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Just When You Thought It Was Safe


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Dear Ones,

This post appeared today on the Widow's Voice blog. The author describes her grief experience so clearly that I hope you'll take the time to read it:

Just When You Thought It Was Safe......

it's suddenly not.

I have always described grief and grieving as standing in the ocean. In the beginning I wasn't able to keep standing because of the relentless pounding of the waves. They came at me one after another. It felt as if I were in the middle of a a typhoon, or a hurricane. I've been in the middle of a hurricane since then ..... and I think it still applies.

I couldn't withstand the waves ..... they kept knocking me over and pulling me under. It was all I could do to try to reach above the water line and get a breath before I was pulled under again.

In the beginning all I could do was dog paddle and barely keep my face above the water.

And then the water started calming down. The waves still came, but they were a bit further apart. Some days I was able to get to my feet ...... and even stay standing through a wave. Not always, but some days.And then more days.

I grew stronger with the passage of time. I stood easier. The waves still came, but they were rarely able to knock me down.

They'd knock me off balance, to be sure, and they'd threaten to pull me under with their force and pull, but I managed to stay on my feet.

Strength takes time.

It cannot be rushed.

It cannot be purchased.

It cannot be borrowed.

It has to be earned.

Continue reading here . . .

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Excellent piece, Marty. Thank you and the comments are also great.

For those who are new to this journey, as I approach 30 months since my Bill died, the intensity of what was gut wrenching pain has certainly decreased and I have come to know I will survive. I never thought that day would come and for a long time I did not care about anything... but it did come. Even now, out of the blue the intensity can shoot up, ambushing me for an hour, a day...occasionally a few days. Today was one of those and I have yet to identify what started it. I just spent several hours at the bottom of the sea. I have learned to let go of trying to figure out what the trigger is in a reasonable amount of time if it is not apparent. Most times I know the trigger. The difference now is that after all these months, I know I have survived and will again. I have come to accept those times and know they will probably happen the rest of my life. It takes so little to have the day do a 180 but I have learned what I can do to swing it back on most of those occasions...usually it involves being with a friend, painting, journaling, TV to distract me or a great book. I allow myself time to be in my pain and then switch gears. Last year switching gears was often all but impossible. Year two was really tough. I also agree that time does not mean I miss Bill less. I actually miss him more but have come to just know it is what it is and how grateful I am for what we had. I have also become extremely aware of the pain others have in their lives and feel more compassion and desire to reach out to them. I have come to accept that what Bill and I had would inevitably come to an end and I will see him again. I have to say that sadness sits in my heart always and tears still flow easily but that is pretty much who I have always been. Now I just have a pain in my soul that has increased my sensitivity. All in all, for those of you who are starting this journey, take one day at a time, have patience, trust that it will get better.

Peace to your hearts,

Mary

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Your post, Marty, will be good to hold for the future. How fortunate to have modern technology. Right now the present is so painful that it blinds us to what will be. I am beginning to understand that this is a journey I will survive. Through the posts of others I think we will be able to take the bits and pieces of others and draw from their strengths and struggles. I know this has been true for me. I hope that my story will go from telling what has happened to what I'll find myself doing in the future. I hope I can learn from Mary's journey that it would be good to take this pain and do something positive with it. Jan, you are a treasure and I hope that we will see ourselves in a different place as we go through this first year without our loved one.

I have a question that I'm almost too afraid to ask but here goes. Has anyone struggled with the lack of touch from their loved one? I find myself hugging his pillow so tightly that when I wake my hands are numb. enna

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Guest babylady

thank you for posting this. it's been 3-1/2 months since john passed and i feel worse than i did in the beginning. i cry more. i only go out if i have to. i like to sleep late. makes the day shorter. today i didn't get up till after 1 pm and then the flood gates opened. i seem to cry more now when i first get up. if i hold back the tears like yesterday when i was out in public i get a panic attack. my heart beats so hard -- i feel like it's going to jump out of my chest. once i let the tears come, the heart rate slows down.

i'm taking an antidepressant and people tell me i sound stronger and better. i've been told i look better even though i've lost 13 lbs. yesterday my hairdresser said "you're so skinny". the weight loss has leveled off. actually i gained back 1-1/2 lbs.

what makes things worse are my health problems. if i could recover a bit maybe i could make some kind of life for myself. right now i don't see it happening. every time my cat looks at me i cry. he's 11-1/2 and i'm afraid of losing him even though he's in good health. i talk to him. i say "it's just you and me -- are we going to make it"?

i realized that when john got sick there was no one i loved here to hug me. that really hurts.

i'm crying again as i write this. where do all the tears come from?

