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Painful Anniversaries...

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I am struggling with so much. Tomorrow is the saddest day 24 years ago that mine and Mary's hearts were shattered... More than that... Hopes, dreams, futures, love... So much lost when we lost our twins baby girls at 27 weeks gestation. I have honestly never quite dealt with that as I vowed to be strong for her that day in my heart and hold her up. As well as be a strong Daddy to our Son. And so that is indeed what I did. I loved like our world depended on it. I don't know why God took our little ones from us before it was their time to be able to fight and live on their own. And I don't question God even now. They were meant to be Angels together. And that they were and are.

April 30th would be our 26th wedding anniversary. And I feel like I am letting her down. For a reason I cannot find words yet to say here. Almost 35 years together and almost 26 years married. A beautiful son... Two beautiful grandsons... And two tiny baby girls who are resting in Mary's arms in Heaven. Yet I am letting her down. I feel like a coward. And I am ashamed. That's all...


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Butch, my dear, I encourage you to heed the a while ago:

It is not your fault. You, like myself, were a truly devoted most loving husband to your wife. I lost my wife, Mary, 11 weeks ago Friday night. She too had many health issues, fibromyalgia, lupus, heart disease, kidney disease, Parkinson's, but it was ALS that stole her from me on Jan 9. I was by her side through so many hospital and nursing home stays, caring for her twin brothers who passed on nine years apart age 43 in 2004 and age 52 in 2013 and our SIL age 40 in 2013. She pushed and cared selflessly for them through her own illnesses. I just stood by her and took care of her. Her ALS was misdiagnosed late and we didn't have much time before it began stealing vital pieces of her physically. But her soul, heart, spirit, and love never did change. Like it sounds like with your dear Tammy... She fought and her spirit and love never faltered. YOUR care and devoted love never faltered. I feel that in reading your story. My heart feels that because I never faltered for my sweet wife. Yet still today, the guilt haunts me. The questions, the things I should have known sooner. The things I didn't sense as close our bond of love and soul connection was. I still feel I failed. It's all new raw fresh. You will feel these things. Every one of us here who have lost their love of their life feels that way too. At 19 days, 77 days, three months, six months, five years, or ten years. Our feelings are just that... Ours. Of course we feel responsible. How can we not? However, it was beyond our control. And as far as realistically, there really is no realism in such profound grief.

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Thanks Marty. Yes I re-read what I said to Mitch. We all feel guilty, we all all feel, responsible, yet we all loved our wives, husbands, partners with everything in our being.

I know I did that for and with my Mary. Until her last breath, until her last heartbeat.

It's horrible memories like today when we lost our twin girls. It gets to me so bad. Like NEVER before. I always put her first in that double loss and grief. To protect HER. Somehow I always felt that she lost more than I did when the girls were stillborn.

And her very best friend... Nancy Her friend since high school. Through college. Our son's godmother. Her maid of honor at our wedding almost 26 years ago. A friend that never faltered through all the years. She has been with me, checking on me in my grief, in my physical struggles since January. She herself is widowed for 8 years now. She never fails to call me daily. She never fails to bring meals over. She never fails to just sit with me... With no words needing spoken. She wasn't MY best friend. She was my wife's best friend. Now she has become closer to me. And I have allowed that. And I have feelings... As does she. We have spoken at length the last week or so about this. "Feelings". That I don't want to have. That I shouldn't have. That she shouldn't have. She still is married to her husband though he is gone. I am very much still married to my princess even though she is gone. Yet these "feelings" are here. And won't go away. If this grief? Is this a need to be close to someone that was the closest to my wife? Whatever it is... It isn't going away. THAT is why I say and feel I'm failing Mary and letting her down. THAT is why. How can I even call myself a man, a husband, or even a human being with a heart. :(

I have yet to bring this up to my therapist because I feel ashamed and horrible. And so does Nancy.

These feelings do not at all negate my grief or love for my wife. In no way. However, it isn't normal. And it isn't right. And I am totally failing her. It's only been 3 1/2 months.

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I hope you do bring this up to your therapist. I could not imagine you would be judged and if your counselor cares about you, and I am sure they do, it can only be a good thing to discuss. Death brings people closer together. They share a common sorrow and find comfort in one who cares. We may however have to keep focused on comfort without letting it become a bandaid. I became good friends with Kathy's best friend and she has visited and even stayed in my home while being here. We drank together, cried together, and on occasion close out emails with the word "love", but at the end of the day, we have simply become good friends.

You are moving toward an anniversary and those are notoriously hard to bear. I still celebrate that day because for me, it is still "my" anniversary which is a day to celebrate the joining of two very special people. May you find that peace as well.

So please don't judge yourself too hard. Just give time a chance to help you and follow your heart.


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Butch, I am sorry this is such a hard day. You are in my heart and prayers.

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Dear Butch,
You have not let Mary down at all. As you approach this anniversary, remember that grief brings up so very many emotions, and not all of them are valid. We get angry, guilty, fearful, ashamed, vengeful, and so much more, because our Beloved is not present with us right here and right now.

You are a loving and good person, and I know Mary is proud of you and thankful for your love, just as you feel about her. I think you will make it through this anniversary time with some beautiful memories to comfort you, although your broken heart will still feel the pain and emptiness. Let the feelings flow, and as Stephen said, follow your heart.

Let these feelings be what they are—feelings you are having right now, feelings which will perhaps change over time. The emotional turmoil and great waves of grief we feel the first while are still very present for you, and slowly, your heart will heal a bit and you will be able to look at life, and your love, with more compassion for yourself and others.

