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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Mary,

Thanks very much for your comments and sorry it has taken me so long to respond.  When I am feeling upbeat I have the best of intentions in trying to keep up with things like correspondence and voice mail, but then the psychological winds will change and the sadness comes and saps me of all my energy.  That's the thing about grief (mine at least), it's up and down, back and forth, or as "they" say "two steps forward, one step back (or is that the other way around?).  Every time I think I've turned a corner, the grief will hit me over the head and remind me that I've still got a long ways to go.

I agree with you completely that we need to remember just how lucky we were to have so much time to spend with the ones we loved, and I hope one day I will arrive at the point where I can live that sentiment without dissolving in tears when I think of him.  For while I believe it rationally, I am still in a place emotionally where I can't get past the loss.  I've managed to get past the shock finally (was beginning to doubt I ever would), but a constant feeling of emptiness has taken it's place.  Trying to construct a new life without him is the task at hand, and that seems to be the hardest part yet.  Someone I spoke or corresponded with said that it is akin to learning how to walk again and I think that's an apt analogy. 

Patrik died four months ago and I still feel like I'm walking through quicksand every day.  You lost your partner only a month ago, so you are still in the darkest part of the process.  At the one month point my life seemed so unreal that I felt like I was an actor in a stage play that wouldn't end.  In looking back from my four month vantage point I can tell you that things do get different with time.  I avoid using the word "better" because it doesn't really, but it does slowly become more tolerable and I find myself s-l-o-w-l-y laying the foundation blocks for what will eventually become my new life.

I wish I could give you a big hug to make you feel a little bit better, but since I can't I will tell you that you are not alone.  Even though you feel like the sky has fallen and no one else can possibly understand your pain, remember that there are a lot of us out here that feel that same way and we are all in our own ways sending love and good wishes back to you.

Mary said:

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 Mark:

Very nice to hear from you.  What you say is so relatable to what I've been going through. It IS incredibly tiring, this mourning - this constant sadness.  I find myself wishing sometimes that I could have just ONE day where I wasn't rehashing everything in my head, wasn't sneaking looks at his photos on my phone.  Just one day where I wasn't mourning HIM.  And then of course I am immediately torn by guilt for having thought such a thing.

I have a very hard time at the office as I cannot seem to concentrate on anything anymore.  You mentioned that teaching has become your salvation at the moment, well for some reason exercise has become mine.  For someone who never really had a great dedication to working out, I have in the past three months become a complete gym rat.  Physical exercise has become  my safe space, my religion if you will.  For some reason it is the only place where I am able to experience peace and find my center.

I hadn't thought about it before today, but when you mentioned the "before" and the "after" it struck a chord.  That is exactly what I've been feeling and it's a very unsettling sensation.  This weekend I finally had the where-with-all to rent a truck to haul all of Patrik's clothing down to the LGBT Youth center and donate it.  Coming back to the house afterward, the dining room where the mountain of boxes and suit bags had been piled for several weeks suddenly felt so sad and empty, but at the same time there was the satisfaction in clearing away some of the "before" so that I can begin to fumble forward into the "after".
I loved Patrik so much and I will NEVER forget him or our life together, but I really look forward to the day when I can think of him and smile at the memories rather than sigh at the loss.  I wish the same for you, and I wish you Love as well.  If you ever feel the need to "unload", feel free to send me a message.

Best wishes

Eric


Mark Pace said:

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

Wow, Ian........three days ago.......I hardly know what to say.  I tried writing you a couple of paragraphs but then had to erase them.  It's difficult to know what to say at this point.  With John's passing only three days ago, you should be feeling like Alice right now, having just fallen down the rabbit hole.  Down is up and up is down and every day is completely surreal - and will continue to be for some time.  When all the initial chaos dies down in a couple of weeks and the quiet begins to settle in you will have more time to think.  Right now you are probably just reacting, having been drawn into the vortex of a whirlwind of friends, family, phone calls, emails, memorial services, burials or cremations and countless other distractions.  If you're feeling disoriented that's normal.  If you can't stop crying, that's normal.  In fact, just about anything you're feeling at this point is going to be a normal reaction to what may just be one of the largest crisis of your life.

