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I lost my wife and my teenage son on October 16th in a horrific car accident involving a tractor trailer. The pain I am feeling is immense and, at times, unbearable. I have learned through this that pain and grief creates two kinds of people. 1. People who know the circle of life and realize that dying is a part of living and 2. People who just feel that they cannot go own and pretty much lay down and die. I have gravitated towards 1. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know its there. I don't know how far away I am from reaching it, or even if I ever will reach it. But seeing it is what keeps me going. My son was our only child. He was 14. He had his whole life ahead of him. My wife had just graduated with her Masters in Psychology and was working as a counselor. We had an amazing life. I have no regrets. We didn't say things to each other that we didnt mean. There is nothing that I wish I had said - because we all said I love you every single day. I know they loved me and I am positive they knew I loved them. The thing that brings me the most comfort is the fact that they did not suffer. It was painless and sudden. Also, I am comforted by the fact that they were together. They died together and not alone. It wouldn't have worked out any other way. My wife was the lay down and die kind of person if something were to happen to me. She wouldn't have been able to carry on. Even though it has been only a little over 2 weeks since the accidcent - through their spirits I can feel them pushing me to carry on. It's so hard because I miss them so much. 

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My friend, I simply cannot imagine the depth of your pain in the wake of these tragic deaths, and my heart reaches out to you. I am so sorry. I hope you are surrounded by a circle of friends and family members who can offer you some of the support you need and deserve ~ and of course you are most welcome here with us. If you find that this is not enough, please know that it's okay ~ in fact, it's a sign of strength ~ to acknowledge your need for more, such as finding a qualified grief counselor who can walk with you through this horrific nightmare you are living now. When you are ready, you might take a look at some of the many resources listed on this page: Coping with Traumatic Loss: Suggested Resources ~ and in the meantime, please know that we are thinking of you and are here for you . . . ♥️

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I am so sorry you are going through this multiple loss.  I love your positive spirit, you have a rare attitude and it will carry you far.  I second what Marty said, I would seek a grief counselor.  Right now the shock is probably still resident, don't be surprised if you go through the whole gamut of feelings in time, all normal, all to be expected, all valid.  We'll be here for you as long as you want.

I feel as you do, that it would have been tremendously difficult for my husband to withstand this kind of loss/grief, and I'd rather be the one to carry it than him to go through it.  That said, I was ill prepared for how hard this would be.  It's been 13 years and there's not a day he hasn't been uppermost in my mind and I miss him with every fiber of my being.  I want to share what I have learned that has helped me, not all of it may be applicable to you, but some may resonate with you later on down the road, so it helps to print it out and read it every few months to see what different part hits you as relevant.

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.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • 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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Thank you both so much for your kind words. I have been to see a grief counselor. I will be going once a week until I feel like I have learned some coping skills and are more comfortable feeling my way through this. Right now I am focusing on getting through the day. One day at a time. I have a wonderful plethora of family and friends who are here to support me. I don't know what I would do without them. However, lots of times I just want to be alone. I feel like I have to "entertain" or put a smile on my face when I have company and honestly, I don't feel like smiling much. I know I will get there, it just takes time. Before this, I have never really experienced any kind of loss. The worst thing I would say up to this point was having to put my dog down. Even being the animal lover I am, it doesn't come close. My wife and son were my entire world. So, I am now left to figure out what getting back to normal means. My "new" normal. 

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It's good to know that you are surrounded with solid support, and that you're already seeing a grief counselor. Your focusing on getting through the day, one day at a time, is spot-on. Here we often say that if you find it too difficult to get through today, then it may help to break it into even smaller chunks of time: one hour, even one moment at a time. Sometimes that is all that we can do. To think about tomorrow or about getting back to normal is way too overwhelming, especially at this early point in your grief.

A word of advice: SLOW DOWN. Grief has no time table, and it cannot be hurried. It takes as long as it takes, and your losses are way too big. As you say, you've lost what has been your entire world, and it disappeared in a heartbeat, in the form of the two people you love most in this world. Give yourself permission to absorb the enormity of what has happened to you, and know that discovering your so-called "new normal" will take all the time you have to give it. This is not a race to the finish. It is not a sprint. It is a marathon, and it will take every ounce of strength you have to endure it.

