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My Ex-husband Died Unexpectedly

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I am new here. A friend from church told me about this site. This is difficult, it feels hard to breath.

Here goes....

We have been apart for 7 years now and I am remarried for 5 years now. My exhusband and I were together for a total of 10 years and have a 13 year old daughter.

To make a very long story as short as possible to bring you up to present day, my ex had mental health issues that he had never really been able to get the right meds for. He had an anxiety/depression disorder and was manic depressive.

When I filed for divorce after being together for 10 years, it was not because I wanted to but because I needed to think about our daughter and the life we were in at the time. He was never home and I did every thing. felt like a single mother and when we was home, I never knew what kind of mood he was going to be in. Divorce was difficult for me but I knew I had to do it to make a safe home for my daughter and myself. We had been in marriage counseling for a year and a half.

He did not want the divorce and never seemed to get his life on track. He started doing drugs and lying to me and everyone else he knew.

There is so much but too much to type. We lived in chicago and 5 years ago when I remarried, I moved to Arizona along with my daughter and my new husband. Since then, he had moved to AZ approx. 3 1/2 years ago but feel into drugs even deeper and never even had a job while living here.

He called me one night and asked if he could come to our house because he was going to Texas the next day to live with his sister. So my husband and I let him spend the night in our home and say goodbye to our daughter and took him to the airport the next day.

He ended up in rehab in Texas and seemed to be doing better. He went from there to a half-way house and then moved back to chicago 2 years ago.

He wasn't holding down a job and finally became homeless this past April. I was devesated for him. We both cried on the phone together because it was such a big hole he was in and I was so worried about him. I felt in my heart that he wouldn't be able to get himself out of this.

His family had been helping him out financially and finally said 'no more'. He was in a homeless shelter until the end of June and then he had been saying on a friend of his ex-girlfriends apartment the past few weeks. If I didn't get a call from him for a week, I called his friends to check on him and make sure he was ok and that he was in contact with them.

We had a trip to Chicago planned July 11. We just returned on the 27th (3 days ago)We were visiting family and friends. He called me on my cellphone on Wed. the 16th from a payphone to see when we could get together so he could see our daughter. I asked him if he'd be able to call me the following Monday to go to lunch because my husband was going back to AZ that Sunday and I was trying to make it more comfortable for the 2 of them and my daughter.

He died that Saturday, 3 days after our conversation. It seems to be a heart attack but are waiting autopsy results right now. He died in this girls apartment.

I went to the morgue to ID him with his brother-in-law because I felt in my heart I needed to see him with my own eyes before I could break the news to my daughter. I just didn't want it to be true. He was too young, only 38.t

I have been filled with so much guilt. I have so much in my life and he had nothing, and he didn't even get to see our daughter before he died (he had seen her last summer when we visited).

I know he was leading an unhealthy life but does hat mean he was not a worthy human being? He was the father to my daughter. I always told her that just because he makes bad decisions does not make him a bad person. He had a big heart and he loved our daughter and me.

I had an extremely hard time at the funeral on Friday. It was held at the church where he and I were married and the priest who did the funeral mass also married us(he is a friend of my ex's family for 20 years now). I left the church in full blown sobs. All I could see was the 2 of us standing there in 1994 taking our wedding vows, so young and happy. Then our entire life flashed before my eyes.

My daughter has cried maybe twice but has been acting 'normal'. I believe she is still in denial. She refuses to see a grief counselor. I can't just ignore it. I know it will hit her at some point and she will explode.

I haven't slept hardly at all in the past week and feel so much pain every single minute of every day. At first I felt that everyone would question my grief but to my surprise, friends and even his family have been worried about me and asking me about how I'm doing and not just about my daughter.

I am just so filled with guilt for the divorce and how his life turned upside down. He always made me feel like he needed me to hold his hand through life. His mother told me he was always going to need someone to hold his hand through life and that it wasn't my fault.

I feel guilt for having a nice home and a good life with my new husband and my 13 year old and her almost 3 year old sister. I just had always hoped that my ex would find his way in this life.

I'm not sure how to deal with all the guilt I am feeling. No one else seems to understand my guilt and I don't know how to reach out to my daughter without her pushing me away.

He had such a good heart, he deserved better in life. I don't think I will ever find peace in his death. He was only 38 years old.

Even though he wasn't father of the year, at least he was in the world for my daughter. Now he isn't even in the world anymore.

This was so hard to write. Sorry for typos and misuse of grammar(if any). I am just trying to get the words out.

Part of me is also angry with him for putting me in positions over the past 17 years to make hard decisions that I wish I never had to make.

