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I was wondering if anyone around the 6th month maybe (cause thats where I am at now) remembers things more vividly. I had forgotten so many precious things and I dont know if it was the holidays or a point that I am at but everything comes to me so clearly. I dream more vividly, I look around my house and memories just flow in. In some ways I am glad to have these memories come to me, but they are also reminding me of how wonderful things were with him here and how I wont have that again. I think of what we would be doing right now if he were here. I know he would be the best father in the world. He didnt even get to meet his son. I guess it is one of the "stages" I am suppose to go through. I miss him like crazy sometimes I feel like I literally miss him so much it makes me crazy... How many times can people be talking to you and have you there just not even paying any attention to them before they committ you. Well my venting is through. Thank you all for listening and God bless you all.

Edited by chrissy777
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Chrissy,

I still have vivid memories of Doug's last weeks. Both at home and in the hospital. They come to me at all different times of the day. These visions always make me cry. Sometimes I hear or see something and the thoughts come flooding in. They were very hard days for me. I also think-if only-. I don't think anything different could have saved Doug but I can't help thinking it anyway.

Sometimes I do remember good things. Even those thoughts can make me cry because I think, we can never do those things again. Things will never be the same.

Take care,

Terry

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Chrissy

I just entering into the 6th mo. i replay all the negative things over and over in my head. i am having a hard time right now. sometimes i can't even focus on talking to people and really have no desire to around anyone except my husband and boys. i just want to be home. i work nights and cant wait for the night to end. i pray everyday that i will feel a little better but not yet. today i woke thing that the nigtmare would be over. oh how wrong i was. i hope each day brings you a little more peace. lori

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I went to see a grief counselor six months after my ex-husband's death. She told me it is classic that you feel the worst at about 5-8 months after the loss, because the shock has worn off and you are really feeling it. I found that to be true, that was the worst time. I am still sad and still miss him after 2 1/2 years, but around 6 to 8 months was the worst time.

As time goes on, my memories become clearer, and less painful. But right now is only three weeks since my father died, and those memories of his illness are the ones I have now. Because of my experience with my ex's death, I am hopeful the memories of my father as well and happy will take over in the months and years to come.

Ann

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Chrissy,

At six months for me it was the hardest time other than the very beginning shock. But I had some complications, so it's hard to compare...at six months it was Christmas and I got a call on Christmas Eve from a good friend of George's telling me that George had pawned the ring I gave him for a wedding present. I was very angry and hurt at that time. George did a lot of things, he was a drug addict and he wiped me out financially and lied to me to cover his tracks, but I finally figured out that pawning the ring was not one of those things. I personally believe his "friends" kept it...George lived with them during the week and I believe it was at their house when he had his heart trouble. But it took me a while to figure it out and also to work through all of the other stuff. I just remember six months being my lowest point. Whether or not it would have been if I hadn't have been going through all of these complications or not, I can't say, but I do think that it's a hard time because the shock has worn off, everyone has gone home, reality has set in...add Christmas to the equasion, and wow...it's tough. It WILL get better Chrissy. Hang in there, we love you and we're remembering you in our prayers.

Edited by kayc
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Chrissy,

It's been six months for me last 23rd, it has indeed very hard and the 5th month as well. I have the most wonderful memories of him from Christmas, its really confusing and at the same time so sad knowing I wont have more memories of him anymore rather than the once I keep. Those christmas memories seem as if it was just a couple of weeks ago when I saw him looking so charming. I think in the 5th month I started getting into a big deppresion since he passed away. I still have very fresh memories, and I sometimes go over again through some good moments we had... and of course the "what if" or how it would be if I had him here again..

I feel just the same, I miss him very very much.

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Thank you for your replies. I was working last night and started crying about 3 or 4 times. Im usually ok at work but last night I couldnt focus I couldnt think I just sat there and was in deep thought on most of my down time. I had a few things that reminded me of Jason last night and I couldnt help but cry. I hope this gets easier soon. This might be the worse time I have had so far. In the beginning things were just so unbeleivable that I dont think I thought it was really happening. Now reality truely sets in and I feel so helpless. I tried talking to my coworkers about how I felt but they would just change the subject. I dont think they realize it helps me to talk about it. Well I haveto go but thank you all again.

