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18 hours ago, TomPB said:

My friend Mara sure is not suffering from PGD. She is at about 16 months and told me this morning that she's grieving by having sex and shopping. I'm not saying anything about that. just reporting.

I only know we can't judge how another handles it...it does sound like she is getting emotional fulfillment through both and perhaps it's her way of not dealing with the grief, who knows.  Grief is strange, it hits us all differently.

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17 hours ago, mittam99 said:

Thanks for the report Tom. 🙂 Sounds similar to my brother in law's brother who lost his wife of 30-some years to cancer a while back. He also had no issue with PGD, clearly. He was on the hunt for "hot young women" six months after she died. It's painfully obvious that those of us that post here had relationships that were rare and beautiful and full of real, unending love.

It's clear we didn't all lose the same relationship...some were married but not that close...I ought to know, I was married to my kids' dad 23 years and we were not intimately connected or in love, more like business partners raising kids.  With George it was entirely different, he was "my person", my soul mate, my best friend and lover, we were each other's worlds and we connected so deeply, communicated so well...the loss can't be compared to one of a superficial marriage.  We were the lucky ones that got to experience the supreme, but the price is hard-hitting.

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13 hours ago, Kieron said:

I hope it's OK to post YouTube videos (although it doesn't appear as anything more than a link below).  This song came to my attention, and these lyrics in particular moved me tremendously.  It speaks to those rare and beautiful relationships you mention, Mitch.

"Nobody Knows" written by Wesley Schultz, performed by The Lumineers.

 

"Love is deep as the road is long,

It moves my feet to carry on,

Beats my heart when you are gone,

Love is deep as the road is long."

 

https://youtu.be/6q5Zn_ZkehM

Thank you Kieron and Mitch, beautiful!

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4 hours ago, kayc said:

It's clear we didn't all lose the same relationship...some were married but not that close...I ought to know, I was married to my kids' dad 23 years and we were not intimately connected or in love, more like business partners raising kids.  With George it was entirely different, he was "my person", my soul mate, my best friend and lover, we were each other's worlds and we connected so deeply, communicated so well...the loss can't be compared to one of a superficial marriage.  We were the lucky ones that got to experience the supreme, but the price is hard-hitting.

Exactly. "Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch."

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Wow, that’s a tear jerker.  Tough to listen to.  I listened to sad songs for the first year now and then.  Have them on my tablet.  Don’t know what I was thinking.  I guess I wasn’t. That van did come into our lives and moved us somewhere else. Didn’t hire it or want it but came anyway.  

Music is phenomenal to me.  Having lived with a musician for over 30 years it’s very hard for me to take now.  AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long can tear me up because of the intensity of the desire for that one person as much as this song.  I heard Danger Zone from Top Gun coming home and bam!  Memories of watching that for the jet scenes that blew us away.  I’ve been trying to wean myself back into the radio in the car.  Never did before unless it was the CD he made me of my favorites.  There are 3 songs he did in there so that’s out.  So many voices locked in time past.  I have yet to listen to one thing Steve recorded at over 4 years out.  

Theres a song called No One Is To Blame by Howard Jones, but I don’t know how to grab it from the web.  It was one that really moved me after Steve left.

 

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Good one, Gwen.  I listened to that one all last summer, which would have been about 1/3 of the way through Year One.  I think I was struggling with blame, where to assign it, whether I should even assign it.  I came to realize that Mark had played a role in the way things ended because he didn't tell me what he wanted or needed, and when rehab center staff asked him if he needed anything, their charting/care notes indicated he only said "No, I'm fine."  I think he just wanted to go, and I don't blame him for not wanting to face a life of only continuous pain, dialysis 3x a week, and needing constant care.  But I wish he would have said, "I just want to come home and die."  I may never understand why he couldn't do that.  Maybe it's a "guy thing."  Maybe he didn't want to be a bother to me. 😥

 

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George and I had a million "our songs". He loved music and had very eclectic taste in it.  Being so long ago, we had a lot of cassette tapes and CDs, he'd listen to them on his long commute.  It's extremely difficult for me to listen to them...I can't discard them but it's way too emotional to listen to them.  I did when he first died, don't know how, I bawled my way through them.  

