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Bereaved Spouses

A continutaion of the "When a Spouse or Partner Dies" thread.

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This might be a rough time for many of you. Do what you feel you need to do to get through it. Remember, someone is here almost all the time to talk to you.

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Discussion Forum

Navigating Widow-hood

Started by Tim's Mom, Vickie. Last reply by Michele Jul 21. 5 Replies

Finding the new normal

Started by Sharon Kinsey. Last reply by Frances C Younger Jun 24. 12 Replies

Grief so great it hurts

Started by Bonny Jones. Last reply by Bonny Jones Jan 22. 12 Replies

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Comment by Helen Duncan Hutchinson on November 3, 2013 at 2:44pm

Barbara  You are not a coward.   To go to a pot luck supper on your own without your love is overwhelming.   Just as I was overwhelmed last night and still feel much the same way today.  One day you will manage to stay even if just for a few minutes as Mark said will be a huge step forward for you.    Having said that I have been for coffee with one lot of friends,, a cup of tea with another and supper with a third.   The third lot have organized a theatre visit on the 12th and I have said I will go and yet through all these interactions with people, inside I feel as if my heart is still a bloody sore.   The one person I want to be doing all these things with is missing - my Morley, my husband.   I will go to the theatre, I may even sing along with some of the songs but inside I am dying because the only man who ever gave me unconditional love and support is no longer with us and all these things I am doing because people expect it of me and I try (black glasses at hand as I too cry every day of my life) but nothing means anythings without my love, my rock and it is as if I am acting in an elaborate play and only when I get behind closed doors does the real Helen come out probably in tears, certainly in deep depression.   This post traumatic stress thing is something else - how does anyone ever overcome it and especially is there is no specialist at hand to tell you what to do to try and overcome it.    I guess I just go on doing what I did today and what I will do at the theatre and keep the tears and sobbing for when I get behind those closed doors.

Comment by Marsha H on November 3, 2013 at 2:12pm

My dear Barbara...  You are not a coward!  For most of us going through grief it is very normal to have good intentions to either accept an invitation or as you wanted to, go to church and then the Pot Luck. When the day arrives many of us just can't handle the crowds.  You are not letting yourself down and there will be many more Pot Lucks at church to attend when you are ready.  Because of your faith you know God understands and knows about how we grieve so no sin in committed if that is what you are worried about.  I have done exactly what you have done a few times, good intentions to accept an invite and then told a white lie to get out of it because I wasn't ready to handle the situation.  We do this because we already know that some people who are in our lives can't understand why we aren't over our grief or at least making leaps and bounds to recovery so we are forced to make excuses if we are uncomfortable.

Oddly enough I was in a similar situation as you were.  I had accepted an invitation to a 50th b/d party Saturday night.  The person who invited me was once close to me and it was her husband's 50th b/d. but I haven't heard from either of them in well over 3 months and am not included in other occasions they have.  I had my costume (for the party) all laid out and then suddenly on Saturday I felt agitated and plain anxious and because of my extreme weight loss I've been very self conscious and tired of people bringing up the fact I am thin.  Between missing Ernie and my weight loss I knew I would have several people at the party who have not seen me since Ernie's memorial mention one or both of those factors so I opted out.  I felt guilty at first and felt I was mainly letting myself down, but realized I have a right to put me first for a change and not put myself into a situation of being over anxious.  I do go to the odd meeting at a women's group, but find I can't concentrate and don't have much to say that is up-lifting because we're trying to get by day-to-day with our grief. 

So my friend, don't beat yourself up.  Many of us just can't make certain things because we are not ready to be in a mixed crowd, but the good news is in time you will know when it's right.

Big hugs

Marsha

Comment by Mark Jackson on November 3, 2013 at 12:28pm
Barbara- Your not a coward, your anything but a coward. Just going to church is a victory in its self. I know how you fell. Cathy and I were the head ushers at our church. I have a hard time going to church because a lot of my so called friends are there, and it kind of hurts when they treat me like I have the plague. If you don't fell like going don't go. I would think your daughter would under stand. We've had a couple of pot-lucks, I've gone to both, but I just stayed a few minutes each time. I to don't like being the widower in the group either. Just like I've been told here one step at a time. Maybe the next pot-luck you can try to go for just a minute or two, if you fell like it.
I know you fell bad because you didn't go. I think you fell like you let Chris down some how. I think Chris would have took you in his arms, give you a big hug, a kiss on the cheek and told you it's OK, you don't have to if you don't want to. At lest It seems like he was that type of husband. Just remember where here for you. I'll say a extra prayer for you today.
Mark
Comment by Barbara Sullivan on November 3, 2013 at 7:18am

I have made a decision this morning -- to skip church.  There is a pot-luck after services and I just don't think I can get through it.  I even made a dish yesterday to take and share -- but, now, on second thoughts, I have changed my mind.  I am not ready to be in a crowd, at a social setting.  