I don't know if you're a reader, and you may find it way too difficult to concentrate on reading a book right now, but when you feel ready, you may find that this book will speak to you. It is written by a man whose mother, wife and daughter were killed instantly in an auto accident: A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss. If you click on the title, you can read Amazon's description and reviews. It's a book I've read myself, and I found the author's writing to be exceptionally beautiful.  ♥️

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I am so sorry for the loss of your wife and young son. I lost my husband to cancer in 2013, and my daughter one year later, also to cancer. I gave permission to remove him from life support and held his hand as he died many hours later. It took a long time to erase the guilt I felt. I suppose it was a peaceful death, if death is peaceful. My daughter died screaming and in convulsions forsaken by the higher power she loved in her moment of need. That is, of course, my opinion. Her death was not peaceful and much harder to adapt to. It has taken me many years to adapt to their deaths. I will never "accept" them. The cycle of life is logical, but certainly not comforting to me, nor is the idea of laying down and dying. For this reason, I move forward a little each day. There are still days when the memories bring tears.

I'm sorry that you had to find us, but be assured that we understand at least some of what you are feeling and will listen and help in any way we can. I'm glad you have friends and family nearby and a counselor you can relate to. As Marty said, do not rush your grief. There will be days you will feel okay and days it will sneak up on you like a thief in the night.

Peace to you.

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I, too, am sorry you had to find us, and for the loss of two bright stars in your life.  Please heed Marty's (and others') wise words about taking the time you need.  There will be times you feel sort of "okay" and other times you will be anything but, and everything in between.  It's all over the map.  I've edited my account here to remove Mark's photo because it just makes me too sad right now to see that cheerful smile of his, taken at a time when life was great. I'll probably add it back someday.  You go back and forth a lot, I'm finding.

Normal is a setting on a washing machine, as they say. 🏳️‍🌈 

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My condolences and heartfelt sorrow you are here.  Kieran is right.  Normal applies to anything but our lives right now.  They will never feel as they once did.  The definition has changed.  We speak of a new normal, but I don’t know if that is really accurate.  I see it as adapting to something forced on me.  A loss I had no say in and have to live with til it’s my time.  None of us want to be here, but since we are, we have joined arms and hearts to help any and everyone that comes with this heavy burden.  It hasn’t been a month yet so your mind may be protecting itself as they do when something is too traumatic.  Everyone’s journey unfolds differently.  Lots of eyes and ears here tho for anything you need to say.  

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I am very sorry for your huge loss.  I know how hard it was to lose my husband but to lose a child as well is beyond my worst days.

Please give yourself the time and care you need.  Our journey is not a simple one and good health is necessary to help you during this time.

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I am grateful for the kind words and positive thoughts by everyone. It is easy to see we all have something common among us - loss. Today I am battling myself and going back and forth trying to process the loss of my child and then the loss of my spouse. I get upset with myself if I feel like I am focusing too much on Noah and then I get upset if I feel like I am focusing too much on Sarah. They were two very different kinds of love so it is hard to fight that battle inside of you. Both hurt like hell. Both have brought me to my knees. At times, I feel bi-polar. I will be having an okay day and then out of nowhere I just crash and burn. Last night I had my first "angry" episode. I grabbed anyhting I could and threw it. It didn't make me feel better afterwards, so when I am feeling those fits of anger I guess I need to channel it into something less destructive. 

I never dreamed I would be a widow at 39. Nor would I have dreamed I would be a child-less mother. I am left here to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and try the best that I can to put them back together. What in the world did I ever do to deserve something like this? Our life was perfect. Perfect in every sense of the word. 

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@krissyaldridge I had a good friend & pastor who lost his wife and baby daughters in a car accident...he was driving.  Every April is still difficult for him.  He did eventually marry and have three sons, it's as if God knew his girls couldn't be replaced so gave him something totally different.  I don't know why life makes the turns it does, we're left scrambling to deal with it.  I'm glad you have a grief counselor, I can't imagine navigating with no sense of direction as in the early days/months.

