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Patricia B

Medication

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If this topic exists and I somehow missed it, my apologies. Also, if is considered off limits for some reason, just let me know. Wanted to bring it up, share, and perhaps get info from others.

Throughout my life I have periodically battled occasional problems with depression and anxiety. For many years I have been fine with just a maintenance dose of an anti-depressant. I always told my husband that I wanted to go first because I doubted I could handle it the other way around. Needless to say, that is not what has happened and I was and am so very frightened of sinking beyond "normal" grief. Without him to support me it is terrifying to imagine.

I do have a psychiatrist and he has given me a prescription for xanax. He had given me enough for one month at a certain dose. I have not exceeded that but that month is coming to a close. Don't know what he will do when I ask for a refill. My past problems have gotten worse when I was unable to eat or sleep properly. The xanax allows me to do both. In that sense it is valuable to me.

Is anyone on any type of medication or supplements to help them through this awful time?  If so, what have you found helpful. I do not want to exchange one problem for another.

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4 hours ago, Patricia B said:

Throughout my life I have periodically battled occasional problems with depression and anxiety. For many years I have been fine with just a maintenance dose of an anti-depressant.

Patricia, my dear, I'm sure you will hear from several of our members who have experience with antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication, but for now I will tell you what I think. Given your own history of depression and anxiety, along with the fact that you are barely one month into your grief journey, I don't think this is the time to take yourself off any medications you've been used to taking. By all means, please discuss this with your psychiatrist as well as your primary care physician, both of whom will know your personal health history and can assess your need for medications of any kind and whether or not some changes are indicated. I also think it's important to recognize and understand that depression and grief are not the same, even though they may "feel" as if they are. In and of itself, grief is neither an illness nor a pathological condition, but when you have a history of both depression and anxiety, it's bound to affect how you experience and cope with grief.

I can point you to some articles that I encourage you to read before you meet with your doctors, as doing so may inform whatever questions may wish to bring to them. (Notice too the links to additional articles listed at the base of each):

Seeing A Specialist in Grief Counseling: Does It Matter?

Interview: Are We Medicating Normal Grief

Using Medication to Manage Grief

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Hi Patricia,

I have not had any experience with the drugs that some people have to use but I do know that it is so important to recognize that we are each one of us individuals and what works for one may not work for another. Grief is NOT a sickness. It is a reaction to what we have lost. During early grief, some people need help with sleep and anxiety and only the person experiencing these things understand that. Our Primary Care Doctors or other qualified doctors can guide each one of us. A qualified grief counselor can direct us on this path. If there are medical issues involved we follow what the doctors tell us. I am a little over five years into my grief.  The most traumatic death I have to deal with has to do with the loss of my beloved husband, Jim, of forty years.  There isn't an emotion that I have not experienced during this time. Grief does not follow a one, two, three pattern. We never 'get over' grief we only learn how to navigate through it. 

I have found that the more I understand grief the better I am able to cope.  There are hundreds of suggestions 'out there' that people offer to us but the ones that fit you depend on your circumstances. My personal experience has been three-fold ~ I read and learn what is normal in grief, I meditate (mostly guided meditations), and I do crafts like coloring. My Jim loved music. I listen to music more than I have the TV on. I spend time outdoors even in the extreme heat we have had this summer in AZ! I have always written in my journal, I am now volunteering a little more than I used to. I think it depends on your age, your commitments, and your circumstances. No two people grieve in the same way and there really is NOT a right or wrong way to grieve. 

Sending hugs to you,

Anne

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Patricia,

I'm on a low dose anti-anxiety medicine because I have GAD, but I wasn't on anything for the first few years after George died.  I think sometimes I made it harder on myself for trying to tough it out.  My thinking was that this wasn't something anyone could fix, nothing that would go away, so I may as well get used to dealing with it.  However, in looking back, I have had GAD all my life and probably should have been on anti-anxiety medicine years sooner than I was.  I also should have accepted my doctor's offer of sleep aid because trying to go to work on an hour's sleep and think/function all day, especially with the long commute was not a good situation.  I needed my sleep.  That said, if I had it to do over again, I'd accept the offer of sleep medication to at least use on the weekend, I was afraid if I took something I wouldn't be alert enough for the drive and the job.  Those are concerns worth sharing with your doctor if you do get something.