Yes, I am a coward.

I told my daughter I didn't feel well -- I lied.  That's cowardly, too.  

I just don't want to go and be there, alone, without Chris.  I am not ready to be the widow in the group.  Not strong enough for that, yet.

Don't want to stand around and try to make conversation.  Don't want to sit and eat, alone.  Don't know how to be only one-half of a couple.

Thinking that a church function would be a safe choice for my first social outing, I made plans to attend.  But, no, not yet.  Not ready.

Maybe another time.

Oh, Lord!  How will I get through the holidays?

Comment by Barbara Sullivan on November 2, 2013 at 8:29pm

Dear Helen -- i know you are heartbroken and lonely and frightened -- but you must not give up -- you are here for so many of us -- and, if life has no other meaning than this --that you be here to help the rest of us get through it all -- then that is more than enough.  

When I read your story about how your husband died so suddenly, I thought, "Oh my God!  That poor woman!  How has she managed to keep it together?"  And, my second thought was -- " But, she has --somehow -- and I can too."  

Don't you see, Helen?  We all come here looking for assurances that somehow we will get through this awful time.  You and others keep us going -- knowing that you have been through so much and are still trying -- still working through the pain -- that helps us.  No one puts a time limit on grief -- no one can.  It will just go on until it ends -- who knows when????  But knowing that women like you are doing what I do every day -- remembering, grieving our loss, facing challenges, being scared, lonely and heartbroken -- that helps me get through it -- for another day.

I come here to Legacy every day because of you and Marsha and Jane and Mark and Frank and DesertDove and all those who have been kind enough to share their heartache and comfort me in mine.

If you need help getting through this -- get it, for yourself, and for us all -- bring us what you know and learn about surviving.  You are a strong courageous woman --  and for right now, your purpose may just be helping someone like me.

Love and prayers,

Barbara 

Comment by Marsha H on November 2, 2013 at 7:28pm

Helen ...  You have survived this long and it hasn't all been bad. All of us miss our spouses and I do understand how you feel.  Today is an exceptionally bad day for me as I am suppose to go to a 50th b/d party, but can't bring myself to go as some people there haven't seen me since the Memorial for Ernie in 2011 and I know it will be a shock to see me as I've lost so much weight and you can bet I won't be left alone long enough without someone saying 'your so thin!'  This knocks my self confidence right out of me.  I was so depressed today that I took the dogs for a walk in the pouring rain.  Oh yes many of us have tears flowing off and on.  I feel my life is in a vice and I can't get lose, but I wiggle as hard as I can trying to get loose.  I miss my Ernie with every breath I take, but I know one thing .. he wouldn't want me to give up!  You know Helen that your Morley is the same. 

No death is a good death and I will admit a sudden death is extremely difficult, but also watching your loving spouse die inch by inch Is a nightmare that seems to have no end, yet, for many we manage to get through it.  It isn't unusual for us to feel unhealthy mentally and physically because grief as we know takes up a lot of our energy, but it's not forever unless we allow it to be.

I would not be your friend if I couldn't say what I feel and you are an intelligent and also courageous woman who has had a history at University teaching that most of us have not had the privilege.  This is where your future lays. If the University doesn't contact you then you hound them. 

I realize you are having a tough night as many of us are.  This grief can blind-side us when we least expect it.  I feel abandoned as well, but keep trying.  You have your girlfriends as I have mine and that's a start. 

May I suggest that you try a grief group and perhaps you will meet other widows there or, another psychologist who can help even though they may not see you as having Post Traumatic Stress.  You can also go on antidepressants and don't worry, this does not make you forget your spouse, but helps you face the world a little better and you don't have to take them for the rest of your life. 

You know I care and love you and I would never hurt you for the world, but all of us have a choice to start somewhere in our life since our spouses have passed and it's one small step at a time.  I see good changes in you even if you don't.

