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I'm wondering if I should be worried about my physical health. I'm so exhausted. I've been emotionally and somewhat physically tired ever since my husband got his diagnosis, but oddly energetic all the same. Right after his death, I became almost hyperactive - doing all kinds of things around the house, even painting the outside and planting large bushes in the yard. My energy level was far higher than it is now - 1 1/2 years after his death.

Every weekend I have a list of things I need to do. Sometimes I'm able to do a couple of them. This weekend my list was left more or less untouched. I had planned to do some painting, fix the clothesline outside, do the laundry and several other housekeeping things. All the stuff I don't get time for during the work week.

It's been a struggle just to get out of bed the last couple of weeks, and after walking the dog this afternoon I had to take a nap. I'm not a nap person, so this is strange. I don't have a fever or feel unwell. My knee hurts from a meniscus rupture (waiting for surgery), but other than that I don't really feel sick. I just can't gather the energy to do anything. I've made an appointment with my doctor to check for iron defiencies. It would be just my luck if I had cancer or some other ominous illness.

Maybe this is a combination of loneliness, boredom, and basic grief. I don't talk to anyone all weekend - just the dog. It gets a little strange walking around alone. Do any of the rest of you feel drained of energy?

Melina

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Hi Melina,

The fatigue (exhaustion) you describe sounds very similar to mine. Initially I did way too much...mostly socializing as I was so afraid of being left out and ultimately totally alone... so I said yes to way too much stuff even though exhausted. I said yes to everyone who invited me anywhere knowing I was screwing up...that it was not who I was. The last few months I have found a better balance and I keep a lower profile as I learned I would rather be home alone or somewhere alone than with folks I do not enjoy much or at events I really do not want to be at.

I find myself twittering away time....accomplishing little to nothing....many days. I can't count on my energy. I tired very easily, take naps I never ever took before, limit my comings and goings to better balance. I am not sick. At close to 72 I am in excellent health but the care giving years, Bill's death, this horrific grief, inner work I do...and more are/were exhausting. I expend tons of energy just being awake, thinking, feelings, introspection..at a time when I am already exhausted. I am just waiting it out, eating better, shed 10 pounds with hopes of more, walking the dog, drinking more water (extremely important to energy)....hoping I will eventually feel human again. If you suspect a problem (like thyroid or anything), a test is worthwhile. But for me, I think I am just plain worn out. A friend told me just after Bill died that she, her husband, her college age daughter, a full time caregiver took care of her mom (Alzheimer's) for two years. She said it took another two years for her to feel human again...and she had lots and lots of help. I was a care giver for 4+ years alone for the most part so I figure it will take a long time to get my energy back. Our thoughts, at least mine, are also draining. Thursday (my nightmare day) drained any reserve I had built up plus. This is hard work we are doing...so many times in a day something happens or I see something that ambushes me and voila....it is stressful. Our adrenal glands are screaming....I am sure. I think this calls for self care and patience...three steps forward and two back or ten back...day by day.

I do wish you had more friends. An entire weekend home alone wipes me out emotionally. This weekend I had nothing scheduled for a change but I stopped at a friend's shop and we had tea together yesterday. It is a tea house. Today I will go for a walk with someone. I can barely stand an entire weekend alone. Is there anything you can get involved with that would lessen those long alone weekends?

Peace,

Mary

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Melina, I understand what you are feeling. After Dick's death, I felt the same way. I had to go to the doctor so he would order refills for my blood pressure prescription and asked him if there was something wrong with me. He asked me to accept the fact that I was emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc., exhausted. He reminded me that I had spent approximately 5 years caring for and anticipating the probability of the death of my husband. He reminded me that prior to that experience, I had dealt with the deaths of both my in-laws as well as my father's death and was basically the person who "carried that weight" because my husband was ill.

He told me to expect at least a year to regain my health and to quit fighting. If I was tired...sit down. If I was sleepy...go to bed. If I lacked ambition to do something...just don't do it! (Unless the house was on fire, then I absolutely needed to get up and get out!)

Would you think about what he told me? Believe if or not, he was spot on. The first year was total exhausting, lack of energy, and absolutely no ambition. The second year was better, but I was still tired alot of the time.

It is exhausting to have to shoulder all the responsibility, all the decisions, all the worry, and the thought of the rest of your life.

Be kind to yourself, rest and do what was so difficult for me...just be.

God Bless

Anne

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I think it's fairly common for what we've been through, but I would get a physical just to be safe. Emotions can take their toll on our body just as physical exertion can.

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Dear Melina,

When i was acting I had to play a death scene. Before we began, the director explained how much energy goes into dying. It is an exhausting process. I asked Jane to come see the play--we were not yet married--but she said she could not bear the sight of me dying--even as an actor.

I have come to realize that grieving is also a thing that devours energy. I have rarely been as tired as I am now--and never for this long. Once a good night's sleep could recharge me from even a 36 hour day. Now the end of every day feels like I have pulled an all-nighter. caregiving exacts a huge price--but so does surviving. I think someone needs to write a science piece on this. I wonder if there is a connection between the exhaustion we go through and how many people die within two years of their spouse. It seems sometimes to be burning out whatever reserves we have left.

I think self-care helps. Eating and drinking regularly, sleeping, housekeeping, exercise--all provide a scaffold to rebuild our lives on--but also provide the strength we need to work through our grief. Not sure I am making sense at this point. Midnight is approaching and I have had a strange and exhausting two days.

Good night.

Peace,

Harry

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Thanks for replies, everyone. I'm feeling a tiny bit better today. It's odd that I'm more exhausted on the weekends than the weekdays. Either I'm tired after a work week, or the weekends wear me out. It might be the intense feeling of loneliness forcing me to confront my grief that does it. I'm alone with myself on weekends with no one else to talk to, and I'm probably not the best company right now.

I'm starting to wonder if this is going to last a long time. I'm not sure I have the energy to go on like this another year. Something will have to change, and I'll probably have to change it. But how?

Melina

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Slowly, Melina, I think we make these changes slowly. I try not to look ahead too far as it is overwhelming to think of being without Bill forever. Maybe starting with doing one thing or two a day, small things, that would feel good. Like the day you took a different route with the dog. Maybe start taking photos on your walks and post some for us to see Norway. You had some friends for dinner not too long ago (more than I have tried) maybe have someone over for coffee and dessert...on a weekend...those are my worst times. just some ideas to your question "how". Mary

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