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He Died Two Years Ago


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He died two years ago tomorrow. Sometimes it feels like he surely can't be gone and at other times it seems like a century since we last held each other.

Two whole years. I have been trying to figure out what I've been doing for two years. The first month or two I was numb and I only remember cleaning everything over and over again, trying to keep busy and needing to escape reality. I didn't dare sip a glass of wine, I was so sure it would lead to a 1/5 of tequila. I sold my husbands business, filed for social security for the kids and learned that I might be losing my job. Oh, and my husbands father found out he had cancer and almost died too. In my spare time I remember spending a lot of time curled up in a ball on the floor or screaming in the shower hoping the kids wouldn't hear me. I was wrong, they heard everything and I probably have scarred them for life.

Month three and four I knew I couldn't survive the pain, it was just too hard. I spent hours begging god to take me to be with my husband. I couldn't sleep and lost 25 lbs, which put me at 5'8" and 105 lbs. Everyone begged me to eat and I refused. I was pissed off and knew that NOT eating was one thing I had control of. I lived off water and occasionally gagged down a salad. I couldn't sleep and the doctor prescribed somthing mild and made sure I only had a months supply so I couldn't kill myself. He had the gall to chastise me for not having had my mammagram and I remember telling him he was nuts if he thought I was going to do anything to prolong this hell. First time I had smiled in weeks.

The fifth and sixth month I returned to work but didn't talk to anyone and spent most of my time researching ways to die on the internet. I knew I couldn't blow my brains out and I didn't want a mess for my kids to find. I shared with a friend that I couldn't be the mom that my kids needed me to be and that they were suffering watching me day after day unable to function. That if I could figure a way out that was fool proof then I would be content to go. I really thought my kids would understand and would be better off with relatives. I know he thought I was crazy and he was right. When you contemplate suicide you are not able to see anything except the pain and you just want it to STOP!!! The weird thing is that once I found a fool proof way to do it, I started to get a break in the pain. Knowing that I had control over whether I lived or died was a relief. I was in the drivers seat again. Now the choice was mine. If I felt bad enough, I had my way out.

By the seventh and eighth month I realized I had survived his birthday, our anniversary, thanksgiving, christmas and new years. It was spring and I planted a garden, went for walks and took my kids white water rafting. I started to realize that just maybe I would survive. But I was pissed because I really wanted to be with him and I felt torn

The first year anniversary was hard but the day itself wasn't as hard as I had built it up to be. I sat down and wrote a letter to my friends and told them that I was stronger and yearned to be happy again. I started to fight my way back.

But that second year in many ways was worse than the first year. I was truly on my own. I had no idea who I was and I had know idea who I wanted to be. I couldn't be me anymore because my world had been destoyed. You see Mark and I were as one. We were so entertwined. There had never been a me or him once we were married. We were one. He went to work one day and never came home. No warning, no preparation, no fears. Just poof. gone!

I spent most of year number two trying new things all alone. And for the first 6 months of that second year it pretty much sucked. I did everything angry and resentful but I kept doing things. I also rested alot. I layed around the house alot. I let things go that I had never let go before. Most things really didn't matter to me. The windows covered with dog noses stayed that way. The fish tank didn't get cleaned often. I was easily distracted and felt like my life was forced. If you asked me if I was happy I would have laughed at you and then bit your head off.

So now I am at the end of year two. I'm still not "happy" but I can tell that I will be happy someday. I can go out and have fun with friends. I'm not uncomfortable with people and I feel alot better. I still cry a lot and I just except the pain now. I never fight it anymore. I have plans for fall that include a hiking club, exercise, a spanish class and hopefully a date with a man. But it will have to be someone totally diffirent than my man. Because no one could compare to him. But I'm not ready to look, just open to the opportunity now. No rush.

Tomorrow I'm going to buy myself flowers. I'm going to write a letter to me from Mark. He's going to tell me he's sorry he died and that I deserve these flowers. Then I'm going to get a manicure and a pedicure. I'm going to cry with the nail lady who lost her husband five years ago. I'm going to come home and cry some more. Listen to a meditaton CD. In the evening we will make tomatoe basil bisque soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. Then we will go out for a big ice cream sundae at The Sugar Bowl. Then I will watch tv until I fall asleep and then year number two will be over.

