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Ambiguous loss is caused by the lack of facts surrounding the loss of a loved one. That’s where I’m at, not knowing my late husband’s cause of death, I’m experiencing ambiguous loss. I should be getting the report at some point, although it’s been 20 months and I’m still waiting. It will be hard if the cause is stated as ‘undetermined’ rather than a definitive cause. Either way it’ll be a hard day.

I’ve learned that I also experienced ambiguous loss during our marriage. I grieved the loss of my husband while he was still alive. It was tricky. There is so much confusion and ambiguity, all of which made no sense. His death hadn’t occurred, yet I had a feeling of deep and persistent mourning. The loss and grief I felt due to his mental illness, accompanied by the change in our relationship put my grief in limbo. Lots to unpack here.

I understand that I might not have all the answers right now, or maybe ever. This makes me realize I need to learn to accept the situation for what it is, which I hope will eventually lead to acceptance and perhaps even resolution.

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Boho-Soul

I can empathize partly with respect to having a partner who is battling a life-threatening condition (be it mental and/or physical).  

I might have noted, but right as my wife completed her battle with Stage IV cervical cancer, she was diagnosed that same week with a rare blood disease that turned in to acute leukemia. 

So for us, it was a straight five year battle of treatments, procedures, hospital stays (half of it out of town).  This, as our two kids were just in 8th and 9th grade.  

However, I feel I had the opposite experience, in that while she was very I’ll, I was confident she would be around for a lot longer.  

Of course I REALLY struggled with it.  To the point, as bad news from the doctor would arise, my wife would ask her doctor to tell me so she did not have to.  Her passing was like a taboo subject with us.  We both focused on solely beating it, and we realized it was going to take a strain on our relationship. We accepted that fact and agreed we were committed to seeing it through.  
Even though her long term prognosis was not good, we essentially ignored that and focused on current day—for her to get better.  It wore her down something fierce.  
For me, it was almost the opposite.  I never ever thought about her being gone while she was alive.  I imagine I repressed that thought.  She died unexpectedly.  Went in to the hospital with a fever (as she had multiple times before, and was gone 12 hours later.  
In all candor it seemed more like a shock than if it were an accident.  She battled everything, pretty much beat it, but caught a fluke infection. 

As I reflect on our final years, I summarize them by accepting it had a strain on our family, however we expected it to and were actually proud of the fact we did not allow it to tear us apart (as something like this often does) to families.  
Unfortunately AFTER she passed my relationship with the rest of my family (on both sides deteriorated—-and I have no idea as to why).  That is another post altogether I imagine.  

I’m VERY sorry you have not been told the cause of death. I am unsure of the circumstances in your case but regardless I imagine that has magnified mourning you have endured.  
All I can do is pray there will be some level of closure others might have—you can receive.  Thank you for sharing your experience/feelings.  
I assure you it’s not frivolous words when I say I’m sorry.  

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Sad_Widower, thank you so much for your post. I never fully explained my circumstances, and just noted a few things in different threads along with the thread I initially started under "Can anyone relate?" My situation has involved trauma along with many complicating factors. It's been a lot for me to grasp myself, never mind sharing the circumstances in a way for others to understand. There's just so much complexity. I wish I could share it all, but I find myself hesitant because I don't think many could relate,  which would make one hesitant to posting a response.

It's such a blessing you still had a loving connection with your wife even during the most difficult of times. And it says so much that you were able to stay a family through all of what she went through. It's sad for me remembering the challenges our marriage went through, and how it sadly created more separation between us due to his illness. Perhaps when I finally receive and post the cause of death I may share more of my story. I'll just have to decide if it's something worth doing as my situation isn't typical.

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Thanks Boho. If/when you ever feel like sharing, I’m sure you know as well as anyone this seems like a safe place to do.   

FWIW, I will be soon be sharing a story on here, which details the number one thing I’ve struggled with since my loss.  It’s so convoluted, I’ve yet to share with anyone. Not a soul.  It’s one of those things that caused me to question my sanity. That being I find it so surreal, I ask “Can a human being possibly be this unlucky, or have I lost my mind?”   Teaser, I have concluded it’s the former and accepted it.  Still, I know I will feel better putting it out there, even if few/no-one is able to relate.  

i just hope that, should you have a preference on the cause of death, this is what it turns out to be.  

I studied my wife’s cause of death  top to bottom, BTW. I wanted to learn everything about it…but yes I am INCREDIBLY fortunate.  I was holding her hand as she passed and it was a peaceful as I imagined a passing could ever be, so am eternally grateful for this.  Thx

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Yes, you’re right, this is a safe place to share. I do know that, it’s just my own hesitation, and confusion.

I immediately and simultaneously had a warm yet heavy heart when you shared you were holding your wife’s hand when she passed. Wow, even just typing this I feel it in my heart. So glad it was peaceful for her 🙏

On 8/8/2022 at 10:34 PM, Sad_Widower said:

I ask “Can a human being possibly be this unlucky, or have I lost my mind?

I can relate to the first half of this, being unlucky. You know the saying that everyone has a story - well I have a mini-series, so many big events with crazy layers I feel it’s possibly worthy to be on Netflix as I has many seasons. You seem very articulate and can express yourself well. I don’t know you but I’m gonna venture to say you haven’t lost your mind, at least that’s how I it see from my corner of the world. Be well friend.

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I feel like II'm on hallowed ground here...beautiful conversation about this.  

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Boho, have you ever considered writing a book? You are absolutely correct when you say “every person has a story” and when you consider, I bet almost all of us have a story the a section of public would be interested in reading.  
I actually started drafting a book when my wife was still alive.  I feel we have a really unique story. I know that someone will read it (if only our family).  I think it’s a great way to allow someone legacy to live in decades after they have passed.  Once I get overseas and situated, I think I can write it in about a year.  It’s on my bucket list, anyway.   

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Wow, it’s so interesting you mention writing a book. Definitely yes, I will write another book. My life has been so complex that one book is rather impossible. I’ve already written a book around a major event (my abduction 3 days before my first wedding when I was 19) it created a domino effect in my life which is a full story in itself. I started journaling and my writing turned into a full length novel. Sadly my computer crashed several years ago, got the black screen of death and I lost the 2nd half of my book in the midst of a major edit. I so wanted to finish it, but life got busy and it ended up at the bottom of my to-do list. It’s always in the back of my mind to complete that book and start another. I actually have several book ideas based on my real-life events I hope to write and finish.

I love that you’ll be writing your story to allow your wife’s legacy to live on. That’s incredible. I sense you book will be a great story around love, resilience and family. Curious what format you’ll chose to use. Biography, autobiography or memoir. A biography is the life history of someone written by someone else, so this would be you writing your wife’s story. An autobiography is the story of a person’s life written by that person, this would be the story from your point of view. And a memoir is a collection of life memories written by the person themselves.

I chose to write my first novel as fiction inspired by real-life events. I needed that distance to write it and given the complexities I feel people would think it was fiction anyway. I can truly say that writing has been the most cathartic and healing activity for me. Finishing my first book (aside from edits) transformed me and I emerged stronger in ways I can’t explain.

I pray you’ll be blessed with healing as you write your book 🙏

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