I wasn't depressed before losing George.  Any depression symptoms I have are to do with my loss and the change its made in my life.  However, as was pointed out to me by a physicist, when you are in a depressive state even from grief for a long period of time it can change your brain so that a person might need an antidepressant.  The problem is, most doctors are not knowledgeable about grief to understand the difference.  I wish doctors and grief counselors would work together in assessing a patient's situation and what they need.  It'd certainly warrant a phone call between them, in my opinion.  I might consider a low dose antidepressant, sometimes they have something that works for depression and anxiety, but I wouldn't want anything strong.  I want to be able to feel, even pain, because pain does have purpose, it alerts us to something we need to work on, it calls our attention to it.  I wouldn't want to mask how I feel as a way to survive.  There are so many tools for dealing with grief!  Grief is a journey that doesn't have an ending, the day George died, I might as well have embraced grief then and there because it is my constant companion.  I've learned not to fight it.  It's not all bad, one of the benefits is all of the things I've learned on this journey.  That's pretty tough for a person new in grief to understand though, it's taken me much time to give myself an entire perspective on it.  I think in the beginning I just wanted the pain to stop.  And of course it'd be nice to get breaks from the pain.  There are so many things a person can do to help themselves  through grief.  Meditation, journaling, reading and expressing yourself here, reading books and articles on it, seeing a grief counselor, attending grief support groups.  One of the most important things I've done is try to see good in each day, view life as a gift, appreciate what is rather than focusing solely on what isn't anymore.  A person's mindset is so important, and learning to help that mindset has been worth my time and energy.

Triggers come randomly, we can't prepare for them, but they do taper off the longer you're on this journey.  I have learned to ride the waves of grief as it comes rather than fighting it.  Learning to befriend my grief has helped, but that may not make sense to someone newer in this.  I know it's here to stay, although it's evolved and has not stayed the same nor in the same intensity.  What is left is the missing him.  But I've also learned to carry him inside of me, and I can reach for him whenever I need to, I draw strength from his comfort and encouragement and the things I learned from him.  I draw strength from his love, which continues still, so in that sense he continues with me.

It is good to have a full discussion with your doctor, but bring a list with you of the things you want to talk about with him/her, any concerns you may have.  

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This is a difficult topic for me,

I lost all hope and all happiness when my dear wife Rene'e passed away unexpectedly. How in this world could I be anything but depressed? I am doing my very best just to find something to hold on to. I have little or no support from friends and family. This is a very tough road to travel all alone.

All I can see is day to day struggle and unending loneliness.

What kind of life is that? I've been there before and the only thing I know for sure is I never wanted to be there again.

I have absolutely nothing to ease the pain. It is my constant companion.

All I can say is that if you have people in your life, that can certainly make all the difference. Being alone with my grief all the time is unbearable at times.

I went to church and told my friend there how difficult it's been for me. In the same breath, he told me that he understood and then he told me that he would not see me next week in church because him and his wife were going to the beach with another couple.

Like hell he understands. 

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I want so badly to find just one thing in this world that will help stop the pain. Living twenty years alone and finally finding the love of your life for six months and then back to loneliness. I never ever wanted to go back to facing each day alone without her. The pain is so very great.

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49 minutes ago, Johnny said:

I have little or no support from friends and family. This is a very tough road to travel all alone.

Same here Johnny.  I do have family out of state, but no one where I am now.  Neighbors I say hi to if I see them out when I walk my pup.  

People will come and go in your grief life.  At the beginning, my neighbors were a godsend providing support, checking in, bringing food.  But life returns to normal for them.  I don't fault them for that.  People outside of grief don't mean to say the wrong thing.  We're in a unique and sensitive place, and sometimes even if they DO say the right thing, our heart and soul aches just the same.  We in grief walk in a fog, a shadow of sorts.  

On the flip side, I've run into absolute angels along the way, mostly in the grocery store.  I would have missed them completely, had I not been for a moment open and sensitive to my surroundings.  And yeah, it took me many tryes to go do the simplest of shopping and not feel panic or weepy or look someone in the eye.  But it eventually came.

