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It Sure Doesn't Go Away


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My husband died suddenly, driving on the freeway, from heart failure. I knew this might happen someday but I sure wasn't ready. It's been since August of 2005 and I have grown somewhat, but the other night I had a melt-down, called a friend and just cried. She was worried and said that, because of the quick circumstances of his death and me with no preparation, that maybe I might consult someone, which I had never done before. You are the ones I'm consulting. I have lots of "lumps in my throat", don't like holidays, and all the everything that you all do. My dog is my wonderful companion. I have three children, the closest one is my daughter, and usually she calls me all the time but there has been a rift (complicated) and so I don't hear from her as much even though I apologized for my "whatever." I think I sometimes don't want to be around all these happy people so I excuse myself, politely, and just come home. I just have a lump in my throat and you all seem like you really know what's happening. I plain just still love my husband….

Karen

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Hi Karen,

I lost my husband in August of 2006 - I still love him, as well. The sadness comes and goes, the tears come and go, and the memories come and go. I can so relate to your burden and I'm so sorry any of us have to go through this.

One of the things I recently realized, that seemed to be a positive realization, is that I've been wanting and waiting for the pain to "go away forever" and without consciously being aware of it, wanting to go back to the way I felt when Dick was alive. When I finally accepted that I can't go back to the way I felt, the way I was, the life I had, but that he would always be in my heart and in my thoughts and there would always be tears and missing him, it eased my feelings of despair and allowed me to accept the sadness that would occassionally come up for the rest of my life. We can't just erase our loves from our minds and hearts - they will always be with us. Now, thank God, good memories are surfacing almost as often as the sad ones.

It's been said "Life is a process"...I might add, so is death.

Blessings to you, Benita

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I agree with Benita, Once you accept the "New Normal" things will go easier. I lost my wife Karen in April of 2006. It has now been over a year, I still miss her and sometimes still think that it isn't real. However since I have accepted it things are going better, I am starting to live life again which I thought at the begining would never happen. Your husband will always be a part of you, there will always be that ache in your heart when you remember certain things about him. I know for myself, that the pain is not as great as it was in the begining and the times between the pain are growing longer. I am able to start remembering the good times and be able to smile and know that I was blessed to have Karen in my life and to know that she would want me to live life to the fullest, knowing that in my heart that one day we will meet again in Heaven. I look forward to that day but until then, I will live on and enjoy life as much as possible.

I noticed you live north of Seattle, my brother and his family live in the southern part of Seattle and my mom lives in Auburn. I will be up there for a week at the end of July.

Love always

Derek

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Karenb - We are really glad you found us! We're always here to "vent" on or to cry with or whatever it is you feel.

You're right..It sure DOESN'T go away. May 16th will be 2 1/2 years since I lost the love of my life, my husband Charlie. (it's so hard to believe that I have been without him for that much time) Just writing to you about him brings tears to my eyes - I miss him so much!

As everyone here has said time does make it a little less "painful" - the sadness isn't quite as often and the tears aren't either, BUT it sure doesn't go away. It becomes "the normal" just like Derek said. I can't say that I like "the normal" but it has become my life. Most of the time when I think of him or of something he would have said or done, I can smile, but I still miss him like crazy!! I was so lucky to have had him in my life and for him to have been such an intimate part of my life. No one else ever had him for their husband - he was the BEST!

There are so many wonderful people here to help you through this. Just keep coming and posting, if you want, or you can just read. I read every day - I just don't always post....sometimes I just don't have the right words.

Take care and hugs to you!!(and everyone here)

(My brother & his family live in Bothell)

Patti

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Thanks so much. You guys are wonderful and so caring. I'm glad I found you all. There is so much pain in this world. It takes a lot to be strong and helpful friends are such a blessing. Thank you, again.

Karen :rolleyes:

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karenb,

I agree with what has been said here, it doesn't go away, you have to learn to live with a new "normal", which doesn't feel normal at all. I have better days and worse days and have learned to accept that. I think we all do real well, considering what we've been through. I have never been through anything harder than this in my life. And to think that most people go through this at some time in their life, well that is just very hard. I, too, am glad I found this site, I don't know what I'd do without everyone here. I'm sorry you're having a hard time, I hope things get better with your daughter.

