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The Night Before My Husband's Departure


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Dear friends tomorrow my darling husband Pete will be cremated. Before the committal we are having a celebration of his life. It will take place in a barn at a farm two door away from our cottage. I hope this service will do Pete justice. As we are Panthiests who don't believe in a personal God it will reflect our spiritual views. It has been a long and hard six months since Pete had a devastating stroke in early November. We had just returned fom a wonderful holiday in USA (we live in England). Pete was a healthy active person and ths came out if the blue. He was totally oaralysed on the left and couldn't swallow. He couldnt speak ckearly but cimmunicated by writing and his intllect was inact thiugh he was very sleepy most of the time. The doctors told me his quality of life would be very poor but I couldn't accept this. I drive 30 miles every day to see him and kept hopeful. He developed several chest infections and after the last one he doctor said no more antibiotics. Anyway I said I wanted him home. They said he needed 24 hour care nd should go ino a nursing home. I said no and they agreed I could have carers four times daily so I succeeded in getting him home. It was good though very hard work. I had to give him suction as he couldn't swallow. Two weeks ago Pete had to go into respite care because our daughter a single mother was having a second baby. The plan was for Pete to be there two weeks. However on the second day he got a chest infection and died. I feel totally bereft. We have been married fifty years and he was my true soul mate. I have a son and daughter and love them dearly but Pete was my entire world. I have to carry on fir the sake of my daughter nd grandchildren but nothing seems worthwhile. I have read some of your postings and I feel I want to talk to people who have suffered loss because how can anyone but you understand?

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Dear Jan, I am so sorry for your loss. Your service tomorrow sounds lovely...earthy and sacred. I will be thinking of you as I know it will also be very painful. I know it is late there as you are in England, so when you read this...the service might be over. I know that feeling also.

I agree with you, that losing a true soul mate (Bill and I were clear about that also) is very different loss than many others and yet all losses are different. I have lost my parents, best friends, etc and this loss has been horrific, gut wrenching pain. Turned my world upside down. Losing a spouse changed me and my entire life. When my wonderful mom died, my entire world did not change. When Bill died, my life was turned inside out, dreams were gone, and a loneliness beyond words assaulted my life. I do understand the implications of this loss. I can't walk in your shoes, of course, but I am on the same path experiencing the same fall out, the same pain, the same emptiness. We are here for you...I will be thinking of your tomorrow at your beautiful ceremony. I suspect we are about the same age...I am 72 and starting over, figuring out a new normal, and all has been and continues to be a challenge. I never thought two years ago I would ever feel less torture than I did then. But it does get better or easier or maybe we just get sort of used to the pain...I am not sure what to call it because at other moments it tears me apart but those moments are not constant now...the pain subsides a bit, the waves of grief get a bit further apart. I do think I will grieve Bill's death forever but am trying to integrate it somehow...in many ways I am still very new to this journey. Do keep in touch here....people here get it and will reach out to you with NO judgments...and plenty of compassion. Peace to your heart. Mary mfh

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I am so sorry for you loss. Even though you knew at some point it was coming nothing lessens the shock and dispair of when it does happen. My heart goes out to you and your family. THis is a very special place where you can feel free to express yourself and know that others will understand the pain of your loss.

Kim

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Jan, so very sorry for your loss. You are correct that the members on this forum do understand to some degree how you feel, although each of us experience grief differently. The service you are planning sounds lovely. The ashes of my husband, who died over two years ago, rests in an Arizona Red Rock urn on my bookcase... We had a celebration of Mike's life a few months after his death. I was in the hospital when he died very unexpectedly of a massive coronary. I had just had a total knee replacement two days before his death, so I needed time to heal and plan the celebration.

I also have lost parents, a sister and a son (which is a whole different kind of grief), but losing my husband with whom I shared so many plans for the future.....has been, and continues to be, so very hard.

We do share this journey with you, the journey that none of us chose to make. Take care of your self, rest, and eat, you will need all your strength for grief is very exausting.

Thinking of you today.

Mary (Queeniemary) in Arkansas

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Jan,

I want to welcome you here, although I am very sorry for the reason for it. It is the hardest thing in the world losing your soulmate. I am glad you were able to care for him in your home clear up to the end, but it may be a blessing that he went in someone else's facility because it saved you being investigated (here in this state they have to investigate even expected deaths in the home).

