Frank and I met when I was twenty and we have been together for the last 41 years and married for the last 3 ½ years. We are both retired and both of us in our early 60’s. In early May I thought it would be nice to go on a road trip, to break up our routine. I could tell Frank was ready to go somewhere, but we could not because our cat was going on 20 years old and having a rough time. We knew his end was near and just didn’t want to leave him. The night of April 6th we came to the decision to have him put to sleep the next day as he could hardly stand. That night he died in Frank’s arms.
I usually put together our vacations so I put together a two week road trip to Florida leaving May 6th. We stopped to visit friends in Myrtle Beach and then continued on to Fort Myers Beach for several days. After that we crossed the state over to Hollywood Beach where we rented a small house that had a nice private pool. It was very close to the Hollywood Board walk which we discovered on our last trip to the area. We had a wonderful time and I think it was our best trip yet. In heading home, we planned stop in Savannah. We got in early, took a little nap, showered and then called an Uber to take us downtown Savannah. We had a nice dinner at a restaurant we discovered on our last visit there too. After walking around a little we called an Uber to head back to our room. We got back at midnight and put our comfy clothes on. I got on the lap top and Frank started watching a movie and played on his phone, as he always did. We turned in about 1:30. Sometime during the night, I woke up to hear Frank snoring in a very wield manner. I have to say I had never heard anything quite like it before. I thought he was snoring and having a dream. I didn’t think any more about it and just rolled over and went back to sleep. I woke up early, around 6:20, so that we can get a jump on the free breakfast before everybody else. I turned over to wake Frank and he wasn’t responding. I got out of bed and he wasn’t waking up. He died during the night. I called the manager and they called EMS, but it was to late. Unbeknownst to me during the night, is that I woke up in the middle of his being in cardiac arrest. The weird breathing was his body trying to get oxygen causing what is known as agonal respiration. He was laboring to breath and gasping for air. God woke me to attempt to save Frank and I did nothing but roll over and go back to sleep. Even though a person surviving cardiac arrest in extremely low, it eats at me that I didn’t recognize a problem and try CPR. I feel I failed Frank. I feel so guilty! I always looked out for his well-being and I let him down. I learned later that morning, after looking a Frank’s phone, that while I was on the lap top, he was doing a Google search on “throat pain and heart attack symptoms”. He didn’t say a word about it. He failed me. I was in a strange area, alone and Frank was dead. EMS and police were in our room. After the authorities were done I was permitted to go back into the room. I sat with Frank on the floor for a while, holding his lifeless hand, waiting for the coroner to come. It was Sunday May 21st, so it was longer than usual. Frank was turning blue and his body already starting to deteriorate. I watched as they placed him in a body bag and it was the worse day of my life. After they left, I was all alone. I made a few phone calls. One to our local funeral home and another to a family member. It was so awful packing my suitcase then his. It was awful packing the car then getting into an empty car and driving home for 12 hours straight. I couldn’t stop, I had to just keep going. I made it home at midnight. It was the worst moment of my life again walking into an empty house. I couldn’t believe that I would never see Frank again. That whole week was spent making arrangements ending with calling hours and a brief service. I physically could not eat for a whole week. I lost 12 pounds. Since then my life has been numb. I’ve cried every day for the last 41 days. I put our satellite service on hold. I stopped the newspaper. Nothing seems to be important anymore. Our home, which was our labor of love now is unimportant and is just plain labor. My plan at this time is to eventually sell it. It was ours and I can’t be here without him. I feel I won’t be able to rebuild my life if I stay here. I have half good days and half bad days. Mornings seem the worst. If I start out depressed I seem to stay that why. I hate being here alone. Even if I am with someone else. It may temporally take my mind off things. But, I am still alone in my head. The loss and loneness is so great. Some days it’s unbearable. I have been reading bereavement books, journaling, visiting websites and spending hours on the phone with family and friends. I think it’s helping. But, on some days I keep falling back into the grief pit. The pain feels like it’s never going to end. Frank was my life.