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To kayc...Thank you for the comforting comments. Things will be better with my daughter, she is a wonderful person and going through some stressful times herself. She just needs some quiet time for herself, too, as she just loved Jack so much.....far more than her biological father whom she never sees. Thank the Good Lord that Jack and I were together for the time that we had or I never would have known how wonderful a good, loving, caring and giving a husband can be. I will never forget it.

Karen

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Before you've experienced the death of someone you love deeply, thoughts of how you might deal with such a thing are so obscure. When my Tanya and I found out that her cancer had metastasized, I mistakenly and stupidly thought (at least in my case) that I could 'prepare' for the worst. I thought that while we were hoping that clinical trials and new discoveries might extend her life long enough to realize a treatment that would transform her death sentence into a chronic condition, or even better, a cure, I could approach death philosophically. I don't think I've ever been more wrong about anything in my life, and believe me, I'm wrong often! Each person's experience is different, and I don't pretend that my experience is universal, but for me, preparation for the death of my wife was a fruitless venture. I am a little over a year out from my Sweetie's death, and I don't feel that I've recovered much, if at all. Prior to my persuasive wife's influence, I was not into any kind of therapy, help, or treatment of any sort. We made use of a therapist and I encourage you to do the same if you're open to the idea. It most definitely helped us. Our marriage was always good, but if the possibility for improvement exists, why not take advantage of it? Time may provide the only comfort for your pain, but you will never know if consultation/therapy might help smooth the bumps along the road for you if you don't give it a try. It seems that you already have good insight into the feelings your daughter is experiencing, but a professional might also provide answers or understanding not available to one so close to the situation.

Our love survives long after the death of our loved one. This is surely a bittersweet part of being human, though I don't think I would change this part of life, death, and love.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Karen,

I still love my husband Doug very much. I keep his picture on my dresser and I kiss him every morning and every night and tell him I love him. I still wear my wedding rings and at this point don't intend to take them off. I feel like I am still a married woman.

I am sorry to hear that you and your daughter have had a falling out. I hope she comes around soon. I'm sure she can't begin to know how you feel. I am having a lot of trouble with my son who is a very immature 21 years old. I really don't need this added stress in my life right now. Why can't he understand this?

I also have a dog who is my companion. Doug bought Dooley for me so he means just that much more to me. Dooley is always there for me. I am so happy I have him. Pets are really a great comfort, aren't they?

Terry

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Terry,

I had Jack's wedding ring resized and wear it on my left hand. It's a real comfort to me and I, too, still think of myself as married. My daughter is coming back to her old self. I may have tried to stay too much by myself for awhile...maybe that's what it was and I hurt her feelings. Sometimes we just don't know what we might be doing to those who love us. I, too, have my big black Lab, Sadie Mae. Some wouldn't like this but I let her sleep on the bed with me on her blanket and we both love it. She is the most wonderful companion, follows me everywhere and I'm sure she's feeling his loss, too. He was a wonderful animal-loving man. She sat by his chair for the longest time. We just keep going on, don't we? I'm back to church and have found a group of women in the church with so much compassion it's wonderful. I'm beginning to belong again.

Take care and have a wonderful Mother's Day.

Your friend.....Karen :D;)

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I'm happy for those of us who are able to find there way again and have found people who show compassion to them. As for me, I have to say, that has not been the experience. This site has been the most supportive, not family, not friends. Friends are busily living their own lives and seem to not ever look this way. Do I sound anry? Yes, I guess I am and I don't know what to do with that. This has bothered me since the beginning when I first lost Larry. The friendships I thought I had have not been there for me, maybe they never were but it still hurts anyway. His family practically gets mad when I start a conversation about him. As they have said, move on, get on with your life. What??? I contacted a local widows support group twice in this last year. NO ONE ever responded or called. And they are supposed to be a support group!!! I think I'm entering another valley of grief and despair and had hope that the people around me would show compassion. What do you do when you just feel angry at the world around you? Terry, as for trying to think positive, its probably a good thing to try but I don't know if that works when you are grieving. I might be wrong. Deborah