About dear Nancy, I hope you will talk with your counselor about your feelings, including your feelings you have for another. I think it is normal to reach out for emotional connection with others when we are feeling so alone. I hope you can talk wither counselor about this. I think it is normal and human, but also a time to be cautious and patient with yourself and others, because when we are vulnerable, we need to be both compassionate and caring, including doing exactly what you are doing: expressing your feelings and considering them carefully. I know Mary is proud of you for all you are doing to help yourself to go on and to heal. I hope you can discuss this all with your counselor soon.

I am keeping you in prayer, and sending lots of

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Butch, my dear, I hope and pray that you will take Stephen's sound advice and share this concern with your counselor. I am certain that if you do so, you will get the same reaction as you're getting here: understanding, support and no judgment ~ along with a wonderful opportunity to sort through your own feelings and reactions, all within the privacy and confidentiality of a therapeutic relationship with your counselor.

I happen to think that, given all you've been through and all the losses you've endured these last several years, it is completely understandable that you would be attracted to someone like Nancy, herself a widow who knew and loved your Mary, and who has first-hand experience with mourning the death of a spouse. Your attraction to her does not diminish in any way the love you have for your angel Mary.

I read an article yesterday that made me think of you. I share it with you now in hopes that, when the time is right for both of you, you will take from it the wisdom it contains:

Forget Me Never: The Reality of Marriage After Widowhood

I especially appreciate these words, which the author Carole Brody Fleet repeats often in her book, Happily Even After: A Guide to Getting Through (and Beyond) The Grief of Widowhood:

The reality of spousal loss that is so important for both the widowed and those who surround them to understand is that:

You can honor your past
You can treasure your past
You can and should love your past
You do not have to live in your past

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There is nothing wrong with your having feelings for Nancy, it's natural. She understands what you're going through and you understand what she's been through. You're there for each other. You know her character and all about her. This is not anything "against Mary". You have not failed Mary. And if truth be known, I think Mary would be glad you have someone there for you instead of the loneliness.

The only caution I would use for anyone who thinks they've found someone while grieving is to ask themselves "Am I with this person solely to avoid the pain of grief?" "Am I trying to avoid grief?" And of course the question that doesn't apply in your situation but did in mine, "Does this person have an agenda, could they be preying on me?"

The fact that you already knew Nancy is a plus. I would definitely talk to your counselor about it, they will be objective and can help you think it through in a positive way. You have my blessings, dear Butch, and I would daresay, Mary's as well. Your Mary cared for you, her love was altruistic and she wanted what was best for you. What was best for you when she was alive was her. What is best for you now...well that is what you need to figure out and who better to help you figure it out than a counselor who is trained. Never hold back from a counselor, it withholds pieces of information they need to best guide you with.

Wishing you the best.

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Nancy is not some stranger. She was my beloved's best friend through many many years and many many trials and losses and joys and triumphs. Since high school. She has the very same heart as my Mary had. To the tee. I almost wish these "feelings"... Whatever they are... Were for and with a perfect stranger because it wouldn't matter. I told my therapist about her. And her response was one of concern that I am very much in the early fresh stage of grief. The part where the numbness, the shock, the layers of protections are just beginning to be pealed away. Opening up a huge gaping wound that must be dealt with. I honestly don't know what my feelings are for Nancy. Other than she has been where I am now. And she "gets it" thoroughly. And she's here holding my hand. Making me laugh. Seeing me cry. Listening to my many words that still 3 1/2 months later don't make much sense to me. But to her those words make perfect sense. I don't ever want to marry again. I don't want to even be in a relationship. And I shouldn't be even thinking of those things. All I know is she is here. And I am enjoying... Even thriving... In her company (happy and sad)... And she knows my tears, I know hers. I feel her heart when I talk to or listen to her, embrace her, or just sit with her, hear the sweet memories of she and Mary, and hear her sweet memories of she and her beloved husband whom she lost 8yrs ago. My son knows her. My grand sons know her. They very much love her. I am just taking whatever comes while yes indeed being fully aware that I MYSELF need to heal the raw intense emotions from losing my princess in January. And our wedding anniversary is the 30th. The happiest day of my life. And Nancy was a part of it. I won't "give myself" to anyone. Not now. Not for a very long time. But I'm also not ignoring the feelings and times I am sharing with this wonderfully wise, beautiful, selfless lady... Inside and out. It feels nice to have someone to really get it all. In person. Who Mary loved and adored. Yet still. I have guilt. I have fear I'm letting her down. But I've got to deal with all that and more.

I have been offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to retire early. Or to do work from home manageably from the computer. Largely because I must put my health first. I am in PT following the heart surgery and complications. And my stress level must be kept to the minimum as much as possible.

I have Nancy and her son here tonight. She is out watching a movie with my son and his wife and her son and his fiancé' and I'm about to go join them after I get off of here and go tuck my little men in bed... My grandsons are growing up way to fast.

It's 11pm here. Soon to be 11:15... Every night at that time my heart skips a beat and sinks as that is t.he time Mary slipped away in my arms. 15wks and 1dy ago. (Yes I'm still counting the days.). Is that horrible?

Thank you friends for your replies and concern and suggestions.

Hugs and peace. ❤️




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Even though you are in very early stages of grief, you do seem like you're thinking as clearly as one can at that stage. Maybe you can share with Nancy that you aren't feeling able to get into a relationship at this point but that you value her friendship very much. Take it slow and just see how you feel a year or two from now, you may feel differently.

I realize she's not a stranger, but as someone you have known for a long time, someone your wife valued, it does seem that trust comes easier. It's understandable you'd want to be around someone who "gets it". That alone is not basis for a relationship, but it does make it easier to slide into one, so do go slow unless/until you have done your grief work, gotten used to living alone, and know what you want.

I do hope that early retirement can be yours, or at least working part time from home, it'd be so much easier than the stress of returning to work full time with all you have on your plate. I hope you're doing better physically each day!

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