I feel like I'm babbling.

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Babble to your heart's content, it's necessary. It's been a difficult life for you, so much has been going on. Every life has a story and there's, many times, so much pain in those stories. Your life has good and not so good, but you'll get through it with patience and time to heal, just give yourself time. I'll never forget my exhusband's life since we were divorced, and his life just went on where mine took care of our children, and everything else. Sometimes things aren't very fair for them or us. We just have to keep on going. You try to deal with things as they come up, don't worry too much about any one thing, just take care of yourself. Things will come to terms in time. I do know what I'm talking about. My life hasn't been easy, but the time I did have with my 2nd husband, Jack, was a wonderful one, and 3 years after he died, I'm coming to terms and being content with what my life is now. Try to take care of yourself, and come to talk with us again.

Your friend, Karen ;)

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Rhonda Welcome and yes by all means as Karen said... babble away.

I think just posting our thoughts sometimes helps us work through things and all of the understanding replies, suggestions etc. are just icing on the cake.

I am so sorry about the loss of your ex husband.

So very sudden for you and your daughter to cope with. And I am sure it must have been terribly traumatic for you to identify him but I understand why you wanted to.

And also to sit there in that church with the memories flooding must have been very difficult.

The thing that keeps coming to my mind after reading your post is that he must finally be well and whole now. He must feel so much more peace than he had felt here for a real long time. And also.. now.. he can always be with your daughter.

But this is a devastating & awful sudden loss for you and your daughter. One that will take some work to process. And it has been my experience that kids generally grieve way differently than adults. So you two will be doing it differently. The reation your daughter seems to be having is about normal from all I can tell. Kids just do this in their own time.

When I lost my parents, their grandparents, they took it in a bit at a time. At first there weren't many tears from either one. But later on those tears came. Like way later on... like sometimes months later. They feel things and express things about as much as they can handle at a time. Our son, who is oldest, wrote alot. He wrote more about it than he talked. Our daughter would be "fine" whenever I asked when she looked 'off' or downright sad. I knew she wasn't fine. But I also knew she wasn't ready to talk yet because I asked her. When I eventually hinted "Are you sad about Grandpa?" Then the tears came. And sometimes it was only tears and no talk. That came eventually. Not in my time.. but in her own.

As you may know, Marty (Marty T here on this board) has the fabulous website Grief Healing which maybe you have had time to explore. But I wanted to give you a link to her page on books and articles dealing with helping kids through grief.

Just click here:


Look through them all(you can just hover your mouse over the titles to see them) because I am sure some would be better for your daughter than others and there are some there for you too.

The guilt you are feeling is something many of us have struggled with after we lose a loved one. But you were trying to set up a visit that would make it most comfortable for him and your daughter as well as your husband. Your intentions were pure good. The fact that he happened to pass before you were able to meet is not your fault. How could you possibly have known? So guilt is a common feeling for many of us but I would try not to stay there too long. Because really there was nothing else you could have done.

In fact I applaud you for doing everything you had with him and your daughter. Attempting to keep a relationship of sorts going for your daughter with someone who was obviously a bit tough to deal with, had to be challenging to say the least. Many people wouldn't have put the effort you did into this.

And he may have had not much in the eyes of the world or even his own eyes... but he had you and he had his daughter and I would like to think he was very much looking forward to seeing her when he passed. Maybe that gave him some moments of joy.

But please feel absolutely free to come here and share whatever you would like. It is a tough time for you. And this place has made it easier for many of us.


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I too am sorry for your loss. It sounds like you did the best you could in the situations you were in at the time. No one likes to see someone get divorced but sometimes the situation just calls for it to protect you or someone else from harm. You still tried to keep you ex as part of yours and your daughter's lives which is very commendable.

I don't know if you noticed or not but there are forums on this site for teens and for those who lost a parent. Maybe just writing down her thoughts would help your daughter also.

Everyone here is wonderful to lend an open ear and you NEVER have to worry about what you say because nothing is too large or small. Hopefully there will be someone who has gone through a similar situation and may be able to help you. Just take it a baby step at a time. If you have to take it minute by minute and work up to day to day and beyond.

Good luck and God bless you.

Mary Linda

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Welcome to this site, I am sorry for your loss, and want you to know that everything that you are feeling is quite normal. Please know that you were right in your decisions as you needed to think of you and your daughter and keep yourselves healthy. Some people are very needy and that doesn't make them bad, but it does make it more difficult for the rest of us around them...we cannot be responsible for other adults, it's enough that we are responsible for ourselves, our children, and our elderly parents. Your ex was very lucky to have you in his life as you were very caring and giving. 38 is very young to die, my husband was just 51 and I felt that was too young, but we aren't guaranteed any number of years and none of us knows when it will be our time to go. You may feel it is all very unfair, and that is true...life is unfair and doesn't deal to us evenly.

