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Am I alone in my specific situation of grieving?

My late husband and I meet 25 yrs ago and we were a perfect match. We had an amazing dating life, became best friends then he proposed. I was unaware, but 1.5 years before he proposed something affected him and he began to change. He didn’t tell me but once we married and were living together I could see something wasn’t right and he wasn’t being himself with me. He would withdraw and disengage to the point I didn’t feel honoured as a wife. At the 4 year mark his Dr. determined he was depressed and prescribed meds. Within weeks I saw dramatic improvements, my wonderful man was back. But he said the meds made him feel artificial and said he didn’t like how his happiness felt fake, so he stopped. He dealt with unmedicated depression for 12 yrs and our marriage took a drastic hit. It was empty and felt like an emotional divorce. I was dealing with the living loss of my marriage, I was living married, but the marriage was lost. During this time he became a hoarder, which added to the complexity our situation. After 12 yrs he did go back on meds and was still on them 3 yrs later. Then we began couples therapy to heal our connection and rebuild our relationship. We were 6 sessions in when he suddenly & unexpectedly died due to unforeseen health issues.

I’m now dealing with grief of his physical loss, as well as my feelings of betrayal for the years he was not engaged in our marriage, and there are many issues that go unresolved. I have feelings of compassion for him, but at the same time I feel the sting of betrayal. I know it wasn’t intentional but the resulting pain I feel is the same. I think when most people lose a spouse they grieve the loss of their best friend, the one who was always there for them, the one they planned a future with. I lost my best friend during our marriage, he was unable to be there for me and we no longer planned our future as most days he was just trying get through the day and couldn’t see beyond that.

I’m wondering, how do you grieve when your marriage was less than harmonious?

Boho-Soul

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My dear, you've described very well how and why you've come to feel as you do, and my heart reaches out to you in your pain. You need and deserve a way to finish the business that was left unfinished between the two of you when your husband died. You might consider a few sessions with a qualified grief counselor who can help you sort through and come to terms with your grief ~ to find a way to mourn what you did not have in your marriage.

In the meantime, I want to recommend a book to you that I think you may find helpful. Before you decide to read it, look for it here on Amazon, and be sure to click on the "Look Inside" feature. See especially the section entitled WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FORGIVE? on pages 2-6: How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To ❤️

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 I’m so sorry you lived so many years with someone who could have been that best friend and dearest companion.  That you stayed shows you must have harbored hope it could be reclaimed.  To lose him when he was actively trying is so sad.  I hope you can express all your feeling here and know people will listen and since no ones marriage was perfection, some understanding of the very rough spots.  We can all relate to losing our spouse.  Dreams dashed.  Futures lost.  As is always said, we’re sorry you are here for the admission price, but for support, this can be priceless.

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I am so sorry.  I know you aren't the first one to go through this and that you are not alone in what you are feeling.  I hope you will see a grief counselor to help you with this complicated grief.  In addition, I want to share with you some of the things I've found helpful over the years, even though our situations differ.

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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I was married to an alcoholic. 

I loved the man I married, but he started disappearing long before he died.

I posted on a forum for alcoholics about my frustration that my husband never seriously tried to quit drinking. One of the other members responded, "he couldn't."  He or she was right - at some  point, there isn't free agency any more. It's a compulsion that is beyond control. I think it was that point where something like forgiveness started to develop in me. 

  The same guy who lost three jobs in six years was also the man who cried when he had to bury my cat and rewired two houses - alone. I made plenty of mistakes, too. He's gone. I can believe whatever I want. I choose to believe that however imperfect our relationship, my husband loved me the best he could.

 

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13 hours ago, ipswitch said:

I choose to believe that however imperfect our relationship, my husband loved me the best he could.

I love that.  People aren't perfect, but that doesn't mean they don't love us.

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Thanks Ipswich & Kaye for both your responses.

kayc, just to respond to your post on tips for grief:

- I am seeing my Dr. for exhaustion & migraines, I see a grief therapist monthly via Zoom calls, and self-care has always been a priority in my life, but I’ve ramped it up now more than ever.

- I do have a cat which keeps me company and I chat with friends on the phone. I’d like to see them more but this Covid fiasco limits that given the area I’m in, so socializing, volunteering etc. isn’t an option right now and I’m home a lot.

- I recently started back to work which gets me out of the house. Out team has a lot of PPE to wear as we provide therapy for kids in schools. Everyone, our team & teachers, are in survival mode as Covid cases increase, thankfully there haven’t been any outbreaks in the schools I have on my caseload.

- I feel Covid has changed the way one grieves, the limitations of not seeing friends & family even just for hugs if nothing else ‘sucks’ to put it bluntly. I feel touch starved. I see my daughter & grandson once a week, then I ache to see them for 6 days til I can see and hug them again.

