband.  Everyone deals with their grief differently and it took me a few months to take his clothes out of the closet and give them to Good Will.  I still have his work jacket hanging up on the hook.  I mainly do this to prove he'd actually been here, the love my life and so many shared memories.  My husband was also cremated and I have his box of ashes in my curio cabinet in the corner of the living room.

The link I left you explains grief depression and different types of depressive moods individuals can have and genetics is a large part of that.  Depression over the loss of our loved one is normal unless it goes on for years and stops one from having some sort of life or they choose to hide away from family, friends and society as a whole. 

You are experiencing genetic depression and now grief depression all rolled into one.  Sleeping too much or not enough is one of the signs of raw grief.  It is so very important that you don't rush through your grief as if it's matter of fact and you have important things to get settled, but take time to cry, to remember and to let that raw grief out.  I too have suffered unsettling dreams off and on and still can if stressed out.  You will get through this, but please, get grief counseling and work with your therapist.  Grief is individual when it comes to emotions and depression.

Hugs

Marsha

Hi Theresa, I too am sorry for your loss. My husband is my best friend and I can't imagine life without him. I don't know you so I'm not sure if your a spiritual person or someone who likes to read the bible, If so Philippians 4:6,7 is something you can definitely read and pray for...

Sincerely, Kim

If you find an answer, please share it! I know lack of sleep & depression have taken over my life...My brain tells me I have to let him go, but my heart never will.
My heart will not give Bruce up ever. He was my heart and soul, the string to my balloon... but I've been finding things that relax me...playing the piano, petting the dogs, baking for others and that seems to help me. I took down a lot of stuff in the house partially because I had to have some work done but decreasing the amount of stuff around me is soothing. This does not mean I am a minimalist. It just means that I need less stimulus. Try a hot bath with 1/2 cup baking soda, 1cup Epsom salts and 3-4 drops of lavender. Soak for 30 minutes while drinking chamomile tea. Then I crawl into bed and usually can sleep. If I can't, I get up and read or write or think about what I can do for someone else. I also preplanned as much as I can and keep to my list of three things to accomplish everyday. That helps me see I'm making progress.

Vickie:

For me it is not a matter of letting my wife go but forging a new relationship with her.  I believe that Molly will always be a part of my life and she will always be in my heart.  In many things I do on a daily basis, I can hear her in the back of my mind helping me along.  The life lessons that she provided me while she was alive can still help shape me now. 

I too struggle with lack of good sleep. It is not so much that I do not sleep, but that I feel as though I need to be completely exhausted when I go to bed to ensure that I fall asleep quickly. I know that I am less functional, more crabby and more depressed on days that follow bad sleep nights. 

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