It seems to me no matter how we do this journey, it's darned hard.

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I do a nightly meditation on Susan and sometimes I have music. She was a ballet dancer so sometimes it's ballet music, other times it's from early in our marriage. One night last week in the final stage of the meditation, where I try to leave my body and join her spirit, the Wedding Song by Peter Paul and Mary came on. I had a really strong cry over that one. 

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The Wedding Song was sung at my first marriage by none other than Steve.  I look back on that crazy time of marrying a man I somewhat loved only to divorce 6 months later because I cried so much knowing who my true love was.  I could only stay away from him intimately for 3 months.  We worked together and our boss kept teaming us up as he knew and would send us on out of town trips.  The heart knows.  I never asked or expected him to divorce, but he did about the same time I did.  

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Complicated grief, Prolonged Grief Disorder and now Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder.

https://www.depressionalliance.org/persistent-complex-bereavement-disorder/

In reading the article I linked above with an open mind, I clearly am suffering from all three. And suffering is the appropriate word. It's been over four years since Tammy died and I still don't know my place in this world. Still feel my life is mostly meaningless without her. I've kept her clothes and most of her things just where they always were. I feel like if I got rid of that stuff,  my life would feel even more empty  than it already does. Her things being where they always were gives me a small sense of comfort.

I know Tammy's not coming back in this world.  But, reading these articles makes me feel as though I haven't fully accepted Tammy's death because I've kept her things. I just can't bear any more emptiness. Removing her things just feels like another loss of what I had. I need something, anything, that eases my pain.

Categorizing those with prolonged grief as mentally ill seems harsh. We've lost not just the love of our life but the life we loved.

The article mentions that people who were caregivers and who have limited social and family support are more prone to prolonged grief. I fit that description to a t. I know I need to find a way to push myself forward and to try to find some happiness for myself. To try to find meaning and my place in this world without my beloved Tammy. But how?

Maybe there is some truth to a thought that has been playing on my mind. It seems like I still feel a bit guilty when I do find those brief moments of comfort. Maybe somehow I can't push forward because I feel guilty that I might be enjoyng myself but Tammy can't? Or that I'm enjoying something without Tammy being in this world. Does that make sense?

Maybe I am nuts. 😉

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15 minutes ago, mittam99 said:

Maybe I am nuts.

Mitch, if you are, you have a lot of company.  I'm not appalled at my feelings.  It does not matter the age, the amount of time, none of that matters.  You had a lot of love to give, you still have that love for the person, we just don't have the person.  I went on one of my trips Friday.  I spoke to Billy very little.  And then it hit me.  I have no idea what his voice sounded like and I am grieving all over again.  No one is nuts, but some of us are worn out, worn down, tired, bewildered, and just plain exhausted.  I feel like I lost another piece of him.  I am him, he is me, why can't I hear his voice?  We do what we can and accept what we have to accept.  I saw the flowers again this year.  Looked just like they did last year.  Joy is something we miss.  

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1 hour ago, mittam99 said:

It seems like I still feel a bit guilty when I do find those brief moments of comfort.

Mitch, I know this feeling.  But I realized Stephen would WANT me to find moments of comfort.  I can now feel comfort.  Do I still grieve?  Yes I do.  I for one have accepted in my soul that no matter how much "I want," it won't change what happened.  I still choose to move forward.  Is it a bumpless?  No.  But I'm still moving.  

1 hour ago, mittam99 said:

Or that I'm enjoying something without Tammy being in this world. Does that make sense?

