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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?


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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.


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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