I had a day of pacing.   Eating and pacing.  And more pacing.  On top of that, I slept maybe four very broken hours last night.  I finally threw my hands up and took medication.  I validate and absolutely know that it's not taking grief away.  I just needed a break from the cycle, and I'm perfectly fine with that.  This is something for anxiety, and I only take a quarter of a tablet (which at this dosage is teeny tiny amount).  It doesn't remove the pain, but it does take the edge off.  Do you have a primary care doctor you could talk to about something for anxiety?

Hugs to you Johnny.  I feel your pain. 

~Shirley

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Johnny, my friend, I know it feels as if you are alone with your grief, but that is why it's so important to surround yourself with those whose loss is similar to your own. You're doing that by coming here, but you might also consider reading a book or two specifically aimed at widowers (for example, Widower to Widower: Surviving the End of Your Most Important Relationship by Fred Colby, The Widower's Journey: Helping Men Rebuild After Their Loss by Herb Knoll, et al, or Grief Diaries: Through The Eyes of Men by Lynda Cheldelyn Fell, et al) and visiting some blogs and websites by and for widowers, such as these:

Widower's Grief 

Widowers Support Network

National Widowers Organization

Widower to Widower - From National Widowers Organization, a peer support program for widowers: "Most widowers who have met others who also lost their wife can attest to the power of this shared connection. It is often another widower who can recommend a book, connect someone to a support group or another resource, or simply provide reassurance."

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Shirley, I appreciate what you said when you said "It doesn't remove the pain, but it does take the edge off."

I wish I could just find a little way such as this to do just that, "take the edge off". I have been to see two different doctors and they both assured me that everything I felt was normal.

It just doesn't feel normal at all. Before, I never used to wake up at 2:00 AM in the morning and toss and turn for four hours until 6:00 AM when I have to get up anyway to prepare for work. This even happens on the weekend. I used to be a big eater, and I liked to cook. Now I have no appetite, I have lost 25 lbs, and I have not been able to put together I decent meal for myself in five months.

When I went to the Doctor because I have been feeling nothing but sadness, he charged me $500.00 and told me I was depressed. Go figure. I could have saved him the trouble and just told myself that I was depressed. Tell me something I don't know.

I am trying to reach out the best I can. My wife and I did what any newlywed couple would after we married, realizing that our combined income would give us the opportunity to buy a nice truck together, which we needed because of the utility, and fix up the home buying new furniture, that is exactly what we did together. Everything was financed, of course. Now I have to maintain everything on just my income alone and this adds more stress during an already stressful time. Unfortunately, I do not have a primary care Doctor to help with the anxiety. I really could use one, but right now I am without health insurance so I lot of options like professional counseling, for example, are off the table. I have checked the referral with whom the Doctor I was able to see gave me, and to see another Doctor would cost me an additional $500.00 plus $250.00 for each additional professional counseling session. If I wasn't feeling bad enough already, by the time I get the bill in the mail, i am sure I would really feel bad then.

I do wish I could get a break from the cycle. Even for just a moment. I know others are probably feeling the same way.

Thanks for understanding and thanks for the hugs.

 

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Marty,

Thank you for the resources and thank you for being a friend.

I know there has to be something out there better than this, I just have to find I way.

Reading and hearing from others and how they coped seems like a great way to get me "out of my own head".

I used to really enjoy reading.

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@Johnny

Have you tried the federal exchange for health insurance?  I realize it's too late this year but maybe next year?  How long until you're eligible for Medicare?

You might want to consider a grief support group, they don't usually charge a fee or minimally if there is one.  The one I lead is free because we're able to host it in our church building.  It allows you to get to know other widowers that understand what you're going through, and that really helps.  The people in my group have become friends and sometimes we get together outside of our grief support group.

I feel I do understand some of what you are feeling...I lived very alone in a 23 year marriage to someone who did not love me and didn't care to spend time with me outside of family plans and church.  I felt as if I was alone.  George and I were only married 3 years, 8 months when he died, altogether too short!  It felt like we'd just put our lives together and it was suddenly unraveling apart.  We had been blissfully happy and thought we'd have the rest of our live to grow old together!  I was blindsided.

