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Banish the bad thoughts

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I lost my beloved wife of 50 years to a vicious cancer. That was 4 months ago. For 3 months I was wretched mess. Crying, not eating, weak, shaking. Dreaming. I lost the love of my life to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. I honored my vows I never cheated on her.

On the 4th month I regained my senses. She is gone. When I go, would like to think I'll be with her I do believe in an almighty spirit, perhaps it will come to pass

I also am finally able to look at her pictures, and a flood of memories hits me. Mostly good by far. But for some reason the long forgotten bad one is dominating me. Her affair back in 1978. He left her cold. Went back to his country. Used her like a whore. Sex and party time. I told her that would happen. She never apologized. But I loved her and forgave her, in spite of the ugly pictures I had in my mind.

She never really let me forget it. Kind of gaslighting me all these many years. Dropping subtle hints "I've been in love" and such. But I ignored them. I loved her. When one deeply loves a woman, he forgives her indiscetions, doesnt he?

My question is, why is that coming back to me now? Even the ugly pictures. How can I banish it?  I wish I could just punch up delete and only retain only the wonderful memories.

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When someone you've known and loved for half a century dies, I think it's only natural that you would review the life you lived together ~ and because you are normal, imperfect human beings, there are both good and bad times that you are bound to remember. If you find yourself so troubled by the bad memories to the point that you cannot move forward in your grief, however, then you might want to explore some ways that you can manage them. And if you cannot manage to do this by yourself, a few sessions with a qualified grief counselor who can guide you may be very helpful.

See, for example,

How to forget unwanted memories

The Gift of Forgetting the Bad Memories

Bad Memories? 8 Ways to Detox Yourself

In Grief: Using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

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7 hours ago, Joe ray said:

I lost my beloved wife of 50 years to a vicious cancer. That was 4 months ago. 

Her affair back in 1978.

She never really let me forget it. Kind of gaslighting me all these many years.

When one deeply loves a woman, he forgives her indiscetions, doesnt he?

My question is, why is that coming back to me now? Even the ugly pictures. How can I banish it?  I wish I could just punch up delete and only retain only the wonderful memories.

First, I am so sorry for your loss.  We all here know the depth of losing the person we love more than anyone in the world.  Cancer is viscious, it took my husband and it wasn’t peaceful.

Yes, we do forgive those we love of things we might not others.  Usually it’s because the two have talked it out and had to restablish trust and the pain it cost the other.  I’m certainly not going to question your love for her even if she never apologized.  I do the math and this affair was 42 years ago.  I don’t understand how your relationship maintained itself, but it did.  I don’t know how you handled the constant reminders.  You say she she was in love once.  I’m just trying to figure out how you can free your mind of that to process the grief death itself brings.  

I agree with Marty that we do go over the whole course of the relationship. All of us had rough patches to work thru.  For me, they rarely came to mind as we worked them out and buried them.  They were dead and gone, forever. So many years carrying that I don’t know how that would be.  I have a grief counselor to help me process the barrage of emotions, even being 5 years in.  Have you considered that or have someone you trust to air your pain about it to hopefully take its power over you away?   It’s hard enough remembering the good times lost and there will be no more.  

That may be your delete key.  Power.  I’ve learned we often feed thoughts unconsciously.  Self talk can be very powerful and drag us down.  Tell us terrible things about ourselves and make us believe them.  It takes a strong will and help from our good memories to remind us we were once the most important person on earth to someone which is the greatest feeling.  

I truly hope you find a way to experience your grief without baggage you can hopefully rid yourself of.  I wish I had the answers you seek.  But I haven’t had answers to mine beyond nature gone awry.  The good memories bring pain too, but sometimes solace.  I hope you find that.

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I am so sorry for your loss, Joe, she was fortunate to have such a loving forgiving husband all those years.  (EXCELLENT articles @MartyT!)  
Along with Gwen, I also hope your good memories can bring you comfort eventually, sometimes it takes a while before we can get there as we are missing them so much, it feels painful!

 I am glad you found your way here, a burden shared is often cut for having shared it!  I do find it helps to express ourselves.  Here, Journaling, etc.
You had YEARS you spent together, but only a short time during the "bad time" and I truly hope you're able to not let that period color the rest.

I wrote this article with new grievers in mind as I did not have a clue where to start when I unexpectedly lost my husband 15 years ago.  This place and Marty especially, saved my life.  I will always remember WaltC and Evelyn (ustwo) who were my fellow sojourners back then.  Having a place to go where people "get it" really helps.  My hope is that you will find something helpful in this article today and perhaps something else later on in your journey as this is a journey that is not stagnant, but ever evolving...it does not stay the same or in the same intensity of pain.  While grief does not end, we do learn to carry it and it does lessen in pain from day one of shock to years later learning to do our time and even find something good along the way, even though not comparable to our time with them.


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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