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Enna oh yes ths lack of touch is so hard. Just the near ness, in bed or across the table or in the car or anywhere of Pete was so wonderful and I keep thinking how I never truly appreciated it. But if I had anticipated his death daily I suppose I would have always been unhappy when I needed to be happy. I had a vist from my counsellor yesterday. I had to tell him I was actually worse then the last visit which was a month ago. We talked and he understood but obviously it didn't help much. He had five cards and asked me to take one. I did and it said Smelling. He said if my thoughts were all over the place it might help to concentrate on one thing like smell. So I told him what it brought to mind. Like having pete's comb which I sniff and I can smell him. Smell has always been important to me. And then other things came back like the smell of new baked bread (Pete always made ours), the smell of coffee that he brought to me in bed every morning and then slipped back in to share it with me, the smell of lavender on our pillows sometimes, the smell of the diesel when we strimmedthe paths in our field. These did bring him back but made me more sad. Phil said You are not so tearful. But I thought This isn't a good thing. I think I should be crying more. I am not crying much and I think this is because I am numb. And I told him that I dnt want to go forward. I don't want to recover. I just want to stay where I am (wherever that is). He said four months is very soon after pete's death which I suppose it is.

Next week the funeral directors will be bringing pete's ashes here. I have prepared a place in our bedroom, with the pewter tray with spirals round it to put the urn on. Phil said this may help me. I am lowering my expectations of this as I don't want to raise my hopes that it will help me. But maybe it will.

I still feel frail and very very tired. I have a friend (male) coming to stay locally for the weekend and I feel rather sorry he is coming but he has offered to help in any way (last time he painted the new bedroom and the summer house). I have asked him to help me tidy the garden ready for autumn and also try to mend our water feature. I suppose it will be ok but every thing in the future seems to be a huge undertaking. Do you know what I mean?

It's 7.30 am here and I have to start the day. Another hard day. I read your post Mary and I do take comfort when you say that it has got better in some ways, as I know that your feelings and relationship with Bill are so like the way I am. I suppose one day I might feel some relief but when I think of that I have this strong feeling of obstinacy that I don't even want to. And maybe I need to trigger the tears to give me relief? I still feel so frightened of never never stopping. My 92 year old aunt rang me last week. Her beloved husband died a week before their 70th wedding anniversary two years ago. She said just recently she was going upstairs and she suddenly felt happy! Mary, do you ever feel happy? Or is that too much to ask of our new selves? Or can the best we can hope for be to feel accepting? Love to all on this hard hard path. Jan

Well I will drink my morning coffee which I have to prepare myself now. I have a filter machine which sits on pete's side of the bed and I get it ready the night before. What a difference from having a coffee brought to me by a loving caring husband. Enna thank you too. We are on a similar path and we must hope we can get through somehow.

Jan x

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Just another thought. I have been so selfish and am feeling bad about it. I decided I needed to concentrate upon my own needs but I just learnt that an elderly friend who I have always put myself out for and who came to stay in her caravan this weekend is going back early because she feels that all her former friends are withdrawing from her. She doesn't necessarily mean me. It was another friend who let her down and I think she realises how hard it is for me right now. But I still feel I should have reached out to her. She has never married, never had what I have had and now she is very much alone and old. I could have been kinder to her and I think this will be a lesson to me. I have been so lucky in my life even if not now. I should be able to reach out even now. I will make a resolution to be kinder to her. Maybe being too self centred in my grief is not so understandable as I had thought? Maybe by reaching out I can heal quicker? I don't know, but I do feel very guilty right now.

