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I was hit with a thought that our life with our partner is like a book. A novel that keeps adding pages and chapters over the years and thru the experiences that become our memories. I got very comfy in that book. Assumed it would just keep growing with new things however big or small, it was always there. But it ended. I've spent almost a year living without that book now. I have drafts of entries I would have made had I been able to share them with Steve. But I cannot so they pile up with no place to go. The last chapter is not a satisfying end. Unlike reading a book for real and hating it for it to end, there isn't another to replace it for another tale. There is a book I possess, but the pages are blank right now because it will be my book without him. I don't know how to start it yet. Posts I have written, email shared and talks I have had with people are the rough draft. I've never had to do this on my own before. Steve and I were each other editors and I have only myself now. There is a lot to be said about that old saying about curling up at night with an old book. I know because I can still do that, but I have to alone and know it is done. The end has been written and I cannot change that. So those late nights? So empty and cold no matter how much I stoke the fire, try and find warmth in my trusty robe and see that book on the table that was a symbol of our ongoing life. I'm not ready to ready to read a lot of it, but because I was a part of it, much is memorized anyway and it rips my heart out late in the night.

5 years of a fight with cancer took my partner.  I am finding the 'one year' mark a myth about feeling more accepting.  What I have had to change is talking to most people about it because it seems a long time to them.  They are just missing their buddy, not the person who was their life for over 3 decades.  My mind still cannot wrap itself around the foreverness of this.  It is the first thing I think of when I wake up and follows me all day.  Coming home to the silence is so very hard.  I don't even want to talk to most people about him anymore.  Then I have to hear their memories when I am drowning in my own.  I have no family or close friends, so this is more isolating.   There is my public persona and then there is the real me when I am alone.  To those that say I seem to doing well I think...you should come by at night.   But then they have their families.  It is not something anyone who hasn't experienced can even begin to imagine.  I thought I did when it was happening to me, but I was so very wrong.

This is my first time here so I wanted to give a small summary of what brought me here besides my latest phase in this process.

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When Deedo was ill we reached a point where she could no longer tolerate the 7,000 ft elevation our house is at so I retired early and we moved to Mesa.  We got a tiny apartment in a 55+ community.  That's where Deedo spent the last four and a half months of her life.  After she died I discovered I couldn't live there any more; too many triggers.  All of her treatment and all of the bad times are associated with the Valley so my home is a relative safe haven.  So many happy times here.  It took me a month and a half to move everything out of the apartment and the whole time all I could think was how relieved I would be to get out of there.  As I turned in the keys I hit me like a semi;  I am closing the last chapter of Deedo's life.  It was so unexpected and I literally collapsed in tears.  Those poor gals in the office.  Gwenivere: I know full well about the last chapter.  The last several chapters are such a twist; something I never dreamt; such a blindside that even today 81 days after Deedo left I am in disbelief that her life ended the way it did and when it did.  Cognitively I know there is no good time to lose a love one but .....

Edited by Brad

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Gwenivere- I like your analogy of our lives being like a book.

Michael was my ex husband....I loved him deeply and continue to....he also continued to love me deeply until he passed. 

I always believed our time together was not over....no matter how my life appeared to move forward....I did so believing Michael was my soulmate and one day....we would come together again. 

With his passing I've struggled to accept that our chapter is really finished. I've re-read all the previous chapters thinking about all the ways we should of Done things differently. ....not just me, but Michael too......

How two people can love each other as much as he and I did, and not make it work, just baffles me

This is not how it was supposed to end for us........ 

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Gwenivere,

I'm glad you found this site and I hope you  get as much from it as I have.  You'll find a lot of people here can relate to what you say.  Yes, it does seem the chapters are left blank.  A year didn't do it for me, it took me a good three years to process it, and the rest I have to live with.  It's been ten years for me now and not a day goes by but what I still miss him, talk to him, think about him, etc.  I have gotten better at coping, but still feel some anxiety and panic about the future, so I try to stay in the present.  Staying in the present has taught ME to be present with what is here rather than focusing on what I've lost, it's taught me to be more appreciative and experience life more fully.  I've learned a lot on this site, and the meditation has helped too.

