It's been almost 9 months since my husband passed unexpectedly from a heart attack.  I thought I was doing so well and getting a handle on my grief but after doing some therapy work to overcome anxiety, it suddenly dawned on me what part of my problem has been. 

I kept having panic attacks every time I would start to go through my husband's things and the very thought of getting rid of anything that belonged to him would make it worse and raise my blood pressure.  I thought at first it was because I was associating getting rid of these things as getting rid of him.  But then as I began to work through the panic, it all of a sudden dawned on me that the real reason was that by getting rid of his things (down to even his toothbrush or deodorant), I had to admit that he was never coming back...something my mind has not wanted to accept. 

So, this is where I am at and what I am trying to deal with right now...along with trying to overcome panic attacks.   I'm frustrated with myself because I feel I should be long past this...perhaps it's normal?  I don't know.  But hopefully now that I've come to realize it, I'll be able to move beyond it.

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Julie, I'm sure that is comforting.

Thank you, Brigitte, for that encouragement.  I guess I'm being hard on myself because many I know (especially family) expect me to be strong so I expect it of myself, too.  The ones who've been where I am are the most understanding.  I'm thankful for all of you and for the few friends who are understanding and supportive of where I am at in the grieving process.

I know exactly what you mean.  I refuse to move anything from my husband's workbag and and work boots.  I spend time just them each morning before going off to work.  I will continue to do this as long as I feel the need.  I know in time I won't feel the need to do this anymore; but until that time arrives I know it's ok.  You are in my prayers. 

I don't want to say anything that will make you think that you are  not going in a positive direction but do not worry about the time it takes you to feel comfortable with putting the things away, or getting rid of certain items. It will be 3 years for me in April. I was forced to move his things because I moved last year, and had it not been for that it would all be exactly where it was before he passed. He was young, I am young, but I am stuck in a place that is not with him, but absolutely not without him. Maybe this is how I will always feel and maybe there will come a time that I can do something with his things ( I still have it all including his toothbrush,contacts and razor!) they are all packed away in boxes and a special chest that sits at the foot of my bed that also contain his ashes. I am not ready to be without the things that made him so recognizable to me and the kids. Someone may not think it is healthy, but only I know when the right time will be. Time will make a difference as the pain and sorrow today is not at all like it was 3 years ago. I cant exactly say its better, but its more tolerable now.

Today is the worst day I 've had. It's My first real Anniversary.  We were married on  Feb. 29, 2004.  Gene picked out the date.  He always teased me about onlu being in trouble every four years in stead of every year.  Oh how I wish he was here to forget.  He never forgot though.  He was so thoughtful.  I came home from work one anniversary and he had candles lit Steaks on the grill the table set, and flowers waiting for me.  I will always remember that special moment and all the other moments we spent together.  I am so thankful God allowed me to keep him as long as he did.  I have cried for 3 days now and I'm so tired, I cant sleep and dont want to eat.  I miss him so much. His mom gave me the most beautiful card saying how much he loved me and how thankful she was that he had found me.  She said we have to stay close that's what Gene would want.  She has been so good to me. I couldnt ask for a better mother-in-law. My sister in law is great also. She said she was blessed that Gene had given her a sister.   I love them all so much.   Its stormimg her so I cant even go to the cemetery to be with Gene today.  Thats ok though cause he is here with me.  I'm sorry I'm going on and on, it just I feel you all can understand.  I send prayers and hugs to you all.

 

Hi Dee ...  having panic attacks is very normal for many people suffering from a trauma and losing your spouse certainly is a trauma.  I too suffered from panic attacks and I took Cognative Therapy and also there are medications your doctor can give you for short-term (to get over the hump and on your feet.)  I just slowly got rid of Ernie's things and didn't do it all as one big task and I even kept a jacket of his and a few shirts that I still hang onto.  In time and when my heart heals I know when the time is right to let go completely, but that doesn't mean I am letting go of the love we both shared for each other for 45 years.  I still buy special occasion cards for my Ernie and it gives me some peace thinking perhaps he knows about it.  Ernie's side of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom still has his razor and a few other things in it and I am not ready to part with them yet.  There is nothing abnormal about it.  Each one of us gets frustrated with ourselves thinking by now we should be over the loss, but each of us is different and grief can take several years (less heartache, but still grief) and we have to try to remain strong in their memory and realize that life around us changes too and one day we will wake up and grasp onto life and know we are strong enough to handle it because I truly believe between God and Ernie, I am being watched over and protected even though there are days I feel I won't get through it.  Yes, you will move beyond how you feel now, but don't push it too fast and take one step at a time.  We've all been there and some of us are still going through it.  Sharing on this forum gives us all courage and I feel we are all heroes in our own right.

