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How often do you really think of your lost love?


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Annette has been gone over five months now. I miss her more than words can ever express. I'm at a point where thinking of her, remembering our life together, brings more sadness than happiness. I find it easier to try to not think of her, to get caught up in staying busy (I've been sorting through 6,000+ CD's, listing them on EBay). TV commercials or random songs will trigger memories (seeing a commercial for Humira, for example, makes me upset because her being on that for a decade led to her below knee amputation). I can smile and think of her for short periods and be okay, but to really remember her- the way she deserves- is just too hard right now.

She deserves to be remembered. Her memory needs to be celebrated. I feel like her family has already moved on. My room is a shrine to her right now- all her stuff that was important to her is represented, from her two prosthetics to her Chap Sticks. Consequently, I only really sleep in there.  It's not right. I feel like I'm the only one who even cares that she's gone. 

I'm just wondering how you balance remembering the good times with living in the now? Thanks.

James

 

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Hi James 

I’m sorry for your loss. 5 months is such a short time and I totally understand that you’re constantly thinking of your Annette. I can only say that I still think of the person I lost constantly and it was six months ago. He’s the first thing I think of when I wake, the last thing when I go to sleep and he’s in my thoughts on some level all day. Due to circumstances I don’t have a lot of his stuff but I look at his pictures an album of which I’ve got on my phone almost daily and I re read bits of our messenger chats regularly too. I’m not sure how you balance the good times with living in the now but somehow I do. I actually find work is good as I have to concentrate on it but I’ve pictures of him on my desk and he’s my screensaver etc (couldn’t have this at home so it’s actually nice) so he’s there with me too. We all grieve differently but I suspect trying not to think of her may be just delaying it. I’m definitely not as distraught, I’m more sad than distraught and now don’t cry daily. I wish you the best of luck and hope as time passes it becomes a bit easier for you 

Ann 

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Thank you Ann. I definitely understand your grieving. I also think of Annette when I get up and all through the day. I guess I think somehow I'm trying to distract myself from her memory. If I can kind of not think of her and focus on other things I can survive the day. I mean, I have her picture on my phone screensaver (and I switch them out all the time), and I have tried to think that I'm just on a long vacation and she's still at our home in Tulsa (I like with my family now, where I used to just visit every other year).

I guess my point of this thread is trying to live with a balance of living with memories and living with today, I try to (as the old Depeche Mode song says) "Get The Balance Right". I don't feel I'm doing that great, and I wish I had a better handle on it.

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26 minutes ago, Kieron said:

James, your handle on life broke off.  You're allowed to not have a handle on things right now.  (And I mean that in the nicest way possible!)

That's an excellent analogy. I was always a control freak. Honestly, I wasn't always the best at being in a equal partnership with my wife. I had to have things my way. She was very understanding, but I don't like to admit that I was so controlling. A lot of it I was doing because her health and taking care of her was so hard that other things that I could control, I did. Now I'm in a house where I feel like my geeky teen self again- I'm not in control of anything in my Mom's house. So, yeah, I'm really just barely holding my head above water.

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At 6 years, I don’t consciously think of Steve all day, but he’s there all the time.  Our house is full of both our choices of colors and furnishings.  The things that have been added since he left are minimal.  They stand out to me.   Many are from my aging and needing stuff to help.  But all in all, it’s the same house sans his energy to brighten it up.  It’s when I have down time, which is often, that he is right there in my mind.  Or NOT there.  Can’t talk, tease, discuss, share meals.....anything.  The bed is so empty and having just lost one of our dogs that slept with us it’s really empty.  I always wake up with either something I want to talk to him about or the harsh reality of another day without him.  

I thought it might get easier.  Little did I know.  I don’t cry every day and cry out for him as I did, but it doesn’t take much to bring quiet tears.  I’m often blindsided in shows or movies with touching scenes.  I never liked romance movies but even action ones have their moments.  Can’t run from it.  Gave that up.  It’s inside of me and I’ll carry it forever.  

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19 hours ago, nashreed said:

I'm just wondering how you balance remembering the good times with living in the now? Thanks.

