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KathyG

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About KathyG

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    Advanced Member

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  • Location (city, state)
    Phoenix, Arizona

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  • Name/Location of Hospice if they were involved:
    Hospice of the Valley, Phoenix, AZ

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  1. I admit that people who say their "hearts are breaking" when they hear a celebrity has died can sound crazy or annoying to us who are mourning the deaths of family members, pets or close friends. But that doesn't mean these people aren't feeling real grief. When someone famous dies, even if you never really knew him or her you can feel genuine personal loss if: -- You loved their work and/or it has played an important role for you. For example, I've always been a huge Beatles fan. I never met any of them. But I cried for days when George died and John was killed, for their families and because they'd never delight us with more new music again. -- You associate them with happy events in your own life. If being fans of a sports team brought you and your spouse together and you've made many happy memories going to games together or watching them on TV, when one of the team's stars dies, it's like a little part of your past has died too. -- You met the celebrity briefly and it was a positive experience, like (for instance) going to a book signing by a favorite author, finding out he or she is a cool person, and chatting with them about something you have in common. Since death has touched me so closely, I feel sadness anytime I hear news of anyone's death, no matter whose, because I know how much sorrow their passing is creating for those left behind.
  2. Deborah, If you can find even a minute or two of joy, that's a victory and even small, brief flashes of happiness can make this life more bearable. We are all on the planet for a reason, and if we're living on after our loved ones leave us, it's because our missions aren't fulfilled yet -- we're meant to experience and accomplish more things so we can grow.
  3. Hi everyone, It's good to hear from you all again. xI haven't posted much for awhile, but I've stopped in regularly to read posts. I'm glad to learn that you're healing and re-engaging in life again. It's now 19 months since my husband, Bill, crossed over. I've done some healing, too, and grief doesn't paralyze and dominate me as much as it used to. I've made some new friends, and I'm finding rewards in my new roles as hospice volunteer and part-time caretaker for my disabled sister. I'm able to enjoy myself now and then, and even laugh sometimes. My ability to have fun survives after all. But even though I keep on searching, I haven't found anything that fills the void that Bill's passing created. I still sometimes feel like a "ghost girl," half in this world and half in the next. I still believe no one can ever replace what Bill was to me, and (I think) have accepted my New normal and the idea that I'll live out the rest of my life as a single woman. I just don't have any interest in looking for another romantic relationship, because I've had the best and won't settle for anything less. It's like that old Bee Gees song: "If I can't have you, I don't want nobody." My mother lived on for 24 years after my dad died, and though she enjoyed being with our family and an extensive circle of friends, she never dated or wanted to. I didn't understand why back then, but I do now. We never get off that grief roller coaster, but at least now I've learned to anticipate and prepare for the dips. I have one coming up next Monday -- my second wedding anniversary without Bill. It's hitting me hard already. But I know dark times like these do pass, I can survive them, and the depression will ease up after the anniversary passes. I have a question for you all: has the recession worsened your grief? I think it has for me. I'm getting close to retirement age, and when I read about the stock market craziness it reminds me of the retirement plans I had made with Bill. And it's harder to be upbeat when worrying about threats of pay cuts and unpaid furloughs (or worse, layoffs). Still, I'm hopeful; if the past 19 months and your personal stories have taught me anything, it's that you can get through anything if you have faith, resilience, and determination not to give up.
  4. Lost, I'm very sorry for what happened to your Gary. My husband died suddenly, too. I can't pretend to know exactly how you feel, but I remember how raw my feelings were right after my Bill died, the fear I felt and wanting so desperately to join him. Even though this may not seem true to you right now, and may not be what you feel you want: 1. Gary is still with you in spirit and will always stay with you as long as you remember him. Your love for each other doesn't end just because one of you isn't physically present. 2. You're still here because your full life story isn't complete yet. There's more you're meant to do and your children, your friends, and others who love you need what you can give them. You may be asking yourself, "Why am I still here?" But I know from experience that if you keep praying and asking the question, eventually, you'll receive an answer. For me, the answer was that my new purpose was to care for others. In the past 12 months, a close friend has gone through a serious illness of her own, her husband's diagnosis and treatment for cancer, and her mother's death. I've supported her through everything, and she tells me my support has helped to make her trials bearable. And my only sister suffers from mental illness, and will need care for the rest of her life. Our parents are both gone, but our extended family helped to care for her until age and health problems made it impossible. Now I'm the only support my sister has left. She wouldn't be able to survive on her own, so I'm moving her from out of state to Arizona so that she's near. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Life without your best friend isn't easy. But it can still be rewarding.