I hope you will take the time to browse this site, Marty has many helpful links posted.  You are not alone.

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My dear scba, it may feel to you as if nothing has been resolved, in the sense that your life is forever changed from how you had expected it to be ~ but the very fact that you've "somehow survived" this past year indicates that you are moving forward. As stated in this article, 

Unless you're aware of the clues to healing and their significance, your progress through grief may be so subtle and so gradual that you will not notice it at all. On the other hand, if you watch for and choose to recognize certain changes in attitudes, feelings and behaviors in yourself, you can measure your own progress through grief.

See Recognizing Your Own Progress Through Grief

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When reading your post, Brad, it so reminded me of advice I keep getting, mostly unsolicited by the well meaning folks that don't get saying nothing is preferable.  Steve was in a care facility the last 2 weeks because I could tend to his needs anymore at home.  Like that apartment you had, I hate passing the place because of obvious reasons.  Our home is so terribly bittersweet.  Often if feels like just a house without him.  But I am surrounded by decades of work we did to make this our home.  I thought that would give me some peace, and maybe it will someday, but right now it is a constant reminder of his loss.  It's so quiet.  I often find myself wanting to call out to him to come see something or help me.  I miss him tracking me down to show me something.  Most of all I miss the shared times of eating and talking about the little things that make up life.  After dinner we would always gather in the living room with our dogs to watch a favorite show.  I still watch them, but no one to discuss or laugh over them with.  So I have gotten asked soooooo many times if I would consider selling our home.  Like that would take ease the pain?  Knowing someone else was living in it?  That living in an unfamiliar place would alter the grief?  But then, I can't count how many times it has been suggested I join a book club, take a class, go here or there, etc.  Things I never wanted to do anyway.   People want to 'fix, us for some reason.  Yes, we are broken, but not in the way they understand.  

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Good point, Marty.  I think that speaks for my experience.

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Gwenivere

I went back and read your first post.  Your analogy to a book is so true. Tom always hated Christmas so you'd think Christmas would be better without him but when I got the stuff out to put up the tree I couldn't do it.  All the ornaments were our book. About our family and the places we'd been through our 38 years together.

You mentioned that you like dogs. Do you have a dog?  I'll tell you when I am really down my fella is my only salvation. He is so happy to see me when I come home and always goes to bring  me one of his toys as a present.  When I 'm really low he listens and never talks back. He is a warm body next to me in bed.  So if you  don't  have one it is something you may want to consider it. 

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Talk about blast from the past.  It was so odd reading that again after all these years and seeing it hasn’t gotten any better.  You are years ahead of me and still running into those empty chapters.  I gave up Christmas last year.  Couldn’t do it anymore alone.  We have so many sentimental ornaments.  We always had dogs as our kids so lots of engraved names and significance.  Plus ours with each other.  I loved sending cards in this tech based world, but gave that up after years of not signing his name now.  

I have 2 dogs.  One is the last of our once happy family.  He never met the other.  I can’t even talk about the depression all this loss has caused without being suffocated by grief that seems never ending.  Now that I’m almost 5 years older since he left, I have to face growing old alone.  Not understanding why this happened to us.  Knowing there will never be another in my life.  Wondering what the purpose of breathing is.  Half of me died 5 years ago.  I’ve written about this so many times.  Yes, the dogs help, but I can’t do the things with them I once could.  I do depend on them.  I wish I was the dog mom I was.  I push them away sometimes because I just don’t have the energy. I was volunteering yesterday and my elder dog didn’t want to go.  I forgot and when I got in the car to come home it was so empty.  I do miss talking to Steve and got to wondering if I would even know how anymore if he appeared.  I’ve had to create a life that is so different now that is isolated and barely social.  

