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After almost 8 months without my lovely man, I am starting to realize that I have been hanging on to the grief in order to try and not forget. My greatest fear is forgetting. For one thing, I've always known that's what people mean when they say "It will take time". Our memories are such frail things that details get very fuzzy very quickly. The other thing is that I'm notorious among my friends and family for having a lousy long-term memory.

I have, however, over the last month or so, realized that there's nothing I can do about the vagaries of memory, and am beginning to realize that I must "let go". That surrounding myself with Glenn's photos and writing him letters every day has probably served their purpose. However, that has brought about an abundance of guilt at the very thought. I know it's irrational, I know it's pointless, but it's there, nonetheless.

Has anyone else carried this kind of guilt around with them at the thought of letting their loved one go, at letting that "old life" go? The very idea makes me want to cry. And I don't mean to pretend like they never existed or that the old life didn't happen. I mean to wake up to the realization that he's never coming back and that I have to look after myself now. And I guess part of that is the understanding that constant reminders exacerbate the grief, but putting the reminders away makes the guilt worse. I'm between a rock and a hard place.

Has anyone else dealt with this? Hugs.

Di

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Guilt, I think is part of the grieving process. We feel guilty because we are still alive. We feel guilt because we feel we left so many things unsaid. We feel guilt because we wonder if we were good enough to our loved one, did we honestly do every single thing we could have done, did we tell our spouse I Love You enough and on and on.

I have finally managed to not dwell on guilt. Dick has been gone for 3 years, 4 months, 9 days. The day I realized I no longer remembered the sound of his voice I thought I would die. But I didn't.

Now, when doubt and guilt start to try to creep in, I force myself to think about wonderful memories and how lucky I was to have had the love of a terrific man for over 39 years.

It's all a process. Try to think positively and dwell on the good times.

Be gentle with yourself.

Anne

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Hello Di,

I have had a rough day today and still am so this will be short. I am sorry for your loss....I lost Bill 15 months ago today. I am not exactly sure what you mean by letting go so I will speak for myself. I never intend to let go of Bill. I do intend to let go of guilt eventually. I have Bill's photos around. I look at them often. I made a list of memories as they come up so I never forget...all I do to refresh my memory is look at the photos and read my list and be grateful for all we had. I usually cry also. I am living my life...but I am also grieving my loss. We all do it differently but I know I will grieve this loss forever. I am not telling you what is right or wrong. I am just telling you what I am doing. My grief is as sacred to me as my joy of having Bill. Why not just be in each moment and allow each moment to be in you....sometimes that will be tears of joy, tears of loss and sadness....but as each day is lived you will find yourself right where you need to be. Just a thought. I do not even know how to let go. It feels like a phrase that people use but never define. I am just thinking out loud here. I hope you can just allow yourself to grieve your loss...it is only 8 months. I wish you peace, Mary

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Hi Di,

It's been 8 months for me, too. I think the most difficult adjustment was Buck's absence in my life and his companionship. Living life alone again after having him by my side for many years. The shock of his death was such that for a time I subconsciously believed he'd 'be back'. I just had to wait for his return. Now that I realize he is gone and will never be here for me as he was, I can finally move forward. It isn't good to dwell in the past. I visit there quite often, but know that I must put it away in a safe loving place and get on with living. There is a twinge of guilt sometimes, that I'm here and he's not, but that decision was not mine to make. I would never have wanted him to go; yet I have to accept the fact that he is not a physical presence in my life anymore. I still have his pictures around the house, but have put many of his things away--not to forget, but to remember. I go to my treasure cove of his items from time to time and spend time with his memory. His spiritual presence is apparent in my life and I suppose that's how he'll appear to me from now on. Letting go, for me, is understanding his place in my life as I move forward. He is no longer a physical being that can be for me what he once was. That doesn't mean I'll forget him, nor that anyone can ever replace him. But I know that it is much healthier for me to continue life and look forward without guilt. That's the best way to honor his memory. We all move through this difficult process in our own way. Give yourself time to find your own path, your way. Take care.

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DI,

I feel guilt more than anything else. I don't know why, I have been told it is very normal to feel guilty over you loss of you loved one. I try to deal with it day by day. I have Pauline's photos all over the house. they give me comfort in seeing those eyes her smile, and the glow she had about her. I can not imagine taking them down. But everyone is different only you can know what is best for you. Take care.