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Cheryl....your courage, honesty, struggle, celebration, and so much more are to be honored. You have taught us all something with your post. So much of what you said resembles my walk. I am in that first half of year 2 and the aloneness is so tough...tougher in many ways than year one. I honor your walk through this and I am so glad you chose to live....Mary

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Cheryl,

Wow, again,you said it like we have felt it...we can relate so well. And I love how you put it all, and your plans for tomorrow. And I love that you're going to write a letter from him (gee, when they die we can make them say anything we want!) and I love that you're going to buy flowers and get a pedicure (something I've never done). And most of all I love that you didn't commit suicide and and am so glad you're still here for your kids (they do need you). And I doubt you've scarred them for life, no more than any of us have. :) You will be in my thoughts tomorrow. Thanks you for sharing with us.

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Cheryl

Thank you, I was enthralled with your writing. Two years for me just gone on 22 August and you could have written the post about me except that I didn't have the energy, just the wish for a long time, to do something about not being here any more.

I don't know how I have survived two years without him but I have. That's the lesson that I had to learn - you can and will get through it. I know he would expect me to make something worthwhile of this time I have left - so I am trying (but still failing) daily. But there's always tomorrow - so I'll give it another go then.

Life is sad but bearable most of the time now. I'm looking forward to OK and my hope is that maybe happy-ish will be around the corner sometime for all of us...Susie Q

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Dear Cheryl,

I find you story so heart wrenching. I have had some of the experiences that you have had, but I am only at 6 months today August 25. I think if I did not be giving this wonderful place where we all understand what we are all going through, thanks to Harry for sharing HOV with us at our hospice group meetings. I would not have made the progress I have made. I do have my goal of nursing, just when I think I will be able to start my health sets me back again. Now I am working on getting my strength back, so I can handle the studding and classroom work. Maybe in a couple of weeks I can start.

I can see you have been through the mill on your journey of grief. We all do at one point or another. It is encouraging to hear you can be happy again in your new normal. It takes a lot of hard work to get there.

I wish you the best that life can give.

God Bless

Dwayne

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Cheryl, I am thinking about you today. The aloneness does seem more acute this middle of the second year, I have lots of friends and keep pretty busy, but still alone. You have a good day planned, good for you. Enjoy the mani/pedi, they always make me feel good.

Your post touched me, it pretty much tells the story for all of us.

Mary (Queeniemary) in Arkansas

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Cheryl, dear, your post is so beautifully written, and I think it deserves a wider audience. You might think about getting it published. For example (only with your permission, of course) I would love to put it on our Grief Healing blog as a guest post ~ We could consider it as another installment in our Voices of Experience series, perhaps?!

You might also consider submitting it for possible publication in a magazine such as Grief Digest. This lovely periodical features articles on coping and dealing with grief and help for the caregiver, written by outstanding clinicians, writers and speakers in the field of grief intervention, as well as essays, stories and poems written by the bereaved themselves. (Another of our members did this a while ago; see the posts in the thread, Things I've Learned.) You can send your piece to Andrea Gambill, Editor, at andrea.gambill@gmail.com or mail it to 11280 Niagara Drive, Fishers, Indiana 46037. (According to Andrea, she will accept snail mail, but she prefers email.) She will ask you to read and sign their writers' guidelines (their permission to print). If you decide to do so, please feel free to tell Andrea (a wonderful lady), that I encouraged you to submit your lovely piece!

Living with Loss Magazine also invites contributions from readers (Bereavement Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 61, Montrose, CO 81402, 888-604-4673). Go to www.livingwithloss.com and click on From the Publisher / Submissions to access Writers' Guidelines.

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Cheryl: Thank you for sharing!! It did a lot of good for me to know how this path goes as I wind myself through it. I'm only in the third month, and I know I have a long way to go, if that's what God has in mind for me. So many things you mentioned hit home to me, even for this brief time I've had to cope. My Wanda and I were also intertwined. Where you found one, you found the other. We cooked together, we cleaned together, we went for rides in the park and counted deer. We had a couple of revelations, one of those is engraved on our joint headstone at the cemetery: "Together Forever", a phrase we were telling each other right to the end. I truly believe that we will be forever together in eternity, trillions of years, though there is a brief period now where she's preparing the way for me, and I'm busy finishing up our affairs here on earth. The other thing that will always be embedded in my mind is that over the past couple of years at least, we joked with each other that it took both of us together to make one reasonable human being...so now I find myself (on earth at least) only half the person I want to be. The best place for both of us is together, so this interim time is wretched.

