Hi, my name is Eric Furan and I lost my beloved partner Patrik just about two months ago on June 10, of Pancreatic Cancer after 3 1/2 years of suffering more than I thought was possible.  I thought having been through all the doctors, the hospitals and hospice with him I would be prepared, after all I knew what the end game was - I was so naive.  I was in the car on my way to a business meeting when I got a call from the hospice social worker, "I'm sorry but he passed 10 minutes ago".  As I heard the words, the buildings on the street began to close in on me, everything seemed to shift into slow motion and I had this sudden buzzing in my ears.  How I managed to drive home across town without killing myself I'll never know.

Patrik had just turned 54 and last Monday, the 4th of August would have been our 30th anniversary.  I loved him unconditionally and always knew that, yet since he's been gone I realize how much more I loved him than I even realized.  Even now I find myself shaking my head in disbelief that this has happened.  Even knowing in advance that he was terminal, I still find it inconceivable that the gorgeous man that knew me even better than I knew myself is gone. For the first month I spent nearly every night sifting back and forth through a mountain of old photographs till my eyes nearly bled from exhaustion.  It was if I was trying to will him back into existence, that or crawl into the photos with him, I'm not sure which.  For the first month I was kept busy with the avalanche of phone calls, texts, emails and cards as well as the floral arrangements and gift baskets.  At the memorial service I was greeting one person after another when seemingly out of nowhere, my girlfriend Paula (who had lost her husband 4 years before) materialized and threw her arms around me.  As she pulled away with tears in her eyes she said "welcome to the club Darlin', no one but another widow/widower will ever understand the depth of pain losing your partner brings."

Two weeks later I chartered an historic schooner and I and 12 of our closest friends sailed off the coast of Dana Point and scattered his ashes at sea, amidst a flurry of rose petals and the strains of "Amazing Grace" played on the bagpipes.  Since that time, everyone has begun to drift back to their own lives and I am left in an empty house to try and pick up the pieces of what had once been a life filled with love and laughter.  In many ways I feel as if we both died back in June, the only difference being that I am still walking around.  I feel like an empty shell, nothing seems to matter anymore and I have no idea what to do with myself - I spend hours just sitting and staring out the window.  When I'm not doing that I'm trying to go through his things and ready them to be donated, but every shirt and every shoe has a story it wants to tell and I find myself dissolving into tears before anything gets done.  I'm continually told that time will heal me, but from here I can't see it.  I cry (selfishly) for myself, but also for the life he lost at such an early age, and for all the dreams and plans we made that will never come true now.

I realize that part of the healing process (at least for me) is to be able to talk about what happened and how I feel about it, so that I can get it out and make room for new experiences. Frankly though I feel my friends and family are beginning to tire of hearing about it, so I need to find another outlet.  I was hoping to find a live support group somewhere here in L.A. but I couldn't find any that focused on Gay and Lesbian relationships.  I have obviously just now found this group and hope that it will be of help to me.  What I need is input from others who are going through or have gone through the same thing.  How do you feel?  How have you dealt with it?  How long does it take before some semblance of "normalcy" begins to settle back in?  I feel like I'm broken and I'm beginning to worry that it'll never get better.  In turn, maybe I can help someone else with my story.  Any advice you can offer will be welcome.  Thank you.

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Replies to This Discussion

Eric,

First... I am so sorry for your loss.
Second... Thank you for sharing your story and a small window into the life and love you shared with Patrik. It was just beautiful and so perfectly told.

I had to stop half way through because my eyes were filled eith tears and I couldn't see the screen any more. You said that part of the healing process, for you, was to be able to tell your story. I think, for me, it's being able to read and hear other peoples stories. And know I'm not alone in my grief.

I'm so happy that you had a group of friends to be eith you when you scattered Patrik's ashes at sea.... I went through that process alone on Ocracoke Island. It was both beautiful and soul shattering at the same time.

And the healing continued.

Again, thank you for sharing. I wish you the best.

Mike

Mike:

Thank you for your kind and heartfelt reply to my post.  I'm sorry that my story made you cry, I feel as if I have already cried enough for half the population of the earth.  At the same time I am finding that while they hurt, tears are somewhat therapeutic as they wash out some of the grief and give respite, if only for a short time before they fall again.

