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Dear all

I've written before about how I feel in denial of the horror of losing my Pete. I still feel that way and it worries me because I know that his dying is the worst thing that has ever or could ever happen to me. He was utterly everything to me. My soul mate, and i dont really want to carry on living wthoit him. Anyway I just read this book and there is a section in it that I felt spoke to my situation. I thought I'd share it with you.

PS. Paradoxically I have just spent half an hour sobbing as hard as I have ever done, having looked at the full moon, and read poems for Pete as we did every month. It released the tears in a way I could hardly bear, but maybe that was good, though it doesn't feel it right now. Anyway here is the extract:-

Paul Bennett Loving Grief (extract)

On denial

I protected myself from grief by bracing myself for it, and right after Bonnie died, I protected myself with a numbness that mercifully prevented me from feeling how complete and permanent the loss was. A few months later I encountered another wave of sadness, when I allowed myself to know what "never" really means. Everyone who is grieving experiences good days and bad days, and I believe the bad days come when we instinctively allow ourselves to feel more, when we open another door, find another reminder, when we remember some other delight from our former life that we will never have again.

Something within me protects me from having to feel more than I could stand. And something in us knows that we're stronger than we believe. Though numbness shut me down at first, gradually I allowed myself to feel more of the sorrowful or painful love that I wanted to feel. Something in us wants to feel love, no matter how painful, no matter how sad, and if we keep our numbness in place, we pay a price that is far, far worse than feeling the sadness of our love.

I've learned that I, like most human beings, have a tremendous ability to partition myself. It's as if we tuck painful memories and emotions away somewhere in our being; then we declare that part of ourselves off limits. I felt that I had never felt any emotions as intensely as I felt that grief and love, and I had never given myself permission to speak so openly about my feelings as I did to my family and friends in the months after Bonnie died.

Still, freedom to speak about our emotions is not the same as the ability to feel them. Thousands of words poured out of me, touching other people with their passion. But I was good at speaking about grief, not good at feeling it, releasing it. There was a tremendous emotion tucked away where it could not touch me, and I could not touch it.

Somewhere below the tears that choked in my throat, below the pang of sadness in my chest, there was a howl of grief and fear that I could not release; I did not know how. In fact, I was afraid to release it. That howl of grief springs from the knowledge that death is forever, that grief is a fixture in human life. Perhaps it is so difficult to release because this howl comes from recognising our utter helplessness. Though I longed to weep, only rarely did my grief emerge fully unleashed, as a howl.

Or perhaps I found those howls of grief so hard to release because I was raised by two models of self control, two parents who believed that the measure of a man is not what he feels but what he does, and that unleashed emotions can cause devastation.

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Dear Jan,

First...before I comment on the passage...I just want to reach out to you in your pain. I am putting my arms around you as you sob. I know how much our losses hurt and I want so to comfort you as you walk through this. I know you have been struggling with allowing yourself to truly realize that Pete has died. It seems like you are feeling this more now and I am relieved that you are allowing your pain to surface as I also know how awful it feels. Gut wrenching awful.

The passage you sent from Bennett's book is right on, I believe. We can talk and write words and even sob but that deep down pain, for me, had to come out in wails...I mean wails...when I realized that Bill was not coming back and later when I realized what never means...not sure I even know now...except through other losses. I still wail occasionally. Early this month I surely did. I agree with him that our upbringing influences our ability to howl (as he calls it). I wailed on days when I watched Bill disappear little by little...I would get in the car (when the caregiver came) and go out in the country and just wail as I drove...did it after he died also. Still do once in a while..at home or in the car.

I think wailing scares most people. We are brought up not to "act like a two year old" but two year olds know how to express their pain well....screaming temper tantrums in the grocery store or on the kitchen floor when denied a cookies and they are tired. I do believe you will get there when you are ready and want or need to...if that is something that you feel will help. We all do this differently.

I send love over the Atlantic...

Mary

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I agree...speaking about it and allowing ourselves to fully experience it are two different things. And I also know we can hold it at bay until we are better able to handle it. I remember someone came on here maybe a year ago...he had lost his GF 20+ years before and was just then allowing himself to grieve. Our bodies are most amazing, what they go through to survive even this.