There is, of course, a difference between men and women in dealing with these things. Some may not have been involved in the maintenance of the home, others not interested in knowing the financial part of dealing with issues, sometimes each person gets so involved in their part of the marriage that they don't really know how the other half works because their partner deals with that part. I believe in my heart that every man, and only a portion are, should be fully prepared to take care of himself. He should be able to cook, to do the laundry and iron, to send birthday cards out, to keep the house clean, etc. The good part of all that is that since my best friend in life and I did everything together, I can make gravy (you'd be surprised at the number of women we know, but especially men, who can't make gravy or cornbread or whatever is needed. Our grandkids thought that with Grandma gone, her specialties, such as her creamy macaroni and cheese, her German Chocolate cake, her homemade cinnamon rolls and potato salad, on and on, would be lost to the world forever. What they didn't realize, and they've seen since, is that Grandma and Grandpa were a team, and what Grandma could make, Grandpa can make....maybe not quite as good, maybe not with the same loving hands, but the 'secret recipe' is not lost, and even Grandpa can make and teach them to make these things.

All that said, and with the fact that I can take care of myself, it's still way too difficult to live without her. What you said, Cheryl, about not wanting to live, I understand fully. But, wanting to get rid of myself has never crossed my mind, well at least since the first few days of never wanting to see another day. For the first month, one of our Granddaughters stayed with me, and every night she'd put out 1 Tylenol to help me sleep, but she thought she was hiding the rest of them so I wouldn't want to take more. I knew where they were, but I guess they finally decided I was capable of being off suicide watch. My faith tells me that would be wrong, and may even prevent me from joining with my partner later. Secondly, I know how dreadful that would be for 6 (should be 7, but we lost a 48-year old Son on 2/2/2009) kids, 20 grandkids and 13 great-grandkids. If all those people had to deal with the fact that they lost their magnificent Grandma and then on top of that their Grandpa killed himself, I just can't ever imagine putting them through that. My wonderful Wife would be so way beyond sad to know that. She, of course, wants me to have the strength to take care of our affairs. She wants me to look after her interests, not just say "I can't do this". I have to go forward, hard as it may be, and every day, every night I talk to her. I tell her that I miss her and love her with all my heart, and that I look forward to reuniting with her...but on God's time, not mine. He will tell me when I'm due for the reunion, and in the meantime I have to endure whatever grief and numbness goes with this unspeakable loss.

There's lots of reasons for us to carry on, painstaking as it may be. One of the thoughts that I continually reinforce with myself is that if I had gone first, as was expected, my dearest Wife would have a terrible time dealing with this pain. In that sense, I'm truly glad that it's me who has to endure this terrible grief and not her. She was at the absolute highest point in her life (she would tell her Sisters and a couple of our very close friends), and to find herself in a horrific position such as this would be devastating to her. The kids all say that she would not have been able to deal with it even as well as I do, and I'm terrible at this lonliness, this feeling that the greatest part of my life is now ended. NEVER has become a word that I despise. Never will she be in her closet again, she will never sit in her chair, she will never again be my caregiver. How utterly sad that word.

You mentioned, Cheryl, perhaps someday dating a man who would have to be a completely different person. I understand that attitude, and I envy you for being able to think like that, and I personally believe that our age has something to do with that. For instance, we lost our Son, and his Wife as in her early forties. We would never expect, no matter how much she cared about Joe, that she should live the rest of her life in a single, lonely mode (though I have a Sister-In-Law who was that same age, and she's never even considered having another man around after we lost my Brother, 2 1/2 years younger than myself), but again age is important. I will be 78 in less than a week now, and the thought of having another woman in my life is appalling to me....but if I were 50, who knows how I'd feel. I believe that all of that has to be dealt with on an individual basis, and none of us should judge someone else for whatever decisions they make. Each of us is a person, and each of us is responsible for our own happiness. Truly, no one else can make us happy, but if we find that one special person who contributes so much to our happiness, we are so very fortunate. Watch Divorce Court and see how many stupid people there are in this world who don't even know what true companionship, love for a spouse, happiness in being together is all about. It borders on being funny even if it is so sad to be like that.

Sorry to get carried away and make this so long, but your post gave us all reason to think about the course we're on, and how we can get through it, especially when there are other caring people who are going through the same type of agony. I believe that if we all share, work together, we'll all make it to the 'other side' of this process....it will never (there's that word again) go away, but we can make it better.

THANK YOU FOR MAKING IT BETTER for me, hopefully for others, especially those who haven't been as far into the process as you are.

Lots of hugs to all of you, and let's keep making each other feel better.

Earl C

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Thank you Cheryl for your post. I am thinking of you today and of what you have been through. What an inspiration you are, to keep on going. I've got a long way to go, just barely three months into this grief.