I made it through the memorial although the entire affair was for me a totally surreal experience.  I felt as if I were half-in and half-out of my body, or like I was walking through a scene in a movie - it just didn't seem real, and I still cannot remember certain parts even weeks later.  After that experience I didn't know what to expect from the scattering.  Driving down to the harbor to meet the boat that morning I was filled with apprehension over the finality of the whole thing and was afraid that when I had to get up and deliver my tribute to Patrik that I would totally lose it in front of everyone.  Surprisingly though, the day turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had, and others on the boat that morning told me the same thing later.  The day started gray and overcast as we pulled out of the harbor, a fitting backdrop for the duty we were about to perform.  As I mentioned in the post, the ceremony was incredibly beautiful, and as we turned toward shore the clouds parted as if on cue, and the sun broke through revealing one of the most beautiful days we'd had in weeks.  I decided to take the coast route back home rather than the inland freeway, hoping the scenery would make me feel better.  As I drove up the coast with the sun sparkling on the water and colorful kites bobbing in the breeze I was suddenly seized with the most incredible sense of calm and serenity I think that I have ever felt.  In a flash I knew that this was Patrik telling me that he was alright and that everything was going to be ok.  I turned my head to the sky and said "thank you so much honey,  I love you".  That overwhelming feeling of calm proceeded to follow me the rest of the day.  When I got home I changed into my jogging clothes and went running up the arroyo toward the Rose Bowl and then headed back toward home.  About three quarters of the way back I came to a rise where the trees parted and I was greeted with the most glorious sunset I had seen in a couple of years - so arresting that I stopped, sat on a rock and watched it until the last touches of pink had vanished from the sky.  I then went home to bed and slept soundly without waking the whole night through for the first time since he had passed away.  Since that day I have had no trouble sleeping....although the wonderful feeling of peace passed and the grief returned.

I hope that your experience on Ocracoke was half as beautiful as was mine on the boat.  I watched the ashes swirl down into the water much like the necklace in "Titanic" (well I AM gay after all!) and then as the current hit them they seemed to explode out in every direction as the water pulled them too and fro, till they finally dissipated.  At that moment I suddenly got this picture in my head of them washing up on tropical islands and distant shores, and then eventually returning to the very universe from which they sprang, all of which seemed to symbolize the whole circle of life thing.  I cannot think of a more beautiful way to exit this world and will request that my ashes are scattered in the same manner when it is my turn.

Sorry, I got a little carried away there.  I do thank you again for taking the time to reply and I hope that your memories of your partner hurt a little less every day till you are able to smile, and not cry when you think of him.

All my best to you,

Eric


Michael Reikowsky said:

Eric,

First... I am so sorry for your loss.
Second... Thank you for sharing your story and a small window into the life and love you shared with Patrik. It was just beautiful and so perfectly told.

I had to stop half way through because my eyes were filled eith tears and I couldn't see the screen any more. You said that part of the healing process, for you, was to be able to tell your story. I think, for me, it's being able to read and hear other peoples stories. And know I'm not alone in my grief.

I'm so happy that you had a group of friends to be eith you when you scattered Patrik's ashes at sea.... I went through that process alone on Ocracoke Island. It was both beautiful and soul shattering at the same time.

And the healing continued.

Again, thank you for sharing. I wish you the best.

Mike

Hi Eric, thanks for sharing your story with us.  I lost Jim, my partner of 11 years, very suddenly from a heart issue.  I woke-up one morning and found him dead in our home a little over 2 years ago (in May).  It took me a good year before I was able to return to any kind of normalcy, and even then, everything was new and strange.  I've since begun trying to date again, and that has been pretty trying. I can tell you that things will get better, and the grief becomes less intense over time, but it never will go away.  I have a lot of good days now, but I feel like there is always that deep sadness there, just below the surface.  Lately I have been struggling with sadness and despair.  All my family is gone, and I decided to move to a new city last year to start anew.  It was great for a while, but lately I have been feeling pretty down.  However, I know that if I push on, things will get better, as they already have.  However, I also know that this loss has changed me, just as the loss of my mother did 10 months before Jim died.  I will never be the same, but I have to accept my world as it is now, and not as I wish it was.  I would do anything to have them both back in my life, because even though I have friends, my life is damn lonely.  I am struggling with finding a reason to go on, but I must trust that, in time, things will become clearer.  I have made it this far by taking it one-day-at-a-time, and I suggest you do the same.  It is when I dwell on the past or on the future that I feel anxious and down.  Hang in there...I hope this post didn't depress you too much, but I'm just having a bad day.  Honestly, I wanted to thank you for your story and for the good cry I got out from reading it.  Sometime we need to cry.  It can be healing.  