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Let the tears flow dear Jan. The tsunami seems to have arrived. You and I have talked about this before and we both believe that crying is healing. My arms are around you as you sob, wail, or sniffle – only wish we were not across the ocean. Remember how important it is to release those toxins. It will not be the only time you will cry as Mary reminds us. I have found it helpful to go to the mirror and bawl my eyes out and tell myself that it’s going to be all right. When I can actually see myself after a real full blown cry I can’t help but chuckle a bit and tell myself that I’m really glad no one is here to see this sorry mess. You know what? I do feel better and I am again able to take a few more steps forward. I am so sorry for the pain that you are feeling. Remember, there is NO timetable. We will all get through this in our own way and at our own time. Reality really stinks, doesn’t it? Hugs Anne

Voices of Experience: Delayed Grief was/is a good article Marty.

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Guest babylady

jan

i know how you feel. john's passing was the worst thing that has every happened to me. i'm crying right now. i seem to cry more now than i did in the beginning. it was 5 months on saturday. i feel "lost". i don't know what to do. i don't want to do anything. is that bad or good?

i only do what i have to do -- take care of my cat, keep myself clean and fed -- although sometimes i can't eat.

i feel especially strange and fearful today. i have friends in new york and i'm worried about their safety.

hugs,

arlene

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Dear Arlene, Yes, I have said those same words...Bill's death was the worst thing that ever happened to me (and during his struggle, the worst thing for him also, of course). I used the word "lost" and "empty" so many times. I learned there are no words for the pain...none. I think it is very normal to not want to do anything because nothing means anything. However, I also think it helps to get out of the house and have lunch with a friend or go to some event...I do not mean every day, of course, but a couple of times a week. I took painting lessons at about the 5th month. It still takes a lot of energy for me to paint but it is there, always waiting for me and as I walk into my studio, I walk over and do a few strokes or paint for an hour or more. It is hit and miss often. I think the feelings of strange and fearful are also "normal" or common. Your world, the one you knew and cherished, has been turned inside out and backwards and you have been stripped of the person who shared your heart and soul. And all that just weeks ago. I went to dinner tonight with a friend whose husband died 20 years ago and 5 months later her 21 year old sister was killed in a car accident. Every once in a while, not often, she bursts into tears when we talk. You are talking weeks here. I am talking months about me and the first two or three weeks of October were very painful for me. I am learning to be patient with the journey...one day at a time..self care...self compassion...We are all here for you..we have no magic wands but we all have lots of love and understanding. I wish I could take away your pain and then again, I do not wish that because you must feel it and because it is your teacher...and yes, we are all, by now, tired of learning but the pain is transforming and you are allowing yourself to feel it...good for you.

I wish you a peaceful moment now and then, a happy memory that brings a smile to your face.

Mary

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As always, Mary, you put into words so perfectly what the rest of us would say if we knew how to. There is so much to learn from this journey, and I don't regret that I've had to go through it, I only wish George didn't have to die for me to experience and learn what I have. In the beginning, though, so much was offensive and nothing seemed to have meaning. I've learned not to look for answers, to just accept and be, rather than fight everything that I can't change. Gosh how long it took me to learn that!

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Kay, thank you so much. Your message means a great deal to me. I think you say things VERY well...always the right response. I do agree...this journey is transforming but hate that Bill had to die for me to have this opportunity to grow. I have no clue about answers but I do hope to figure out how I want to spend my time somewhere down the road. I trust a door will open and I will just KNOW to walk through. It always has.

Peace

Mary

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I love this poem, Anne, and think I will be seeing Mary Oliver on the 12th..not positive right now as it depends on the needs my friend has post hospital. I hope I can do both. Her newest book is excellent.

Jan, I have not heard from you for a while. How are you?