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Deborah, I've forgotten how long Larry's been gone but couples friends aren't there for me anymore either with a few exceptions. Our lives just are different from theirs, I think. Of course, we do have to "move" on and get on with things but it takes a long time, by the hour, by the day, and having someone to tell you just "move" on would make me angry, too. I don't think you're off base and I certainly can't understand a "support" group not to even contact you. My husband has been gone about 1 1/2 years and I still love him, think about him all the time. Marty posted an excerpt from How to Strengthen Your Inner Life, pp. 159-172 that had some good ideas. I don't know how to find it on this forum but if you can, it seems worth taking notice. She has some very good resources and is a very caring person. I wish you could find a way to direct your anger positively, maybe not today, but think about it. Do you have any hobbies, interests, passions that you might be able to concentrate on? I'm not any kind of expert....I just plugged along here and slowly am finding my way. You need to take good care of yourself, treat yourself kindly. Maybe going with a feeling for a little bit is a good thing if you can get yourself out of it in a good way. Keep us posted and try to have a peaceful evening.

Karen B

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Karen, thanks for responding, for a few minutes there I was pulling my hair out! I'll have to find Marty's info and read it. I guess I'm frustrated that I have to go on with life without Larry. No one is going to be able to fix that problem (obviously). Larry died Nov. 16th, 2005 the day before his birthday. You and I have been in this grief thing almost the same amount of time. I'm not yet convinced that leaving this life isn't the better option. I never had the love or kindness in my life that he gave me. We were together over 14 years and it was effortless. We of course had disagreements like others but the love and care for one another was effortless. I knew no matter what was wrong in the world, that I was loved by him. The last four days of his life (didn't know at the time that he was dying) I couldn't understand the expression on his face. He just looked at me like he had something to say but couldn't bear to say it. Now after his death we find that he was told he was dying but he couldn't find a way to tell me. He knew I would be lost without him. What would he have said, Deb, I'm dying, I love you, but you can't come with me. I would have pleaded with him, still do, I plead with God or whoever runs this universe, to let me go. I just hate that the people around me don't understand how much I'm suffering. My heart is not in anything I try to accomplish. But as you said, minute by minute, day by day, I guess thats the only way. Deborah

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We do sound like we're running parallel in this. We were married for about 14 years but knew each other for about 30. His wife, my very good friend, died of cancer and I think she steered us together before she died even though it took a long time for us to find each other. It was as though we thought the same thoughts, even laughed ahead of time at the same things and had such fun fishing, hunting, boating, everything. How sad your husband couldn't tell you what was happening. Maybe being together, knowing what was going to happen, might have helped you. My heart feels much better when I'm gardening, with my big black Lab in my face all the time. She's a wonderful companion. You need to go on. You know he wouldn't want you to give up. I guess I'd say to live for him!!!

Your friend...Karen

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Deborah,

I don't know how positive I am when all I can think is how much I hate my life without Doug. Nothing is the same. Most of the time I feel like I don't care about anything. But, somehow I go on. I do it because I have to . I don't have a choice. I get so mad because I want him back! I need him so much. How do we get though this? I hope for a better day for all of us tomorrow. Happy Mothers Day everyone.

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I echo alot of what you feeling, my loss is still fresh, 2 months and I had so many peaks and valleys but I felt complete sorrow when I read you guys posts, suddenly I feel more human than I did for so long, whatever the case, friends betray you, people with their lack of understanding, they aren't true friends, I had had my experiences already, with a parade of words shot at me for requesting my privacy, All I know my wife taught me how to love and stand up for myself, so a part of her is with me always, melded with our own personalities, Hope that means something....

William

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Wow... It is amazing how difficult it is for some friends and family to help those of us who could really use some tenderheartedness. I'm sure we've all encountered some real lack of sensitivity, and clearly Deborah, William, Karen B, and others have. Here's my entry in that category.