 

Big hugs

 

Marcy

Cynthia, I'm so sorry ~ spending an anniversary without your spouse is extremely hard.  I had to spend mine without the Love of my life also, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and most recently Valentines then his birthday.  It was extremely tough! 

For my husband's birthday I bought helium balloons which the kids and I wrote messages on and then released into the sky.  I broke down crying as soon as we did then spent several more hours weeping after but it helped relieve alot of the tension I'd been bottling up inside. 

That is great that your in-laws are still staying close to you.  My MIL passed away many years ago and my husband's siblings were not that close.  Don't apologize for all you've written...sometimes it helps just to talk and get it all out what you've been feeling inside.

Cynthia Clements said:

Today is the worst day I 've had. It's My first real Anniversary.  We were married on  Feb. 29, 2004.  Gene picked out the date.  He always teased me about onlu being in trouble every four years in stead of every year.  Oh how I wish he was here to forget.  He never forgot though.  He was so thoughtful.  I came home from work one anniversary and he had candles lit Steaks on the grill the table set, and flowers waiting for me.  I will always remember that special moment and all the other moments we spent together.  I am so thankful God allowed me to keep him as long as he did.  I have cried for 3 days now and I'm so tired, I cant sleep and dont want to eat.  I miss him so much. His mom gave me the most beautiful card saying how much he loved me and how thankful she was that he had found me.  She said we have to stay close that's what Gene would want.  She has been so good to me. I couldnt ask for a better mother-in-law. My sister in law is great also. She said she was blessed that Gene had given her a sister.   I love them all so much.   Its stormimg her so I cant even go to the cemetery to be with Gene today.  Thats ok though cause he is here with me.  I'm sorry I'm going on and on, it just I feel you all can understand.  I send prayers and hugs to you all.

 

Thanks Marcy for your encouragement and kind words!

I've finally moved into the acceptance stage.   It's still painful but noticed the panic attacks are subsiding. 

One thing I'm learning is to stop taking advice from those who've never walked this road before!  And to speak up when they try to insert their opinion/advice as fact and exactly what I need to do.  I wasn't ready to go through my husband's things yet but kept feeling pressured to do so.  My therapist was quite upset when she learned this and even said she would never have asked me to do that yet because it wasn't time.  I am just now getting to the place where I can actually move his clothes into storage and be ok (only because I need the room). 

I really hate when people try to make you feel bad about the decisions you make (that's what I love about this site...everyone realizes we are each unique and we are not going to grieve or heal in the same way or at the same speed).  I have some say "so-and-so still has all his wives things in the same place as they were the day she passed and it's been X number years."  Or "I got rid of their belongings with the first couple months...you should have done it right away."  I really wish people would stop trying to make me feel bad for either holding onto or getting rid of things.  *sigh*

Next month will be one year...it's odd how it feels like it was so recent yet so long ago all at the same time.

Marcy Dawn Maday said:

Hi Dee ...  having panic attacks is very normal for many people suffering from a trauma and losing your spouse certainly is a trauma.  I too suffered from panic attacks and I took Cognative Therapy and also there are medications your doctor can give you for short-term (to get over the hump and on your feet.)  I just slowly got rid of Ernie's things and didn't do it all as one big task and I even kept a jacket of his and a few shirts that I still hang onto.  In time and when my heart heals I know when the time is right to let go completely, but that doesn't mean I am letting go of the love we both shared for each other for 45 years.  I still buy special occasion cards for my Ernie and it gives me some peace thinking perhaps he knows about it.  Ernie's side of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom still has his razor and a few other things in it and I am not ready to part with them yet.  There is nothing abnormal about it.  Each one of us gets frustrated with ourselves thinking by now we should be over the loss, but each of us is different and grief can take several years (less heartache, but still grief) and we have to try to remain strong in their memory and realize that life around us changes too and one day we will wake up and grasp onto life and know we are strong enough to handle it because I truly believe between God and Ernie, I am being watched over and protected even though there are days I feel I won't get through it.  Yes, you will move beyond how you feel now, but don't push it too fast and take one step at a time.  We've all been there and some of us are still going through it.  Sharing on this forum gives us all courage and I feel we are all heroes in our own right.

 

Big hugs

 

Marcy

Hi Dee ...

 

It's wonderful to hear from you and there is so much you are feeling that I am feeling as well and probably many on this Forum.  I am so happy to hear your panic attacks are subsiding and of course it is normal for many of us to experience that as we miss our loved one; felt protected by them and now have to face 'who am I?' That's a pretty tall order trying to get to know yourself after so many years of caring for not only your spouse, but for others. 