I'm searching for something constructive to say, but when I think back to that time it was just so horrible I have a hard time remembering details. I was so completely shattered at the time that I literally had friends telling me when to eat and when to sleep.  I feel so badly for you and the loss of your love.  It is going to take a very long time to work through this and my heart is with you.  It has now been four months and two days since I lost Patrik and I still have not had one day when I did not break down at some point.  My biggest battle now is fighting the loneliness and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.  You will come to that point eventually, but right now just try to keep from being overwhelmed any more than you already are.  Let your friends and family help you.

In a couple of weeks when you are able, write up a post for the whole group and let them know what has happened to you and how you are trying to deal with it.  Other members of the group will respond with many wonderful insights which will help you in your recovery.  Also, please feel free to message me again anytime.

Sending love and strength your way,

Eric

Your friend is right when she said "welcome to the club."  It's been a year for me, and my partner too was ill for 16 months before (although his issues weren't expected to be terminal, we are mortal and nobody knows what their breaking point is).

I didn't move to a new city; but I did dismantle our city place (which had beeh his former residence before we married) and took my late mother's advice when she lost my Dad - I redecorated the parts of my house that reminded me of him.  It felt disrespectful at first - but I had to accept that he was gone and my life would go on.   And it has.

I stopped talking to friends about my loss - that's difficult but your friends, too, are back in their lives, and even his close friends didn't suffer my loss.  And I stopped thinking of myself as a widow, but instead as single again.  

And I started dating again.  I found - no surprise - that it was easier being "single" than widowed.  The person I'm dating now, it turns out, was also widowed - but we didn't realize that about each other until a month or so in.  It was like a light dawning - and it made a lot of sense in thinking back to things we each unconsciously avoided.   It also made it easier - neither of us was looking for a "replacement" yet we each understood each other's pain.

It really does get easier.  At first, you're thinking all the time, and you're sad.  Then one day - I remember it clearly - I had a memory and didn't feel sad about it.  I knew then I had turned the corner.  Am I lonely?  Yes, and no - they coexist.  When you throw yourself back in the world - for yourself, not as part of a now-lost couple - the world is interested about you, not about you and your spouse.  It's a little challenging at first:  you need to stop saying we, and start thinking me.  But as you do that, you realize that part of the reason why your spouse loved you WAS because of you, and none of those qualities are gone just because he is.

And now a year in, he doesn't dominate my thoughts.  At first I had to force myself not to think "what would he do?" or "what would he think?" but now I can accept that he's no longer part of the picture.

A close friend gave me some good advice - she said "you need to have the year of ME."  She was so right.  You need to be very self-centered for a while - look at situations and think what's in it for me, why do I want to do this, etc., etc.  Me, me, me - but it helps to re-center you now that you're a single guy again.  And it renews your confidence in yourself because this loss is very confidence-shaking.

And if you do meet somebody and fall in love again, it will be very different.  Each person has different needs, and we appeal on different levels.  And you find that you don't need to fall in love again, only that you can fall in love again.  It's a key difference - ability versus need. 

I don't know if that helps or not - I know it's an awful blur for the first few months, and not a lot sinks in.  I hardly remember much of last year's holidays, but I am throwing my (and later our) annual big Christmas party again this year and it feels right, like something I'm doing because I want to.

Good luck and hang in there, and never give up on yourself. 

Dear Richard:

I have been avoiding replying to your message for a couple of weeks now.  I say "avoiding" because while I appreciated what you had to say, I also recognized the truth in your words that up until that point I hadn't consciously acknowledged to myself, and realized that I needed some time to examine that before I wrote back.  Even now I'm not sure if I'm being premature in responding.   At five months (as of two days ago) from Patrik's passing I have graduated from crying every day to living with a sort of dull ache in the background which will rupture periodically, reducing me again to tears, but only every other day or so.  In the foreground I put myself out there, making the rounds with my friends and being so very social that I now find that I am rarely at home.  I do this because, (A) it keeps me from dwelling on the situation, (B) I want to remain relevant and not become a footnote, and (C) because I know I need to move on with my life and because I know Patrik would want me to as well.  So here I am being very active, and I am enjoying myself except that at the same time I feel so very empty and alone (even in a crowded room) and very much like a third wheel.  Yet I perservere.