My experience with friends and family has been a very mixed bag to say the least. One of my most recent exchanges with a "friend" practically had me stupefied at her insensitivity (despite similar previous experiences with her and reports that described her in less than complementary terms). I called her (a former coworker of Tanya's) and began by talking about a small group of us meeting for dinner. Eventually, the talk came around to a recent recurring cancer fundraising event (my wife Tanya and I had organized the first one several years ago) and I mentioned that I was disappointed that more of her friends from work hadn't been involved. I noted that I was also disappointed in myself and my lack of input, but I recently had fallen so low in spirit that suicide had been, peripherally, in my thoughts. I mentioned that it didn't seem to be part of my makeup to do something like this or I most likely would have done it. For some reason (guilt?), this triggered her into defense mode and an irrational attack. Never mind that the timing was almost inconceivably bad (You were pondering suicide? Well, let me see if I can make things worse for you...), but she went on the attack. Prior to the philosophical example set by my Tanya, I would have chewed her head off, but instead I listened as she slowly buried herself. When finished, I calmly reviewed what I had said to her, and contrasted it with her reaction. If you can believe it, I could sense her anger INCREASING, but she said she had to go, and hung up. She called back about an hour later, presumably to apologize, but more likely to make herself feel better. Some people are absolutely nuts. I should mention that she's had this type of blowout with many of her coworkers, so it really wasn't a total shock in retrospect.

One of the (many) great features of Tanya's personality that stood out, and seemed to work well for her was her generosity of spirit, so, I try to apply that kind of thinking in my own life. So, using a Tanya-like metric, I'll say that this person should not be defined by her worse attributes, and that she does do a lot to help the community in spite of her personality...deficit. Being difficult is not a sin, and being hard to like doesn't make one a bad person. I believe this is true, and her actions were those of an angry, troubled woman. In her mind, venting her own emotions superseded the needs and feelings of someone mourning the death of a loved one. This has to be a very unhappy person.

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I really don't think that our friends who seem to have abandoned us are bad people or even bad friends. They are simply clueless. Until one has suffered the loss of one's mate (or whoever is central to our existence), it is truly impossible to even begin to understand. As Steven said, trying to imagine what it will be like is so useless because there really is nothing to prepare you. So while those friends may try very hard to understand, they just can't. I was one of those that cried for my friends' losses but a few months later my life was completely back to normal and basically unchanged. I thought I had compassion for their pain...I was so wrong. I never, ever realized the depth of real sadness until it was me. I never knew how my beautiful life could change into something I could hate so much. I was pretty certain that I would outlive my man but felt I was a strong capable woman perfectly able to live a good life without him. Then I lost him and I find that most of my assumptions about my future were wrong, wrong, wrong.

And to give a little more credit to those who don't seem to be where we want them, I know that I am not at all fun to be around any more. For the longest time I didn't even want to try. I still cannot give anybody the happy news they all want to hear: that I'm living a wonderful new single life, that I love my new job, that I cherish all the wonderful memories that we made more than I dread the future of only memories. I'm just really sad and it permeates and emanates from my entire body. That's why friends want us to move on. They can't feel our pain or understand it's hold on us. They just don't get it and they probably shouldn't have to. After all, I certainly wouldn't want everybody to suffer this much for this long. And how can you understand something so profound that you have never experienced?

So we come here and meet others who are feeling our pain. More than likely our old friends will be just that, old friends. With some we may renew a good relationship, but sadly most will move on with their old normal lives which won't include us anymore, only the memories of how much fun we had together when we were all happy couples.

By the way, these are only words, I too am very very angry. There's just nothing that can be done but to forgive and try to understand the loss is mine to bear alone. This my attempt at trying.

Annette

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Karenb,

I certainly understand what you have written – and on many levels. First, I am on nearly the exact same time line as you are since my Jack died on July 31, 2005 and you indicate that you lost your husband in August 2005. I still have some days when I have – as you describe – a melt down. I guess the difference is that there is a greater distance between these days. At first, they were constant and frankly overwhelming. Time I guess ahs softened the rough edges, and I am learning how to deal with the “new normal”. I imagine that my days of melt down are my own means of rebelling against the “new normal” that is absent my Jack.