Michael,

Hey, thanks for your message.  The shock of losing Patrik even though I knew it was coming, was so great that I cannot even imagine how you dealt with finding Jim dead unexpectedly.  I really think that would have pushed me completely over the edge and that I would be writing this from some institution right now - especially right after you lost your mother.  Patrik lost both of his parents within 6 months (about 6 years ago now) and was inconsolable for close to 3 years.  You must be made of some tough stuff!

You mentioned you moved to a new city - I have been toying with the idea of selling the house and doing the same, but think it may be too soon to make a decision that important.  I'm honestly torn, because while the house is empty and filled with memories of him and our dreams that will never come to pass, at the same time it is my "safe space" where I can come and hide from the rest of the world.  Maybe in time my confidence will grow and my need for "shelter" will dissipate a bit, who knows?  I admire your courage and you must pat yourself on the back for that.

I totally get it about the loneliness - that is the hardest part of all.  My friends have been wonderful about dragging me out to this function or that dinner, and I go, not because I want to (well I do a little bit) but because I know I need to.  But even when I'm out with them in some noisy club or restaurant I feel alone and somehow set apart from them by some invisible wall.  That loneliness and the continuing emptiness in the pit of my stomach seem to follow me everywhere.

The "dating again" thing is totally inconceivable to me right now, although I know that that's because I'm still in the early stages of grief (or so they tell me - seems like it's been forever already) but at some point I know I'll have to consider it.  Late last year after he knew he was probably dying Patrik told me on several occasions that after he was gone that he wanted me to find somebody else because he didn't want me to be alone.  I found his words both touching and off-putting at the same time.  I have to admit that since his death I have remembered what he said but every time I do I just shake my head and wonder how it will ever be possible to be that intimate with another person again.  At the same time I get this huge rush of guilt about even thinking about such a thing.  This then makes me worry that I've become some kind of broken doll that will never be able to have a full and meaningful life again.  All this is to say that I understand (or think I do) what you are probably going through in that respect.  Dating is rough enough the first time around!

I am totally with you on your suggestion about taking it one-day-at-a-time, as that is all it seems I can do, although the fact that you're already 2 years into it scares me, because for me it's only been a few days past 2 months and It already feels like it's been 2 years.

Don't worry about bumming me out or making me depressed, I've already been there and back, numerous times.  I have to admit that I laughed out loud when you thanked me for the good cry after reading my story - not because I thought it was funny, but because I totally understood what you meant.  In my mind a good cry is kind of like good sex.  Afterward you feel cleared out and clean, like after a rainstorm passes and all the crap in the air is gone and you can breathe again.   At least until the next storm approaches.

Thanks again for your kind words, they really helped.  I'm terribly sorry for your loss.  You know, reading the posts on this site is actually therapeutic - heart rending but therapeutic, because it makes me realize that I'm not the only one going through this.  Takes me away from my own loss for a short while and makes me want to reach out and comfort all the others.

If you ever have another bad day and need to vent or just be heard, feel free to send me another message.

I wish you good fortune and a bright future.

Eric


Michael Reda said:

Hi Eric, thanks for sharing your story with us.  I lost Jim, my partner of 11 years, very suddenly from a heart issue.  I woke-up one morning and found him dead in our home a little over 2 years ago (in May).  It took me a good year before I was able to return to any kind of normalcy, and even then, everything was new and strange.  I've since begun trying to date again, and that has been pretty trying. I can tell you that things will get better, and the grief becomes less intense over time, but it never will go away.  I have a lot of good days now, but I feel like there is always that deep sadness there, just below the surface.  Lately I have been struggling with sadness and despair.  All my family is gone, and I decided to move to a new city last year to start anew.  It was great for a while, but lately I have been feeling pretty down.  However, I know that if I push on, things will get better, as they already have.  However, I also know that this loss has changed me, just as the loss of my mother did 10 months before Jim died.  I will never be the same, but I have to accept my world as it is now, and not as I wish it was.  I would do anything to have them both back in my life, because even though I have friends, my life is damn lonely.  I am struggling with finding a reason to go on, but I must trust that, in time, things will become clearer.  I have made it this far by taking it one-day-at-a-time, and I suggest you do the same.  It is when I dwell on the past or on the future that I feel anxious and down.  Hang in there...I hope this post didn't depress you too much, but I'm just having a bad day.  Honestly, I wanted to thank you for your story and for the good cry I got out from reading it.  Sometime we need to cry.  It can be healing.  