 

Boy, do I hear you when you said you had stopped taking advice from others.  I have done that long ago if it pertains to what state of mind I should be in at a certain point.  I am a straight-up person and thank them for their concern, but tell them bluntly that unless they have walked in my shoes then they have no idea how I feel.  Grief is a private journey and fact has nothing to do with it; it's healing time and we are all different.  Yes, your therapist is correct in what she said about you being forced into moving your husband's clothes.  It took me some time and as I said before I kept a few of his sweaters and a bath robe sort of like having security blankets when a grieving period comes over me unexpectedly.  Today, April Fool's Day was the day Ernie had his surgery and was given the bad news he was terminal and I cried off and on all day and if others don't like it they can stick it where the sun doesn't shine.  Like you April will not be kind as Ernie passed away last April 27th.   I also know what you mean about some people picking away at some decisions you make.  I am sure by now you are smart enough to think long and hard before making major decisions.  I just hired a gardener last Friday and I got his name from a girlfriend of mine that does her yard.  We have a fair piece of property here and looking after Ernie last year and then losing him in the end the gardens were the least of my worries, but he loved his gardens so much so I want to keep them up.  In that one year the gardens look terrible so it's a major clean-up and fairly expensive, but after it is cleaned up it will be manageable for me and the gardener will come back off and on and my neighbor Dan helps out with the lawn.  I had a couple of people say 'Did you shop around for estimates?'  I felt like I was an old, old lady (I am a senior, but have most of my marbles in tact  LOL) as if I wouldn't get other estimates.  It makes me very angry when people treat me like that so sometimes I don't say anything at all and keep it to myself until a job is done and over with.  I know family and friends may feel they need to protect you, but they could put it in a more delicate way.

 

No, none of us heal in the same time frame and thank heavens we have this Forum and all the wonderful people here so we can gauge what stages of grief we are in.  We are all here to pick each other up when needed with no explanations needed.  Dee, you are grieving and that doesn't mean you are blinded as far as making decisions and this is your personal journey so be stern with these people and tell them to let you go down your own road of grief and do what you have to do when you feel like it.  Don't you just marvel at the people who tell youi these things and find out their own lives are a mess and they are not even grieving.  LOL  ANNIE, GET YOUR GUNS!  You are not ill, you are grieving and one smart lady and all of us know when our own times are right to get rid of clothing, etc.

 

Your statement 'it's odd how it feels like it was so recent yet so long ago all at the same time.' is exactly what I was thinking today.  I feel like I've been in another world and the time has gone fast, but the pain and grieving slow.  Sometimes I feel like I'm looking at a movie about Ernie and I.  Odd how our minds react.

 

You hang in there girl and don't listen to those people and do what you can do when you are comfortable because there is no wrong way to grieve.

 

Hugs

Marcy   

Cynthia, I know the pain you feel as Ernie passed away April 27th and our Anniversary was in August as was his birthday.  I went out and bought cards for each occasion.  Ernie and I were very close just as you and Gene were.  Odd how we would get a little testy over the odd thing they would do (example:  leaving dirty finger prints on the door frame as they hung onto it to get their sneakers or boots off) but what I wouldn't give to see those finger prints there again.  My Ernie was also sweet too so I know you miss all those nice things Gene did for you.  It is normal to cry and to miss him and even though you are exhausted from crying it is still good for you and releases some tension.  Today, April Fool's Day was a bad one for me as that is the day Ernie went into surgery last year and was told he was terminal and he passed away on April 27th.  I too am exhausted from the crying even after all these months (almost a year.)  I am so very happy you are very close to his family.  Ernie's parents have long passed as have mine and his siblings live in other countries, but I am blessed to have some good neighbors; my brother; his wife and my nephews (small family left) and many good friends and wonderful support from everyone here.  I love your idea of the balloons and I bought special cards for every occasion Ernie and I celebrated and I don't really care if anyone here thinks I'm crazy or not.  I might try doing the balloons for our Anniversary.  It gives me comfort and I feel like he is still here with me.  Without a doubt Gene is with you in spirit just as my Ernie is and that gives me great comfort. 

 

There is no need to apologize for expressing your feelings because most of us do on here and the support is wonderful.  There is no one telling us what is right or wrong because we all deal with our grief in a different way.  Right now it doesn't seem to matter if I take the dogs for a walk along with a girlfriend, it just seems at this point in my life anyway that the light has gone out of me, but, I promised Ernie I would OK and gave him the permission he needed to pass away and be in peace so I fight every day to do my best and sometimes it just isn't enough, but time does heal us a little although our spouses will forever be in our hearts and minds.  You are not alone Cynthia and we are here as support and do know how you feel. 