I did not realize however, until I read your message that I am still very much filling the role of beloved widower.  This is a position that initially was very comforting, but that lately I am coming to realize is very confining and one I need to shed in favor of stepping out as myself and not as a relic of (as you put it) a now-lost couple.  Problem is, it's personally very scary because I haven't been single for almost 30 years, and it's almost like learning to walk again, and because I am still subconsciously (or not so subconsciously) trying to hang on to Patrik's memory, and being more "myself" threatens that.

The weekend before last I drove to the desert for a big three day Halloween bash with a bunch of old friends I had not seen for some time, and had a truly wonderful reunion.  During the course of the weekend I met a guy who I could tell was interested in me, and while he wasn't what I would consider my "type" , I found myself enjoying his company and had to admit that I was feeling a little "something" towards him as well.  Unfortunately I felt uncomfortable pursuing anything more than spending time together talking.  This was not because I had any guilt or feelings of unfaithfulness to Patrik - he told me on a number of occasion before his death that he hoped I would eventually find someone I could form a new relationship with.  I simply felt awkward and a bit shy of creating any new entanglements so soon after the death of my marriage.

So yes, I am trying to build a new life for myself, but it is a road filled with pot holes and I still feel very strongly the pull of my old life on my heartstrings.  I am open to new romantic adventures, but still feel it's too soon to dive in that pool - but when IS the right time?  A lot of questions and very few answers.  I am very glad that your life seems to be headed in the right direction and hope that mine too will eventually end up there as well.  Thanks very much for your thoughts.


Richard Turner said:

Your friend is right when she said "welcome to the club."  It's been a year for me, and my partner too was ill for 16 months before (although his issues weren't expected to be terminal, we are mortal and nobody knows what their breaking point is).

I didn't move to a new city; but I did dismantle our city place (which had beeh his former residence before we married) and took my late mother's advice when she lost my Dad - I redecorated the parts of my house that reminded me of him.  It felt disrespectful at first - but I had to accept that he was gone and my life would go on.   And it has.

I stopped talking to friends about my loss - that's difficult but your friends, too, are back in their lives, and even his close friends didn't suffer my loss.  And I stopped thinking of myself as a widow, but instead as single again.  

And I started dating again.  I found - no surprise - that it was easier being "single" than widowed.  The person I'm dating now, it turns out, was also widowed - but we didn't realize that about each other until a month or so in.  It was like a light dawning - and it made a lot of sense in thinking back to things we each unconsciously avoided.   It also made it easier - neither of us was looking for a "replacement" yet we each understood each other's pain.

It really does get easier.  At first, you're thinking all the time, and you're sad.  Then one day - I remember it clearly - I had a memory and didn't feel sad about it.  I knew then I had turned the corner.  Am I lonely?  Yes, and no - they coexist.  When you throw yourself back in the world - for yourself, not as part of a now-lost couple - the world is interested about you, not about you and your spouse.  It's a little challenging at first:  you need to stop saying we, and start thinking me.  But as you do that, you realize that part of the reason why your spouse loved you WAS because of you, and none of those qualities are gone just because he is.

And now a year in, he doesn't dominate my thoughts.  At first I had to force myself not to think "what would he do?" or "what would he think?" but now I can accept that he's no longer part of the picture.

A close friend gave me some good advice - she said "you need to have the year of ME."  She was so right.  You need to be very self-centered for a while - look at situations and think what's in it for me, why do I want to do this, etc., etc.  Me, me, me - but it helps to re-center you now that you're a single guy again.  And it renews your confidence in yourself because this loss is very confidence-shaking.

And if you do meet somebody and fall in love again, it will be very different.  Each person has different needs, and we appeal on different levels.  And you find that you don't need to fall in love again, only that you can fall in love again.  It's a key difference - ability versus need. 

I don't know if that helps or not - I know it's an awful blur for the first few months, and not a lot sinks in.  I hardly remember much of last year's holidays, but I am throwing my (and later our) annual big Christmas party again this year and it feels right, like something I'm doing because I want to.

Good luck and hang in there, and never give up on yourself. 

Hi, Eric - glad you did write back.   It is different with everybody but I think the process is ultimately the same.  We do feel somehow unfaithful as we re-engage with life, we feel somewhat superficial as it's still autonomic, and we feel almost guilty at new encounters, friends, whatever.

