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Hello,

So, I have been widowed for five and a half months. It's been hard to keep occupied and feel like doing or caring about anything. The one thing that I love is music, and I collect CD's (I know it's cool to collect vinyl now, but I honestly can't understand how anybody can afford that hobby). I have been collecting CD's since before I met my wife, so it's been a passion and a distraction for 35 years (CD's were expensive and the cool music medium that long ago).

Through our marriage, Annette was always very tolerant of my obsession, and even though I really shouldn't have spent the money (we were pretty poor), she let me have my fun and buy some cheap ones now and again. When I was working in CD stores, the deals were more plentiful and I justified my spending because I could get bargains. As I became a manager, I could get free promotional CD's, so that was great. So, the collection really started to get out of hand (there is definitely hoarding tendencies in the family-big time). She never really complained. She was a saint. She never was into possessions (too many moves early in life), but understood me. My collection often saved our bacon because I knew some CD's that would be valuable and could be sold for a lot later on, so being a collector was advantageous.

As her health got worse, I would spend money on CD's (money I really should have saved for her needs) as a reward, or to cope with the stress. I feel such guilt that I was really going crazy with spending (in amounts that she didn't notice, but I shouldn't have). I feel like if I would have saved all that money I could have spent it on something that could have saved or prolonged her life.

So now here I am, without her -but with all these thousands of CD's. I am slowly selling rare ones on Ebay, and I need the music to play to keep me sane. They give me purpose and something to focus on. Through our whole marriage they kind of defined me and she told her sister that being a crazy collector was one of the things that she loved about me (Lord knows why).

How have your hobbies changed and evolved (or devolved) with the passing of your loved one?

James

 

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I lost interest for a while but then enjoyed it for years, but the last few years, no, partly because of the pain I have.  I can't blame it on lack of time as I used to do it after working fulltime and commuting a long ways, you fit in what you love.  I used to belong to a stamping group but that ended a few years ago, maybe that's when my interest began to wane, IDK.  I've done stamping for about 35 years now, I have all of the tools/supplies, just need the interest back.

I think our hobbies reflect where we're at in life, our interest, our zest.  If George were here I would probably still be stamping.  I miss it but no drive for it, you know?  I'd like for it to come back, this year though, everything I do hurts (hands).  George used to love watching me.

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6 hours ago, kayc said:

I lost interest for a while but then enjoyed it for years, but the last few years, no, partly because of the pain I have.  I can't blame it on lack of time as I used to do it after working fulltime and commuting a long ways, you fit in what you love.  I used to belong to a stamping group but that ended a few years ago, maybe that's when my interest began to wane, IDK.  I've done stamping for about 35 years now, I have all of the tools/supplies, just need the interest back.

I think our hobbies reflect where we're at in life, our interest, our zest.  If George were here I would probably still be stamping.  I miss it but no drive for it, you know?  I'd like for it to come back, this year though, everything I do hurts (hands).  George used to love watching me.

When you say "stamping", do you mean collecting postage stamps or is it a craft involving ink and a design on a block onto paper or something? I remember as a kid collecting stamps, which was really just buying a book with pictures of where the "rare" stamps would go, and then buying bags of a hundred random cancelled stamps and seeing what was there. 

I'm sorry you have a tough time keeping occupied. My hobby is more the listening and then the selling occupies my time. I don't get a whole lot of money from it, unless it's something really in some demand, but with vinyl being the "in" thing it's hard to make a profit in CD's.

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I make cards, I have made works of art and sold them in our local gallery, which has since closed.  My hands hurt day and night, severely, and it's hard to survive, let alone do things I don't have to.  But I'm speaking partially of the lack of interest in something I previously enjoyed...I've done this for 35 years.  When George was alive, I felt differently.

On 10/30/2020 at 11:54 AM, nashreed said:

I'm sorry you have a tough time keeping occupied.

Quite the contrary, I keep going and am involved in a lot, I do not have a hard time keeping occupied!  

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One of my main hobbies is watercolor painting.  I haven't painted all year, nor do I have the desire to.  At the beginning of the year I was taking pictures of the area to get ideas, and then my mom became sick and started exhibiting the symptoms of the cancer that would eventually end her life.   So all my time and effort had to be concentrated on taking her to her doctor appointments and caregiving until she died this past summer.  Also, even if I was still painting because of COVID all local art shows have either been cancelled or made virtual.  I'm sorry virtual art shows are just not the same.

Maybe next year I will start to find the desire to paint again.  Since my mom's passing I have been traveling around my home state exploring the state and local parks and taking plenty of pictures so I have a lot of subject matter I can refer to.

