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Hi, I'm new here. Recently I've been reading about complicated grief, and wondering if it might explain some things, though I don't seem to meet the clinical criteria. It's hard to distinguish from depression, so I hoped an outside opinion might help.

My husband died of leukemia seven years ago. He was sick for four years, so the death was certainly no shock to me. Ironically, I imagine it was a shock to him though (if such a thing is possible). He was in denial about his death from day one, which prompted a good fight, but ultimately never lead to his acceptance. His fight/unacceptance resulted in us living in two different states for the last year of his life. He insisted on seeking out every possible treatment (even quacks), drug, doctor or shaman who would see him.

Eventually, he told me he'd found an oncologist in LA that he liked, and was going to stay there because he had some new treatment he wanted to try. He said he'd even found a friend of a friend with a guest room willing to put him up for a while. I agreed to tolerate the distance. Well, long story short, he died before returning home.

I had to fly out there to take care of things. Upon my arrival, I discovered that he'd actually been living with another woman for many months, and telling all his friends I had divorced him. I don't know if there ever reallly was a doctor. His personal belongings were in her home, and she seemed to be under the impression I was his "ex," and not happy at my arrival. That was, by far, the most horrifying encounter I've ever experienced. She even produced photos of a wedding ceremony they'd had, explaining that it wasn't a legal marriage only because he didn't want her to be stuck with any medical debt. Right.

I don't think I've ever been so hurt and angry in all my life. I haven't felt completely okay since, and like I said, it's been 7 years. I doubt the validity of the entire marriage, and wonder what else was a lie? I've felt pretty empty and numb, withdrawn from several friends, my self esteem is in the toilet. And still, I miss him. That upsets me. He doesn't deserve my grief. I think it has been long enough, and I want to feel normal again. How do I reconcile loving and hating the same person?

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I am so very sorry for your loss and for the circumstances you have had to deal with regarding the way your husband handled his death. Yes, those circumstances certainly complicate the situation and I am wondering if you have had the assistance of a grief counselor and or a grief support group during these seven years. You were betrayed as well as left to deal alone with that betrayal and in addition to joining us here at this site, I can only think that sitting face to face with a trained grief counselor would be most helpful as you wrestle with your loss.

I don't believe that grieving a loss seven years after this happened is abnormal. We grieve losses forever in many instances but this loss with its complicating pieces deserves some assistance in a counseling situation.

I am so sorry. I hope you are journaling and also taking care of yourself as you wrestle with this. Do keep returning so you can read other posts and gain support here with our members.

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My dear, I'm so sorry this has happened to you, and I agree completely with everything Mary has said. Yours is most definitely a complicated grief situation, and it is unrealistic (and unnecessary) to think that you can find your way through all of your reactions without an opportunity to talk about it with someone you can trust, such as a qualified grief counselor.

In addition, I invite you to browse through some of the articles, books and resources you'll find on this page: Death That Brings Relief, including What Is Complicated Grief?

See especially Belleruth Naparstek's guided imagery CD, Heartbreak, Abandonment & Betrayal (Guided Imagery by Belleruth Naparstek) which I highly recommend, as I think you may find it very helpful.

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It does sound like a difficult situation and I can understand how this would be agonizing for you, wondering what this marriage was all about. It doesn't matter if it's one year or seven - the feelings are still the same. I can also understand your feelings of betrayal - and that you're both angry with your husband, but also miss him. I suspect we all have feelings of anger toward our deceased spouses - for various reasons - and I'm sure many other people visiting this site have felt betrayed by the person they loved at some point.

People in late stages of cancer have been known to behave very irrationally. Your husband sounds like he was in strong denial, and his pursuit of a cure may have taken him further than he normally would have gone and made him do things he normally wouldn't have done. But of course I can't know that for sure.

Grief is grief - and it's horrible. I know that it's really helped me to talk to a grief counselor for the last four years. I'm personally bogged down by guilt and trauma - so that's my thing. But I still grieve, as you do. I think it would be wise, as Marty and Mary have said, to find someone to talk to and empty your baggage. But continue to come here as well. Hopefully one day things will get easier.


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I want to respond to you before reading others' replies so it will be fresh on my heart.

First, let me say I am so sorry for your loss, and your loss is real...both the loss of the person you knew and loved, the person you thought he was, as well as all of your hopes and dreams. What he deserves doesn't negate your grief for your loss is very real and felt by you. It is okay to feel two opposite feelings at the same time...both are valid and legitimate. Both belonged to loving a person that you knew yet didn't know everything about. Oh how complicated people can be! Sometimes you may wonder why he didn't level with you, why he wasn't honest with you, in truth, perhaps he realized you didn't deserve it, perhaps he wanted to spare you, perhaps he was cowardly. At any rate, it is YOUR feelings I consider of utmost importance here. It takes someone brave to share what you have shared and I want you to know that this is a very safe place and hope you will continue to share whatever you may be going through or feeling.

I am someone who has gone through this, to a certain extent. After my husband, George, passed nine years ago, I married someone who said he was his friend, John. John told me he was going to live HERE, but five days later turned around and took his old place back (I doubt he ever gave it up in actuality), 3 1/2 hours away from here. We talked every day but only saw each other on weekends. Although it broke my heart, I tried to adjust to a marriage that was not what I had anticipated or been lead to believe, and I tried to make the best of it. 15 months later he started living with someone in "our" "other" home, although I didn't discover it for three months. After that heartbreak, he broke off with her and gave up his place, to "stay with friends". I never knew where to reach him or where he really was. A few months later he disappeared on me and I filed a missing person's report. The police found him living with yet another woman in our new motor home (that I got stuck paying for). Backing up, when John was living with the first woman, I felt he had cancer. Turns out, he did. The signs that we recognized, the medical community missed. After our divorce, his new GF died and he was diagnosed with throat cancer, which he subsequently beat. He's convinced he will have cancer return someday, who knows.

But I understand the myriad of emotions one can feel that sometimes friends/family don't get. They'll tell you "he doesn't deserve your tears" but you can no more avoid the tears than anything. Grief must be gone through regardless of what brings it on. Sometimes loss doesn't come in neatly wrapped bundles, sometimes it's a mess. But it's loss nonetheless, and part of our healing is going through the grief.

It's okay to miss him. It's okay to feel all kinds of bad things about him. It's okay to feel angry. It's okay to feel hurt. And you have every right to feel betrayed, because you were.

The good thing is knowing that you are a survivor! You are stronger than anyone could have predicted, for you HAVE made it through so much!

As for their "marriage", it's not legal so nothing else about it matters except for what YOU feel about it, and of course, you have every right to feel all kinds of things about it.

As Melina said, people do sometimes behave in strange ways as their way of coping...that doesn't excuse it, but maybe explains it partially, as much of an explanation as you can get that is.

I do hope you can find a counselor that can help you in realizing that all of this was HIS "stuff" and not yours, it just affected you, but how you choose to let it continue to affect you is a choice only YOU can make. I do hope you'll keep coming here and do update us as you desire. You are free to message me as well.

(((hugs))) LOTS of them!


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