  5. Does anyone know, or has anyone read anywhere, that widows or widowers often go through a meltdown 18 months after their spouse dies? I thought I had read that this happens commonly, but I haven't been able to find that passage anywhere in my books on dealing with grief. I'm at the 18-month point now and going through an intense grief relapse. So I'm wondering if it's just me having a setback at this particular time, or if a meltdown at 18 months is a common rite of passage for mourners.
  6. Oh, Fred, thank you so much for your beautiful post. It's exactly what I need right now. I haven't posted here in several months because I felt I needed to spend more energy moving forward and less energy grieving. And my strategy seemed to be working. I found myself having less trouble keeping focused on my work, and now I feel closer than ever to the way I was able to work "before." I've been getting more sleep, and building stronger ties to friends and family. And I became a hospice volunteer; in four months, I've developed a great, rewarding friendship with a homebound patient I visit regularly. But (you knew there had to be a "but" in there somewhere), May 21st was the 18-month anniversary of my husband's death, and May 27th would have been his 60th birthday. Because of this, for the past 5 weeks, I've been an emotional mess, crying constantly and feeling hopeless. The emptiness and pain feel as strong again as they were in the first weeks after Bill died. And I've regained some of the extra weight I lost before and right after Bill died, which is eating away at my self-esteem. Your reminder that grief work never ends and backslides are normal is so wise and reassuring. As you described, our journeys will continue (and won't always be moving straight ahead) for the rest of our lives. Your words have made me stronger and rekindled my determination not to give up. Thank you!
  7. Everyone, thanks for your support and prayers. I called my sister yesterday to find out if her doctor gave her any news. She's a little depressed, not unusual under the circumstances, but is responding to treatment. However - the doctor doesn't know what's causing her kidney problems. The biopsy and all the other tests they did have turned up negative. So we don't know if this was a one-time event, or if it might happen again. Thank God, though, at least the doctor doesn't think she needs dialysis. I see this and other things happening around me (like some of my colleagues at work being laid off because there wasn't enough work for them), and often I still ache for Bill. And I wonder again if there'll ever come a time when I can get through a day without sadness. I won't give up and I know I've come forward a long way in my grief. But I still feel like I'm slightly disengaged from life; it's like watching TV with the sound turned down low and the colors are dimmed or the picture is full of static. I would love to be able to see life "in living color" again. But maybe I've lost the ability to do that. Even so, I just keep on truckin'.
  8. Over the past 14 months, I seem to have developed a kind of sixth sense that lets me know in advance who will feel comfortable talking about my husband, and who won't. Before this evolved, I was often hurt when people I thought I could open up to would cut me off or change the subject when the conversation turned to him. This even happened with my family. So I've let them know they can talk about Bill and I won't get hysterical or dissolve in tears.
  9. Deborah, even if we do everything in our power to keep our loved ones with us, it doesn't always happen. The key words her are "everything in our power" -- because we don't have the ability to choose who survives and who doesn't. And we don't have the power to avoid or prevent all the things we DON'T want to happen. Not to say we can't try to prevent the bad things; it's just that sometimes they happen even when we've done everything right. That's how life is. When my husband had his heart attack, I kept him alive by doing CPR until the paramedics arrived and they did all they could. But he didn't survive. I thought it was my fault, that maybe I hadn't done CPR correctly or hadn't done enough of it. But a nurse reassured me I had nothing to blame myself for. She told me that, contrary to what we see in the movies, CPR saves lives only a small percentage of the time. She said that Bill's chances for survival were never very good from the get-go, but I had given him that last slim chance to make it, though the outcome was never in my hands. Try to believe that you're still on this earth for a reason, because there's something you're still meant to do. Thinking this way helps me, and it has led me into doing volunteer work. It might take some time and some searching before you figure out your reasons for going on, but it's worth the effort. As part of my volunteer training, the other people in my class and I went through an exercise that had two goals: to help us understand the impact of loss on other people (not just us), and to help us identify what things are most important in our own lives. The exercise was very powerful and emotional; many of us cried while participating. If you want to take a close look at what still matters to you, consider trying it. The exercise went like this: we each got 20 slips of paper, and we were asked to write on them the names of five people or animals who are important to us, five activities we enjoy, five values we believe in (like honesty, faith, etc.), and five things or possessions we would have trouble giving up. Then an instructor told a story about a man with cancer and what happened to him from the time he suspected he had it until it was certain it would kill him. The instructor stopped at different points in the story and at each stop, we had to tear up two or three of our paper slips. It wasn't difficult at first, but got harder after we had given up things easiest to let go of. I kept track of which items I let go of first all the way through to the end. which revealed what means the most to me: taking care of my pets and family. Maybe the exercise will help you, too.