All the time.  I think how nice it'd be if he were to enjoy this, or enjoy that.  I think about and miss him.  In over 15 years he's been on my mind and in my heart daily.  I don't feel I live in the past, but he's still part of me and always will be, our connection was so great.  It just doesn't go away.  But I'm also keenly aware that he is gone, too, when I face surgery alone, when he's not here to talk things over with, when he's gone at night and not there to cuddle up with...I think I miss that the very very most.

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16 hours ago, nashreed said:

I guess my point of this thread is trying to live with a balance of living with memories and living with today, I try to (as the old Depeche Mode song says) "Get The Balance Right". I don't feel I'm doing that great, and I wish I had a better handle on it.

In the early times of grief it's going to be weighted more on the past, you'll enter the present a little more as time goes by.  

Ann's talking about work being a good distraction reminded me of this, I found work/busyness a good distraction too. 
https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/12/finding-crying-time-in-grief.html

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It's been 1.5 years since I lost my soul mate, and I think of him whenever my mind is not otherwise occupied (as in working, socializing, reading, etc.) I truly feel like nobody else in the world is mourning him as much as I am. His family members all have each other, with whom they work through their grief. I have had some infrequent contact with them, and I always feel better after that. But it does not appear that more regular communication with them is in the cards. Some of his (male) friends were in contact with me shortly after he died, but none of them responded to my follow-up emails. Like James, I feel that my friend should be remembered and memorialized. I expect to have a paper published soon, that will be dedicated to his memory. But as more time passes, it becomes harder (at least for someone in my situation) to memorialize him outside my own head.

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23 minutes ago, razorclam said:

It's been 1.5 years since I lost my soul mate, and I think of him whenever my mind is not otherwise occupied (as in working, socializing, reading, etc.) I truly feel like nobody else in the world is mourning him as much as I am. His family members all have each other, with whom they work through their grief. I have had some infrequent contact with them, and I always feel better after that. But it does not appear that more regular communication with them is in the cards. Some of his (male) friends were in contact with me shortly after he died, but none of them responded to my follow-up emails. Like James, I feel that my friend should be remembered and memorialized. I expect to have a paper published soon, that will be dedicated to his memory. But as more time passes, it becomes harder (at least for someone in my situation) to memorialize him outside my own head.

Absolutely. It's so sad that, because of her being so self conscious about her low vision and her weight, she lost touch with so many friends. There's friends she used to have to live here (I assume they still do) that don't even know she's gone. I wouldn't have any right to pop up out of nowhere to lay that on them, not that it would make any difference. I visit her Dad every so often, and I think it really helps him, although he has an extended family (via a remarriage) and is busy with his church. It's the closest I can get to her, and I do feel peace there with him and her step-mother. It's funny how fast other so-called friends disappear after a month of mourning (well, they were just Facebook Friends, but still).

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I’ve always been curious why people get surprised when social media, like Facebook, friends disappear.  Having spent some time there years ago, it was so unreal to me.  Definitely not my definition of friendship.  Only really related to people I knew in real life and didn’t need a site when I could see, call or message them normally.  I was reminded I had an account there when Steve died as people that I didn’t know well would mail me asking why I didn’t respond to their posts.  I looked and there were many, but I wondered why if they posted there, why didn’t they just email me?  It was obvious I wasn’t an active user.  His real life friends varied in how long they stuck around.  His closest buddies are still my buddies.  It took about a year to see which direction people were going to go.  I know I could call some that have disappeared and they probably would help me if needed.  

Things change so many ways in our worlds with our loss.  Things we didn’t think about.  I’m no new widow, but things come up now and then that surprise me.  

I’m having the same with my dog I lost in July.  Just today a parking toll booth attendant asked where she was and checking on a bill for yard services it involved both dogs.  2 things in one day?  Didn’t need that.  

Grief sneak attacks are 5 letter 4 letter words in my life.  I so hate them.  

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15 hours ago, razorclam said:

But as more time passes, it becomes harder (at least for someone in my situation) to memorialize him outside my own head.

You can always do it here.  I've been here for over 15 years and have no intention of quitting coming here.  Some think I may prolong my grief by so doing...no, only expressing what we all feel and think, for this is something within us always.  I always want to be here for others going through this, it means the world to me.