Mary with peace

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Oh Mary,

I hope you do get the chance to see Mary Oliver. What an inspiration this woman is. I have not read her newest book but will see if Barnes & Noble has it. You are in my thoughts as you deal with Cathy's illness. Arms are around you. Peace. Anne

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Anne, I do plan to go. It requires some pushing as I will have just gotten home from a 3 day workshop on Sunday only to get going again on Monday. I will pick Bentley up on Sunday and my friend will let him out a couple of times on Monday so he does not have to stay at the kennel. I actually feel excited about seeing her. These feelings like excitement and the other day a moment of joy and laughter as we hung art are very significant for me...feelings i never thought I would feel again. They don't last but nothing does. Thanks, Anne. I do love her new book and will have her sign it for me. I got one for the gal who bought Voice also as she also loves Mary Oliver...but who doesn't. I will ask Mary to sign both books.

Peace

mary

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  • 2 weeks later...

Marty, thank you for the link to "Voices of Experience: Delayed Grief". I find myself longing for the personal time to let my emotions flow. I have so many obligations that I can't find time. I often hear Celene's statement to me: "You need to take of yourself and not always take care of everyone else".

Jan, it has been just over a year since Celene passed and I too at time find myself in denial. I am still so lost, with too many unknowns. I do know that I am no longer the man I was when Celene was my reason for my being. Hugs and comfort going out to you.

Anthony

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Jan C,

I believe all we can do is to keep going. I read something about how our loved ones would most likely not like it if we stopped moving forward. As Celene and my wedding anniversary is this Saturday, I have been battling emotions and mental numbness. It makes working a bit slow. I am working out of town and if I was home I am sure I would have several pajamas days. In addition, where I am working has several memories of time spent with Celene in the area. I had to take a moment and cry over my frustration with all the feeling I am dealing with. I miss her so much. I will keep going.

Anthony

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Dear Anthony I know how it is to have intense feelings sparked off by places. I suppose I have got 'used' to being in our lovely cottage without my Pete, though objects around me set things off. But places we visited together are still no go areas or places that make the pain very sharp. I hope on your wedding anniversary you can remember all the happiness you had with Celene. It's still there. I have been looking at old photos because our son scanned some slides and put them on his Facebook page. It's so bitter sweet as they show such happy times, and I'm trying to educate myself to understanding that past happiness isn't in any way marred by the death of our loved ones. At first each photo seems to be too connected by the sadness of the present and I feel I have to just enjoy looking at how happy we truly were.

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Jan,

I couldn't agree more...I tend to be overly analytical, and I agree, sometimes I have to just "be". :)

Anthony,

I went through that too when George died...the place I was working at had a lot of memories with him...he used to stop by my office every Friday night, all dressed up, smiling, sometimes with a drippy ice cream cone for me, asking me if I was ready for a hot date. :) God I miss him! I lost that job a few months later so I have no such associations with this job...actually, I'd rather have the old one back, memories and all. He had Fridays off and sometimes would join my friends and I for lunch, we all got along so great. And of course there were company events/parties he attended with me. We were good friends with someone I worked with and her husband, plus our next door neighbor worked with me. It was hard to assimilate it all when it happened. I feel for you. Like Jan said, it's all still there and I hope you can enjoy the good memories with your anniversary and other special dates.

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In the UK we have a programme called Desert Island Discs. A celebrity chooses eight records which are meaningful and talks about their life. This Friday it was an American theatre critic called Blanche Marvin, aged I think 87.. She has lived in the Uk many years and is still going to the theatre and writing columns. Anyway she met her beloved husband when she was quite young, and he was a lot older. He committed suicide when their children were still young after a Diagnosis of cancer which he didn't tell her about. She didn't blame him in the slightest because as she said he did it to spare her. Anyway the reason I am telli g you about this is that he was so alive still in her memory. Many of the discs were chosen by her because of her memories of him. She began an award for new plays in his memory. And despite her being such a lively vibrant person and living in the present she was able to keep him alive in her heart and life. To me she was an inspiration. She showed me that it is possible. If you can I'd suggest you try to listen to this programme. Her choice of music is lovely (made me cry whilst I was walki g the dog). The BBc have Iplayer which you can download and listen to programmes. Presumably it works in the States too. I think you would like this programme a lot.

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