Dear Cherish…..I am really appreciating the people I have met on this site. Everyone’s story is different, but the pain and emotional roller coaster is the same. This site and the people that make it come alive is helping me overcome some of my feelings of despair. In sharing your experience you are helping me cope with my feelings and providing some tools that I can use in order to move forward. Thank you so much for sharing. Andrew
I know my story can't take away your pain but perhaps it will find you comfort knowing someone is going through exactly what you are at the same time. I lost my husband, Brian in such a similar way, March 25, 2017. It was the first day of our vacation. I went to sleep in the living room of the cottage we were staying at because he was snoring very loudly, which was normal for him. Looking back, he was snoring extra loudly that night. At 7:30 the next morning, I grabbed my pillow and went back into the room only to find him face down on the bed sideways. I immediately started yelling his name and hitting his back but he wouldn't respond. I then rolled him over and he looked terrible. His face was grey-ish and his tongue was out. I started doing chest compressions and calling 911, the whole deal but it was too late. The paramedics worked on him then had to stop. I was also all alone after they left. I was fortunate to have our families drive over later on. I can't imagine having to make all of those phone calls on my own as you did. I remember when they told me I could get my things and I had to go all around the room as you did, packing our belongings and loading them into the car. I don't even know how you were able to drive. I was so out of it my friends had to drive my car back to our place. When the authorities were done I couldn't even bare to go back in and be with his body. You are so brave for doing that. Returning to our place for the first time was the worst thing ever. I've lost a lot of weight also. Mornings are the worst for me also and I think it's because it happened in the morning, might also be why it is so hard for you also, and just waking up every day without your soul mate. I am also getting crazy panicky PTSD episodes starting to emerge regarding the terror of that morning. I know exactly what you mean about the loneliness. I had a terrible night tonight because I feel so profoundly lonely without him even though there are friends and family around. I know it feels like the pain will never end. You are at the month and a half mark which was one of the worst times pain wise. It's a terrible gnawing pain that won't go away and there's nothing to relieve it. I am at the 3.5 month mark and although its still there it has lessened or is there in a different way, although still intense. I know exactly what you mean by the grief pit. I started therapy and my therapist says that with time, the pain will become comforting because I will begin to see it as my love for Brian. Even though the pain is unbearable, know that it is your love for Frank.
I have managed to stay at our place, and what has helped is that friends and family have gone though our things and have gotten rid of all the old furniture and removed his belongings. I have slowly gotten new furniture and things and it has really helped to create a fresh feeling of starting new. I resisted it at first but it has helped to the point I don't feel like I need to move.
Let me know what I can do to help. Your post caught my attention because Frank died in such a similar way, on vacation, you found him in the morning, you had to deal with the terrible trauma of that plus calling the paramedics and authorities. I am 30 and Brian had just turned 31 he died of coronary artery disease. We were together 10 years and married July of last year. We didn't even make it to our one year anniversary. We just had his memorial service last Saturday, and all I could think was that "this time last year I was so happy getting ready for my wedding, and now I am about to put my husband's ashes in a wall." Like you, I am fighting my own guilt about not being there in time, not realizing, sleeping out in the living room, etc. and know that this is a normal part of grief. You didn't know. Frank didn't tell you he was feeling bad, just as Brian never indicated to me he was having any symptoms. Also, you guys had such a lovely last 2 weeks together and with time, I hope you will be comforted with that.
Dear Kaela…..Thank you for replying to my post and sharing your story. Our stories are remarkably similar. This morning, as I wrote in my journal, I felt indifferent with no particular mood one-way or another. Then I went about my morning routine. However, it didn’t take long as I felt myself slipping into a state of depression and loneness. As I just lost my motivation for whatever I was about to do. You know its coming and you start feeling the tears start to stream down your face. Then your day, that you thought was going along just fine, falls apart. I was in control, now I am not. I was doing fine, now I feel I am in need of a “shrink” or something. You feel you need help and so you become helpless and venerable. This seems to be my daily emotional life. Some days are worse than others. The other day, I woke up angry, right off the bat, no real reason, just angry because I was here without Frank and he was taken away from me and I was mad. Just plain mad. Today is day 50. It’s been 50 days since Franks passing. I think to myself, how much more can I endure. I’ve been grieving for 50 days and sometimes I just don’t think I can take much more. But, I keep on going and working on my grief, trying to heal the pain. It’s a lot of work, but I am determined to work through this and not be miserable. I want to enjoy life again. I am trying my best to be positive and it’s really really hard.
Kaela, I am so very sorry for your loss. At least I had almost 41 years with Frank and for that I am so thankful. Your time with Brian was cut short and you got robbed of so many experiences that you will never get to share. Andrew
That is so great you are journaling. “Purging on the page,” as my therapist calls it, provides so much relief. I know exactly what you mean about waking up feelingly seemingly indifferent and then you turn a corner and BAM, depression and despair. The thing I have learned, and have been told time and time again, is not to resist these emotions, but to embrace them. Lose control and lose motivation. You have earned the right to do so. Know that everything you are experiencing is normal and valid. Anyone worth being around will understand. I also wake up really angry all the time. I am in fact constantly angry. We have the right to be angry that this terrible tragedy happened to us. I also have days when I think “Who am I kidding? I can’t do this. I can’t go on without him,” but we can, and we will. We ARE. It is exhausting, and it will take a very long time. Before this happened I was a pretty happy person with positive mental health. To feel this sad for this long, day after day after day feels unnatural. I feel drained all of the time. Most days I literally don’t want to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone, and sometimes, especially on the timeline where you are know, I feel so upset I feel sick and need to sleep all day. Don’t try to be positive. Be who you are, and right now, it’s very very sad.