Oh Gwen, I'm sorry.  I used to walk Arlie twice a day, EVERY day, snow, ice, rain, heat, always.  Several months after his death a neighbor asked where the dog I used to walk was.  Wow.  They just noticed?  It was a big pang in my heart.

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Hi This is Cinda. Lost my husband 2 months ago after a terrible war he had with multiple myeloma. I took care of him and was with him each day witnessing the disease take his body and then his mind before he died.  He and I had such a deep connection and were so much in love. Know he fought to beat the disease because of  wanting more of our life together. Imiss him so much Iache to my bones and find it difficult to find distraction. How do you begin to have better days? James I understand your experience and wish Had a way to help but Iam right there too. 

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1 hour ago, cinart said:

Hi This is Cinda. Lost my husband 2 months ago after a terrible war he had with multiple myeloma. I took care of him and was with him each day witnessing the disease take his body and then his mind before he died.  He and I had such a deep connection and were so much in love. Know he fought to beat the disease because of  wanting more of our life together. Imiss him so much Iache to my bones and find it difficult to find distraction. How do you begin to have better days? James I understand your experience and wish Had a way to help but Iam right there too. 

We're all helping each other right now. Just your reading and responding to a post I write helps tremendously. Maybe I will gain some deep wisdom somewhere along this grief journey, but right now I can't do much but say I'm sorry, and I know your husband is in a better place. People that suffer so much here on Earth, I believe, are rewarded in Heaven. Their pain is over and they are happy. I'm happy when Annette is happy, so maybe I haven't been so low because of that. I miss everything about her, but we always said "I'm ok if you're ok". I don't know how old your husband was, Annette was 49, but any death is too young if that love you have is still so strong. I miss her connection so much. I look for signs that she's still with me but don't feel her. That's the hard part- the loneliness. Lately, I have a better day after checking in to see how the good folks here are doing. 

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Welcome, Cinda.  That ache in your bones is very real.  While everyone experiences the loss of a spouse in their own way, it's pretty certain your body will let you know the depths of your grief through aches, pains, heaviness, fatigue, etc.  I used to have the worst pain in my shoulders, forearms and hands, so much that I wondered if I should see the doctor, until a massage therapist told me we carry grief in our arms.  That made sense to me.

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3 hours ago, kayc said:

You can always do it here.  I've been here for over 15 years and have no intention of quitting coming here.  Some think I may prolong my grief by so doing...no, only expressing what we all feel and think, for this is something within us always.  I always want to be here for others going through this, it means the world to me.

Thank you. I usually feel better after I have checked in here, despite all the sadness.

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thank you all for responding to my letter. The support you all have given me has helped my day go a little better. Struggle with not only his death and my loneliness without him but also from the trauma that I experienced watching him be in so much pain as he became more and more the cancer and less himself. I could not  comfort  well enough and take any of the pain away. So helpless. he was 64 and before he became sick our relationship was the central piece my world was organized around. I left my job to take care of him and did not return after he died because I am not able to do that work right now.  nights are especially hard. It will soon be 3 months and it feels harder then when it first happened> Have any of you found that to be true as well?

 

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1 minute ago, cinart said:

thank you all for responding to my letter. The support you all have given me has helped my day go a little better. Struggle with not only his death and my loneliness without him but also from the trauma that I experienced watching him be in so much pain as he became more and more the cancer and less himself. I could not  comfort  well enough and take any of the pain away. So helpless. he was 64 and before he became sick our relationship was the central piece my world was organized around. I left my job to take care of him and did not return after he died because I am not able to do that work right now.  nights are especially hard. It will soon be 3 months and it feels harder then when it first happened> Have any of you found that to be true as well?

 

Certainly. It actually was way easier to deal with in the first couple of months, because I was not only having to pack up and drive halfway across the country within a month and a half of losing her, but I originally was ...not happy, but relived that she was no longer in constant pain. She had been in the hospital for two weeks where I couldn't see her at all, and then they wanted to get her into a rehab facility- which she hated. It would have been at least another two weeks of not being able to see each other. She just didn't want to deal with it. The last time I took her to the doctor, she was so weak and in so much pain, it took a half hour just to go up an 8 foot ramp (from the car to the side door) She had so many health problems- there was always something new to contend with. She would just lay her head (siting in her wheelchair) on the bathroom doorjam and just cry that she couldn't do it anymore. She really got a raw deal, and I know your husband did to. It really makes me wonder how truly evil people in the world thrive and are healthy while beautiful fragile souls get taken away. 