  10. I had been doing pretty well lately, but now my sister's health problems have me reeling again. She is both bipolar and diabetic. When she visited me over the holidays, she missed her flight home because one of her manic episodes took over, and airport security had to call me to tell me to come and get her. I finally did get her home and she got her medications straightened out. I thought "OK, crisis over." Then last night, my aunt called to tell me Alice had been rushed into intensive care because something is causing her kidneys to malfunction. We won't know why or how serious things are until the doctors complete a biopsy and some other tests. But I'm praying this isn't kidney failure and she won't have to start dialysis. I was already upset when I heard about Alice because my dog was sick and was acting very listless, not at all like herself. After I hung up the phone, I starated screaming "Why, why? Hasn't she had enough?! Haven't I had enough?!" This is one of those times when I just feel like I've had all I can take. I know I've weathered such times before and have come through OK, and that gives me a little hope. But right now, I'm angry at God because my sister doesn't deserve this. (Not that being anger changes anything, but it feels better to vent.)
  11. I really believe that our loved ones see and hear us and respond in some way when we want to feel their presence. So if talking to my Bill is crazy, lock me up!
  12. Kay and George Erica and Walter Scott and Kate Tom and Mary Linda Janet and Mike Corinne and Jimmy Jeanne and Alex Derek and Karen Rosemary and Lou Bob and Janet Jean and Walter Bob and Mel Teny and Yiany Mark and Julie Harry & Sherry Wendy and Steve Jack and John Karen and Jack Jan and Dale Joe and Marsha Larry and Deborah Kathy and Bob Bruce and Gail Pat and Walter (((Jackie ))) and Fred Charlie and Patti Charlie and Leda Kathy and Bill
  13. Teny, I wish I could be there to visit with you. Christmas time is part of why you feel so sad now - because holidays are supposed to be happy family times, but it's hard to feel that way when the most important person in your life isn't there. Last Christmas came only four weeks after Bill died, so I was still in shock. But this Christmas, his loss is hitting me very hard. Maybe you're also feeling tired, like me. Tired of never being able to escape the sadness, even while in a peaceful mood or while enjoying something good. I wish the sorrow would go away for even just a few minutes - but it never leaves. It's so hard, but you and I are strong survivors. We've survived so far, and we shouldn't give up now. Ourlives are different now than they were before, but still we can go on with faith and hope.
  14. Rosemary, I don't think that cruel, twisted or evil people outnumber those who give goodness and love: I'd say there's at least an equal balance between the two. The difference is, the press and TV news focus so heavily on terrorism, murders, etc. that it gives us the impression that evil has taken over the planet. The media do that because sensational, negative news sells; it makes us feel fearful and sick, but it draws in large audiences. I think that for the thousands of acts of violence and cruelty that happen every day, there are thousands or even millions of true stories about people making a positive difference in the world. But most of those stories don't gain attention; the news usually ignores them (except when the good deed involves a celebrity or cute puppies or kids) -- and many people who do good works would rather keep doing them quietly, without praise or publicity. It's not being cowardly or ostrichlike to avoid the horrible news and images. You're not trying to live in a perfect fantasy world; you're protecting yourself from being polluted by too much exposure to depravity. I say "polluted" because that's what seems to happen when we're bombarded by too much negativity -- believing the fiction that evil conquers all brings out the worst in us and desensitizes us so that the more terrible things we see, the less they shock and upset us. As long as we stay aware that evil happens and can happen to anyone, anytime (and we take what precautions we can), we don't have to buy in to the idea that the whole world has gone to hell and life is hopeless. And that makes us more able to see and appreciate the beauty, goodness and kindness that really is there around us.
  15. It does hurt to let go of dreams you shared with a lost love. I'm sorry that box of mementos caused you so much hurt, and I send you a big {{{{HUG}}}}. I've had similar experiences, most recently while packing up my husband's clothing to donate to charity. We don't have to preserve as much of our lives with our husbands as possible, hanging on to every item and every memory related to them, in order to stay connected. "What might have been" is one of the saddest phrases ever spoken. Mourning the loss of things we once dreamed of sharing with our spouses and are no longer available to us is normal, but we can't go back and reverse what happened to kill those dreams. As we go forward, we can choose to take everything from the past with us -- or we can preserve our favorite memories, the best and happiest ones, and let go of the memories of things that weren't so good (the events around our spouses' deaths, times when life or finances were tough for us, etc.). And though the old dreams can no longer come true as we planned them to, we can re-cast them as plans for what to do with the rest of our lives. For example, if a couple dreams of a special trip to Italy and the husband dies, his wife can still go but take along a child or grandchild -- and while taking in the sights, the two can share comments and memories about what Dad or Granddad would have thought about the things they're seeing and doing.
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