Your daughter will give you cues as to what she wants and needs from you, and I would listen to those cues. Let her know that you also loved her dad and continue to let her know that he was a special person who loved her very much. Let her know that you are available for her to come to any time, to cry, to talk, to reminisce. One thing my kids and I did after my husband passed away was on Christmas, we put a slip of paper in his stocking with something we wrote about him, something we remembered him by as very special, what he meant to us. There are other ways you can memorialize him, perhaps plant a tree in his memory, or volunteer at a soup kitchen in his memory, those are just some ideas, there are any number of creative ways to remember someone and bring it to a positive experience.

If your daughter doesn't want to open up to you about her dad (perhaps she isn't comfortable with that in light of your divorce and remarriage, she may feel it would be uncomfortable for you), perhaps she has an aunt or grandmother or a teacher she could talk to. Let her know it's okay to talk with whoever she feels comfortable with.

I know I would have an extremely difficult time of it if my ex died (the father of my kids), we were married 23 years and that's a bond that divorce doesn't easily sever, particularly if you parted on friendly terms.

Your grief is very valid, please feel free to express it here, that's what we're here for. You have just introduced yourself to a very caring group of people, and in my opinion, one of the most special sites in the word.

We're glad you found us. We will keep you in our prayers!


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I want to thank all of you who have responded. I appreciate all of your kind words so much.

I still have my parents so I can't tell my daughter that I know what she is feeling but I have told her that if her dad could find a way to sit on her shoulder the rest of her life now, then that is what he is doing.

We are going out of town again in a couple of days for a week to visit more family and then school starts on August 11th. I've already contacted the school to let them know what happened so they can keep an eye on her at school.

I've gone through many losses in my life (when I was 11 a cousin of mine who was 16 commited suicide; a few months later one of my uncles died at the age of 39 from lung cancer....these 2 events drove me into a depression that I carried into my early 20's and alomost did not recover from. Then a very close childhood friend's brother died in a boating accident at the age of 20...I was 18. My grandfather died when I was 20 and a close friend passed away 10 years ago at the age of 33 while scuba diving. Just 5 years ago, my grandmother died from Alzheimer's....my mom & I were with her when she took her last breath).

So I know what it is like to feel the pain of losing loved ones in death. I am just feeling so many things about Kevin's (my ex) death..... guilt being the most difficult to overcome right now and still feeling like this can not be real. I wish for my daughter's sake that it was not real.

I feel a constant aching in my chest, like it is hard to breah most of the time. Then I get distracted for awhile and I think, oh maybe it's going away and as soon as I stop doing something it hits me very hard.

I also feel like no one in my family or any of my friends can understand what I am feeling so I don't want to tell them.

Edited by Rhonda
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I have a saying that I have told many people (including myself) many times in my life and I think you could benefit from it:

Guilt has a place in our lives, and it's purpose is to call attention to something in ourselves that needs changing. Once we have addressed that and made those necessary changes, it no longer has a place in us. When it comes our way again, it is no longer actually guilt, but shame. Shame has no place in our lives because it serves to hold us down and incapacitate us and keep us from moving forward in a positive direction.

Therefore, when confronted with "guilt" feelings, put it to the test...ask yourself if you have addressed it to the best of your ability or if there is still something you could do about it. If you have already addressed it, then recognize it is shame that is come visiting, not guilt, and tell it to take a hike, that situation/problem has already been addressed!

The same is true if it is a situation you can not do anything about. All you can do is resolve to handle something differently in the future, but let go of shame and tell it that it has no part in your life!

Which of us, if we could, wouldn't do something differently in our lives if given the chance to do it over again? Yet does it serve any purpose for us to walk around guilt ridden to the point where it holds us back from being healthy productive people? No! In my opinion, you have NOTHING to feel guilty about in your situation anyway!

Never apologize for having done what was best for keeping you and your daughter healthy and happy in a toxic situation...you made the right choice. He also made choices that led to where he was and unfortunately, they affected him...that same statement is true for all of us. We live and die by our choices. You are a very caring person, and I still say, he was lucky to have had you.

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Rhonda, you did something wonderful for him. You always taught your daughter to love and respect her father. So often in the acrimony of divorce patents use offspring as weapons.

You gave him a beautiful gift. You were more of a wife to him than many women ever are.

I am sorry for you loss and your daughter's loss.