I never hear from my daughter, I have one disabled sister here but can't visit her because of her smoking inside (I have allergies and Asthma).  She is unable to drive and our visits take place by phone.  My son works 80 hours a week and has a family to take care of so I don't see him much either and when I do, I have to make the drive to see him, 2 1/2 hours away.  I don't drive at night so in the winter it makes for very short visits as I can't be gone overnight then.  Right now I'm still waiting for him to let me know when I can come...I hope it's soon as I'm about to lose my dogsitter.

No, people who aren't going through this can't begin to understand how hard it is, how lonely.  Even simple things like needing someone to drive you to the doctor is hard to find!  People are busy with their own lives.  We seem to be wired to need a partner in life.

I lost my focus when George died.  I didn't watch t.v. for years and couldn't read a book for enjoyment for ten years.  I used to have books going all the time prior to this.  I'm glad it's finally returned but now I'm out of the habit of it.  I used to love my hobby, stamping, making cards, now it's lost it's allure.  For a few years I'd get together with my girlfriend and make cards, that helped, but she moved a few years ago so now I don't even have her.

I also understand how hard it is to make ends meet when your income has just been cut in half.  My expenses went up at the same time too because the things George used to do I now have to hire done.  In addition, I remortgaged my place to pay off his doctor, hospital, ambulance bills.  I'll be paying on a place that was previously paid off until I am 80 unless I can pay it off sooner!  Meanwhile it's aging and new roofs, etc. are expensive.

I get it.  After George died I lost my job, it was the start of the recession, I was very concerned I'd lose my home, they only gave six months unemployment and it took me 5 1/.2 months to get a job!  I had to commute long distance which cost me greatly.  I had to get a new car shortly thereafter.  It seems it never ends!  But I can tell you this, I've never missed a meal, I still have a roof over my head even if it sometimes leaked (replaced now), and somehow I've made it all these years.  One of the hardest things for me has been having a lack of support system.  That and I'm rather sick of being alone.  I get out, regularly, but there's nothing replaces that person you talk over your day with, that person that cares about you, that person you share interests with, you know?  I'm retired now and do a lot of volunteer work...at the senior site, I'm Treasurer for my church, I lead a Grief Support Group, I'm on the Praise Team.  These things keep me busy and productive and I enjoy all but doing the books (which is too much like work).  I walk my dog twice a day so have gotten to know my neighbors.  But people tend to stay to themselves and are busy with their lives.  Right now my neighborhood is in transition as a lot of people are selling their homes so it will be hard to get used to old neighbors/friends moving away.  Life is full of change, isn't it.

There are some counselors that charge income-based, you might want to look for one.  I went to one through CAFA once that did.   Also, some cities have a low income clinic that either doesn't charge or is income based, there's one about 60 miles from here called Whitebird.  It does mean getting their early and waiting until they have an opening.

Whatever you do, try not to let everything overwhelm you.  It helps me so much to try to stay in "today"  I figure I can do today.  One day at a time.  Then I get up and do it all over again.  

I don't know if you've read my posts about joy or not.  I started on day 11 of my grief journey...I ran across a refrigerator magnet on a sidewalk sale as I was coming out of Rainbow Optics.  I'm not a shopper so I wasn't looking for anything, it literally was in my way and caught my attention with the dragonfly.  I believe God put it there for me to see, and used the dragonfly to catch my eye!  It says to find joy in every day.  I began to practice that...at the end of the day I'd think upon the day and what good there was in it.  Something as innocuous as a driver letting me merge in traffic, seeing a deer in my back yard, a rainbow, a call from my sister, getting the bills paid, anything counted, nothing was too small or insignificant.  I began to LOOK for good in the day and recognize it as it came!  It led to living in the present, being mindful.  (So important!)  I won't kid you, grief is not easy to adjust to, but there are things we can do to help ourselves.  For each person it may be unique, finding what works for us.

Praying for you and sending you comforting thoughts.

Find joy in every day.jpg

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18 hours ago, Johnny said:

I lost all hope and all happiness when my dear wife Rene'e passed away unexpectedly. How in this world could I be anything but depressed? I am doing my very best just to find something to hold on to. I have little or no support from friends and family. This is a very tough road to travel all alone.

All I can see is day to day struggle and unending loneliness.

What kind of life is that? I've been there before and the only thing I know for sure is I never wanted to be there again.

I have absolutely nothing to ease the pain. It is my constant companion.