Ipswich, I love your last sentence. I always believed my late husband loved me even though he was unable to show it. Lately my emotions have shifted from feelings of anger and frustration to compassion as I process how much he was struggling with his depression. I too believe he loved me as much as he could.

Blessings from Boho-Soul

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Even though my brain had a hard time focusing on my work, I'm glad I had that distraction and support around me when I went through it.  Praying for you to get through this.    I well know it's hard!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I meet my late husband on this day 26 years ago, our first date was 2 days later on my birthday. *Ugh* His birthday would have been next month.
My solar plexus has been hurting every night for the past 2 weeks, not sure if it’s related or not. Not happy about either situation.

 

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It's likely connected.  We feel grief in our physical body, because emotions have to go somewhere.  If they have no outlet, it's possible they lodge in the body until we are able to process them and release them.  I remember both my arms aching endlessly for months afterward.  A deep-tissue massage therapist told me that we hold grief in our arms, which makes a lot of sense.

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You could run a search engine for the term "solar plexus" and "metaphysical" or "meaning" or something similar, and see what you find.  Take what resonates, leave the rest. 🙂

As for stuck emotions, there is a system called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) out there that you can learn about.  There are some studies and findings with empirical evidence that it can work, including on combat veterans with PTSD, but it depends on your outlook.  I never really got into it but I know someone who swears by it.

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On 5/17/2021 at 6:38 PM, Boho-Soul said:

My solar plexus has been hurting every night for the past 2 weeks, not sure if it’s related or not. Not happy about either situation.

Always good to run this by your doc too.  Wouldn’t want to miss something else.  Most likely grief, anticipation and stress.  It does have to have an outlet.  I know my body is very sensitive since this happened.  Have more headaches, muscle aches, etc. from being tense or whatever bad emotion decides to land in me that day.  I have actual maladies, but some that I know are emotionally driven.  They are just as painful.  I carry the emotional weight in my chest too.  Sometimes the muscles, sometimes my stomach.  I have felt what Kieron said about my arms too, felt very weak for no reason except bring upset.  Grief is so powerful.  Much more than people know.  My doc will often remind me when i swear it’s physically related but proven not.

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Kieron, I did a quick search, apparently the emotion of worry is associated with the solar plexus. It makes sense for me, I’ve felt worried about different aspects of my future since my late husband died, then add the pandemic on top of that. It’s hard to feel settled.

I’ve used EMDR for past traumas, it was the vibrating hand paddles that I tried, helped to process unwanted or reoccurring memories. It was very effective. Don’t think it’s a modality that fits my current scenario though. I’ve researched EFT for a friend a few years back, doesn’t seem like it’s something I could buy into. Thx for your support and the links kayc.

And thx for you concern Gwenivere, your input is helpful and if the discomfort continues I won’t hesitate to call my doctor.

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When I looked it up, it said this:
 

Opening the Solar Plexus Chakra
  1. Burn Manipura incense and essential oils. Aromatherapy has the power to awaken our sense of personal power. ...
  2. Repeat positive affirmations about personal power. ...
  3. Practice postures that balance the solar plexus chakra. ...
  4. Heal from the past.

Easier said than done.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update:

Well the pain in my solar plexus continued to the point of getting sick, so on the 2 day of this I got an appointment at Primary Health Network. The doc couldn’t definitively determine what it was, but did a bunch of test to make sure it wasn’t H-pylori or another nasty bug. Also got a Covid test. Everything came back negative which was good news, and the pain is now gone.

Since then I remembered something a friend told me about 3 years ago called Emotion Code which helps release trapped emotions and I’ve had one session already and apparently released 6 emotions, 2 were sadness & fear. I think I’ll book a 2nd as I did feel calmer after the first one, so that’s promising.

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On 4/21/2021 at 7:03 PM, ipswitch said:

however imperfect our relationship, my husband loved me the best he could.

Some days I sit around and think about all the mean things Billy said to me.  But, when I do this, I have to include some things that I said to him that had to cut him to the core..  I blamed him for me having cancer.  This was an ugly thing to do when he was with me every minute of the way, took annual leave time off work just to stay with me in Houston, just to be with me, and I cut him in the worse way.  

The thing was, it was like he said one time, "I love you, but right now I don't like you."  When I was my lowest, he was there to lift me up.  I guess after any number of years, there may be times you doubt their love, but somehow or other, neither could ever leave.  When we forgave each other our terrible things, it was never mentioned again.  Sometimes when I think about what he said to me, I just wonder why he stayed.  Then, on the other hand, when I sliced him with the verbal knife, why did either of us stay?  

I miss my best friend.  He kept me alive.  I tried to do the same for him.  When he reached for me, I slapped his hands and said "NO!!!!" and he did not listen to me.  Even when I turned my back on him, he left anyhow.  (I usually can fight that off and try to get that picture out of my head.) 