I still talk to jack, write to jack and wear his ring around my neck. The relationship is different – but love simply never dies – it has been the only thing to truly survive this nightmare. I have been in counseling through Hospice ever since jack died. The only difference has been that every two weeks sessions have become every one-month sessions. Talking to a compassionate and understanding professional is healthy. Friends and family who really understand have been very helpful; to me; however, there have been some family and friends who have been very disappointing. Some people will never understand this type of pain until faced with personally.

Some family and fiends can have a tremendously adverse effect on our grief. This experience has crystallized for me who I could really depend on in an emergency and shown me how some very close friends and family can literally vanish from your life when faced with seeing me experience the most devastating loss of my life.

The book I have written touches on many of the aspects and problems that someone losing their mate faces. One of the subject matters of my book deal specifically with how I dealt with the loss of family and friends. I thought I would share that portion with you. It provides insight as to what I faced and how I handled it – which may be different for each person – but a glimpse of what happened to me. Here is how that portion of the book reads:

“I lost close contact with some friends and family defending my belief in not letting go. I defended my belief that there was nothing wrong in remembering my mate. I defended my belief that the foundation of my future was not based on a buried past, but a remembered past. I defended my strong sense of spirituality over connection to any particular religion or the necessity to read a particular bible for guidance. I defended my own beliefs and feelings of spirituality against those who implied I was not a man of faith, when in fact I am. I was annoyed, and even disgusted, by the lack of understanding and distance that grief presented. I was also overjoyed, and grateful beyond words, for the kindness shown to me by some. The core of my support and a few other kind souls sustained me with continued phone calls, invitations, listening skills and providing the proverbial “shoulder to cry on”. I received compliments and criticism.

The compliments referred to my strength of character, ability to move forward and unending devotion to the memory of Jack and my capacity to foster his legacy. The criticisms were much more vague and couched in pieces of unsolicited advice pertaining to a narrowly defined religious prescription to handle grief by “burying” it, accepting ridged impious institutionalized concepts of healing. Their means of finding peace, all precluded Jack, as a part of my future. I refused to forget Jack to satisfy these supposedly well-intentioned requests for me to do so. I refused accept the critics message and instead followed the more enlightened view of bereavement which acknowledges that good memories would provide me comfort and connect me to Jack, while at the same time providing the pathway to my future.

I graciously accepted the acts of kindness and I fiercely defended criticism. I was up to every challenge I faced, and humbled by so many loving hearts. Finally, I answered those few calls to let go and all my critics with my own version of letting go. It was not Jack I had to let go of, it was the chorus of misdirected advice that I bid farewell. One of the last things I did on the final march to progression and hope was to trim my Christmas card and e-mail list to reflect individuals who understood the grief process or at least were willing to let me talk about loss without ridicule or criticism. Any one who truly knows me understands how unrealistic it would be for me to abandon my mention of the man I shared 27 years of my life in such an emotional communion. The old saying is very true, “grief rewrites your address book for you”. There was one defining difference between myself and that chorus of misdirected advice. The difference was my recovery spans a lifetime while there’s is measured in much less time. Now I was ready to find Jack.”

This ends a little glimpse at one small portion of my book and a peek at just one issue (relationships with family and friends) which can be so severely tested and in some cases destroyed by the death of a mate.

Isn’t it amazing how the death of our loved ones causes some of those who have been so close to us in the past (friends and family) to vanish in the same death-like fashion as out lost love.

There are four things that sustained me during this period since Jacks death – and they are:

•The core support of five people – my parents, my sister Cathy and two wonderful friends Judi and Sharon.

•With counseling sessions provided by Hospice of the Valley

•With reading numerous books on grieving and how to cope with the loss of a mate.

•With writing – which proved to be the most therapeutic and meaningful path to recovery.

I will continue to miss Jack and to feel like half of me died when he vanished from my sight. I will always feel the sting associated with a heart that is broken - regardless of the healing that has occurred - and will continue to occur. Time will not remove the pain, but it will soften the rough edges of pain and allow me to live again.