You will find people of all belief systems here, please feel free to talk about yours just as others do theirs and don't be offended if you hear differing beliefs, that's the one good thing about this place, we're all allotted our own beliefs and respect each others.

I am glad you have family, it does help, but nothing/noone takes the place of our loved one that we are missing. You've spent your lives together, and it's quite an adjustment, that's for sure. Please post any time, there's nearly always someone up and listening as we're from all over the world.

(((hugs)))

Kay

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Dear everyone

The Farewell went perfectly but it felt as though I was in a film or something. And now I feel that I am playing a part and nothing is real. I am back with my daughter and her Toddler and newborn baby and we are very busy. But Pete would be here lifting stuff out if cars and supporting us in everything. I am so used to being a part of a couple and sharing a life and despite our daughter needing me (and supporting me) nothing seems worth bothering about. I should buy some summer clothes but why bother? I should get my hair cut but who cares? I just feel I have a huge black hole at the centre of my life and I am walking around it and sometimes I almost fall in. And since the black hole is where Pete should be I would like to fall in. The on,y thing that comforts me in a way is that no one else in the world had my Pete as their husband for almost fifty years. At the service I wrote that I read a poem by Siegfried Sassoon with a line I am rich in what I have lost. I thought Yes I am! But comforting words like that don't go far when your whole life is in ruins and will remain so. I know you understand and I will continue to post as on,y people who have suffered such losses can possibly understand this.

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Jan, I do understand what you mean about the black hole in your life. I feel as though I have fallen in and the sides are too steep to get myself out. My husband passed away 17 months ago and I was doing okay until February of this year when the ugly black hole opened up and I slipped in it. I am home alone most of the time and the sadness and loneliness take over. I realize I need to do something to help myself. I do understand about needing to do things but not really caring whether they get done or not. My daughter told me I needed to finish a project I started 2 months ago, I told her I had to care first before I could finish it. I haven't reached that point yet. Maybe before long I will finish it.

My heart goes out to you for your loss was so recent. I remember the numbness and disbelief I felt for the first month.I hope your daughter and grandchildren bring you comfort and love for now. HUGS!! Cosel

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Dear Cosel

I read your profile just now and can see how we share similar losses. This is such an unbearable feeling I can't look at it straight. It's as though I am skirting around the edge if it all the time. I suppose it is a sort of denial. I think all that stuff bout the seven stages of grief etc is just a construct. If you have shared your life, your thoughts, your activities with a beloved person nd then they just disappear you feel the only reason who can share your feelings is that one person who you have lost. No. One else will do because he was the one who you turned to. My life revolved around Pete and although we had different hobbies etc we talked about them together. I cherished the evenings we sat with a glass of wine talking. And although we said hiw lucky we were we never expected to be parted right now..Pete had lymphoma three years ago but after surgery, chemo and radiation he was clear. A stroke was the last thing we expected. In some ways I wish we had known so we could ave talked about losing each other. But Pete couldn't bear to even contemplate life without me. I am glad it is me who suffers this rather than him. I am writing all this down and yet I still don't believe it's true.

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Dear everyone

The Farewell went perfectly but it felt as though I was in a film or something. And now I feel that I am playing a part and nothing is real. I am back with my daughter and her Toddler and newborn baby and we are very busy. But Pete would be here lifting stuff out if cars and supporting us in everything. I am so used to being a part of a couple and sharing a life and despite our daughter needing me (and supporting me) nothing seems worth bothering about. I should buy some summer clothes but why bother? I should get my hair cut but who cares? I just feel I have a huge black hole at the centre of my life and I am walking around it and sometimes I almost fall in. And since the black hole is where Pete should be I would like to fall in. The on,y thing that comforts me in a way is that no one else in the world had my Pete as their husband for almost fifty years. At the service I wrote that I read a poem by Siegfried Sassoon with a line I am rich in what I have lost. I thought Yes I am! But comforting words like that don't go far when your whole life is in ruins and will remain so. I know you understand and I will continue to post as on,y people who have suffered such losses can possibly understand this.