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Since MLG revived this, it got me to thinking and wondering about us that are years into this altered existence. It got me to thinking as I touched on above, would I know how to converse with Steve again?  These years have so drastically changed how I interact with the world and how I don’t at all when I am alone.  The very few times people have visited I notice I get antsy at about an hour and want them gone.  I’m not used to it anymore.  Not that it would happen with Steve because it can’t, but if it did, after all this time, could I go back to that?  I think I would, but it would take a long time.  I’d essentially be a person with PTSD from his disappearance having to adapt back to a former life.  I think I would be actually uncomfortable.  It’s just a philistopic question anyway. How do you think you guys would do if they came back after the immediate joy and grabbing them into the reality of what we’ve endured?  

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That's quite a lot to think about, Gwen. In all honesty, our relationship was a very volatile one filled with unfounded jealousy, screaming, and mental terror directed at me. Don't get me wrong. There were some nice times too, but most of the time I was walking on eggs. There, I've said it. We were mostly the couple everyone envied. Little did they know. This started about our sixth year but I was bound and determined to stick it out and I did for 41 years. If he were to return, I would hope that things would be a bit different. Maybe I would be more caring if his attitude had changed. I did love him despite all that, but I'm not sure if I could go through it again. It may sound funny to some, but if he were to return today, my feeling would be dread. I guess that says it all. 

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I could talk to George if he were back.  Some things would be different.  We always understood each other but it wasn't perfect, I don't think that exists.  Karen, bless you for sticking it out, I'm sorry you went through that, but as you say, you love him.  

All of us have been on our own for so long...

 

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1 hour ago, kayc said:

I could talk to George if he were back.  Some things would be different.  We always understood each other but it wasn't perfect, I don't think that exists.  Karen, bless you for sticking it out, I'm sorry you went through that, but as you say, you love him.  

All of us have been on our own for so long...

 

 

7 hours ago, Gwenivere said:

Since MLG revived this, it got me to thinking and wondering about us that are years into this altered existence. It got me to thinking as I touched on above, would I know how to converse with Steve again?  These years have so drastically changed how I interact with the world and how I don’t at all when I am alone.  The very few times people have visited I notice I get antsy at about an hour and want them gone.  I’m not used to it anymore. 

How do you think you guys would do if they came back after the immediate joy and grabbing them into the reality of what we’ve endured?  

Gwen:  As Karen said this is really a lot  to think about.  Knowing how miserable I have been since he is gone, I know I would want to know what it was like for him and I would probably never let him out of my sight again.  And, I would beg him to please forgive me for not being at the hospital the moment he had to leave us. 

Our morning talks over coffee have been sorely missed, so I would get out the 12 cup coffee maker and start where we left off in 2015.  Within a short time I would again begin being more forceful in planning how we would sell this high maintenance home and do all the things we had talked about doing, but never got to do because of finances, family, etc., etc.

I too, get antsy whenever I am around people for any length of time.  I have a limited social life, but have noticed I don't ever feel like I quite belong whenever I am with more than a small group.

Oh, if Only this were possible.  Dee

 

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5 hours ago, KarenK said:

That's quite a lot to think about, Gwen. In all honesty, our relationship was a very volatile one filled with unfounded jealousy, screaming, and mental terror directed at me. Don't get me wrong. There were some nice times too, but most of the time I was walking on eggs.  We were mostly the couple everyone envied. Little did they know. This started about our sixth year but I was bound and determined to stick it out and I did for 41 years.

I did love him despite all that, but I'm not sure if I could go through it again. It may sound funny to some, but if he were to return today, my feeling would be dread. I guess that says it all. 

KarenK:  Am sorry you feel your relationship was not always perfect.  Most of us had rough times at one time or another.  Your marriage, 41 years, is a long time.  Our early years were rough because my husband was trying to please his mother instead of living his life his way.    Love conquers in the end.  Dee

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Dee, I'm not sure any marriage is "perfect". Neither of us were perfect, for sure. We had only known each other for two months when we married and in reality, did not know each other well. He brought demons from the past which affected our relationship. I should not have aired my feelings here. I will always love the person he was when we met......the one he became, not so much. If only life had erase and rewind buttons.

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Karen,

You are safe with us.  I love you.  (((hugs)))

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Karen, I hope you know that anything you say is respected and important to us all.  I was under the impression your marriage was different than it was.  I’m glad you shed light on what it was and your history.   I don’t know what else to say as I had no idea you were unhappy, or so it sounds.  