Maybe there really is a "happily ever after."   Somewhere.  We are all just human.  I have chronic depression.  Billy had OCD.  Mama and Daddy knew each other two weeks.  I saw a lot of fusses, mostly money. Both were hard workers with no alcohol or dope messing with the marriage.  Lots of religion.   I was lucky, neither should have been parents, but they gave it their best and I never missed a meal.  Daddy lasted out 44 years and my son said he had a smile on his face.  (Mama had said he did).  Scott was convinced he did too.  

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10 hours ago, Boho-Soul said:

Update:

Well the pain in my solar plexus continued to the point of getting sick, so on the 2 day of this I got an appointment at Primary Health Network. The doc couldn’t definitively determine what it was, but did a bunch of test to make sure it wasn’t H-pylori or another nasty bug. Also got a Covid test. Everything came back negative which was good news, and the pain is now gone.

Since then I remembered something a friend told me about 3 years ago called Emotion Code which helps release trapped emotions and I’ve had one session already and apparently released 6 emotions, 2 were sadness & fear. I think I’ll book a 2nd as I did feel calmer after the first one, so that’s promising.

That is great, I'm glad it's helping you, I hadn't heard of that but good to know!  I'm working on my "letting go" and getting BP down.  Is this something ongoing you do?

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I’ve only had one session, and I’ll book another. It’s self paced basically, so you go as much as you feel you need or want to. Once a certain emotion from a specific event is released it’s gone. So if one had anger for one event that was released it’s done, but one might still have anger regarding another situation or event.

Each emotion released is connected to a body part where the trapped emotion was stored, so physical healing will also occur. It’s rather interesting. Hopefully it’s beneficial for me :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Boho-Soul, you might also look into a reiki session if you can find a practitioner near you. 

Also, perhaps earthing (earth grounding.)  There's a long and a short video on YouTube about this practice.  (I do earth grounding to help balance my emotions and reduce stress.)

You could try chakra clearing/balancing.  Again check YouTube for self-guided videos/audios.

Blessings to you,

Shirley

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On 4/24/2021 at 7:49 AM, Boho-Soul said:

the limitations of not seeing friends & family even just for hugs if nothing else ‘sucks’ to put it bluntly.

This has been the hardest to deal with since day one.  I’ve heard it called skin hunger.  After 6 years, I still miss his touch.  There have been no hugs that compare.  I take any I can get tho.  Covid really did mess that up.  I can now hug someone again.  But I’m still craving the one I can’t have.  
 

On 4/24/2021 at 7:49 AM, Boho-Soul said:

my emotions have shifted from feelings of anger and frustration to compassion as I process how much he was struggling with his depression. I too believe he loved me as much as he could.

I feel very sad reading that your marriage was not as fulfilling as it should have been.  Losing your best friend and being with him at the same time is unimaginable.  I feel very fortunate that we weathered some very difficult times and we’re able to put them in the past giving us 20 fabulous last years together in the 40 we spent.  The beginning was great too, but like most, the middle is a test state then knowing the darker side of people, including ourselves.  
 

I am glad to hear you know he loved you.  It’s amazing when we can let go of anger and see them as they really are.  I still get angry he left me, but I know that was not in his control.  But low times bring that up.  It’s more anger at the universe for being so cruel to a wonderful, giving man.   He still had so much to give.  I often feel nature picked the wrong person in our team.  We talked about it many times and decided whoever got left behind would be miserable.  His friends told me his driving force was our life together.  
 

We just never factor this part of life in when we are swept up in the joy of finding our person in all of the world.

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15 hours ago, Capricorn1 said:

Boho-Soul, you might also look into a reiki session if you can find a practitioner near you. 

Also, perhaps earthing (earth grounding.)  There's a long and a short video on YouTube about this practice.  (I do earth grounding to help balance my emotions and reduce stress.)

You could try chakra clearing/balancing.  Again check YouTube for self-guided videos/audios.

Blessings to you,

Shirley

Thank you for sharing what has worked for you.  :wub:

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Hey Capricorn1

I googled grounding or earthing, it’s very interesting. Reminds me of when I was a child digging in the soil & gardening when I became an adult. I always feel good when I’m in nature. I plan to finally create a sanctuary in my yard this summer which I’m sure will be very therapeutic 🌸🌳

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16 hours ago, Gwenivere said:

This has been the hardest to deal with since day one.  I’ve heard it called skin hunger.  After 6 years, I still miss his touch.  There have been no hugs that compare.  I take any I can get tho.  Covid really did mess that up.  I can now hug someone again.  But I’m still craving the one I can’t have.

Gwenivere,

Yes, skin hunger - I heard it called touch starved and I definitely feel it. I even miss the small touches of my late husband, like holding his hand *sigh*

I hug my daughter & my new 4 month old grandson (he’s a bundle of love that sweet li’l boy). I’m thankful about that but it’s not quite the same as that intimate hug from a spouse. I’m with you - I’ll accept all hugs that are offered which is limited due to Covid as I’m in quite a deficit right now 🤗

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