Everyone's story is different but ultimately we end up at the same place.

Eric knew what was coming, Michael was hit with a sudden departure.... My experience was a combination... We knew Danny had cancer and was in chemo for over a year... It wax working and we were highly confident tgat we were going to "KICK CANCER'S ASS" --- tgat was Danny's catch phrase ( we even had those wrist bands Nader up with tgat phrase to pass out to fruends)... Then like a light switch flipped somewhere in his body and tge chemo stopped working. One weekend it was just over... One minute he was sitting on the couch watching tv and the next get was in the back if an ambulance.

Ok... I'm done for now... I've gone back to my dark place

Mike, Thanks.

You're right, we're all in the same place and it doesn't matter how we got here, it's about how do we deal with it and find a way to go on.

Sorry that talking about it sent you back to "that place".  I know the place all too well, I've been visiting it  a lot lately.  I hope today is better for you.

Thanks again,

Eric


Michael Reikowsky said:

Everyone's story is different but ultimately we end up at the same place.

Eric knew what was coming, Michael was hit with a sudden departure.... My experience was a combination... We knew Danny had cancer and was in chemo for over a year... It wax working and we were highly confident tgat we were going to "KICK CANCER'S ASS" --- tgat was Danny's catch phrase ( we even had those wrist bands Nader up with tgat phrase to pass out to fruends)... Then like a light switch flipped somewhere in his body and tge chemo stopped working. One weekend it was just over... One minute he was sitting on the couch watching tv and the next get was in the back if an ambulance.

Ok... I'm done for now... I've gone back to my dark place

Aargh! I just lost about a four paragraph reply to you and don't have the patience to retype it over right now, so I'll just say thank you for the moment and try to write you a little more at length in the next day or two.  Hang in there, you are amongst a lot of very kind and understanding people who are going through the very same thing.  How we got here may differ but as another member pointed out to me recently, we're all in the same place now.  Have faith and be strong, now is time to take care of yourself.  Since we both lost our partners fairly recently it's going to take quite a while I fear, but everybody assures me that it will get "different" eventually.  I say that because my Patrik lost both his parents within 6 months of each other, and when I would ask him if things were getting for him he would tell me "it doesn't get better, it just gets different".  One thing to remember (and I am beginning to find this true) is that you will never lose Mark, he will always be with you.  I know that sounds gratuitous, and no you obviously can't reach out and touch him but he's there in you if you listen and always will be, no matter where you are.

Feel free to write if and when you feel the need to.  I'll talk more later.

Eric

Eric,

I'm sorry for your loss and I hope that you find strength to make it through these hard days and forge ahead a new life for yourself, filled with smiles and relationships. What you shared with Patrick was precious. Feel free to share your feelings here as much as you need, because we've been on the same journey and it's very lonely journey.

Lethe

Dear Matt:

Thank you for your caring words.  Hearing from the members of this forum has helped me immensely.  I feel as if I have been grieving and dealing with this situation for years already, even though it's only been a couple of months, and am slowly coming to the realization that this process is going to take a very long time.  Now that I am beginning to realize that, it is nice to know that there are people out there who not only have walked this road before me but who are willing to share the wisdom born of their own pain with "newbies" like myself.  And yes, even with that help it is a very lonely journey.  I wish all the best for you in yours.

Eric




Hi Eric So very sorry for your loss. I also was looking for a gay support group but where I live there also isn't any. I lost my beloved ML one month ago. She died during a routine surgery from a heart attack. There was no way I ever expected this outcome. We were together over 40 yrs. She was the love of my life. I'm so heart broken. The pain just gets worse. Dying so unexpectantly I never got to say good bye. As time goes on I to find that everyone goes back to their life and I go home alone. Unless they have been through this nightmare they can't understand our pain. At least both of us got to live with our loves for many years. How many people are that lucky! I hope someday you and I will be able think of our spouses with joy instead of so many tears. take care

mary

Dear Eric, I am so sorry for your loss, I lost my partner early July suddenly, so like your self everything is very raw. At the moment the mourning is tiring, it follows me everywhere I go. The only time it stops is when I teach, teaching obliges me to go forward, to progress.
I think once you have lost someone, what we call normal is in a certain way gone. For myself at the moment there is before and after, normal was before now there is only the after. However with the after all those memories so fresh and raw that are so difficult let's us celebrate our time together.
I hope my experience helps you, every time in read a posting they help me so much.
Sending you love, as I dislike when someone wishes me courage.
Mark

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