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A lot of people don't know what to say when we are ready to talk about our loved ones. I have found one or two people at work who I can talk to about Karen. You will find the ones who genuiouly care and you will know which ones you can talk to over time. You are right the first 6 months we are so in shock and there are so many changes that I think our minds shut a lot of it out in order to keep from getting overloaded. Once we get through that and our lives start getting some rutine then all the memories start coming in and we truly start grieving.

I hope the best for you

Love always

Derek

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Dear Ones,

As each of you accurately observe, this re-awakening of intense grief around the six-month mark is not at all unusual, and in fact is normal and very common. This is why we encourage the bereaved to consider joining a grief support group, most especially at this particualr point in their grief journey.

It may help to read what these various authors have to say about finding support in a group (see below). Such writings also serve to explain why our own Grief Healing Discussion Groups can be so helpful:

It is often difficult for a widow or widower to express genuine and at times, intense grief, because of our society’s tendency to view death as an unnatural occurrence rather than as a universal phase of the life cycle. Society also tends to put the widow or widower on a time schedule for the grieving process and usually prefers that the bereaved partner “get on with living.” A support group can combat this insensitive societal schedule by encouraging bereaved spouses to establish their own timetable for grieving. Bereavement support groups represent an excellent approach to this highly vulnerable population, because the small-group format can specifically address and lessen “the intense social isolation experienced by most bereaved spouses” (Yalom and Vinogradov 1988). In general, the literature advocates support groups for bereaved spouses . . .

Support groups for bereaved spouses have several goals:

•To assist members to cope with the pain of grief and mourning by creating a community in which they are deeply understood by peers.

•To combat the social isolation that is so pervasive

•To support members as they begin to understand the changes facing them as they begin to fashion a new future for themselves

•To offer hope; to see that others who also know the darkness of loss are not immobilized by it

•To obtain support from others who’ve shared a similar loss

[source: The Loss of a Life Partner, by Carolyn Ambler Walter, © 2003 Columbia University Press, p. 229]

The worth of [grief support groups] does not emanate from empirically supported treatments, but from something much more simple (yet powerful): the telling of stories. The meetings are anchored in honoring each member’s stories of grief and supporting each other’s need to authentically mourn. No effort is made to interpret or analyze. The group affirms the storyteller for the courage to express the raw wounds that often accompany loss. The stories speak the truth, and create hope and healing. [The leader’s] role is not so much about group counseling techniques as it is about creating “sacred space” in the group so that each person’s story can be non-judgmentally received. Effective grief group leadership is a humble yet demanding role of creating this space in ways that members can express their wounds in the body of community. The very experience of telling one’s story in the common bond of the group contradicts the isolation and shame that characterizes so many people’s lives in a mourning-avoidant culture. And, because stories of love and loss take time, patience, and unconditional love, they serve as powerful antidotes to a modern society that is all too often preoccupied with getting people to “let go” and “move on.” The creation of new meaning and purpose in life requires that mourners “re-story” their lives. Obviously, this calls out for the need for empathic companions, not treaters. Indigenous cultures acknowledge that honoring stories helps reshape a person’s experience. The stories are re-shaped not in the telling of the story once or twice or even three times, but over and over again. Mourners need compassionate listeners to hear and affirm their truths.

[source: Companioning the Bereaved, by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD, © 2006, Companion Press, pp. 82-83]

I searched the Internet for hours to find groups that could relate to this pain. I was fortunate to know a few other mothers who had experienced the loss of a child. These mothers sought me out to offer me comfort and hope. We should not be alone during this time. We need to hear from others who have been there before us, who can listen to our stories and know what our sorrow feels like. We need to talk about our loved one to strangers, to proclaim to others that our beloved lived and was a real person. Other bereaved people know this and listen willingly. They share their stories also. We help each other by sharing our loss and pain. Eventually we find ourselves on the giving end of this compassion, reaching out to the newly devastated, helping them along, encouraging them, and listening to them. There is an old song we used to sing in church that had this refrain: “Bear one another’s burdens, and share each other’s joys, and love one another, love one another, and bring each other Home.” This is what our lives are all about.

There are many people who have suffered the same loss that we ourselves have, who know what our pain feels like and who are able to reach out from beyond their brokenness to help us along. In time, we too are able to turn and help those who come after us on the same road. Together, stumbling, reaching out for help, pausing to offer comfort, walking together, we can complete our journey. In the process, we learn to love and to be loved much more fully. This is one of the gifts of bereavement.

[source: Ann Dawson, in A Season of Grief]

A knowledge that another has felt as we have felt,

and seen things not much otherwise than we have seen them,

will continue to the end to be one of life’s choicest blessings.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

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  • 3 weeks later...