I was her caregiver and worked because she couldn't work anymore, especially with COVID in the picture. Now, it hits me in month five that my life is so empty and without purpose without her. With everything going on, and my mental issues, I can't see myself working, but at the same time feeling like a bum for not working. I am lucky I have my family to live with, but living with my 84 year old Mom is not the same as living with my beautiful wife at all. I love my Mom, but we're not the same in a lot of ways. There's only so many "NCIS" reruns I can stand, and I hit my limit 3 months ago. 

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25 minutes ago, cinart said:

will soon be 3 months and it feels harder then when it first happened> Have any of you found that to be true as well?

Hi Cinda. 
In so sorry for your loss.
I found the three months mark  dreadful. I thought I was kinda getting a bit better, I’d not cry everyday, could have conversations about him without breaking down etc but at three months it was like I was side swiped. I felt worse than when I first lost him. Added to which it all felt a bit hopeless. For me too 3 months coincided with the first lifting of our lockdown restrictions and suddenly I could go back out walking but he wasn’t there (that was our  thing, how we met and spent time together). I felt like there was no point to it or indeed life, I’d have been as happy to have stayed in lockdown but I knew he’d be furious with me for feeling like that too. I read up on it and (though not in my case as his immediate family did all the arrangements) the first few months can be  busy busy sorting stuff but at this stage a lot of the initial tasks are done and suddenly you are left realizing that this is it. 
I wrote to him around this time,I sobbed as I wrote it(alcohol induced not good I know) but that letter, which I’ve since added to has actually brought me much comfort. This might be a help to you. Be gentle on yourself 

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Hi Cinda

I am very sorry to hear about your loss. It will be 6 months for me and little by very little the hurt starts to go away but can return for an instant. It’s not gone by no means I mean the intense heart wrenching pain. The sadness is still there and the loneliness. This group is amazing. Helped me through some very dark times. I will love and miss my husband forever. And Nash, just by you honoring Annettes memory is a beautiful tribute to the time you shared with her. Forget the other people. 

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11 hours ago, cinart said:

nights are especially hard. It will soon be 3 months and it feels harder then when it first happened> Have any of you found that to be true as well?

Oh yes.  I’m at almost 6 years and still struggle with it as time keeps bringing new things into this journey alone.  Instead if bring a violent storm now, it’s living in a steady dismal place that gets very little light.  My whole life has changed but the foundation is still shaken without him.  Your journey I’ll take its own path and maybe you will find more contentment.  I hope you do.  All each of us can do is lean on each other and hope the help they or us need is there.  I’ve found so much of that here.  I think that 3 months is when it starts to become real.  That our mind ps try and protect us from that but can’t anymore.  

  1. 11 hours ago, AnnJ said:

    I wrote to him around this time,I sobbed as I wrote it(alcohol induced not good I know) but that letter, which I’ve since added to has actually brought me much comfort. This might be a help to you. Be gentle on yourself 

    Excellent advice, hard to do.  I had my calming times with wine and talking to Steve.  It helped me relax a little and drop some of the social inhibitions I had to wear during the day.  I’m not saying anyone should get drunk, sometimes it just helps to feel a little weight of my shoulders for a little bit.  Sometimes I can’t cry and I need to.  I find that extremely frustrating.  Or it will hit me in public or on a business call.  There’s nothing easy or predictable about any of this.

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@cinart  I am so sorry for your loss.  It's something I wish would never happen to anyone.  Welcome here, this place literally saved me when I lost my George over 15 years ago.  Marty has been a wonderful resource, I consider her a friend and mentor, I have learned so much from her and others here over the years!  It helps to read and know there are others here that get it and understand.  It also helps to post and know you are heard, it's good to express ourselves and not hold it in.

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.

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 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • 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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