Beth

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Cheryl,

Your post was beautiful. I hope your day was filled with beautiful memories. I too am in my second year and can really relate to what you said. And of course, no one that hasn't been through this can understand how you can still have these kind of feelings. That is why once again, I thank God for all of you.

Chris

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Dear Cheryl, Since all the children are no longer living at home, I have trouble using the computer. There's no one here to ask, "What happen to what I was just typin?"I log on to this website from time to time and find it very comforting. I too am approaching a 2 yr anniversary of losing my husband of 37yrs named Paul. We were very close and actually enjoyed eachothers company more than any one else. We were always together and when we were not, the telephone was the next best way to talk. It has been so difficult trying to get my life back on track, cause I never would have imagined in a million yrs that he would be taken from me. He had lung cancer & was hopsitalized a yr prior to his passing. My daughters and I visited him often but we thought he was going to live, maybe not like before but always around. Even tho I recall all the tubes, machines trachea, oxygen tank, I loved him so much these things became invisible, when I visited all I saw was him. I spend many evenings wandering thru the house longing for him and trying to wrap my mind around the fact, he is not coming back. Holidays & especially his birthday leaves me feeling like something or one has their hands around my neck, choking me. Many panic attacks follow. I will share that my 5 daughters & 5 grandchildren give me hope that I juz might make it.Living alone is an adjustment, but I decided the time has come to start spoiling myself, just like he would have if he lived. I too like going to the nail salon 1-2 times a month, very relaxing. The pain never goes away.I can't tell you it's gonna get better, but you'll learn to find your joy. Be strong and keep his love and all the memories good and bad in your heart, and know that there is someone else out there,me, that understands. Blessing to you..

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afwah54,

Your post touched me. 37 years is a long time to be together, I envy you that, but I know it just makes it all the harder to be without him now. I'm glad you have your daughters and grandchildren, and I'm glad you can have some measure of joy in that.

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Cheryl,

Thanks for your post - very encouraging.

One year out and I'm still letting the house go a bit. It's not easy to take care of everything, being only one person. There are only 24 hours in the day, and for many of those hours I don't feel like doing anything. I still have to force myself to get going.

Hope that my second year will be better.

Melina

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I am overwhelmed by all the responses to my post. You are the ones that understand, the ones that can relate and appreciate the depth of sorrow and the struggle to keep moving forward. The sadness in having to change everything and the triumph in seeing growth.

There were two surprises on Mark's death day. Only two people called. My mother in law and my sister. It was painful to think that no one remembered him. My mother in law said several people called her and asked her if they should call me, but they didn't want to make me sad. I truly will never understand how ignoring my pain would make me feel better. Did people really think that i was not mourning his death on the anniversary. Even a text on my phone would have helped. She also said that so many people are happy that my kids and I are doing so well and are glad to see us smiling again. That's nice but I would have loved to have heard it from them.

Here is what people don't see. My daughter and I sharing tears that life is still very painful without him. My son hugging me because I am sad. We are moving forward in life but there is a deep sadness and the journey has not ended for us.

I bought myself the flowers, I wrote a letter to myself from Mark. He told me he was so sorry to have caused us sooooo much pain. He told me that he missed me too. That he was busy preparing a place for me.

My daughter and I got our nails done. We got through the day together, the three of us. But we sure missed him. Thank you for understanding my friends. I'm forever grateful for your strength and friendship.

Cheryl

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Every year on my dad's death day I call my mom. It's been 29 1/2 years now and my mom is 89 and has dementia. I don't bring it up on the off chance she might not remember. But the first umpteen years I did, the years when her memory was better, and I would talk about Daddy. My mom told me it made her feel good that I would bring his name up to her because so many people didn't, she wondered, did they think she's forget if they didn't bring it up? She said it was just good to know that someone else remembered him, that someone else had not forgotten, that she could share in talking about things about him with someone else. Now I know what she means. I'm lucky, my sisters and my kids talk about George to me, all throughout the year. But people don't call me on his death day. Perhaps they've forgotten what day it was, although it was on Father's Day so it's kind of hard to forget (not that I would no matter when it was). No one in my church remembers anymore. Friends disappeared, so did his family.

Cheryl, I'm glad you chose to spend the day the way you did. I think it was a great idea to write yourself a letter from him, it sounds very therapeutic. I've never done that, maybe I should sometime. One thing is for sure, they would be proud of us for all we have survived, it has been hard.

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