I am sorry, I hope you don’t feel I am bombarding you with advice but I just remember at the month and a half mark where you are I was totally in a black hole I couldn’t escape and I was trying to be hard on myself and be positive and try to get through it but stupid grief just doesn’t work like that. It will take a very long time. I was so damaged and closed off to things and in many ways still am, but I am starting to open up to things in very small ways. For example, the other day I was able to look at our wedding pics for the first time. That would have been unheard of up until then. On the days I feel okay, like today, I embrace them. Know that you will also feel like you are taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Just don’t get frustrated with yourself.
Even though it’s not comforting right now, it is wonderful that you and Frank had 41 years together. I am angry that I didn’t have longer with Brian but I remind myself that some people don’t even have 10 years and we also definitely made the most of the time we had, just as you and Frank did.
Know that Frank is still with you, but in a different way.
You are so sweet to think about us. For some reason I can't find your post . If you don't mind me asking, how did he, and how long ago did he pass? Please don't feel ashamed. You aren't whining about anything. You have endured the terrible tragedy of losing your spouse. My story does not diminish the pain of your story.
I also noticed your post about your kitty and Andrew's mentioning of his cat passing on. I have been staying at my parent's house a lot and they have two young delicious, adorable kitties and they have literally saved my life. I couldn't have made it through the first night without them in there with me. It's amazing how much joy pets can bring despite the despair.
Dear Kaela.....Frank went into cardiac arrest in his sleep. He died the morning of May 21st. Andrew
Andrew....I'm late to the conversation and want to offer my sincere condolences for the loss of your husband. How fantastic you got to spend 41 yrs together but it's still never enough. I was with my husband, Ken, for 30 yrs and married for almost 27 of them. I lost him on 1/13/16 at the age of 52. What I hope you'll understand is that you're turning over and going back to sleep in no way had anything to do with his passing and you're not turning over would not have saved him. I've read all the comments and I can't say anything any better than what has already been said but I'll briefly tell you my story in hopes you'll realize you truly could not have done anything.
Ken had a complicated medical history and was hospitalized on 12/15/15. Despite his medical issues, he was not expected to pass. On the evening of 1/13/16 while still in the hospital he too went into cardiac arrest. I was standing right there by his side......in the middle of a conversation....when it happened. Doctors and nurses came flooding in within 10 seconds and worked on him for about 90 minutes before calling it. This is why I ask you to believe that you did not fail Frank. I've always been one to believe that when it's our time, it's our time and there's nothing anyone can do to change this. I have to keep telling myself this because I would do anything to have Ken back.
Please don't put any pressure on yourself or any time expectations to heal. For me, it's 18 months this week and I still cry for him everyday. He was my life and now I just exist until we can be together again.......although I do try to make the best of it. The feelings from 41 years together doesn't just go away or ease up after a few months. Grief over a lost soul mate never ends, it just becomes more tolerable and I think that's okay.
Dear Sara,........Thank you for sharing your story and for taking the time to reply to my post. I am at my six week mark since Frank passed away. I am so miserable half of the time and frequently become overcome with a sense of loss and loneliness on top of the upsurges of crying. It’s killing me. I feel like I am dying inside. How do you do it? How can you handle 18 months of crying? I know it’s one day at a time. But, I don’t think I can keep doing this every day. I am exhausted. I can’t help thinking of our future, or I should say my future. When I think of my future, I only see heartache and loneliness. I know I need help. I am afraid counselors and therapist will want to put me on a happy pill and see me as a money tree to shake and I’ll end up in the same place as I am now. Just a little poorer. So, I will continue coming here and hopefully some of the pain will start to go away or maybe I can learn to not let it control me. I did find a few local Grief Share groups starting up in a few weeks. I am seriously thinking about trying one or two groups out. I can always stop if they don’t work out. Both groups meet in churches, so I am not sure about the religious bent.
Saturday will be out 41st anniversary. Yeah, it’s going to be a difficult day to say the least. I’ve been anticipating it for some time. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. Andrew
Andrew.....Even though I cry for Ken everyday, it's not all day like it was in the beginning or for as long. I talk to Ken all the time and tell him that I don't know how much longer I can do this. I'm not going to pretend for you that I want to be here or can envision a future. I don't see a future. For me, as far as I'm concerned my life has already ended. It ended on 1/13/16 and my existence began. Nothing looks or feels the same to me anymore. I go through the motions, do the things I'm supposed to do and fill the time the best I can but my end game is to reunite with the only soul I want to spend time with. I really wish I could be more upbeat like some of the others here but I don't have it in me so I leave that to them. It's because of them that I've come this far. I tried a Grief Share support session a couple months after losing Ken and it didn't help me much. There was only 1 other person in that group that could identify with the loss of a spouse. The others there had lost either parents or children and it's just not the same. Each loss is different because it's a different relationship so I couldn't relate to their loss and they couldn't relate to mine. You should give it a try for yourself though. You don't have to be religious but with Grief Share, they'll show you videos each week which do have religious overtones and then the conversation takes place after the video. It can't hurt for you to try it out. Like you say, you can always stop going but I hope you will get something out of it.
I'll be thinking of you on Saturday. It's not going to be easy but you will get through it. Somehow we all do.