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Everything posted by razorclam

  1. It is probably not a good idea to share too much of your story with his family members. But if they are preoccupied with their own loss, and difficulties processing it, they will likely appreciate your presence in their lives, and not notice if you are struggling. Hopefully that will help you, on balance.
  2. Dear Maggie Ann, A few words for now, as I process your post. I do hope you can find as much support as possible. Coming here was the right things. Therapy is supposed to be confidential, so hopefully you can find a therapist somewhere. It's good that you have your recordings. If you did not delete them, your WhatsApp chats can be backed up and dowloaded. You were very wise, and fortunate, to have built good connections with his family. They are his immortality. I personally found great comfort in communicating with his wife and kids, which is very infrequent as they live overseas. I hope that continued contact with them can eventually bring you some comfort.
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/24/well/doulas-death-end-of-life.html The may be my post-retirement career.
  4. Tamera, You are a compassionate and articulate person, managing your pain with grace and courage. Your words help me alot. I too feel privileged to have been the person my friend chose to love and comfort him through his terminal illness.
  5. Well, does his guilt provide you an opening of sorts? Can you reassure him that Anette loved him anyway (if this is true), and then segue into some shared memories?
  6. Arrived 3 days ago to begin the volunteer duty. Three hours into it, before orientation was even completed, we were all sent back home. The organizers say that we should consider ourselves on call. But the word on the street is that they are subcontracting out their operation, and it is unlikely we will be called back 😔.
  7. Hello Everyone, As always, I am grateful for this forum and the support I get here. I have some news that, for a change, is uplifting. Not long after my gloomy post on April 3, I received a lovely message from my friend's family. They shared a memory, and said that he continues to be a part of their everyday life. It was heartwarming. The other thing is that, in 10 days, I am headed to the border for a 5-week volunteer stint with unaccompanied migrant children. I have no idea what awaits me there, but I can hardly wait. Sending good thoughts everyone's way.
  8. Dear AnnJ, Thank you for your post, and your encouragement. Sending a big virtual hug to you too! It appears that our situations have many common elements, and the opportunity to share is perhaps the clearest pathway to healing. I can't say how much I appreciate this site that has connected me to so many compassionate and understanding people.
  9. Today marks two years since the death of my soul mate, and I have made only marginal progress in moving on. The only positive thing to report is I am feeling less sorry for myself, and better for him because of his relatively good death. It was swift (heart attack), and he was at home, surrounded by family, his cognition and dignity intact, one step ahead of the cancer end staging curve. No hospital. No drugs. No life support. No morphine drip. No DNR dilemma. He always said he was not afraid of dying, only of suffering. Well, his wife said he did not suffer in his last moments. I, however, remain in the throes of complicated grief. Nobody else on this planet is mourning him the way that I am. I am still tormented that we were out of contact on his last day. Not for my lack of trying. But he was -uncharacteristically -offline all that day, after communicating as usual the previous day. Something happened after his typical good night signoff at 11:30PM (his last), and whatever it was kept him offline, and his friends in the dark. Well, that was his privilege. I hope he was not in pain. I hope he was tending to the business of preparing to die, in his own way. I have repeatedly read that it takes a lot of strength to make this transition, and people have to withdraw so they can devote all their energy to it. I have to believe this is what happened. His family told me a bit about his last day, and he apparently was conscious, though did not engage much with them. But, they did not sense that he was shutting down, and his death surprised them too. Quite possibly I may be the only person with that clue. Messaging his friends was his lifeline, and he typically messaged me all through the day. So something cataclysmic must have happened that propelled him overnight from business as usual the previous day into shutdown mode -but I will never know what. My other big problem is the aloneness of it all. I had several brief and infrequent contacts with his family overseas, during the first year after he died. These encounters, both electronic and in person, were sincere, nourishing, and seemingly much appreciated by them. His wife even took me to his grave. But now his family members seem to be moving away from me. They have read but not acknowledged my most recent communiques. While I cannot imagine their grief, they do have two mourning advantages that I do not share: each other, and the legitimacy to grieve openly. My connection to them, however infrequent and constrained, helped me feel connected to him, or his memory, and losing that is like another death. I got alot of support from my closest friends in the first few months after his death, but they don’t understand why I cannot move on by now. Of course, the pandemic has not helped. For me, he’s still “here, living and vivid and unforgettable forever” (the quote refers to James Dean). I worry that I am becoming addicted to mourning. Like in the French Lieutenant’s Woman, where the doctor says of Sarah, “She is addicted to melancholia as one becomes addicted to opium. Her sadness becomes her happiness.” But if I don’t mourn him, remember him, who will? Thanks for listening.
  10. “There all the time without you: and ever shall be, world without end.” (James Joyce)
  11. My late uncle, who was an eminent architect, took up coloring intricate patterns after losing his wife (my aunt). He got alot of comfort out of it.
