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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Grief so great it hurts

Started by Bonny Jones. Last reply by Diamond Jan 31. 13 Replies

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Finding the new normal

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Comment by Carol Kayser on December 5, 2013 at 9:58am
Hi Barb, I am so glad I was able to help, that means a lot to me:) it's wonderful you had the conversation with your daughter, she sounds terrific and loving and caring.
I'd write more but off to work, take care and you will get your strength back Barb.
Comment by Barbara Sullivan on December 5, 2013 at 8:05am

Carol, thanks for sharing the conversation with your daughter.  It helped me so much.

Last night, my daughter said to me, "Mom, I can't be Chris for you.  I wish I could, but I can't".  She made me realized that I am looking to my daughters to provide the structure -- the stability and calm --that I enjoyed in my life with Chris.  Everything seems so chaotic, so temporary and unsure -- and while I am trying to maintain my independence, at the same time, I am gently forcing them into roles as my "protectors/companions/advisors/helpers/handymen".  Talk about schizophrenic!  "Leave me alone -- no, spend time with me -- no, leave me alone!"  I'm just surprised and grateful they haven't had me committed yet!

Chris was their step-father, and though I know they loved him and miss him --  of course, they can't mourn him the way I do. And, they have always been fun-loving, spontaneous, by-the-seat-of-their-pants, individuals -- not at all like the careful, practical, responsible Chris who made my life so blessed and easy.  He always took care of everything -- every crisis -- every emergency -- every time the rest of us in the family didn't know what to do or how to react -- he was the one who made it all right again -- for all of us.

That's what my daughter was saying to me last night -- "Mom, I can't make it all right, like Dad did."  Bless her heart, she tries.

I must get a handle on my emotions and just stop being so damn needy.  I was a strong, independent person before I met and married Chris -- in fact, I think that's a big part of what he found attractive in me -- I need to get that back.  He would not want me to be over-reliant on my daughters, or anyone.  He would not even recognize that person.  

Okay -- here I am, talking to myself -- on the computer -- but, sincerely, Carol, thanks for the words of wisdom -- a little jolt of reality -- jst what I needed.



Comment by Barbara Sullivan on December 5, 2013 at 7:24am

Dear Helen -- my Chris would have enjoyed cyber-meeting you as he served in Scotland while in the British Navy.  He was just a youngster back then and had never traveled far from his home in Romford, Essex, in the UK.  He loved to tell me about the exploits he and his shipmates got up to -- and tease me with tales of the beautiful Scottish girls he dated.  

Chris was an educator, too.  He taught graphic arts at George Brown College in Toronto, Canada.  I think it was one of the most meaningful and fulfilling times of his life.  He so enjoyed watching his students go on to succeed in that field -- and he developed a lifelong passion for promoting education.  After he retired from business, I encouraged him to go back to teaching, but he said he couldn't handle the"politics".  I suppose you would know a bit about that. But, he was a born teacher -- as is my youngest daughter who is an adjunct at a community college in Chicago -- and I know she misses the conversations she and Chris had about education.

He was an amazing man in so many ways.  I always admired the courage he had to leave his home and family in England and emigrate to Canada.  He had so many talents and abilities -- yet he was always open to learning new skills, meeting new people, open and accepting, yet retaining very strong values of his own.

I knew the moment I met him that he was the one man for me, but as the years unfolded, there were times when he just amazed me with his interests and knowledge.  And, he always encouraged me in my interests -- I few years ago when I began to sketch and paint, he immediately set out to build an art table for me and make sure I had all the supplies I needed.  When I began to sew quilts, he scoured the area for antique sewing machines (I have 6), which he repaired and refurbished. And he designed and built a cutting table with storage and set up a sewing studio above our garage.  He spent countless hours in fabric shops with me, without complaining, and used his graphic arts background to help me choose colors and quilt designs.

When I met Chris, I was a programmer/analyst trying to crack the glass ceiling of management in the large corporation where I worked.  He helped and encouraged me.  He had worked for international companies and had traveled extensively -- he knew the business world and mentored me -- I retired as an assistant vice president -- and he was so proud of me.