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5 hours ago, krissyaldridge said:

What in the world did I ever do to deserve something like this?

You'll find yourself replacing "I" with "they" and getting angry all over again.  I went through that, including yelling and screaming while alone in the house we once shared. I probably threw things.  I don't remember.

I know people who don't even TRY to be decent human beings toward other people or to animals, and yet they're still around.   I don't get it.  I never will. 

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8 hours ago, krissyaldridge said:

What in the world did I ever do to deserve something like this? Our life was perfect. Perfect in every sense of the word. 

That’s a question that will never be answered, but haunts us all the time.  I can think of things I’ve done in the past that deserve being called on, but nothing to warrant this 'punishment'.  I, too, miss the perfection of our life together since everything now is changed, maybe not obviously, but nothing is what itvonce was.  It’s from the feeling inside.  Everything is interconnected.  I fill the dogs bowls for the morning before bed so in my mind I’m already thinking waking up alone again.  It sneaks in everywhere.  Watching that favorite comedy? It’s still funny but no one to laugh with.  See something cool or strange while out?  No one to tell about it.  hearing his voice only in my head.  Wanting to converse but I can’t write the dialogue anymore.  Worst is when I hear his comments at certain places or times.  I’ve tried driving different routes, but I know I’m avoiding that trigger and hear it anyway.  I move my shower times around but I still hear him saying something about the girly smells.  I look out the windows and can’t say....come here!   Look at that!  The list is endless.  I don’t miss arguments, but I miss that we finally had figured out how without the dramatics so we worked things out quickly.  Had to get back to that perfect life.  

Now it’s gone.  Not his or my fault.  Nature gone awry.  So who can one ask that question and get an answer?  But still we persist.   

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On 11/2/2018 at 12:11 PM, krissyaldridge said:

I have a wonderful plethora of family and friends

Cannot imagine your pain.  I found this place three days after Billy left, and since I had a plan to carry out that sounded like my only way out, I'm glad I found this place.  You have people that are not looking into your eyes, you can say anything you want to and we will be here for you.  Losing more than one loved one is unfathomable, but please read more.  You have our support, even though you cannot see us, and you can tell it like you feel it.  This is a special place.  Cannot say welcome, but will say I'm glad you found us........and I am so sorry for your loss.💗💗💗  

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Having that mate turns our lives from black and white to living color.  Losing them turns it back to black and white again.  Yes indeed, no one to share with, tell things to, that's half the enjoyment...if not a whole lot more!

I talk to myself a lot.  Sometimes under the guise of talking to the dog.

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krissyaldridge, I am so sorry for your loss.  Know that this is an amazing community who are here to listen and love unconditionally.  Come here anytime you need to talk.  I needed and still do need moments of validation for what I am going through, or feeling.  I find it here.

I don't measure time by "a day at a time."  It's more "a minute at a time."

I have moments of sharp clarity that Stephen is still here.  As I am spiritual and not religious, I am venturing into afterlife awareness.  It speaks to me, but I'm very early in the process.  I know in my heart that he is in spirit and will be eternally connected to my soul.  But it doesn't make me miss his physical presence any less.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

~Shirley

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Decluttering? Letting go of personal belongings?

Over the weekend I started to declutter the master bathroom Sarah and I shared. As well as decluttering the walk in closet we shared. Her side of the family (siblings) came to Alabama for the service / funeral for her and Noah. I let her sisters take whatever clothes out of her closet they wanted. They didn't take much, so there is still a lot left to find a place for. Today has been 3 weeks since they passed. Some are saying its too soon for me to begin the cleaning out process. But to be truthful, seeing my wife's belongings bring me more pain than not seeing them. This past weekend, I downsized from the king bed we once shared to a queen. I just couldn't sleep in that bed without her. Since I got the new bed - I have slept much better. 