When is the "right time?" Actually there isn't one.  In fact, plan that you're screw up a few "first encounters"- let's face it, all of us here we partnered, being back in the dating scene was the last thing on our minds.

And yes, the daily crying stops; as well as the spontaneous crying.  In fact, you get to the point where you can smile when you encounter a memory.  A year on, I can honestly say my spouse is only an occasional memory and not a sad one.

The emptiness is a different thing entirely.  You do feel like a shell; I'm told that's normal too, but it's awfully lonely.  So when/if you find somebody interesting, let yourself go.  Like I said, you will have a lot of false-starts, and it's OK to use those people (sorry, sounds harsh) as part of your healing.  And it does help you heal.  Never think that you're being disrespectful to his memory - you're not.  In fact, you are the keeper, the ultimate vessel of his memory - nothing you could say or do can hurt the Patrik you cherish.  But a memory doesn't fill a void.

I realize the widower I'm dating is probably not the right guy for me.  He's sweet and all, satisfies a lot of those needs for companionship and cuddling and all that, but he's never climbed out of the rut he fell in when his partner died and I know - having climbed out myself - that I am more of something useful for his process than a real potential partner.  There is so much he has to go through, and unlike you or me, he just let himself run on auto-pilot for 6 years.  I'm not sure if he realizes that (yet) but I'm OK with it, and perhaps as he pulls himself out of his own personal moroseness there will be something more.   Right now it's OK for us to use each other.  Never forget it's the Year of YOU.

Also, don't try too hard!  It's one thing to throw yourself back into life; it's another thing to drown yourself in it.  Make sure in all your "back into life" that you are doing things that YOU want to do, not simply going somewhere so you have something to do.  Go to that museum you've always wanted to see.  Take down that piece of artwork you don't like - doesn't matter if it was Patrik's favorite (just don't throw it away!) and find something that speaks to YOU.  Cook (or eat) the things you like but he didn't.  Sit down in the morning with a cup of coffee and enjoy the garden if you have one; watch the birds, listen to the breeze.  It's all there for you.

Let yourself do the things you wanted that he would talk you out of - it's now your life, no longer his.  It's not harsh - it's reality.   I just had my sister-in-law down for a weekend visit with two of her friends (the margarita machine did extra-duty, and I cooked up a Mexican feast which is not the norm here in New England) - we realized some months ago we were friends outside of the family and spent very little time reminiscing or talking about him or his brothers (or his dreaded mother, to whom we both refer as the Monster-in-Law).

Also, like I said, you'll likely get the first few romantic encounters wrong - not just that you're out-of-practice (at least I'm assuming) but it also takes some time to realize that we're unconsciously still comparing new partners to our late ones (and people are more perceptive than we often give them credit).  It's one more thing to be conscious of, and again it gets easier.  The time to jump in the pool is when the opportunity presents itself (so you can make your mistakes now and when the next guy comes around who really knocks your socks off, you've lost that awkward edge).

As you probably have figured out from other people's stories and posts, you're doing OK with all this, perhaps better than many folks have done.  The absolute great thing about this Grief site is you can unload, spill out your feelings, and unlike your friends or therapists, etc., it's a group of people who are all sharing a similar experience and you know you're truly not alone.

Hi Eric and all,

I posted my story on here a couple years ago so I won't go back through all of that now.  It's there if you care to read it.  But I wanted to offer my care and concern and a few humble tid bits of what I experienced over the past two and a half years.   First of all as to the crying, go ahead and cry all you want.  The thought that came into my head one day when I felt that I would never stop crying was "Good"  Every drop of love must be honored and grieved in a tear.  For this reason I hope I never stop crying because what I felt for Rob will never end and I will never stop loving him and missing him.  I have great joy in memories of our time together and will always be brought to tears when ever I remember that special little mischievous glint in his beautiful blue eyes that told me I was the special one.

As for moving to a new place. That's your call, do what feels right, do what you think he would want you to do.  That's the beautiful thing that I have discovered is that I am not alone in my decisions, I have Rob's voice in my head also.  I know what he would have thought and what he would have said and I use that to help me make decisions.  He is usually right, when I listen.  lol

Dating - well also once again when the time is right, if it is ever right.  My biggest problem with this right now is that I can never have a first love twice, so figuring out how to date without a third absent person in the room is difficult.  I started a new relationship that ended up being a disaster because I was willing to accept things I should not have accepted just to feel loveable again.  I don't recommend it.  On the upside though, I no longer feel that way and am perfectly happy to be alone.  This is the way I was before Rob and I met, content with myself but a bit better than I was before.  I think this is the best place to be if anything new is ever going to happen. 