Dwayne

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Dear Di,

I think you are on to something important in learning to live with this for some of us. I first read about this in the book, A Tearful Celebration. When I first read about letting go of the past to be able to move forward it made me angry at the thought of it. But as I read on, the letting go is as wmjsca explains. We loved them immensly and it is hard to be able to start this new life while holding onto the old one so tightly. We all had hopes and dreams and plans and for me that has all changed. It isn't easy but now I have to try to think about the possibility of new hopes and dreams and plans and expectations for me in life. If I don't at least try, then I will become what my counselor calls "stuck" in my grief. We will never forget them, the love or the life that we shared with them. It is hard to try to imagine life without them but that is what we have left, that and all of our wonderful memories.

God Bless you and praying you have a good day.

Pat

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Di,

I'm glad I came here... I have spent the last year fighting a battle with the devil and I am exhausted. The support system and discussion board I belong to is full of sadness and I can see the future for so many of them just because I have walked in their shoes. Grief... that is why I am here now. I lost the one person who knew me inside and out, my husband. If that wasn't enough I lost my mother to lung cancer 9 days before him.

Grief... I am lost in it's boundaries right now. I am bouncing right and left getting knocked around emotionally like a pinball. Each day their faces get fuzzier... yes, I know exactly what you mean. I am afraid to move forward least I forget who loved me the most and supported me no matter what I tried. Right now I feel lost without them in my life. My heart aches and yet I know I need to heal in the acceptance of letting go, of moving forward. My life will never be the same, I have to reach out to life once again no matter how fearful I am.

But it scares me.

Thank you for being here.

Peace to you.

Deb

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Di I also can relate to the realization that in order to feel better I need to let go. It is very painful to even think about, let alone do. It is a very gradual process and one I struggle with daily. Letting go of everythig I thought we would get to do together. We will never retire together. We will never walk our daughter down the aisle. We will never see our kids off to college. We won't sit on the patio and sip wine or jet ski on the bay. All the pictures in my head of our future are null and void. It is only me now and I am still shattered by the pain of it. Sometimes I only want to be with him and wonder how I will ever live a full life again.

Last week at my grief counselors office I told her that I felt like a failure because I couldn't just think positive. I couldn't live each moment happy for what it was and it seemed like all the people in my support group were doing so much better than me. Why was I still so miserable? She took quite a bit of time having me verbalize my progress. I am doing alot better than I give myself credit, but I am frustrated that it isn't happiness. She reminded me that I am grieving and that is why I am not always able to be happy and positive. I thought I was being held captive by my grief and she suggested that I grieve more! I was horrified. I am sick and tired of crying. I am exhausted by the thoughts and sadness of what will never be. She pointed out that I am keeping busy, doing projects and filling my time so that I don't have to feel the pain. Although we need breaks from grief she also pointed out that the work was not complete and I needed to find additional ways to mourn what I have lost. She said that each time we allow ourselves to feel the pain we loosen the ropes that bind us, we are letting go of what we can no longer have. I left her office pretty pissed off and depressed. But after talking to a friend I think she might be right. My husband died in an accident. One minute our life was normal and the next it was over. Poof, no warning no preperation, no fears of the future. Just over. I don't think this makes it more painful for me but I do think it makes it harder to accept.

Anyways, I guess I have to stop beating myself up for not feeling happy and figure out more ways to deal with our loss. I guess that shouldn't include more wine or painting the house! All I know is this grief thing really sucks! cheryl

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Di,

It's been 11 months for me, and I still haven't really let go. During the first few weeks after my husband's death, I was told to look at pictures in photo albums and remember the good times. I was told to get rid of his clothes and his meds.

I gave the hospital pharmacy the meds, but I still have his clothes in our closet. I can't look at photos - unless I have to, for some reason. His cap is still under a pillow on the other side of the bed - though there really isn't anything left of his scent there now.

I still wonder - out loud - why I couldn't be allowed to keep my husband and my old life. My old life was fine. This new life is uncomfortable and a little scary. I don't exactly feel guilt at letting him go. Maybe because I'm unable to do it. I feel a truckload of guilt surrounding his death, but I cling to his memory - our memories. I don't really want to move on. But things tend to move forward in spite of how I feel about it.

The way I see it - we don't have to let go. We just have to move forward when we need to. Why can't we have both?

Melina

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Letting Go... ...Too soon did I make that mistake. One of Bill's customers wanted to buy his truck..for which I had no use, and knowing he would take excellent care of Bill's "pride and joy"...{other than me)..I sold it to him. Little did I realize at the time how much that truck, sitting in the garage next to mine, gave me comfort. Perhaps a false sense that he would be coming back??? Now the hole where the truck sat looms as big as the hole in my heart. I have all his clothes still in the closets.....personal items still in his drawers and his shoes at the door. I feel guilty the truck is gone....will not be parting with anything else in the near future...only been less than 4 months and I need to see those things...A lesson learned...don't act in haste. Your heart will know when it's time. And Mary...your post about the hose....yes...the smallest of chores..like filling the bird feeder...zaps me of energy...perhaps because I have to use all the energy I can muster just to get outside.