 

God bless you and all on here

 

Marcy 
 
Dee W said:

Cynthia, I'm so sorry ~ spending an anniversary without your spouse is extremely hard.  I had to spend mine without the Love of my life also, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and most recently Valentines then his birthday.  It was extremely tough! 

For my husband's birthday I bought helium balloons which the kids and I wrote messages on and then released into the sky.  I broke down crying as soon as we did then spent several more hours weeping after but it helped relieve alot of the tension I'd been bottling up inside. 

That is great that your in-laws are still staying close to you.  My MIL passed away many years ago and my husband's siblings were not that close.  Don't apologize for all you've written...sometimes it helps just to talk and get it all out what you've been feeling inside.

Cynthia Clements said:

Today is the worst day I 've had. It's My first real Anniversary.  We were married on  Feb. 29, 2004.  Gene picked out the date.  He always teased me about onlu being in trouble every four years in stead of every year.  Oh how I wish he was here to forget.  He never forgot though.  He was so thoughtful.  I came home from work one anniversary and he had candles lit Steaks on the grill the table set, and flowers waiting for me.  I will always remember that special moment and all the other moments we spent together.  I am so thankful God allowed me to keep him as long as he did.  I have cried for 3 days now and I'm so tired, I cant sleep and dont want to eat.  I miss him so much. His mom gave me the most beautiful card saying how much he loved me and how thankful she was that he had found me.  She said we have to stay close that's what Gene would want.  She has been so good to me. I couldnt ask for a better mother-in-law. My sister in law is great also. She said she was blessed that Gene had given her a sister.   I love them all so much.   Its stormimg her so I cant even go to the cemetery to be with Gene today.  Thats ok though cause he is here with me.  I'm sorry I'm going on and on, it just I feel you all can understand.  I send prayers and hugs to you all.

 

Marcy, grief is funny like that...we are all so different yet our grief experiences can be so much alike.  It helps knowing and hearing from others that what you are feeling and experiencing is normal...that you're not losing your mind, you're just grieving. 

I am learning to be stern and stand my ground (not my nature and mainly with family) but had to for the sake of my children.

I agree...it is amazing (and irritating) how people offer advice never having been through what we've gone through while their own lives are a wreck. 

((Hugs)) April must be such a tough month for you.  I don't understand why people think a few months should be long enough to grieve and get over ?? number years of marriage.  Your hearts had become one and now part of it is missing.  Wounds take time to heal and even then there remains a scar as a constant painful reminder of who's missing.

Dee ...  what a lovely post!  I have tears in my eyes as you made me feel so much better and I hope I can repay the favor.  To me grief is grief and whether it's a spouse; parents; child or friend we all still feel the pain.  Most of us have experienced death in our families, but I would have to say, for me at least, having lost parents and even a few friends, that losing my Ernie has been an adventure I certainly wish I didn't have to go through and I have no doubt others feel the same. 

 

Good for you being stern and don't feel badly because it's family because you are the one that has to hide your grief to a point mainly because of your children and I know that is such a hard thing to do.  I unfortunately don't have children, but can still get teary-eyed in front of family and friends and even with Easter coming or any holidays I half dread dealing with it.  I am like a turtle these days; half in and half out of my shell.  Since I'm much older than you I have long since been kind, but stern with anyone who pushes me too far, but first I try to be patient or ignore some situations.

 

I think people sometimes don't know what to say (so then they should just not say anything) or, they are worried about you and trying their best to make you yourself yet once again.  What they do not understand is that when we close the door on one life and open a window to our new life it can be difficult to find our strengths and learn to apply that strength to our weakness' because we have never been down this road before and we will never be exactly as we were before.  Whenever someone is harsh with me now I look them straight in the eye and say 'Take a walk in my shoes ... take a walk on the wild side of reality.' Works every time!  I have ceased to care if people like or dislike what I say about my grieving.  They ask, I'm blunt only if they don't get the message the first time.  I don't believe for one minute these people don't have some idea of what we are going through.  I don't have children, yet my heart breaks for those who have lost children and there are no words to comfort a parent or parents, but a good shoulder I'll lend out and cry along with them.

 

Hugs to you too Dee as I know April isn't any fun for you either.  Isn't it amazing (even reading some of the posts here) that so many people think you should be over the grieving process in a few short months and most certainly after a year, but that is not how it works.  One of my friends (male) his wife passed away 10 years ago and although he has a girlfriend he has never forgotten his wife and he still pines for her.  You put it so well when you said 'your hearts have become one and now part is missing' and that is so true.  I try to get around that by being thankful to God that I did have all those years with Ernie as others may not find that kind of love and some unfortunate people have lost their spouses far sooner than I have.  Again you are so right about the scar remaining.   I know how much you miss your dearheart and when we cry, remember I'm crying along with you. 