For me the second year was actually worse than the first.  For the first year I was simply going through the motions and pushing off feelings.  By the second year I was not able to keep fooling myself that he would just walk back in to door and the whole thing was just going to be some horribly cruel practical joke life was playing on me. Once again I do not recommend this method. It leads to really bad emotional break downs.  But I'm a stubborn pain in the butt and have to do things my way.

I'm going to see if I can post a link to youtube in this, it may or may not work I don't know.  This is one of the songs I had requested for Rob's service.  I was teaching at a school for the arts and my students did all the music for the service. It was a beautiful thing.  Of course being a theatre person I had to include pretty much only songs from musicals, lol.  This song was right in the middle of the service and changed my mood entirely.  I loved this song before we met, it was a dream then and my dream came true.  It reminded me of how fortunate I was, how beautiful my life was and how grateful I am for my luck at having such a beautiful person think I was so beautiful too.  The song is "Unexpected Song" from Song and Dance.  Bernadette Peters sings it.  If the link works, please forgive her over acting and just listen to the words.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi6FcJise5E

Things will be alright.  Never the way they were, but alright.  Normal?  what is normal?

Dear Jerry:

I want to thank you for your comments on my situation - But before I do I must say that I looked up your story and want to offer my condolences on your loss of Rob.  I was particularly affected by your comment about the awfulness of having to see your partner's face in death.  This is something I am sure many of us widows and widowers have had to endure but I think you are the first that I have heard mention it, and it is one of the indelible images of that awful day that I will never get out of my head.  The only thing worse was accompanying Patrik to the crematorium.  My friends and family have all asked why I would subject myself to that experience, to which I replied flat out, "Because he would have done it for me".

I also note your post from about 8 months or so ago in which you mention having a nervous breakdown, or at least a similar experience almost two years after Robs death.  I know it's been some months since then, but I do hope that things are beginning to turn around for you now and that you are beginning to find some closure and are finding it at least somewhat easier to move on.

This last Christmas proved to be a pretty rough couple of weeks for me as was the first week or so of this month.  Only since I came back from a long holiday weekend this week do I feel as if things have leveled off again.  I was having dinner the other night with a friend who had lost her husband when she asked how I was doing in relation to the grief.  I said that I felt things were beginning to feel a bit more "normal", to which she smiled knowingly, and very quietly replied "yes, until the next time it hits".  

You know, every now and then someone or something steps unexpectedly into your life at what seems to be the perfect moment with a gift or a message that touches you in a way that seems very much like it was choreographed by the cosmos above.  Your reply to my story was very much in that vein, and that is why it has taken me several weeks to acknowledge.  I have really turned your words over and over in my mind, but it was less your words than the very "unexpected gift" of a song that touched me so deeply.  Now I know that my Gay Street Cred is going to take a big hit when I say this, but I had never heard "Unexpected Song" before.  I have even seen Bernadette Peters in concert but have somehow managed to avoid being exposed to the song till now.....and maybe that's because it was being saved for this moment, who knows.  All I can say is that it has gone from being an unknown entity to being one of my favorite songs in the space of about two weeks.  Patrik was a theater major at Northwestern University who went on to play in the touring company of Fiddler on the Roof, and I'm sure he would have loved it as well.  It has all the requisite drama.  Of course, the first time that I watched it I immediately dissolved into tears, and continued to cry through many subsequent listenings, however in the last few days I find fewer tears and more smiles when I listen to the lyrics.  You see, like your Rob, Patrik was my dream come true as well.  He was the handsomest man that I had ever come across and I knew from the moment we were introduced by a mutual friend of ours that I wanted to be with him forever.  Who would have ever guessed that he felt the same toward me?  Thank you, thank you for putting that to music (yes, I know it was Sondheim that actually put it to music but you know what I mean...).  :)

Yes, you are correct, things will be alright.....eventually, and life will go on, but I will always remember - and be comforted by the fact that I was lucky enough to have been loved by such a wonderful man.  And I am smiling.....even through my tears.