Do whatever it takes to help you through those times of “melt down” and realize that you are not alone in having these “melt down” moments when your emotions become raw again. It is normal to have some painful times return on occasion. You are entitled to these moments and you are not alone in the fact that you have them.

My best to you always,

John - Dusky is my handle on here

Love you Jack

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Hi John,

I think of it as August because it was so close. My Jack died July 27th. We are probably runnning pretty parallel in our progress and you are right the "melt downs" are less and time has softened those awful rough edges.

Jack was a marine and the military presentation of the flag at the ceremony is something I'll never forget. I had his ring resized and wear it on the finger next to my wedding ring. It will be there forever no matter what happens. He died suddenly, as you might remember, so there was no Hospice and I never went to any counseling. I just plain trudged through this with sheer willpower, knowing I had to. I also knew he'd want me to. My family and friends were always there but I did stay a bit to myself for quite a while.

The memories are so important. My daughter and I were talking one day and I mentioned one of the good qualities Jack had and she replied, "Now, Mom, you know he was a normal man with things he had to work on, too." Well, that may be true but I prefer to remember all the wonderful things he did for us and me and that's just what I do. My good memories provide me with much comfort.

I distanced myself from faith for awhile. I suppose just out of now even thinking about it...no other reason. I found a church I'm attending now with a very supportive woman's group, not a grief group but just women getting together and sharing. I, too, believe in spirituality and feel I've been that way most of my life but the structure of the church appeals to me now, including the supportive and caring people I've met.

I've been very lucky in that I don't recall any advice or, if there was some, I guess I just dismissed it and went on as I needed to.....maybe I got my Irish up. Who knows?

Twenty-seven years is a very long time. I'll bet it was wonderful! You are a very sensitive person and I'm glad you're doing the things that are helping you. I try, as well. I did have a few health issues that were keeping me a bit down but they're resolved and I feel 100% better and actually so happy to start "seeing" things again and my terrific vegetable garden is growing!

You take care. I love talking with you.

Your friend....Karen

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Karenb,

I see you lost your Jack (my they had the same name) just four days before my Jack. Memories and remembering have sustained me. This is a wonderful site with so many kind and compassonate people who, despite their own suffering and pain, are capable of reaching out to others.

Warm thoughts are with you,

John - Dusky is my handle on here

Love you Jack

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Dusky, You couldn't have written these words at a more perfect time for me. I've cried so much today wanting the torment in my mind to stop, just for a moment and let me come up for air. Again, I tried to reach out to a friend hoping for her to listen and not debate, critisize, question, just listen but she can't. I know she means well and she thinks she knows what it feels like but no matter what I say she doesn't really listen. Actually the conversation made me feel worse about myself and placed the burden of going thru this alone right back on me. I've come to expect this but always hoping for a different outcome.

I read you words and it hit home, that in fact, a new address book is in order. Its hard to let go of past friendships while your grieving but I guess its just as hard to hold onto them when all you feel is pain.

I can't wait for your book. And I thank you for sharing, Deborah

Tomorrow marks ONE YEAR and a HALF since Larry died. Unbelievable to me. I miss him so much.

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There have been some touching posts here, I really know how it is to lose "friends" most of them faded away but my memory of Myrna always is with me, its still painful to think that I lost her so soon, so painfully as much I don't even call her family in Guatemala, feels awkward to do such a thing, and all her friends that meddled with us in the end, I dont get any consolation, but theres one thing I learned, not to trust everyone or give myself away like in the past, but here, I find a safe haven as most of you do, and hospice of the valley has been good to Myrna and me, I have a great therapist, which in my opinion is hard to find in Phoenix, Even with the insurance settlement I am still not happy, I would give a limb to bring her back, my heart goes out to all of you, we are the few that bear the pain and sorrow but it brings us together on a common ground, I wish there was a way to abolish the pain we have, but God only knows why we go through it, we are the Phoenix of humanity, we rise above ourselves because of what our dear spouses gave us, I like to think, I am what I am because of my wife, and her love of life and endurance of the suffering throughout her life, no matter how it makes me cry and lonely for her affection, a part of her spirit lives in me, I have to stop now, hugs to all of you

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