 

I have been feeling anxious about Easter and wondering if I will be home alone throughout the holidays.  I did have an invite to my girlfriend's place and her husband (Ernie's best friend) is a great cook, but they are having several people over and my heart is still tender and I am pondering whether to go or not.  I also think my brother is coming to pick me up sometime during the weekend, but it's not confirmed yet.  I know you can relate to the weekends being the worst so long weekends are much worse for me at least.  Ernie and I often just went for walks; sometimes we would have family over or friends or simply work in our gardens.  Now, there is myself and my two dogs. 

 

Just to give you a little lift and hopefully a giggle or two I had my two dogs groomed the other day.  Tootsie is 8 years old and part Bishon Frise and she is sheared like a sheep and really cute (looks like a white seal pup.)  Booker T is 6 years old and Cockapoo with a real male attitude to protect Tootsie and I and anything that belongs to us.  Since he has been clipped his little body looks like a chicken.  LOL  There are my dogs looking really spiffy and there I am with my hair all over my head looking like I was dragged through a knot hole backwards, so today my hairdresser put blond streaks in my hair and gave me a good cut and I feel a little more human.  I asked her if she could give me a face lift at the same time!  No go!  This reminded me of Ernie and I talking when I would tease him and say I was going for a face lift (never would) and he use to tell me to grab the top of my head; pull the skin up and tie it in a knot!  Cheeky man!  LOL

 

Anytime you want to talk just zip off a post to me as I check it out off an on during the day and evening.  You hang in there and know you are stronger than you think and you are being watched over so you are never alone.

 

Big hugs

Marcy

Marcy, grief is funny like that...we are all so different yet our grief experiences can be so much alike.  It helps knowing and hearing from others that what you are feeling and experiencing is normal...that you're not losing your mind, you're just grieving. 

I am learning to be stern and stand my ground (not my nature and mainly with family) but had to for the sake of my children.

I agree...it is amazing (and irritating) how people offer advice never having been through what we've gone through while their own lives are a wreck. 

((Hugs)) April must be such a tough month for you.  I don't understand why people think a few months should be long enough to grieve and get over ?? number years of marriage.  Your hearts had become one and now part of it is missing.  Wounds take time to heal and even then there remains a scar as a constant painful reminder of who's missing.

Marcy, I'm glad I was able to say something to help you.  You have already said many helpful and encouraging words already and this post just adds to it, thank you!

Yes, grief is grief and something none of us wish to experience or have to endure. 
I have had to hide a lot of my grief from my children.  I have had therapists and books say NOT to hide it from them but if they are actually laughing and having fun, I do not want to bring them down at that moment by my flood of tears. They are teens so they already know I'm sad and miss him but I do not see the sense in making them sad when they have actually found a moment of happiness.  

I like how you classified that...being a "turtle".  I believe that's perfectly normal.  Sometimes I want to be around people and other times I just need to be alone with my thoughts and feelings.

I have been quite patient with people even the ones who say and do the most insensitive things.  I bite my tongue but try to get away from them as soon as possible.  People do mean well but as you said, they often don't know how or what to say.  I agree, they should stay silent but often feel that's the wrong thing when it can sometimes be for the best.

As much as others and even our-self may want it, we will never be the same...we are forever changed.  I've tried to be the former me but it's just not possible no matter how hard I try.  My experience has changed me so my task is to make sure it changes me for the better and I do not become bitter.

April is hard for me merely because my husband just had a new grandbaby born that he doesn't get to meet...so right now it's a mixture of sorrow and yet joy as we welcome the new addition to the family.  The beginning of May will be rough because that's when it will be 1 year.  

While we are thankful for the years we had with them but we grieve for the years we will not.  My husband passed just shy of our 19th wedding anniversary...we thought we had a lifetime.

It is astounding that people think it should be that easy and that quick to recover but I've had people who've been through grief tell me it takes about 3 years to really get through it...that doesn't mean grief ends after that but it takes about that long just to be able to adjust and begin to function more normally. 

That is a tough decision and only you will know what is best for you concerning the holidays.  For me, I wanted to be around people as much as possible just to get my mind off my grief for my children's sake.  For me, the weekends are always very busy but the evenings and nights are rough.

That is funny!  It's good you can find things to smile and laugh about...and that you are pampering yourself. We deserve it after the ordeal we've been through and are still going through.

I am learning that...that I'm stronger than I think.  You hang in there, too. 

((Hugs)) to you, too.

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