Even if there is just a spark of pleasure or comfort in your day, embrace it. Tammy would want you to have good moments in your life.  You are not dishonoring her or her memory if you do.  💙

~Shirley

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LOL too many experts needing to show that they're contributing to the field. One thing the 🐼 DOES know is the academic game :)

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Mitch, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that there are good people in our field who DO care and are working hard to find ways to better understand and support the bereaved, especially when there are those who are still suffering and looking for relief. There is a lot of room for research here, and I am grateful for those who choose to study the mysteries and complexities and variations in grief, discovering as they try various therapeutic approaches what helps and what does not. As a result, we've learned so much more about grief than we knew just ten or twenty years ago ~ and these studies have helped enormously to inform the practice of those who work in the fields of grief counseling and grief therapy. Katherine Shear, MD, with the Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia University School of Social Work, for example, has done important work in this regard, including having developed specific, short-term treatment modalities that have been proven truly effective in helping grieving people. We don't need to equate complicated grief with a form of "mental illness" in order to study, find and use effective ways to help people who are miserable and looking for help. Labels don't mean much to those of us who work in this field, and as you've undoubtedly known me to say so many times in my own writings, grief is as individual as a person's finger print. In that sense, everyone's grief is complicated, by dozens of different and individual factors, so no one label and no one set of rules applies.

In the natural course of grief, over time (in many cases, over years) most of us find ways to carry our pain and adapt to life without the physical presence of our loved one who has died. How long that takes is like asking how high is up. It takes as long as it takes, and for some it can take a lifetime ~ but it does change, and we change right along with it. We never really "get over" it. We just find ways to live with it. But as Dr. Shear points out, "Complicated Grief is a form of grief that takes hold of a person's mind and won't let go." She goes on to say that:

It is natural to experience intense grief after someone close dies, but complicated grief is different. Troubling thoughts, dysfunctional behaviors or problems regulating emotions get a foothold and stall adaptation. Complicated grief is the condition that occurs when this happens. People with complicated grief don't know what’s wrong. They assume that their lives have been irreparably damaged by their loss and cannot imagine how they can ever feel better. Grief dominates their thoughts and feelings with no respite in sight. Relationships with family and friends flounder. Life can seem purposeless, like nothing seems to matter without their loved one. Others begin to feel frustrated, helpless and discouraged. Even professionals may be uncertain about how to help.  People often think this is depression but complicated grief and depression are not the same thing.

Grief

Grief is a person’s response to loss, entailing emotions, thoughts and behaviors as well as physiological changes. Grief is permanent after we lose someone close though it’s manifestations are variable both within and between people. Still, there are some commonalities that can help you recognize complicated grief.

Acute grief occurs in the initial period after a loss. It almost always includes strong feelings of yearning, longing and sadness along with anxiety, bitterness, anger, remorse, guilt and/or shame. Thoughts are mostly focused on the person who died and it can be difficult to concentrate on anything else. Acute grief dominates a person’s life.

Integrated grief is the result of adaptation to the loss. When a person adapts to a loss grief is not over. Instead, thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to their loss are integrated in ways that allow them to remember and honor the person who died. Grief finds a place in their life.

Complicated grief occurs when something interferes with adaptation. When this happens acute grief can persist for very long periods of time. A person with complicated grief feels intense emotional pain. They can’t stop feeling like their loved one might somehow reappear and they don’t see a pathway forward.  A future without their loved one seems forever dismal and unappealing.

Complications get in the way of adapting to the loss

There are three key processes entailed in adapting to a loss: 1) accepting the reality, including the finality and consequences of the loss, 2) reconfiguring the internalized relationship with the deceased person to incorporate this reality, and 3) envisioning ways to move forward with a sense of purpose and meaning and possibilities for happiness.  Most people move forward naturally in this way and grief finds a place in their lives as they do. Sometimes there are thoughts, feelings or behaviors that interfere with adaptation. Complicated Grief Therapy (CGT) helps people identify and resolve these interfering issues.

Troubling thoughts: After a loved one dies, almost everyone has some unsettling thoughts about how things could have been different. People with complicated grief get caught up in these kinds of thoughts.

Avoidance of reminders: People with complicated grief often think the only way they can manage pain is to stop the emotions from being triggered. To do this they try to avoid reminders of the loss.

Difficulty managing painful emotions: Emotions are almost always strong and uncontrollable during acute grief and managing them is different than at other times in our lives. Most people find a way to balance the pain with respite by doing other things, being with other people or distracting themselves. People with complicated grief are often unable to do this.  [Source: CG Overview]

If this description of complications fits what you (or anyone reading this) is thinking, feeling and doing, you might consider finding a therapist whose practice is informed by the work of Katherine Shear. Her website lists therapists with training and experience in treating complicated grief. See Find a Therapist

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Marty thanks for that post and hopefully that will help some members.  As you probably know, I'm aware of everything you wrote/quoted/linked. After fours years, I have adapted. I have accepted, even though in my dreams Tammy is coming back. I know she's gone. I have a job and I function well at it...