When we traveled together in Canada or the UK, he was so proud to show me all the points of interest -- but he loved traveling in the U.S. too and was interested in American history.  He loved art, music, history, travel -- all the things I loved, too -- but he also had a practical side.  He loved working with his hands.  Our home is full of beautiful furniture that he made -- visitors are always astonished when they admire a piece and I tell them that Chris made it.

I'm sorry -- I seem to have got carried away, Helen, with telling you about my Chris, when what I really wanted to say is, I would bet money that he and Morley would have been friends -- (and maybe they are, now) -- had they had the opportunity to meet.  And, I am so glad to have met you, here on Legacy, though this is far from the ideal place to meet people.  

Dear Helen, please try to be happier, I think your Morley would want that for you -- I know Chris wants that for me -- and I am trying.



Comment by Marsha H on December 5, 2013 at 3:24am

Carol ... Well put about trying to enjoy Christmas.  In 45 years of knowing Ernie I have never stopped the tradition of putting up the tree and this 2nd year of grieving I'm finally taking a giant leap and inviting guests over for an evening buffet.  My emotions are all over the place and one time I've happy and looking forward to the holidays and without warning I can feel depressed, very alone and missing Ernie so much. 

I was watching a Christmas movie on TV called, 'Mrs. Miracle' and the man who owned this large toy store lost his wife 20 years before and he simply shut-down and would run off to the Bahamas during Christmas and take his grown son with him.  One sentence Mrs. Miracle said (even though a movie) stuck with me ... 'By not celebrating Christmas you are doing your wife an injustice for she loved Christmas so.'  Thankfully, it wasn't that hard for me to put up the Christmas tree the first year Ernie passed away and I continue to still have that private little Christmas with him on Christmas Eve.  Call me crazy, but I buy him a Christmas card and I talk to him for a bit.  I do believe they are around us.  I realize what I do isn't for everyone and Christmas memories of their spouse can be too painful.

Your daughters were so correct in saying they wanted to enjoy their lives and weren't grieving the same as you.  I remember I was very sad when my father passed away in 1973 and my mother is 2004, but, it is no comparison as to how much we grieve for our spouses.  I like to think our sweethearts are waiting for us and meanwhile we have to do the best we can here. 

I am happy Jack's sister is coming and you have little Abby and you are trying to enjoy it to the fullest because some of us are not as fortunate to have children or large families. 

Yes, 'I do believe!!!!'  Our loved ones wouldn't want us to stop enjoying ourselves.  I can't say I feel guilty about laughing or having fun the odd time.  I know Ernie would want me to, but the loneliness is what is difficult for many.

Again, well said my friend.



Comment by Carol Kayser on December 5, 2013 at 12:17am

Dear Barbara, I think Marsha wrote a really good reply to your post.  We all struggle with these issues but your questions brought back something my eldest daughter said to me and it was this "Mom, I know you think your life is over but ours aren't".  "I have to try and be happy".  It's just another perspective.  They aren't trying to hurt you but they are trying to enjoy their lives.  I have had many many talks with my family over similar things.  The main point I have learned is that just because they may be laughing/smiling and goofing off, it doesn't mean they are not grieving too, it's just different.  It takes a long time for us to smile, to share a laugh, I think mainly because we feel we shouldn't be enjoying our lives any longer but just living them. I have lost relationships over my seeming lack of joy/laughter and I have accepted that.  We learn in small steps to appreciate life again.  It will come Barbara. 




Comment by Carol Kayser on December 5, 2013 at 12:06am

Thank you Marsha, I totally do agree, knowing about the afterlife is really comforting. 

I am feeling personally good about Christmas this year, likely because I will be seeing my darling's sister and she so reminds me of him.  It will be fun and with Abby, it will be all about family.

I am going to try my best to not be stressed out and to just enjoy those happy moments when I can.  I have been crying too but I want to let Jack see that I am having a happy time at the holidays.  I know he is watching, what is it they say at Christmas....'Do you Believe'.....yes I do.



Comment by Carol Kayser on December 4, 2013 at 11:58pm

I read something posted on my Facebook wall and it hit home to me.  It was talking about Christmas.  It was about not forgetting our loved ones during the holiday - I'm not suggesting that any of us forget, it is more of remembering them but in a happy way not a sad way.  It's the best way to keep our memories alive and with us.  I am going to keep Jack in our hearts by sharing stories, having laughs and just loving him in the best way!