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Hi Jan,

Sorry I am just getting to your response. You should not feel 'guilty' about anything right now. Your elderly friend must truyly be a friend for not expecting anything from you at this time - I think you need to take words like guilty and selfish out of your vocabulary. Thank you for responding to my question about 'lack of touch'. I know that there are some married people who did not have the most perfect marriage; but, I can't say that about ours. Jim was such a gentle person throughout our forty years that I too don't think I appreciated all the love he had for me.

Tears are tears and crying is crying - no one can tell us how much or how little we should be doing. Again, Jan, it's that word 'guilty'.

I hope you were able to get some of the chores accomplished when your friend came to help.

I, too, am learning from those who are further along in this grief journey. I have to keep in mind that this is a 'process' and it's not going to ever be the same. Different could be ok! enna

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The friend sent me a nice email when he got back to say that he understood. To be honest I think he is like many men who dare not reach out because they are fearful that it will trigger grief both in the grieving person and in themselves. I think my own son is like that. I am finding the women around me are so much more empathetic, and I think this is a cultural thing. Colin clearly understood better than I thought. But still his company was too much for me as all it did was make me feel guilty that I couldn't act normal. But yes Guilt is something to be avoided. And being selfish right now is totally understandable. I hadn't realised how much a part of me was the feeling that somehow I was always making progress when Pete was alive. I always thought I was quite an introspective person but really I just took so much for granted. Sometimes I wish Pete and I had talked about the future and being alone but we avoided it deliberately because it was too painful. And this awful stroke came so much as a surprise and shock when Pete was so well and hearty so we never expected to be parted just yet. I think Pete would say to me that he was glad we didnt dwell on our parting. I think he would say it was good that we just enjoyed life whilst it was good. Because I know him so well I can read his thoughts and I think he would think this.

Well today I hope pete's ashes are coming. I keep thinking about it and I want to be quiet and concentrate upon this. I have just read a book by Justine Picardie called If the Spirit moves you. She lost her beloved sister and it's about her quest for connection via mediums etc. she doesn't really get anywhere but it's interesting. I had hoped that she would do, but she did feel the closeness in some ways. She seemed to dream about her a lot though. I wish I could dream about Pete. I've only had three dreams that I remember but my friend Pam (who lost a son six years ago) said she was told that if you are in the early stages of grief and are thinking about nothing else but your loved one all day your brain needs to switch off from it at night.

Well it's seven o'clock in the morning here. My day is starting. Jan

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Marty, your post was so on the point. That graft is exactly how my life in the past 32 months has been. The peaks are much less and further apart, and life is mostly easier. I remember being so "hit" at about 20 months, going into a tail spin of a depression, I think that was about the time that my "being" realized this was for real, and he was not coming back. Thank you for sharing.

Mary (Queeniemary) in Arkansas

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I also agree that time does not mean I miss Bill less. I actually miss him more but have come to just know it is what it is and how grateful I am for what we had.

So true, that is how I feel too. Marty's post also spoke to me. This is an interesting journey, I have never in my life had anything impact me to this extent!

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Your post, Marty, will be good to hold for the future. How fortunate to have modern technology. Right now the present is so painful that it blinds us to what will be. I am beginning to understand that this is a journey I will survive. Through the posts of others I think we will be able to take the bits and pieces of others and draw from their strengths and struggles. I know this has been true for me. I hope that my story will go from telling what has happened to what I'll find myself doing in the future. I hope I can learn from Mary's journey that it would be good to take this pain and do something positive with it. Jan, you are a treasure and I hope that we will see ourselves in a different place as we go through this first year without our loved one.

I have a question that I'm almost too afraid to ask but here goes. Has anyone struggled with the lack of touch from their loved one? I find myself hugging his pillow so tightly that when I wake my hands are numb. enna

Yes Enna I do hug a pillow every night I sleep, in fact I can't really fall asleep unless I am hugging a pillow. It is weird but it comforts me and makes me feel like he is with me. I'm lucky to have 3 cats who are the loves of my life next to my husband. I don't know what I would do without them. My husband and I picked all 3 of them, so they are part of us. And guess what I talk to them all the time!

I am 6 days away from the year anniversary of my husband's death and I have been hit by the overwhelming power of grief again. I've cried at least once a day again for the last month. But I am beginning to know it will pass and I will have some good days again.

Take care of yourself and keep hugging that pillow. Love yourself and do what comforts you.

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