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Len and I were together for 20 years and he passed away last year.  He would tell me, "You are my rock" and his doctor and friends also told me this.  When I watched him pass away in the hospital, my first thought was "My life is over."  We were not married but I was his power of attorney and executor and handled this through, sold his home, and closed the estate in December 2017. During this time his children hired an attorney which was very painful and Len would have been shocked at the bad behavior.  Perhaps I didn't really grieve properly from the beginning because there was so much to handle, and then to find a home for myself and my Golden retriever Missy and move 5 months after he died.  I found some emails from him yesterday that were so loving and personal that I had forgotten existed. I was strong for so many things this last year and now I'm so broken up, empty and alone, and sorting through quite a lot.

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TeresaAnne,

I am so sorry for your loss.  At first we're in shock and grief fog takes over, but as that begins to lift, reality sets in and it feels like it's even harder, if that's possible.  It won't stay in this intensity but you will continue to miss him.  I wrote this based on what I've learned in my twelve year journey, and I hope something in it helps.  I'm glad you have your Golden Retriever.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

 

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T.A., seems like that is how it is.  Taking care of business the first year, somehow still taking care of business nearly 26 months later.  You have come to a good place.  Lots of understanding grieving hearts.  They listen, they give empathy that we never knew existed because they are living through it too.  Keep reading and posting.  It helps.

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Thank you Marg M. and KayC.  I am in a very good place - seeing those old emails of Len's on Friday seemed to set me back or at least, brought a lot up.  I lost quite a lot of myself caring for Len those last years and that can happen (it did!) Today doesn't seem so dark and I'm not crying.  I used to walk a lot, go to yoga, church/spiritual retreats, garden (I grow herbs on my balcony).

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TeresaAnne,

Maybe you can get back to your yoga, walking, church/spiritual retreats.  Our grief journey is like a roller coaster ride, the waves ebb and flow and we learn to ride the waves, not fight them.  It's okay to have down days, it's okay to cry, it's okay to smile, and to have better days, and we learn to take them all in stride.  I'm glad you were able to reach out when you felt down, we all need that, and it helps to express ourselves and know we are heard and understood.  This is a good place for that.

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When weekends come along I have this hard sense that I will be alone - not loneliness, but Len and I looked forward to my making breakfast and doing special things together. I was speaking with my friend yesterday who lost her partner 6 years ago  about having this sensation/feeling when I got home on Friday and she asked, "Why?" I had no response. 

It's nice to have a few extra days off to sort things through and be kind to myself. My office is moving to a new building in two weeks for another 3 year lease and deep inside I want to stay where we are because it's comfortable and I'm used to it.  It's as if finding and moving to my own place was enough moving. Not to have another change because this last year commuting and focusing on work was key in getting through a lot. And my firm and everyone there was so very supportive - that is the way they are.  Seeing the packing crates and trying to get my mind around the details of moving were becoming overwhelming. And now I realize I need to accept this change and others, focus on my work and be my best. Because there will always be change, though not so much as last year. It's hard to focus and keep mentally sharp and this last year left me less so, so I'm reviewing old materials to help and give myself a sense of renewal and that I still "have it."

Then there's self-care, taking time to be good and kind to myself. Just sitting here having coffee, being in my own place and looking out at the trees is calming.  Terror and fear are things I'm working through - having a routine is very important. Shopping is odd, making lists and going to the store and trying to figure out what I need but am being minimal - only getting a few necessary things. But I have a list and wine and Cheetos are not on that list because I've done enough of that this last year.  During the work-day, it would be good to get beyond stuffed pretzels at Barnes & Noble and a tuna sandwich at the coffee shop. But those have been treats for me as I get out of the office.  I'm still adapting to living in my own place with my dog and figuring out the daily and being ok with what got done, or not.