Comment by Marsha H on December 4, 2013 at 3:04pm

Carol ... thank you for sharing that story re CNN and it does give us hope that there is life after death full of peace, love and no pain.  That's a good confirmation and I've read books on Near Death Experiences and that's helped me more than anything.

Like you, my husband was soul weary and it was time to go and I gave him my blessings like you did even though it felt like my heart was torn out of my chest, but that's the greatest and most selfless gift we could have ever given them.

Love & Hugs


Comment by Marsha H on December 4, 2013 at 2:34pm

Barbara ...  I am going through the same thing you are and it's been 2 1/2 years since my husband passed away.

The Christmas season seems to be the worst season of the year as it's time to be with family and visiting friends and most of us enjoyed that when our spouses were here.  Christmas is more difficult without our spouses because we had our set routines together and enjoyed being together as well as having help preparing for Christmas.  The things my husband use to help me with I have to do alone and it tires me out quickly.  Now we go Christmas shopping and notice couples shopping together, some laughing, getting excited for the holidays and it makes us feel more alone.

Right now my best friend's sister is in town unexpectedly and of course it's natural for them to want to spend time together, but I'm finding the routine I had with my friend is out of whack and I was shocked I broke down in tears because we had planned to do things together.  The lady's group I joined has so many functions going on and I just don't have the energy to attend because I'm exhausted and that depresses me.  Like you sometimes I enjoy being by myself, but this time of year and trying to struggle to get into some sort of spirit and having two evening buffet; one for family one for two couples. I just can't seem to get into the season of being jolly.  I try so hard, but have done more crying in the past 2 weeks than I have all year.  I have to fight not to become bitter.

I know the feeling of not having the same fun as the people you are with whether it's family/friends.  I just smile and that's as good as it gets as I'm also thinking of my husband.  It's possible your daughter and nieces were just so excited they just got caught up in their fun and possibly didn't ditch you.  It is a reality that some people want to have their fun because they don't know how we feel and it's human nature they want to be around those that do want to have fun.  It's always a kicker for those of us who grieve.

Right now I feel this year has been more difficult for me as Christmas rolls around than the first year of grieving.  I take the dogs for a walk just to clear my head, but I'm always daunted by seeing couples even on my walks holding hands, laughing or just talking and  I start to cry all over again.  There are no instructions to read about how long we will grieve or when we will get into the swing of a routine for ourselves and I find that the most difficult to accept.  I feel exhausted, somewhat depressed and left out.  I seldom get phone calls from friends right now or even an invite out for a coffee. Just a busy time of year. Do what I do Barbara and when out just smile off and on.  I know for many of us at this time of year our hearts are breaking.  I'm hoping 2014 will be more comforting bring peace to all of us.




Comment by Helen Duncan Hutchinson on December 4, 2013 at 12:29pm

Hi Susan

I live in Aberdeen in the far North of Scotland so it is very cold and dark now and we are awaiting the first snow.

I haven' read the Eben Alexander book though I have heard ot it.   I have a very good psychic who has told me many things she could not have known and I tell her very little,  She is a friend now and when I am with her, she soothes me and tells me Morley is waiting for me but I dread I could live another 20 years feeling like this ( I have been diagnosed with post trraumatic stress because of the way he died and there is no one in this area who can help me) and the moment I leave her, the scientist in me sneeks out again and tells me it is all bunkum.    I was just telling Barbara that the best Christmas present I could get would be to go and join Morley.   Apart from a very few friends who have been REAL friends I am ignoring Christmas and am not sending cards or presents.   Morley and I sent out around 200 cards every year to all his students all over the World and I thought I was so popular.   My sister and two inieces have not talked to me for 2 years.    I did say some things I perhaps shouldn't to my sister but it was in response to really nasty things she was saying about what I did for Morleys memorial service, where I put his plaque (his choice) etc.   I have apologised but no leeway was given for my grief and yet when her husband died. my husband and I took her away on holiday with us for 16 years until Morley died.    I now know I have no family.   Luckily neighbours have asked me to join them on  Christmas day otherwise I would be completely alone.    



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