Marty,

I read your post.....how does one deal with the overwhelming grief at 14 months and 9 days....for me it is harder and more painful now. Am I crazy Marty? I have not dreamed of Herman since he went to Heaven, except a nightmare the night he died, that they lost him in the tunnels in the hospital. I can't feel him, no one will say his name and I am trying desperately to understand this all. Does it mean that since I cannot dream or feel Herman that I did something wrong, I feel that way. My doctor/therapist told me that the second year may be harder and she was so right, am I the only person that feels this way? I go through the motions of work, of pretending I am okay, but all I want is Herman back and that will never change and it hurts so much that people tell me that I have to go on for my boys and our granddaughter, what do they think I'm doing right now. I am so tired and then I feel guilty because I could never even imagine how tired Herman was with his chemo treatments and I feel betrayed by God so much right now. How do you get good results, stable results on the brain tumor on October 7, 2005 and then on October 14, 2005 the beginning of the end starts. I know I am rambling Marty, I know I should not apologize but I am. I will never understand any of this and yet I am trying, trying and getting more lost each day.

Jamie

Jaimie

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My dear Jamie,

You’ve raised some very important questions, and I will do my best to address them.

First, I can assure you that you certainly are not “the only person that feels this way.” I would hope that just reading some of our other members’ posts in this very forum will convince you of that. The notion that the first year of grief is the hardest, and the time when support is needed most, is a common misconception. There is nothing magical about getting through that first year without the physical presence of your loved one ~ it simply means that you’ve managed to get through your first four seasons of grief, with all its special days (that is, the first birthday, first wedding anniversary, first holiday, etc. without your beloved), so that this year, the next time that special day comes around, you now are able to say, “I made it through this day last year, and now I know that I can do it again.”

You say your doctor / therapist told you that “the second year may be harder and she was so right.” For some, the second year is indeed even harder than the first, because the protective barrier of numbness has disappeared and by now, all those secondary losses are apparent. The reality is that we need ongoing compassion and support ~ which is the point I tried to make in my post of December 29, above.

You’re frustrated with those who tell you that you “have to go on,” and you are left to think, “What do they think I am doing right now?” As Harold Ivan Smith often says, the challenge for mourners is that we are grieving our loss in a “get-over-it,” “move on with it” world. He suggests that some of our friends may have no idea of what we are experiencing and no understanding of it either, especially if they’ve never experienced the loss of a close family member. His advice is this: “Focus on your grief. In the future, when your friends experience grief, as they will, your example of taking as much time as you need to work through your grief will encourage them to do the same.” He adds, “With some friends you may have to be direct, saying: ‘Let me tell you how the idea that I should be over it by now sounds to me.’ In fact, you may be doing them a big favor by having a straightforward conversation with them, so they realize how their words affect others.”

You say you feel “betrayed by God so much right now,” and that, too, is normal, and more common than you might think. In his marvelous book, A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis writes,

Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the longer the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in a time of trouble? . . . Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’

You say that you will never understand any of this, but I respectfully disagree. I think that, like all the rest of us on this site, you are in the process of coming to an understanding of Herman’s death and the impact it has had, and will continue to have, on your life . After a death like this, there is no getting back to normal, Jamie. Over time, as you gradually sort through all of this and come to terms with it, a "new normal” begins to take shape ~ but the actual process of grief is never really finished, despite anyone else’s attempts to rush you through it.

I want to share with you two excerpts from my book, Finding Your Way through Grief: A Guide for the First Year, in hopes that these words will help:

Recognizing Your Own Progress

How do you know you’re making progress in your grieving? Remember that change isn’t always obvious and dramatic; it is a process that takes place over time. The grief experience is different for everyone; it doesn’t happen all at once or at the same rate of speed. And unless you’re aware of the clues to recovery and their significance, your progress through grief may be so subtle and so gradual that you will not notice it at all.

If you can recognize certain changes in attitudes, feelings and behaviors in yourself, you can measure your own progress through grief. Become aware of your own healing.

Notice when you are able to

•Drive somewhere by yourself without crying the entire time.

•Get through a day without feeling tired all the time.

•Concentrate on a book, movie or television program.

•Not think of your loved one for a period of time, however brief.

•Get through a few hours or days nearly free of pain.

•Return to a daily routine.

•Eat, sleep and exercise normally again.