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I sincerely want to thank every single one of you here for all of your replies. I was afraid to open myself up emotionally to strangers but have been so grateful that I did now instead of waiting weeks or even months.

I have told my daughter about this site because I think I left it up on the computer, she saw it and asked what it was. I told her about it and that there is a place here that she can talk to other teens if and when she is ready. This might be a good place for her when the time is right because she is not one to open up to strangers face-to-face.

We are going on a trip tomorrow and will be gone for a week so I am hoping that it does us some good to get away again and see more family right now. We have no family here in Arizona and it's times like this that I miss them even more than usual.

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Guest Vickie O'Neil


You are so right, everyone has good in them, even if they don't fit our "normal" society patterns. I'm sure you loved Kevin very much.

I found out a lot of good things about my Dad after he died. Even though he was never a father to we 3 children...(we never heard from him again after Mom divorced him)..his funeral in the little town of Yankton South Dakota was one of the most widely attended, ever. The church was filled with young people that he had mentored in hunting & fishing. I was 39 when he died, & it hit me hard, I can't tell why. I only saw him one time after Mom's divorce, my sister & I paid him a surprise visit in Yankton..we never told Mom about it. He blamed everything on Mom & my Grandma, & said he had never contacted us because Mom had married a rich guy from Phoenix. I know he felt ashamed to see his 2 grown daughters standing on his doorstep, after all those years. We discovered that we have 7 half brothers & sisters he'd sired, but never married the 2 mothers, so at least we 3 were legitimate.

Please be grateful for the loving arms of your current husband, & keep your arms tight around your daughter. Life seems to go inexorably on, somehow. I read in a healing book that when aperson is suffering grief, that the heart Chakra closes, so often people experience loss of breath, or feel that the heart is beating too fast. I've felt it, too.

God Bless, Vickie

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  • 1 month later...

I'm new. My ex-husband of 29 years died suddenly last Saturday and his memorial service was yesterday evening. I knew him for 35 years and we were divorced the last six years. We didn't divorce because we didn't care about each other or love each other but rather because he became addicted to his prescription medication Oxycontin. It destroyed our marriage and almost every relationship he had including the one with our daughter. He had gotten off the pain medication a little while back and we had forged our way back to being good friends again. He loved our 10 y/o grandson very much, and my ex had been wanting to see his grandson for a couple of months, so he asked if we could come out for dinner after church on Sunday. I told him that Saturday would be better, and we went out and stayed a few hours and talked and had a nice time. He told me about some shirts he had ordered for himself and our grandson with their names on them and that he would call me later in the week so we could arrange for them to get their pictures made in them. I got a call shortly after church on Sunday from a police officer saying that he was at my ex's house where his friend found him dead in front of his television set. It looks like he died of a heart attack. His left fist was clenched (he was left-handed), and his right hand was under him like he was trying to get back up. Neither of us remarried or even dated anyone else. I never loved anyone else. I was able to arrange the memorial service and see that he was in one of the plots we bought before we divorced. I even got up and did a eulogy that I wrote which I never thought I would get thru but did thanks to prayers answered. I'm having a hard time with the fact that I will never get to see him again. I would have given him a hug and told him I cared about what happened to him if I hadn't thought I would see him later in the week! I'm hurting so badly, but I'm angry that he left at the same time. I would have talked to him to ensure he was on his way to Heaven. He had suffered from diabetic neuropathy and spinal stenosis and several other things for some time, and he knew his health was bad. He was 58. The hardest thing for me right now is wondering if he called out to the Lord and made things right. He was saved & baptized at age 12, but he had drifted away long ago. Whenever my grandson spent the weekend with me, we always prayed that his Re would not go out into eternity without being right with God. Would God leave a prayer from a child unanswered?!! I need some sort of hope that I'll see him in Heaven one day, and I don't know that!! How do I get past this?

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I don't know if it is appropriate to say welcome to the group because it's one that none of us wants to be in. By the same token it has been my salvation and hopefully will help you too. I know there are others who have been involved with ex's and hopefully they will be able to help you.

As far as whether you will see him in eternity only time will tell. I believe in an all forgiving God so I'd think he'd have to be a really bad person not to be there and it doesn't sound like he was. All you can do is pray.

((((Marigrace))) :wub:

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Mary Lou - Thank you for your response. It is what I needed to hear. My ex had been in a coma and almost died a few years ago, and that is when my grandson and I started praying for Re's soul. I felt at the time that God brought him out of his coma to give him more time to make it right and for our grandson to know him better. I'll just have to pray and have faith that we will see him again one day in Heaven. God bless you! Marigrace.

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