  12. In a month heavy with memories of my late friend (his birthday, our last meeting in person) I challenged myself to write a 100-word vignette. The tone of his email was optimistic, despite the grim news it contained. “If you come to Europe, let me know. It would be good to see you.” The evening of my visit to his country coincided with a lunar eclipse, that was obscured by the cityscape. The universe gifted us another occurrence six months later. We viewed the blood supermoon apart, together: After midnight in my time zone, before dawn in his. As the redness crept along the disk, the harsh glare of his cancer dimmed, as it too receded briefly into Earth’s shadow. (Photo credit: NASA)
  13. Separation BY W. S. MERWIN Your absence has gone through me Like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.
  14. I hope this gives you some comfort. After all, lighting a candle is one of the way that we remember our loved ones. Last year, the final night of Hanukkah coincided with my late friend's birthday. I realized it when I saw all 8 candles lit, it was overwhelming.
  15. I feel like the Hanna character in The English Patient, who says "I am in love with ghosts".
  16. His eyes. Dark, deep soulful, but always with a sparkle. He was a great listener. Whenever we talked, he always wanted to know what I felt. He was incredibly brave, and maintained his grace and good humor, no matter how bad things got.
  17. Yes, that was my thinking too, even though I knew exactly how this connection would end. I would do it all over again. As the recent Nobel laureate Louise Gluck wrote, “Why love what you will lose?/ There is nothing else to love”.
  18. Thank you. I usually feel better after I have checked in here, despite all the sadness.
  19. My soul mate and I met through a big international work project. He was on the European team, so I only saw him once or twice a year. He was very bright and charismatic, but I was buried under juggling work, marriage and kids, so just as well that there was no spark. About 15 years after our first meeting, we learned that we had both spent parts of our childhood in the Middle East. Different countries, different cultures, but we bonded instantly over the experience of having dual Anglo-Mediterranean identities. From that point on we were personal friends, and made time for catching up at the conferences. Even so, by then we only saw each other every 2-3 years, and did not communicate in between. 2.5 years ago I got a rare email from him, telling me that he had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. I decided I would be there for him. How exactly, I had no idea. Did not ask myself how I could support someone terminally ill who was an ocean apart, who I had not seen in almost 3 years, and who in many ways I barely knew. Earlier that year two other good friends had died, and I felt I had not been there for them. It seemed like I was being given a second chance to do the right thing. Our first emails were awkward, but he was very generous spirited and said how much he appreciated the contact. I had overseas travel scheduled later that summer, so added a visit to his country. It went well, but there was no emotional seismic shift. That happened after I returned home, when we found our stride in WhatsApp messaging. Suddenly all we wanted to do was talk and talk, about everything. We generated nearly 1000 pages of written communication in his last 7 months.
  20. It's been 1.5 years since I lost my soul mate, and I think of him whenever my mind is not otherwise occupied (as in working, socializing, reading, etc.) I truly feel like nobody else in the world is mourning him as much as I am. His family members all have each other, with whom they work through their grief. I have had some infrequent contact with them, and I always feel better after that. But it does not appear that more regular communication with them is in the cards. Some of his (male) friends were in contact with me shortly after he died, but none of them responded to my follow-up emails. Like James, I feel that my friend should be remembered and memorialized. I expect to have a paper published soon, that will be dedicated to his memory. But as more time passes, it becomes harder (at least for someone in my situation) to memorialize him outside my own head.
  21. I was never a caregiver, so I can't relate to all aspects of your situation. But I say no, it is not wrong to think this way. My friend, who managed his cancer with grace and courage, was not afraid to die, but he was afraid of pain, and the loss of cognition that would accompany the inevitable morphine drip. He contemplated assisted suicide, but his wife wouldn't hear of it. In the end he died instantly, of a heart attack, before reaching the end staging. As shattering as the loss was, its swiftness and (I was told) relative painlessness were one of the few comforting elements of his story. Your loving wife Annette was lucky to have you, and she is now at peace. May her memory be a blessing.
  22. Lucid, insightful, and articulate -as usual. Always a pleasure to hear from Kieron.
  23. "it was one of the most precious and tragic times of my life all wrapped into one." Great phrasing. That completely describes my journey. He reached out to me after he was diagnosed, I went all in, we fell in love. All via email and texting, in the shadow of his terminal cancer. A wild ride.
  24. Well said. I feel that my friend is part of the natural world now: the air, the water, the sounds of the forest. When I take my daily walks I see his hair in the milkweed pods that are opening up. While I was thinking this one day, a leaf dropped onto my head. Earlier this summer I was cycling on the trail, skidded, and crashed. Got pretty banged up but luckily did not break anything. I think he caught me right before I hit the ground.
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