Love & Hugs

Marsha

Comment by Helen Duncan Hutchinson on November 2, 2013 at 4:21pm

Don't know about being strong..   Today has been of the worst ever.   I sat on the edge of my bed tonight and just sobbed about how much I love and miss him, how lonely I I am, how I miss his unconditional love for me (never had it before and won't have it again)), how much I miss my family in spite of the fact they have turned against me how I have lost all self confidence and self esteem, how I couldn't confront my "friend" last week when she was so nasty to me and still feel I could not confront anyone anymore.   In fact a litany of sobbing that would have had a psycologist reaching for his pad but I meant it all, every word and more.   The pain seems worse than ever and I cannot see how I can go on feeling like this.    I know I have complicated grief because of how my husband died (post traumatic stress if I was a forces person) but there is no one in my area who specialises in this so I feel totally abandoned  to somehow find my own way through this and , guess what, I am no succeeding.    Sorry to be telling it all as it is tonight but I cannot cope on my own any more.

Comment by Marsha H on November 2, 2013 at 5:49am

Barbara ...  I am so glad I can offer some hope to you.  I am much like you with so many things to be fixed our husbands did and we do them without crying, but suddenly, without warning it can reduce you to tears.  I can hear a song, see a picture of him or be in a place in our town and tears start to come.  Other days I feel almost normal.  Perhaps it's a good thing and we are truly healing. 

Like you my small victories are just getting out into society, joining a women's group to help other women, I just bought tires for my car and although these seem menial to some, they are victories to us because it means we are slowly somewhere the end of the intense grieving.  You will never forget your Chris anymore than I will ever forget my Ernie and like you, I draw strength from him. I can hear him saying, 'Marcy, you can do it.  You looked like a butterfly and stung like a bee.'  He would always joke about that because I was a shark when it came to business and financial matters or if someone was out of line.  He's laugh his head off.  Somewhere deep inside of us all there is that fight to survive even though we may think we want to give up.  We will get stronger and I can feel it and see it in you and others.

None of us will ever go through our lives without missing our beloved spouses, but, I know they would want us to go on in their memory.  I am taking all the great things my husband taught me and 'passing it forward' to others.  There is hope!  I talk to Ernie every single day and I cuddle up in his bath robe sometimes on a bad day. I do believe the intense pain of grief does subside long enough for us to reinvent ourselves.  I often close my eyes and think back to when I was single and independent and deep down I know that is still there in me and I'm trying to pull that up so I can go on in life until I hopefully meet up with Ernie yet again.

Barbara, check the side effects of any medications you are on because many can cause rashes. Grieving is in tune with stress so we get aches/pains/rashes and heck, I'm losing some of my hair and it's worrying me.  Stress can do so many things to us.  If I keep going like this I'll be bald, and with surgeries I've had since his death I'll be rattling around like pellets in a wooden barrel.  LOL 

Keep hoping my friend because there are changes for the good in our lives and of course you will miss Chris and I, Ernie, but we carrying them in our hearts and we don't know for sure they aren't right there with us protecting us.  I like to think that way.  I'm proud of you and you have a good out-look on things.  We're going to make it!

Big hugs

Marsha

Comment by Marsha H on November 2, 2013 at 5:34am

Robin .. Grief is difficult no matter if you are married a year, 20, 40 or 60 years.  It is common!  Loss of a spouse is heart-breaking no matter the time frame.  Unfortunately, my husband and I didn't have any children either and I have a very small immediate family  I also live in a small town where my husband was raised and there are reminders all over the place.  After two years I still cry and miss my best friend and lover, but it does get a little easier as time passes (don't like referring to time frames, but it's true.).  So there is something in common in each of us.  We do understand believe it or not the trauma of a young person having their spouse pass away far too early in life. 

The shoe can be put on the other foot by some (even my younger friends here) that 'oh you had all that time' but those were years of memories, unconditional love and then, retirement, becoming a senior and then planning for that retirement and suddenly your spouse passes away.  You not only have the label of senior, but also going through life totally alone where friends are dying off or have excluded you because you are no longer considered a couple so both sides young and old should never be divided when it comes to grief. 

I realize (just like my husband and I when younger) we never thought of death at all and for it to happen so young is certainly a trauma that is not taken lightly by any of us.  So hope you don't feel we don't understand because we certainly do.  Grief is a road all ages go down so at least that gives us enough in common to help each other. 

Comment by Marsha H on November 2, 2013 at 5:16am

Jane P ...  What a great post and so true.  I've come across many angels in disguise and many are on this forum.

Hugs

Marsha

 

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