All I can say is that if you have people in your life, that can certainly make all the difference. Being alone with my grief all the time is unbearable at times.

Johnny:  I understand your feeling of being alone.  I was married for 50+ years to a special husband and since his passing I have had some pretty down days as I have stumbled along a path I had no skills to follow at my old age. 

You have taken a big step by continuing to go to your church, finding this forum and asking for support.  Shortly after my husband passed I attended a support group that helped me briefly, but being the introvert personality I am, I found I needed to do it my way.  My way has been to just do one day at a time, and sometimes only one minute at a time.  There are days I don't feel like doing much but talking to my dog or taking her for a walk.   On the times I do feel like being with people, I choose people who I know will be understanding of my loss. 

I sincerely hope you find peace and solace as you find the answers to your loneliness.   You are not alone cause we here understand what you are sharing.  Dee

 

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KayC,

I hear clearly what you have said and I think you have done remarkably well to be able to do all the things you have done on your own. I have only just bought my home a year and a half ago. My mortgage payoff is in 2047 and I will be 80 as well. I wasn't so concerned about this at first cause my mortgage payment is less than I can rent an apartment for. What really hurt the most was the truck Rene'e and I purchased together. The only reason I was able to buy the truck was that Rene'e wanted me to have it to make me happy so she agreed that she would pay half the monthly payment and it would be ours. When she passed away I was left with a payment I could not afford and since I didn't want to lose the truck after putting so much money down on it, the only thing I could think to do was pull money out of my retirement early and pay down the principle to lower my monthly payment, which I did.

When I was alone, I worked full time and paid my way through college so it has always been tough but I finally made it and earned my bachelors degree. One year later I bought my house, and one year after that I married the love of my life. Everything was finally coming together for me. I could finally see a better life for myself and I didn't have to look any further. I was the happiest I've ever been. Rene'e did so many things for me to show me how much she loved me. I felt like I was the luckiest person in the world to have found her. I had the wedding I'd always dreamed of and all my family attended. We actually had to bring more chairs into the chapel just to be able to seat all the family and friends. Everyone we invited showed up for the wedding. She was so beautiful.

Everyday after the wedding we would make plans to make our life together. It was to be our first Christmas together. We had so many first to look forward to. And then I too was blindsided. Finding that special person is not an easy thing. We worked very hard at making I life together. We were doing so well. We had so much ahead of us. She had overcome so many hard times as well and made it through all the surgeries and had just gone to the doctor for her final knee replacement appointment follow up. Both her and I could see the light of day finally and now we were excited about settling down and enjoying a much better life together.

Your right, there is nothing that can replace that special person who meant all those things to you. I am somehow thinking about a life that is much less. A life in which I have no idea what may be in my future beyond just trying to maintain. I really don't do well with being alone anymore after knowing just how good it could be when I was with Rene'e.

You don't miss what you never had, and I never had anyone like Rene'e. Before, I only had hope that I would meet someone like her. Your right, people were not meant to live alone. It's a less than life now. I have found that things are overwhelming to me now. I think that this is mostly because I try to project what my life would be like living alone for the remainder of my days and that is just too much for me to imagine. People do tend to stay to themselves and are busy with their lives. Rene'e and I were mostly happy to do the same so I can understand.

It is just so hard when you don't have that support. My neighborhood is a small residential were I used to spend time with an older couple who have both since passed away too. My next door neighbor, bless his heart, just lost his wife about three weeks ago and his son has been to see him every day since, thank goodness. He had open heart surgery a couple of years ago so I worry about him. His daughter lives only a couple of houses down so he has family close by.

I need to practice what you suggest with your dragonfly, "Find Joy In Every Day". I really do not know what God has planned for me. I appreciate your prayers and comforting thoughts and I pray for you as well so in this we are not alone. Thank you KayC. You are very kind.

My "little girl" Arwen. I call her my "Sugar Angel".

IMG_0897.JPG

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Dee,

I can not imagine having lived such a long life with your loved one and then having to try to live without him. I do not understand how so many people can find the courage to live a life that seems totally unfamiliar after such long years. I attended a grief share meeting once a week where I met someone like you and I admired her for all her courage. I admire you as well.