Where I'm stuck is finding true meaning and purpose. Getting out of my comfort zone to do and try things that would get me out of my grief rut life. I think the problem is that I've always been an introvert anyway. It never was easy for me to try new things with new people. At 63, and with enduring the loss of the love of my life, I am even more reluctant to to break the lonely pattern my life has become. It's easier just to roll with the sadness.

I know Tammy would want me to find happiness and not suffer. I just don't know how to push myself. Sure I can motivate myself to do chores and such but that's different. Pushing myself forward to change my life's drudgery, is the issue. I could reconnect with my family, but I don't. I have offers from my co-workers to attend social events but I turn them down. Ultimately, I revert to the grief prison of my own home and the self-induced loneliness of it.

I think the fact that I'm even thinking about all of this is progress. I'm just not willing or ready to accept that this is all my life will be. I need to push myself and see where it takes me. Of course that's way easier said than done. It's still baby steps for me even four years after.

Mitch

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2 hours ago, mittam99 said:

I think the fact that I'm even thinking about all of this is progress. I'm just not willing or ready to accept that this is all my life will be. 

Yes, Mitch, I agree. I don't think you are suffering from any sort of "disorder." I think instead that you are finding yourself in what some refer to as "the neutral zone" ~ and that, too, is normal. See Transition After Loss: Tips for Navigating The Neutral Zone  ❤️

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18 hours ago, mittam99 said:

It seems like I still feel a bit guilty when I do find those brief moments of comfort. Maybe somehow I can't push forward because I feel guilty that I might be enjoyng myself but Tammy can't? Or that I'm enjoying something without Tammy being in this world.

That makes perfect sense, most of us have experienced that.  I was lucky in that early on I read an article about giving myself permission to smile.  It's why I've often said it's not our grief that links us to them but our LOVE and that continues still.  I have long kicked myself for not saving that article, but it was many years before my brain came to and I started saving them.

How do you know Tammy isn't enjoying herself?  I think George is!  The NDEs I had indicated to me that whatever is beyond is alluring...I may not know much about the hereafter but I get the impression it is better than this world.  This world is all we know though so that's hard for us to fathom.  And of course the best thing we knew about this world is our relationship and having that change in the way we knew and lived it leaves us the impression that it's no longer good here or there!  But that may not be the case.  Perhaps they're further in their evolution and time is not as we view it so that to them the "waiting" as we've come to do is different from their perspective.  I prefer to think of George enjoying himself until I can be with him.  Perhaps there really is fishing (catch and release) beyond!  Or something else altogether he has learned to enjoy.  Our dog and cat are with him and I will be too, before we know it!  At least that is my small glimpse of beyond.

Our guilt is part of our grief, not something we deserve or have earned, it is feelings-based which we already have learned is not a good barometer of anything.  My view of this false sense of guilt is that it is something we should try to let go of and move past.  How?  The only way I know is by resisting it when it comes and educating ourselves reading, learning...

Knowing you I can't imagine any guilt I'd attribute to you.  You were the most caring, giving, selfless husband!  Your Tammy was as fortunate as you were!  You two were made for each other and experienced that in fullness.  But I can't imagine her having anything to fault you for or chide you with from beyond, I think she looks back with love and appreciate for all you were, are, and did for her.  She loves you and you already know that she wants the best for you...just as my George did.  We couldn't circumvent the pain of grief, sure they wouldn't want us to experience that but they also know there's no avoiding it...but I do not believe they'd want guilt for us.  We were their world!

I hope you realize your quest, Mitch, for me it's been nothing super great and joyous, but rather moments of joy I have learned to embrace in my everyday life.  I hope and pray it gets better for you, Mitch, so you and everyone here are not merely existing, but living fuller lives.  I know that is a tall order but it's my hope nonetheless.