 

 

 

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T.A., you mention your friend whose loss is six years ago.  She asks "why?"  I talked to my prayer warrior friend, we passed her husbands grave, at the time he had been gone seven years, probably nearing 10 now.  She is prettier than she was in high school.  She takes such good care of herself.  Every hair in place, clothes match her purse and shoes, and won't leave the house without them.  She invited me to her house one time to get a gift she had given me engraved.  She looked fabulous in her house coat, but she was so apologetic on how she looked.  I was thinking, "gal, my only worry is taking enough showers so I don't smell."  I don't care to look in a mirror and we are the same age.  I asked her once if she still talked to her husband.  She is totally deaf now but reads lips and can talk.  She said "you are young in your grief."  I do talk to Billy less, but I hope I never quit entirely.  We all walk different paths to get to where we are now.  We have the bruises to show the paths were not always smooth and free of obstructions.  We do what we can.  We walk our path alone, but we know others who walk that alone path.

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5 hours ago, Marg M said:

"gal, my only worry is taking enough showers so I don't smell."  I don't care to look in a mirror and we are the same age.  I asked her once if she still talked to her husband.  She is totally deaf now but reads lips and can talk.  She said "you are young in your grief."  I do talk to Billy less, but I hope I never quit entirely.  We all walk different paths to get to where we are now.  We have the bruises to show the paths were not always smooth and free of obstructions.  We do what we can.  We walk our path alone, but we know others who walk that alone path.

I used to love taking showers.  All that 'girly' stuff for Steve and me too.  With him not here and it being painful now, I’m like you.  It’s just a ritual now and if I didn’t have long hair I’d probably skip another one.  I’m down to 4 times a week and it’s such a hassle.  

Young in the grief?  Often it feels that way and others it seems I’ve been here forever.  It’s become a part of my identity now.  No matter what I do, it’s there in some way.  Even if I am not consciously thinking of it at the time.  I’ll realize later because of the not being able to talk to him for real.  I find myself saying things to him often.  Just a line or two.  I know there will never be a reply.  

I wish we didn’t have to walk these paths alone.  Some have others they can share with in real life.  It’s so hard to not have that because no one gets it in my world at all.  The residents at the nursing home would, but I go there to get away from it for a bit.  As soon as I walk out the door, tho, it is waiting.  I wish Steve were sitting next to me instead of this space of reminders of times we had.  I also miss our golden retriever we lost a couple months before him who always curled up in the passenger seat everywhere I went.  Sometimes our lab does, but it’s like she remembers that was never her spot. Alone, that is the hardest thing about this.  Just changed the bed again knowing  one side was never used.  That’s always a tough one.  So are dinners.  Who wants to make an effort to sit alone with the results.  His placemat is still there.  Tried to put it away once and couldn’t stand it.  So it’s still there an probably always will.  If only we could travel our paths closer to each to reach out for a hand when it got a bit too steep.

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TeresaAnne and Marg,

I talk to my husband all the time whether in my head or audibly doesn't matter, and it's been 12 1/2 years for me.  It has nothing to do with how young you are in your journey or not, it has to do with how much you miss them.  I've gotten used to living alone, being the only one to make decisions or do things, no one to consult, but I miss him as much now as I did the day I lost him, probably more as the full impact of all I am missing has really become apparent!  We are all different in our grief journeys, just as our relationships are all different.  George was and is my soul mate, how can you stop missing that???

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8 hours ago, Gwenivere said:

Just changed the bed again knowing  one side was never used.  That’s always a tough one.

I guess that's one of the reasons I went to using a recliner to sleep in.  The bed is just a reminder, and yet getting a different bed was never an option either.

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2 hours ago, kayc said:

but I miss him as much now as I did the day I lost him,

As I  have said over and over, my grandmother said at 18 years, people thought she should be "over it" but to her it was the same as if he had just died yesterday.  Sometimes people are only half a person the rest of their lives.  Sometimes they find someone else and are happier than they were the marriage that death had dissolved.  Sometimes, it is the only person they ever really loved and no one can take their place.  Sometimes..............

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