 

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8 hours ago, kayc said:

Karen,

You are safe with us.  I love you.  (((hugs)))

Karen: Ditto to what kayc said.  I think this forum is great in that it gives all of us a place to say whatever we feel about our life.  Dee

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The book analogy is a good one.  Maybe that's why they used a scrapbook in the movie "Up" to show the life that Carl and Ellie Fredrickson shared together.  After Carl had tried everything within his grasp to feel like Ellie was still there (taking his house to Paradise Falls where she had dreamed of them retiring) and after he had come to the end of his dreams, Carl found a note at the end of the scrapbook.  It was from Ellie and it said, "Thanks for the memories.  Now go enjoy your new adventures".

As a widow of over 13 years, I found that so invigorating.  It's true.  We HAVE to start that new book that has new characters and plots in it.  
We can't have our loved one anymore.  We grieve and that is good, but we also have to face the ending of one story and move on at some point.

Have you ever had those dreams where you keep doing the same thing over and over and over and you just want to wake up and stop it?
That's what it can be like when we never let ourselves accept that someone we love is really disconnected from us for the rest of our life on this earth.  I know I will see my husband again (though he won't be my husband); but not here on earth.  I have to move on---for my sake, for my children's sake, and because God wants me to.  He knows what is best for us.

An excellent psychologist, Henry Cloud, wrote a book called "Necessary Endings".  His premise is that often the thing or things that keep us from reaching our goals is that we are hanging on to things that will KEEP US from reaching them.  Sometimes, there are things we have to let go of in order to get where we want to be.  

The first year of grief is horrible.  It's a nightmare.  The only thing that got me through it was God, coming to me in multiple ways to bring me comfort and to tell me how much He loves me.  Each year got a little better, but in circular ways.  I would still have many rough days and weeks and they came unpredictably.  In the past few years, though, God has been showing me that my happiness is not all in the past.  He has important things for me here in the present and in the future.

I hope that all of you will see glimpses of that too, that you still have great purpose in your life, no matter what part of that journey you're on.

 

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6 hours ago, Dawn G said:

That's what it can be like when we never let ourselves accept that someone we love is really disconnected from us for the rest of our life on this earth.  I know I will see my husband again (though he won't be my husband); but not here on earth.  I have to move on---for my sake, for my children's sake, and because God wants me to.  He knows what is best for us.

Sometimes I feel I have accepted this too much, if that makes any sense.  I don’t have a belief in God nor any children or family to help spur some motivation for another path.  I am just getting old alone.  After 5 years I actually feel worse as my body breaks down and no one to talk and share this journey with. 

I don’t know if I thought I would see Steve again.  I miss being a wife.  I miss having a husband/friend.  I miss that unique love.  Knowing it wil not happen again, more so...with him, is making life a challenge to appreciate on any level.  

I’m glad you have found purpose again.  I know you will never stop grieving your partner.  I’m still searching for reasons to keep going as so much keeps being taken away at this stage of life.  Someone tonshare thatvwith would make it less isolating and cold.  Maybe someday I’ll find some new ink and paper, but I’m still waiting for an inner nudge.

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Gwenivere, I'm so sorry that you feel that way.  My heart goes out to you and I wish I could give you a great big hug.   
I have a very large family (12 kids, 20 grandchildren with 2 more on the way).  My family is great now and they were awesome before my husband died, but grief split us apart as we were each finding our new normal; and there was quite alot of strife for about a decade.  It was a really rough patch.   I'm so thankful that it seems to be over now and we can all just enjoy each other again.  The drama was killing me.
All that to say that having a family didn't exactly help me get through grief most of the time.  Sometimes, yes, but many times, it was really stressful!!

Through all of those really rough times, I was on my face, in my room, crying out to God.  I thanked Him for the life He had given me with my wonderful husband, and I thanked Him for His presence with me in the tough times I was going through.  And as I did, I felt God SO close to me.  I can hardly describe it.  