Robert:

Things were going relatively well for me early in the year and then I hit a rough patch which had me avoiding this website for about six weeks or so.  I read your reply to my discussion as well as the stories of a number of new members, but couldn't bring myself to write anything for fear that it would drag me back to that place.  I'm in a better place at the moment so thought I'd "brave" checking in again.

I just read your story and could feel the hurt pouring out.  That is the one thing we all have in common.  

I accompanied Patrik to the crematorium and pushed the button as you did for John.  I think that was and will remain, the most difficult day of my life.  As I turned away from the oven and reentered the chapel I had this sudden urge to run as fast as my feet would carry me so that no one would see the complete breakdown that I knew I was about to have.  I had never felt so utterly devastated.  At the exact moment that I was having those thoughts, the woman who had been guiding me through the process suddenly began to tell a number of jokes and funny stories.  My first reaction was one of horrified indignation, but as I calmed I realized that she must have sensed what was going on with me and this was her way of taking my mind off of the situation and defusing a very tense moment.  When I have told this story to people since that day, they invariably ask "why on earth would you subject yourself to something like that?".  My reply has always been the same "because I know that had our roles been reversed, he would have done it for me.....without a second thought".

Since those awful first couple of months I have been through a roller coaster of emotions, which in the last month or so have begun to slow down and lose their sharp edges.....somewhat.  Work and my friends continue to be my salvation and I am now wrestling with how to piece my life back together and what I want it to look like.  The sadness and emptiness are still there albeit in a more muted way, but when I come to a particularly difficult moment I find myself asking Patrik, how he would handle it.  He is still there, in my mind and every fiber of my life - as I know John is with you.

I had never heard of Rabbit Hole before your mention of it, so a month or so ago, out of curiosity I looked it up on IMDb and read the synopsis.  Feeling that it might put me in a bad place I decided against watching it.  However as things have righted themselves, so to speak, in the past few weeks, I felt emboldened and ordered a copy from Amazon this morning.  I'm a bit apprehensive to watch it, but also curious.   Besides, if things don't work out with it, I can always blame you.  LOL!

I think you are right about looking back....I know there will be more difficult moments before life returns to "normal", but look how far we've come already.

Thanks for stopping to say hello, and if you ever feel the need to talk, I'm happy to listen.

Eric




Eric, every word that you wrote resonates with me.  Two years ago, I lost my partner of nearly 43 years,   He died suddenly and unexpectedly of heart failure.  The healing process continues.  I miss him so much and think of so many things that I did not say while he was alive, but now wish I had said.  Friends who were supportive at the beginning, naturally have gone back to their lives, but I am still struggling to find my niche and a new normal.  We never had a wide circle of friends and that did not bother us, because we had one another.  Now, that he is gone, I find myself sort of adrift and spend what I know to be an unhealthy amount of time alone.  Like you, I have difficulty is parting with things that were is and consequently have a considerable amount of clutter.  I live in the DC metro area and have not found an appropriate support group.  Advice and suggestions are welcome.

George,

Losing your partner I have found is the deepest, darkest, dankest well that you can imagine and all of us here have fallen into it.  Whether you call it a rabbit hole, a well, a tunnel or anything else it is one of the most difficult journeys you or I will ever undertake.  A friend of mine who lost his partner many years ago told me this on the eve of Patrik's death and while I nodded my head in agreement at the time, I had no idea what I was looking forward to.  That was on June 10, this Friday April 10, will mark the 10th month of my journey and while the pain has never gone away, it has gotten "different" and I expect it will get even more different as I progress.  Like you I struggle with the grief, but as time goes by the sharp edges of that have become less....jagged, let's say.  My biggest problem at the moment is fighting the constant urge to go home and close the doors and windows to the outside world.  While that was comforting for some time, I have come to see the necessity of stepping through that door into the sunshine.  Although a lot of people refuse to believe me, I am actually shy which only exacerbates the problem, but I know if I continue to keep "coccooning" it will only result in drawing the process out even more.  So I try to keep myself busy, try to keep in touch with my friends, try getting involved in new ventures, in short I just keep throwing myself out there in hopes that eventually I will cry less and laugh more. I wish you happiness.

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