Like you say, I think that it is wise to be with people who are understanding of my loss. These people are the ones I feel most comfortable with and it is easy to tell who really understands cause they are always compassionate. They truly wish they could find something to make it just a little bit easier. Even if it is just a kind word, or a gesture of encouragement.

It's tough though because you can tell that there are others who avoid even making eye contact because they are afraid you might make them feel uncomfortable. Most would not even like to think that something similar could happen to them. I was the same. I never wanted to think for a moment that I could lose my beloved.

I am going to continue going to Church. I went before I met my dear wife and I know that she would want that very much. She bought me a beautiful bible with my name inscribed on the cover for my birthday. It still makes me smile when I look at it and think of how good it would feel to be with her again one day. Now I am starting to tear up again.

Thank you Dee. I am glad I am not alone and I am glad I can find comfort from kind people like you. God bless. 

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4 hours ago, Johnny said:

Dee,

I can not imagine having lived such a long life with your loved one and then having to try to live without him. I do not understand how so many people can find the courage to live a life that seems totally unfamiliar after such long years. I attended a grief share meeting once a week where I met someone like you and I admired her for all her courage. I admire you as well.

Like you say, I think that it is wise to be with people who are understanding of my loss. These people are the ones I feel most comfortable with and it is easy to tell who really understands cause they are always compassionate. They truly wish they could find something to make it just a little bit easier. Even if it is just a kind word, or a gesture of encouragement.

It's tough though because you can tell that there are others who avoid even making eye contact because they are afraid you might make them feel uncomfortable. Most would not even like to think that something similar could happen to them. I was the same. I never wanted to think for a moment that I could lose my beloved.

I am going to continue going to Church. I went before I met my dear wife and I know that she would want that very much. She bought me a beautiful bible with my name inscribed on the cover for my birthday. It still makes me smile when I look at it and think of how good it would feel to be with her again one day. Now I am starting to tear up again.

Thank you Dee. I am glad I am not alone and I am glad I can find comfort from kind people like you. God bless. 

 

4 hours ago, Johnny said:

Dee,

I can not imagine having lived such a long life with your loved one and then having to try to live without him. I do not understand how so many people can find the courage to live a life that seems totally unfamiliar after such long years. I attended a grief share meeting once a week where I met someone like you and I admired her for all her courage. I admire you as well.

It's tough though because you can tell that there are others who avoid even making eye contact because they are afraid you might make them feel uncomfortable. Most would not even like to think that something similar could happen to them. I was the same. I never wanted to think for a moment that I could lose my beloved.

She bought me a beautiful bible with my name inscribed on the cover for my birthday. It still makes me smile when I look at it and think of how good it would feel to be with her again one day. Now I am starting to tear up again.

Thank you Dee. I am glad I am not alone and I am glad I can find comfort from kind people like you. God bless. 

Johnny:  What a sweet "Sugar Angel" you have with Arwen.  Our fur babies can be such a comfort to us.

Thank you for your kind words and thinking I have courage.  Unfortunately, at my age I don't feel courageous, but as I tell my daughter when she tells me how strong I am, "I don't have any choice".  Am happy you seem to live in a close neighborhood that looks out for each other. 

One thing I have noticed in some people who haven't experienced loss is they don't know what to say sometimes.   Prior to loosing my husband, there were times I would say nothing to someone who had experienced a loss cause I didn't know what to say.  And, honestly now, I would prefer nothing be said instead of someone saying the wrong thing that hurts, even though they may mean well for me.

Your sweet Rene'e was your blessing and it is so sad you had such a short life with her.  Her love for you was evident in everything she did for you.  Continue on doing your one day at a time - that's really all anyone can do.  Take care.  Dee

 

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Johnny,

My husband also bought me my Bible, it was our first anniversary present.

I'm glad you have your dogs.  I'm so sorry it was all cut so short.  We didn't know before we found them, but there was that empty hollow within me that was George shaped, I was complete when we got together.  I try really hard not to look at the rest of my life.  People think we should be over it when it's been this long but the truth is, we're never over it, no matter how many years have gone by for me.  We live with it because we have no choice.  I'm glad you had that person that was meant to be, I'm glad I did too.  But it sure is hard to lose!

Dee, I agree, better for people not to say anything at all than to babble out the wrong thing!

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