Dear Jan, I am glad the service went well. I believe all of us here have written what you shared here..or a similar version of it...emptiness...Grand Canyon size hole where our loved one was...in a film...unreal...who cares...life in ruins...and more. I felt like I was in a glass box watching life on the outside go on as usual, not caring that I was not a part of it, wishing I was not there. I truly NEVER thought I could feel human again or care about life again and I wanted to die and go with Bill. It is tough, gut-wrenching tough and I believe you will very very gradually see a change over time. But there is no rule about grief. You grieve as long as you grieve and this group will be here as long as you want and need. The pain eases or we get used to it...not sure which. The ambushes and waves of grief ease over time but it does take time. You have 50 years of sharing life with Pete...your life is upside down and inside out. Be patient, take care of yourself...take breaks from the babies and daughter for YOU! She is focused on the children, and rightly so. She did not lose her life partner. You did...be gentle with yourself. Take the time you need to journal, walk, etc. WE are here. Peace, Mary mfh

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Yes I know I need to be back at home and I long for it. My plan is to stay with our daughter for about nine days and then go home. I am hoping she will then come fir a long weekend and then I will come and go. As she is a single mother I am needed but neither of us should become too dependent on each other. Pete and I made or little cottage almost a representation of ourselves. Everything there is going to remind me of him and I hope I can find him there rather than there being an empty space. The unreality of it is so strange though. It sounds from what you all say as though ths is common and maybe it's protecting me? Pete and I ave a web site called wilgilsland if anyone is interested. I don't intend to touch it as I also don't intend to change anything at home and shall jst leave his cltges, possessions, computer until I can face dealing with them in some way.

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Dear Jan,

It sounds as if you are making wise decisions about being with your daughter and her children and balancing that...even in your state of unreality and fog. Yes, the sense that nothing is real and the fog do protect you and allow you in the next few weeks to take in all that has happened at a slower pace...at least that is how I interpret it. I think others will agree. What has happened just does not fit into what you know of life...it takes a while to absorb it, wrap your brain around it, so to speak. Actually, I did not want to know it was true. I wanted it all to go away. Frankly, I still do but I believe I have now accepted the reality of Bill's death and am starting to learn to live with that, integrate the grief and allow the grief to teach me. Bill's death changed me forever in ways I have not yet fully identified. I think you will feel this way also in time.

Regarding Pete's things, it sounds like you are being wise there also. Dealing with his things will take place when you are ready. There are no rules. Bill has an entire wood working shop downstairs and I have not touched it except to pull out a hammer, pliers, etc to create a tool box for myself. It sits as do his clothes and yes, even his toothbrush. Sometimes I feel ready to deal with them but the fact is, they sit. When I can open his closet and not sob, I guess I will be ready to give his clothes to the Hospice resale shop in Madison (WI). You will know and do not let anyone tell you when to do what...just my opinion. The first few months after Bill died, I was raw. I still feel vulnerable and hypersensitive frequently. One day at a time...self care....no rules.

Bill and I love England and visited there three or four times. His father was born in Brighton. We often talked of switching houses with someone there for a year but...with lots of other dreams, that one is gone. We are here for you. We know this path even though each of our paths is different...losing a spouse is a different loss also as it touches every single aspect of your life...turns it upside down and you are never the same. Just be good to yourself. We are here for you. Mary

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Thank you so much everyone. I know I will find support on this site. It's been another busy day looking after a toddler and a new baby and I do so hope my daughter will be able to cope if I go home in a week's time. But I so need to do that. I feel as though Pete never even existed at the moment. Ave any of you had that feeling? I met him when I was 19 and now I am 70. We have been inseparable fir fifty years and yet I can't imagine what it was like saving him close. I am finding this the hardest part at the moment. Maybe it's being away from home but I remember when Pete had the strike in November I felt the same. I visited him daily in hospital and he was pretty out of it much of the time. Before the stroke he was just as usual - loving, clever, lively. But I couldn't imagine him and it's the same now. I just feel as though he never lived. It's an awful feeling and I keep moving away from it. I want at least to be able to imagine him as he was so recently. My whole life revolved around him. Everything I did connected to him. If I let myself think about this too much I feel I would lse my mi d so I am just living in a sallow way right now. I don't think I am making sense to myself so I'm sure I not to you! J

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