I think you know what I mean when I tell you that there were so many days, especially in the first year, where I just paced the floor not knowing what to do with myself.  I felt like my body needed to explode or something because the pressure of my sorrow was so big, it felt like something had to give somewhere.
I remember one day that was just like that.  I was hurting to deeply and couldn't find relief.  I was asking God to show me something, to talk to me, to help me get through it.   I went over to my Bible, which I read almost every day, but that day, I just let it fall open and it was at Isaiah 43: 1-5 which said, But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.  “Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you,
I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.  “Do not fear, for I am with you; 
I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west."

As I read that, I though, Well, that sounds really nice, but I don't know if that's about me.  
I decided that I would go into my bedroom, shut the door and worship Jesus.  I knew that if I was in His presence, I would feel some peace because it's always happened that way before.  And thanking Him and telling Him how much I love Him is how to enter into God's presence.  So, I went in my room, but the phone rang and I was annoyed.  I really needed some relief here!  
A friend was calling to see how I was doing.  I started complaining about how bad it was.  She listened patiently for a few minutes and then she said, "Well, dear,  you know you're going through the fire, but you won't be burned.  You're in the deep water, but you're not going to drown."  Without knowing what I had just read, she was quoting it to me.    That made me feel better enough to function that day.  I was able to teach my children and do a few chores.  
Later in the afternoon, I checked my email and there was a message from my husband's cousin.  She said, "I was thinking of you and praying for you today, and the Lord told me to share this scripture with you......(and she quoted Isaiah 43: 1-5)!  That gave me so much joy, and enough peace to go on for quite awhile.

Another day, I was feeling really awful again, and I thought that working in my garden might help; but when I went outside, I had NO energy.  I just couldn't lift anything.  It was really discouraging and I said, "Lord, would you send someone to me that I can minister to?"  As soon as I said it, I saw a car come past our house, stop, back up, and pull into our driveway.  A woman I didn't know jumped out and exclaimed, "I thought you guys lived here!!"  She started pouring out her heart to me, sharing something very personal and painful.  She wanted my advice!!  I told her what I knew would help.  We hugged and cried and she left.  I was amazed at how specifically God led me in that.

Another time, that same summer, I stood at the front of my yard, watching my broken-hearted children play.  We had only lived in that house for two years when my husband died, so we didn't have much for the kids to do yet.  I prayed, "Father, I don't understand why you have us here in this house.  At our old house, the kids had swings and a pool.  We don't even have a pool for them to play in."  Immediately, a car pulled up behind me and stopped next to me.  A woman rolled down the window and introduced herself as my neighbor across the street (the one living in a mansion).  She said, "I have an in-ground pool at my house.  If you and your children would like to swim, you can come over anytime."  Again, God was looking out for us.

I could tell you tons more stories like those, where God specifically showed me how much He cared/cares about what we're going through.   There was that one day that was so painful, again, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I went out on my front porch to soak in some sunshine and boost my mood. There was a breeze, but I hardly noticed it.  As I sat there, I felt waves of love coming over me.  It was incredible. Just wave after wave of God's love pouring over me.  

This is what has sustained me, especially in the worst times.  I know that my Redeemer lives.  He proves it all the time.  

I feel your pain when you say you miss that exclusive relationship with your husband.  I miss mine in the same way. There is NO other relationship like it.
It gave me no comfort when well-meaning friends would say "You'll see him again in heaven" because there is no marriage in heaven.  I will not have an exclusive relationship with him.  But then, the Lord reminds me that heaven is so wonderful, so blissful, it won't matter.  Love will be greater than the love we have in marriage.  We won't even care about our losses.  

I'm sorry this is long, Gwenivere.  I will pray for your body and heart to heal, for your spirit and soul to find peace and purpose again.  
You are a precious lady.  Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your heart.


 

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Thank you, Dawn.  I appreciate the time you put into your post.  My sadness is I know I will never feel again the love that defined my life.  The rest of my days will be spent without that ever again.  I do envy you with faith, but that is not me.  I hope your thoughts and words are an inspiration for someone who can truly benefit from them.  🌸🦋🌺

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