•Participate in a religious service without crying.

•Accept invitations.

•Listen to music you both loved without crying.

•Be more aware of the pain and suffering of others around you.

•Be more patient with yourself and with others.

•Notice others in like circumstances, and recognize and accept that loss is a common life experience.

•Reach out to another in a similar situation.

•Realize that the sometimes thoughtless comments of others stem from ignorance, not malice.

•Find something to be thankful for.

•Be patient with yourself through grief attacks.

•Feel confident again.

•Accept things as they are without trying to recapture the way they used to be.

•Think less about the past.

•Look forward to the day ahead of you.

•Reach out to the future less fearfully.

•Stop and notice life’s little pleasures, the splendor of creation and the beauty in nature.

•Catch yourself smiling and laughing again.

•Feel comfortable spending time alone.

•Remember your loved one less idealistically— as less perfect, with more human than saintly qualities.

•Review both pleasant and unpleasant memories without being overcome by them.

•Reinvest the time and energy once spent on your loved one.

•Remodel your space: rearrange furniture; change colors and textures of walls.

•Re-make your image: change your hairstyle, make-up or clothing.

•Explore new foods, new places and new things.

•Feel more in control of your emotions and less overwhelmed by them.

•Feel freer to choose when and how to grieve.

•Talk about your loss more easily.

•Feel less preoccupied with yourself and your loss.

•Feel a renewed interest in giving love and receiving it.

•Look back and see your own progress.

•Notice that time doesn’t drag as much; the weekends aren’t as long.

•Notice that the good days outnumber the bad; the mood swings aren’t as wide; the time between upsets is greater.

•Plan the future more effectively.

•Think more clearly and feel more in control of certain aspects of your life.

•Make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences.

•Feel open to new and healthy relationships while maintaining old ones.

•Discover abilities in yourself you haven’t developed before or didn’t even know you had.

•Fill some of the roles once filled by your loved one or find others who can fill them.

•Recognize that loss has played an important part in your life, and that growth can be a positive outcome.

•Identify how this experience has changed you for the better: what you’ve learned, what you’ve become, and how you’ve grown.

•Share the lessons you have learned through loss with others.

Finding Meaning in Your Loss

It is difficult to imagine surviving grief much less transcending it. How do you triumph over sorrow when it seems as if your pain will never end?

When you confront the lessons of grief, you opt for surviving and transcending the pain. If you choose to do so, you can look at the pain of loss as having a specific purpose. Turning crisis into opportunity, you can find emotional and spiritual peace. You have a choice: you can either give up and withdraw into your tragedy or you can grow from the experience. You can either succumb to the pain or decide to transform yourself. The choice to grow, to transform the self is not an easy one. It requires work, perseverance and endurance. Like everything else in grief, it is a process, but it is what makes loss worth surviving.

Chances are that you would trade everything you could ever gain in a heartbeat, if only that would bring your loved one back. But that is not an option. The only viable alternative is to make this pain count for something.

All that happens to us in life is material for our own growth. The death of a loved one can be a turning point that alters our perspective on life. It is an opportunity to re-think, to question, to doubt who we were, what we thought we believed, how we used to live, and how we ordered our priorities. It is a chance to find meaning in our loss.

There are many lessons to be learned from grief. Losing someone you love teaches you to

•Stop, examine and appreciate what really matters, what’s important, what’s truly valuable in life.

•Live fully in the present, knowing that the past is gone and the future is not yet.

•Appreciate the value and wonder of every precious moment, without taking them for granted.

•Accept the freedom and joy of spontaneity, to play, to relax and to have fun.

•Find valuable insights buried in the give and take of daily life, to slow down, daydream and fantasize.

•Simplify your life, so you have more time and energy to share with those you love.

•Accept what’s happened to you, roll with the changes and keep on growing, believing that you’ll make it.

•Be patient with yourself, allowing the grieving process to happen in whatever way it will.

•Keep and develop your connections with others, knowing that you are not alone.

•Share your thoughts and feelings with others openly and honestly, and sooner rather than later.

•Rethink your attitude toward death as a natural part of the cycle of life.

•Be grateful for the love you shared, however briefly, and appreciate what you have left.

•Define yourself as a survivor rather than a victim.

– ©2000 by Marty Tousley, in Finding Your Way through Grief: A Guide for the First Year

See also the article I’m attaching to this post, After the First Year – Then What?

AfterTheFirstYearThenWhat.doc

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