I still cannot go into my sons room and I will not let anyone else go in there. His door is locked. I know for sure I am not ready to tackle his personal things. He was a child. It's too painful. If I don't have to look at it, it doesn't bother me as much. However, with Sarah's things its different. Her things are everywhere and I have to look at them every single day. I feel like I am ready to part with most of her clothes / toiletries. I am ready to clean her night stand off. I am ready to make our bedroom MY bedroom. 

I am not the kind of person that holds onto things. Sarah was quiet the opposite. She held onto evrything, sentimental or not. She still has clothes in the closet that she wore 10 years ago. Me? I have about 10 shirts and 10 pairs of pants / shorts and 2 or 3 pairs of shoes. I don't feel the need to accumulate "stuff". I am pretty basic, plain Jane kind if you will. 

Am I moving about this too soon? 

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My dear, you know yourself better than anyone, and you are the best judge of how quickly or how slowly you need to "move about this" ~ and it seems to me that you're doing just fine with it. ♥️

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The only thing I would suggest is that you make sure you keep some personal article of clothes, maybe a bathrobe or favorite sweater...something you can hold.  You may not realize it now but you might want it later on, and if everything is gone, it's too late to change your mind.  I kept my husband's fishing vest and bathrobe and gave his kids each one of his sweaters.  Something to hold.

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Krissy, everyone's pace is different.  You know your heart.  Follow it.

What worked for me is if I picked it up and it felt wrong, I left it alone.  I did clean out the toiletries rather quickly, keeping one or two items.  When I did this, it did feel to me as though I was moving towards healing inside of the grief.  

I was about four weeks out when I packed Stephen's clothing for donation.  When I did this, it felt right in my soul.

I kept the really meaningful items.  His favorite Tshirts, a few beat up shorts that I can wear, etc.  Items that mean the most to me.  I'm grateful that I have these items.

~Shirley

 

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You'll want something that smells like her, such as clothing with scent or perfume she often wore.  Thankfully I hadn't ever washed his bathrobe the week or so before he collapsed from septic shock (almost 2 years ago now... where has the time gone?!).  It's still hung up next to mine, where it will stay.

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There are things I had to change, but many that will stay as they have always been.  I know the last bottle of of white wine.he opened in the fridge has fermented, but it’s staying.  His hat is in his office, it stays.  The clothes I kept, not many, but his favs, stay.  His bathroom is neat and orderly now, but it’s all his stuff.  His office has changed a bit to a dog room, but his essence is there on alll the shelves including a bottle of scotch he always drank a shot of on his mother’s bday and his recliner chair many a night he charted songs and practiced songs.   His shelves are covered in dust as I never used any of it.  I can’t bring myself to remove his computer and monitor even tho it was turned off years ago.  His desk would make a great work table if I had a hobby.  And that leaves my stuff, but the rest is our stuff.  No running away from that.  It’s always been our house.  Always will.  

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George's smell disappeared about a month after he died.  I've heard since if you keep it in a plastic bag, it will retain the smell much longer.  I remember crying when I could no longer smell him.  But I still remember his smell and will never forget it, and I still wrap myself in his bathrobe now and then when I need the comfort of him around me.

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19 minutes ago, kayc said:

George's smell disappeared about a month after he died.  I've heard since if you keep it in a plastic bag, it will retain the smell much longer.  I remember crying when I could no longer smell him.  But I still remember his smell and will never forget it, and I still wrap myself in his bathrobe now and then when I need the comfort of him around me.

Okay, so off to put Stephen's Tshirt in a zip lock bag.  I loved the sweaty smell of him, although he couldn't stand it.

I kept his favorite hat, but it had been washed.  His wader boots I am connected to, as trout fishing was something he adored doing.  I'm glad he introduced me to that one opening trout season in New Jersey, when it was almost 32 degrees and I couldn't feel my feet from the cold stream.  I caught my limit of fish before any of the men on the stream, and we often laughed about that.  My man loved fishing....! 

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I love the picture of your fisher man.  His picture reminds me of my husband fishing for steelhead.  ❤️ To you

@krissyaldridge I certainly feel for you.  Imagining losing my son along with my husband is more than I can bare. 🙏

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