My new mantra now is...WWBD...{What Would Bill Do?}...as in WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?}...the bird feeder actually fell apart when I screwed the top on too tight...bird seed flew everywhere. No matter how I tried, could not keep the feeder from coming apart so I took all the parts and threw them in the trash can. About half an hour later thought about the feeder and how Bill always took on the job of filling that very feeder. Knew at that moment I would not part with it and thought...WWBD? Went to the trash can...tipped it over to reach inside..collected all the parts...went downstairs...got the hammer...and somehow...got it all back together...filled it and hung back in it's place.Where that energy came from I don't know...but it felt good. I knew that is what Bill would have done...He could fix anything....If only he was here to fix my

broken heart.

Sorry I got off track again but that seems to be the norm right now...emotions and thoughts all over the place...like being caught in a giant wind tunnel...not wanting to let go ..hanging on for dear life......a rough road we travel....Carol

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Hi Carol,

That was a very hard lesson...I have learned a few of those also but the truck was a big one. i am glad you learned before you got rid of other things. My Bill was also someone who could and did fix anything. I think those surges of energy come when we are focused on the one we love...a surge of adrenalin perhaps but then that surge drains us and we are more exhausted afterwards. It is just a vicious circle. I love the WWBD idea. I love it especially when it comes to not judging others, being kind to others...as Bill was someone who did not judge and who was kind.

This road is so so so long. This holiday weekend is an eternity in spite of the plans I made to distract myself. My emotions are all over the place also at 15 months and i remember 4 months and 9 months and 12 months. All exhausting. Today I was invited to a friend's for dinner and asked if I could bring something. She suggested dessert. I instantly felt overwhelmed...to make a simple dessert felt like climbing Everest. A friend was with me and is going to the dinner also and jumped in and said she would make something and did. She understands my fatigue so well. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It is a long road and our thoughts and feelings are like popcorn that someone took the lid off of when it was popping hard and fast. Peace, Mary

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Di,

I understand about the guilt, I know we all have it to some degree. Like you I have made the decision to move forward, or let go, and I do feel guilt. Like I am leaving Mike behind. But truth be told, he left me behind, not willingly, but it is just what happened. Moving forward does not mean that I have forgotten Mike, I will never forget him, and his pictures and some of his things are still around the house. BUT, he is not coming back, and I think I finally accept that now, after 17 1/2 months.

I have managed to keep very busy since I retired on May 13th. I directed a play for the community theater, and then went to AZ for a week to visit my best friend. For me, the key to moving forward has been being involved with the theater, and with friends.

I had a dream the other night. I was on the porch of a house (supposedly mine, but it was not familiar). In the dream I was thinking about going to AZ to visit my sister, who lives in a different part of AZ than the one I visited a couple of weeks ago. I was thinking of different travel modes, flying, train, etc., when I thought, well maybe Mike can take vacation and we can just drive. Then it hit me in the dream that he was gone, and not coming back. I went into the house in the dream, and literally fell on the floor sobbing. I woke up crying, again realizing that he was not coming back. I may be just reading things into the dream, but I feel like he was trying to tell me in the dream to move forward.

If I don't try to move forward, and don't find joy in life again, then what is my purpose for being here. Mike did not intend to leave, and we had plans for retirement that will never be realized because they would not be the same without him. However I am making new plans, trying to find my new normal, and think in some small way I am succeeding. Pat's counselor is right, we don't want to be "stuck" in our grief. To be "stuck", I think, is all about us, and not about the person we are grieving for. Don't know if that makes sense, and I am not saying that we should not grieve, and God knows I have done, and am doing it still. But we cannot let it dominate our lives, because you cannot really go forward if you are stuck. OK, these are just my thoughts, and I am not in the least bit trying to tell anyone else how to do things. I am just saying that for me, moving forward is what I must do. Will I forget Mike, NEVER. I have a lousy memory also Di, always have had, and I too have a fear that I will forget things, but with Mike, I think I will remember it all. Our life was not perfect, to be honest, most people's are not, but it was good for us, and I have many wonderful memories that will be with me always.

To answer your question, yes there is guilt when deciding to move forward, it is hard, and I feel at times that I am being disloyal to Mike. He was such a large part of my life, and of our life in the community theater. What is so great for me is that people are not afraid to talk about him with me, and about things that happened when he was alive. It gives me great joy that our theater friends, and other remember him, and talk about him, telling stories, or joking about things that happened. These people share some of my memories, and these memories will continue.

Mary (Queeniemary) in Arkansas

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