 

Jeff

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It's hard to deal with the fact that I was caught up in "hobbies" when I should have been there more for Annette. 

For example, in 2014 she had an ankle replacement surgery that went bad because of an idiot surgeon (and the fact that she had been on Humira for years). It got infected and she ultimately had to have a below knee amputation. It was so hard to deal with it and take care of her and so I turned to a hobby of buying really expensive old laserdiscs (the first ones that were on the market in 1978). Some of them were produced in quantities that were so small, they're virtually impossible to find- a few aren't even verified to really exist... Anyway, I couldn't really afford to get back into them again, but I needed the distraction. I still feel bad about it all. I took care of her, but could have given her so much more if I hadn't been selfish. It's hard to wrangle my head around layers of guilt. I have nobody to talk to about this, so thanks for the forum to indulge and try to process all this.

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2 hours ago, nashreed said:

I took care of her, but could have given her so much more if I hadn't been selfish. It's hard to wrangle my head around layers of guilt. I have nobody to talk to about this, so thanks for the forum to indulge and try to process all this.

I would substitute the word "human" for "selfish" my friend. What matters is that you took care of your beloved as best you could at the time. Needing a distraction from caregiving is healthy and necessary. No one ~ and I mean no one ~ can be totally attentive to another person 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without taking time out and time off to rest and to re-charge one's own batteries. There is nothing selfish about practicing good self-care, and neglecting yourself to the point of exhaustion leaves nothing for you to give to anyone else, most especially to the one who needed you the most.  ♥️

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I have been fortunate that I have my music as a distraction these six months- it's truly the only thing I have to look forward to. But, alas, I'm in serious hoarder territory. I've been selling a lot, but I'm still buying a lot. This is my Mom's living room. How do I brake the hoarding during brief cycle? 

IMG_20201116_112354_3.jpg

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I hope you'll get some counseling, buys beyond one's means/needs is a psychological issue and I'd seriously recommend it before you have other things compounding it, like not being able to pay the bills or get around...Doesn't look to that extent but could lead the way to it.  It stands to reason when your emotional fulfillment has been taken away from you.  Investing one's time in others could be more fulfilling but kind of hard in COVID times!

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Well, let's just say I got six more in the mail yesterday. I just don't know if I can do counseling, because I just don't care anymore. I have to exist and eat, but beyond that music is all I have. I'm just really starting to drift away from her family even. Maybe I'm in the "I don't want to get close because they'll die eventually phase". I was going to text her sister, but I came her instead. I hope it's ok to say: we're all half dead here, and I can be myself without faking doing better.

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20 hours ago, nashreed said:

How do I brake the hoarding during brief cycle? 

 

You've asked an important question here, James, and it indicates your awareness that this collecting and purchasing of CDs is related to your grief at the death of your beloved Annette and may be getting out of control. I agree with Kay that you would be wise to consider a few sessions with a qualified grief counselor ~ someone who understands grief hoarding as a reaction to loss, and who can guide you toward healthier (and less costly) ways to cope. I understand that you "just don't care anymore" ~ but that is precisely when grief counseling can help the most. It can change your life for the better, and I hope you will consider it as a gift you can give yourself. You're worth it, and you deserve it, my friend. ❤️

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Thank you. (That was supposed to read grief cycle. I know you figured it out, it just bugs me that I didn't catch it)

I know that the hoarding is bad, but I've always been a collector. I had a huge CD collection when things were good with Annette's health too. (I'm not discounting that I'm buying to fill the loss of Annette, I'm just explaining that I've always had a problem)

It can be a good thing to be a seller/collector. My father-in-law is moving and so I ended up being given all his and his extended family's unwanted DVD's and CD's (because it seems nobody owns physical media anymore, unless you're into hipster vinyl). They're a mess- full of fingerprints and dirty, but it gives me a purpose and a "job" to go through them and see if there's anything worth putting on Ebay. It feels like when I worked at a store that sold used CD's and DVD's 10 years ago. I literally walked out of that job 10 years ago, at Christmastime, because I was having panic attacks (It was the beginning of Annette starting to have worsening health problems).

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You recognize hoarding tendencies within yourself but I hope you can appreciate that it takes a qualified professional to work through the underlying root causes and help you deal with them in an effective healthier way for you and your life.  An event such as losing her can really set off going over the edge with it in such a way it can affect your paying your bills, living in a healthy environment.  After making purchases you don't need, do you feel a temporary high, followed by being upset with yourself for your lack of control?  You don't need to answer, just for you to think about.  I had a sister that shoplifted when she was young, it was the same, she could have bought any of those items, it was like an addiction to the high she got from it, followed by being upset with herself.  She didn't break it until she was arrested, that was her wake up call, but we don't have to wait for an extreme event to wake us up and doing something healthy for ourselves.  Your decision, something to think about.