I read a quote by Carolyn Hax that I thought was worthy of sharing...perhaps some of you also feel you've lost your purpose...

"If a purpose eludes you at the moment, then it's okay just to appreciate the good stuff around you.  Attentiveness can reveal a purpose, or be one unto itself."

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Kay, thanks for the kind words. From the doctors and nurses who saw me by Tammy's side 24/7, to friends and relatives, I hear how lucky Tammy was to have me. But, as much as I loved and cared and cherished and tried my best to do the very best for Tammy, she still died. I'm hard on myself. There's a part of me that says that maybe a decision I made (or didn't make) contributed to her death. Even though my logical side says Tammy had too many horrendous, life threatening medical issues to even count and that I did everything with only one intention... for Tammy to be with me forever.

It seems like my lack of motivation stems from some sort of self punishment. Maybe this is what's holding me back from living my life in a more productive, happy way. It's like I'm telling myself internally that I don't deserve happiness.

Just thinking out loud here...

 

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I constantly beat myself up. When my counselor tells me I need to stop doing that and being so hard on myself, my response is “But I’m so damn good at it”

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Another one of my counselor’s pearls of wisdom she tells me is:

”It’s OK to be Ok”

i find that I have to repeat that to myself like a mantra.

it doesn’t always work unfortunately. 

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9 hours ago, MartyT said:

Yes, Mitch, I agree. I don't think you are suffering from any sort of "disorder." I think instead that you are finding yourself in what some refer to as "the neutral zone" ~ and that, too, is normal. See Transition After Loss: Tips for Navigating The Neutral Zone  ❤️

I just read the article and parts of it frustated me.  Well, the whole concept of a neutral zone did.  This is purely my opinion as your articles are always excellent, Marty.  This one too but one that stirred up my biggest struggle.

 I think it is an excellent description of the feelings.  I was in the couldn’t really fathom this was forever mindset until almost 4 years had passed.  Now going into my 5th, I live in that zone day after day.  The years before I grieved deeply, but didn’t think about the future.  There was some minuscule spark somewhere that said something would change.  I didn’t know a lot of that change would be my physical health taking a landslide down and ramping up the depression of being alone. I busied myself with little projects and wasn’t in daily pain.  I could do things that got me out if myself for bits of time which I guess is mindfulness.  Now I hire out those things giving me more time to feel. 

  Like Mitch, I spent years as a caregiver and no one is here for me.  Trying to do a lot of acceptance and there IS a lot of it to do.  I don’t know if I choose it or it me, but I, too, live in the grief prison and roll with the sadness.

my quit smoking group has a place they call No Mans Land.  Quite similar as you try to redefine  your life without something that was always a part of you.  The terms seem interchangeable.  Lost in what to do when it truly, deeply, no more mental protection our partner is gone.  We thought we knew it, but we didn’t.  Now we do in a way not even as grievers knew.  (At least for me). The article said make time for this neutral zone.  I get the concept, but can’t figure out how to make what I feel every waking moment something different.  Regular time and place to be alone?  That’s my whole waking and night.  A retreat?  I’d prefer some golden moments of escape.  I find if I write or speak at length to someone about Steve I mentally crash after.  Resurrecting the pain over again.  Just writing this will cost me.  

This is a terribly cold and dark place/phase.  I know there is no timeline to it also.  I’m so tired of the nights I go to bed screaming to a god if there is one......give him back!   Over and over.  I’m way past why as I ever found an answer for that and never will beside a medical one. Now I’m just furious.  I don’t watch the news of the deliberately terrible things people choose to do to others.  We were minding our own business and became victims.  Yet, they live on.  

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Gwen, my dear, as one who's struggled with various physical problems all my life, I truly do believe that if you don't have your physical health, everything else is affected, and all bets are off. The physical challenges and pain you've had to endure alone on top of the death of your beloved Steve can make life pretty unbearable, and I totally understand that. Like everyone here, your grief journey is unique unto you, and the challenges you face every single day are different from those the rest of us must face. The lenses through which you see your present and your future are not the same as anyone else's, and I get that. I truly do. ❤️

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