And I do hope you're getting help for the anxiety.  Many of us learn tricks to help ourselves through the anxiety, I've had it all my life.  I know the scriptures on it and quote them to myself, it helps.

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3 hours ago, kayc said:

You recognize hoarding tendencies within yourself but I hope you can appreciate that it takes a qualified professional to work through the underlying root causes and help you deal with them in an effective healthier way for you and your life.  An event such as losing her can really set off going over the edge with it in such a way it can affect your paying your bills, living in a healthy environment.  After making purchases you don't need, do you feel a temporary high, followed by being upset with yourself for your lack of control?  You don't need to answer, just for you to think about.  I had a sister that shoplifted when she was young, it was the same, she could have bought any of those items, it was like an addiction to the high she got from it, followed by being upset with herself.  She didn't break it until she was arrested, that was her wake up call, but we don't have to wait for an extreme event to wake us up and doing something healthy for ourselves.  Your decision, something to think about.

And I do hope you're getting help for the anxiety.  Many of us learn tricks to help ourselves through the anxiety, I've had it all my life.  I know the scriptures on it and quote them to myself, it helps.

Well, I actually was one of those kids that stole candy from a local grocery store until I was caught. (I couldn't pay for it is the only difference) I used to steal quarters from my Mom to play video games too. I was a rotten, socially awkward, withdrawn thief. So, I've always had self destructive behaviors. Annette made me a better person. I'm not going to go stealing again, but I'm becoming my old self in other ways.

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38 minutes ago, nashreed said:

I've always had self destructive behaviors. Annette made me a better person. I'm not going to go stealing again, but I'm becoming my old self in other ways.

I'm not sure that Annette made you a better person. I would wager that you became a better person because you wanted to be that person in Annette's eyes. She saw the good in you, and she brought out the best in you. The good in you is still there. Being a better person was a choice that you made for Annette ~ and it's still a choice that you can make. What would happen if you chose to remember your beloved Annette by continuing to be the person she believed you to be? If you chose to continue to be your best self, and to live a good life now, in her honor?

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19 hours ago, MartyT said:

Being a better person was a choice that you made for Annette ~ and it's still a choice that you can make.

This!  Make her proud!!!  I like to think my George is very proud of me, how I've handled my struggles & challenges, that is is here with me as I go through hardships & is rooting me on.  Who knows?  No one can prove otherwise!  At any rate, whether he knows now or later when I join him, he'll realize it, always I know his support is with me.

Just realized....didn't mean to compare shoplifting to hoarding but do see some similarities in that they're both self-destructive behaviors not in our best interest.  If I've learned anything the last 15 1/2 years since losing George, it's that we have to value ourselves in how we are and our confidence follows suit.  In other words, I don't need someone to validate me, I KNOW who I am!  I think I'm the healthiest version of myself I've ever been but oh man, it's been a lot of hard lessons along the way!

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I do want to make Annette proud so badly, but I just don't know that I have it in me to even try. I have no support system to speak of, other than you fine folk.

I do try to think of how Annette would handle my loss. Of course, with all her health problems and being legally blind, she was dependent on me. But, if she was healthy and had her eyesight, she would be more than happy living alone, needing only books and a dog. She would be able to thrive without a man in her life. I've gotten past the idea of ever having another relationship, but that still leaves major loss of her, which just makes my living seem meaningless. I certainly feel like I died when she did. 

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I think this place is the only real support system most of us have, of people who "get it."  My sisters care but never had a clue what it was like to live alone and be w/o their spouse...Peggy is just beginning to get it but she hasn't gone through anything big alone since the death of her husband.  I hope and pray that day holds off a long time for her...

It is a long journey full of rich lessons, at least it has been for me.  I've learned more in the last 15 1/2 years than in the rest of my life put together...about myself.  I depend on God more and more as things feel beyond my control, which is of course what He wants.  And He comes through.  I've learned that I am complete and whole in and of itself, just me, w/o someone else to validate me or "fulfill me."  Things I should have learned before marriage but didn't.  I feel I'm finally complete and able to bring something to the table but as I'm alone, it enriches me alone!  My reasons for preferring being in a relationship over being solo are different now, it's not out of neediness, but wanting to share in life, and that I can do w/o being in a "relationship" per sae, with my friends and loved ones.  I hope that makes some sense.  Sometimes I have a hard time explaining things I've learned to people.  ;)

 

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1 hour ago, kayc said:

I think this place is the only real support system most of us have, of people who "get it."  My sisters care but never had a clue what it was like to live alone and be w/o their spouse...Peggy is just beginning to get it but she hasn't gone through anything big alone since the death of her husband.  I hope and pray that day holds off a long time for her...

It is a long journey full of rich lessons, at least it has been for me.  I've learned more in the last 15 1/2 years than in the rest of my life put together...about myself.  I depend on God more and more as things feel beyond my control, which is of course what He wants.  And He comes through.  I've learned that I am complete and whole in and of itself, just me, w/o someone else to validate me or "fulfill me."  Things I should have learned before marriage but didn't.  I feel I'm finally complete and able to bring something to the table but as I'm alone, it enriches me alone!  My reasons for preferring being in a relationship over being solo are different now, it's not out of neediness, but wanting to share in life, and that I can do w/o being in a "relationship" per sae, with my friends and loved ones.  I hope that makes some sense.  Sometimes I have a hard time explaining things I've learned to people.  ;)

 

Yes, this forum is a blessing. The few people I have in my life are "over it", and they can't understand how empty and alone I am. Even her sister, who misses her terribly, misses her more as the person that she could call to talk about her problems to and Annette would always "talk her down". All her life, Annette never wanted to make a fuss or rock the boat. It seemed like nobody wanted to be her friend and hear HER talk, it was always about the other person because Annette was a caring listener who could really help people. I feel like I was the only person who cared about her, her feelings and wanted her to talk to me about herself. I couldn't ever get enough. 

I believe that God has a plan and things happen for a reason- always have. I have had a very hard time with God letting Annette have such a hard, unfair life and so many health problems. I believe that God was merciful and ended her suffering, but it's still so hard that He let me be alone without her. I feel like I must deserve this. I'm a lapsed Catholic who then went to a Christian church about ten years ago, until I saw what hypocrites they were, and I just can't even believe what these people are accepting as their "leader" these days. God is in control, but it's so sad that He left you alone for over 15 years now. It's very hard to accept. Someday I'll get there.

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19 hours ago, nashreed said:

I couldn't ever get enough. 

Reminds me of how my George felt about me...I once saw him gazing at me, smitten, and when I gave him a questioning look, he said (dreamily), "I could just listen to your voice forever..."  People were struck by how in awe of me he was.  We adored each other and it was very mutual!
 

God has not left me alone, He is very much with me throughout everything.  It is I who forget that and need to remind myself of that!

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I was thinking today about how amazing it was that two oddballs like me and Annette found each other. I should cherish that I found my soulmate. So many don't.

One thing that I'm afraid I did was take her for granted. We told each other we wouldn't, but I feel like I didn't appreciate her enough when she was alive- always distracted, looking at my stupid phone, etc. 

Thank you, Kay. Somewhere through all your 24,000 posts is the key to getting through my life without her. They should be compiled into a book! 

I know we'll be together again. I just have to have patience. 

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I'm here for people going through this, this is my life's passion and purpose.  If I was younger I'd go back to college and become a grief counselor, but I'm not and can't do the long commute with my night blindness plus fear I don't have the brains I did when I was younger. ;)  But I've learned a tremendous amount from Marty over the years and from all of you who pour out your feelings here, that combined with my many losses have taught me...

On 11/21/2020 at 9:49 AM, nashreed said:

One thing that I'm afraid I did was take her for granted. We told each other we wouldn't, but I feel like I didn't appreciate her enough when she was alive

This is common, we're human, we can't know what we don't know until we do know it!  I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined I'd lose George so young....I appreciate him MORE as time goes by and I don't have him here with me, not less, that's for sure!

As Karen said elsewhere, "He's on the longest hunting trip ever."  That's how we get by, I've also imagine George is on the longest trip of his lifetime...one in which I don't have a set date as to when he'll be back.  When the day comes God calls me home, then I will be with him again!  And all of this will be a moot point, all will be well.

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That's a good way to look at it. I did try to think that Annette was in a rehab or in the hospital, but I could only keep it up for a couple of months. Me, living here now in my hometown instead of Tulsa, without Annette, is the long vacation that I can't leave. I still imagine she's in Tulsa, somewhere without me. I used to so long forward to two weeks here every couple of years. Now, I dread being here, and I'm sick of my little town with the crazy homeless people and shuttered businesses. 

I miss and love Annette now more than ever. I can't wait to be with her again. I worry a little that she might meet Sean Connery in Heaven though, before I get there :) (We both had celebrity crushes that we could forgive if the opportunity presented itself)

 

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