My husband Dennis died very suddenly on July 7th. I came home from work and found him. We were married 30 years. The process has been a long one that just ended this week. We have two celebrations of his life, one here in Tampa then four weeks later we had one in NY. Monday we finally interred his ashes at the National Cemetery in St. Petersburg. So now all the formalities are over with. I was in a fog for a while and now I find I don't know who I am. We relocated to Tampa 3 years ago. It was new to both of us so everything we did we did together. We would go out every weekend and explore, discover and have new adventures together. Now I find that anything I do, reminds me of him. There is nothing here that is me, it is all us. I'm not sure who I am alone, I don't know if I will ever be able to define me without him.
I'm so sorry, Gunnerx2. Just be kind to yourself during these early months. And please know that you are not alone. What you're feeling is what most all of us widowed folks have felt. I remember writing this exact thing on my blog early on and yet here I am approaching the 7 year mark and I've carved out a new life for myself. Not the one I expected. Not the one I would prefer. But I am happy doing the things I am doing. Not Vern & Dianne happy. But "just Dianne" happy. And that's ok.
When you feel ready, we do have a Soaring Spirits regional group that meets in the Tampa area twice each month. Maria schedules meets in the northern Tampa Bay area and Carla schedules meets in Tampa Bay South. It can be really helpful to be able to share with other widowed people in person. Their events are posted here in Widowed Village and also on the Soaring Spirits web site: http://www.soaringspirits.org/regional-social-events - or you can visit their group Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/soaringspiritstampa/
Thank you Dianne. I think I would like that.
Friends say "If you need someone to talk to ..." yet when you start talking about what you are going through they want to pass it over. It is like they are saying "well I didn't want to talk about that...but if you want to talk about something else..."
Thank you mis64. We are close in time as this is my 8th week. I hope that will happen someday and that along the way I find people who care and support me and I can support them. I know it is still early it is just not somewhere I want to be (like anyone would :)).
Thank you Susan. I guess I may be looking for the express lane to healing :)
What to say. There's nothing really to say is there? I do know what you are going through- although I lost my John over 21 months of cancer and not suddenly as you lost Dennis....so that part I can' relate to. But I can relate to trying to define yourself as a party of one instead of the party of "us" we both had grown accustomed to. Who is Shirley I sometimes ask myself. I haven't been Shirley for 23 years. I've been "John and Shirley" literally half my life. I'm 46 and lost my other half May 24th of this year. We also did everything together and had so many plans....so many plans that I keep coming around to that make me cry. The normalcy of being a couple and a family. The familiarity of that and knowing and being so grateful that I had that. That I didn't need to worry about being alone because I would always have John- the love of my life. Being ever so grateful as I would hear about people who had lost their spouse in a car accident or something tragic in the news. That wasn't me. Thank GOD that wasn't me. Yet here I am. Here we are. I'm trying- that's something I hold on to every day- I'm trying to figure it out. Trying to figure out this new life. Trying to figure out how to keep moving forward. Trying to figure out how to live- be happy- DO.... We are here to do and see and create and think. I'm working on that. I wish that for you as well. I look forward to chatting in the future if that sounds good to you. My best to you today and going forward.
Thank you Shirley. Your words mean a lot to me. I think it is strange how someone who has been here (unfortunately) can say something and it really means something to you because you know they understand. When someone else tells me something they think is comforting, it sounds hollow. I understand what you mean. I find that I cannot think about the future at all yet. I can get through today and perhaps even think about tomorrow, but any further in the future hurts. Dennis was always in those plans so it is still too painful. Now I sit here in Tampa waiting for Hurricane Irma to arrive and feeling so overwhelmed that I really do not know what to do. Do I leave? Where do I go? I have to bring my cats who are not good travelers. Why can't we just stay here and keep our fingers crossed. Well I guess I have no choice but to suck it up and make a decision. I guess this is a possible test to see what I've got :) Yes it would be good to chat.
First, I wish you security and safety with the threat of Hurricane Irma coming....If you need a kick in the behind from a new "friend..." Please take care of yourself and those kitties and be somewhere safe. We can't move forward if we're not here to do so- and I believe from the bottom of my heart that both Dennis and John want us to be here. They want us to live and do and see and experience. Although a hurricane would definitely not be my first choice for "experiencing...." I remember shortly after John died- the fire alarm battery went out right as I came downstairs super early in the morning because I couldn't sleep. All I could think was I had never changed the batteries before and separately thought I did not need this "test" on top of everything else going on. But we got it figured out. I was able to get it open but I couldn't get the cord to come out- I had my son help me with that. But we did it. I have now changed furnace filters, bought and added salt to the water softener, taken the cars in for service, figured out how to use the weed whipper (Even though I really kind of suck at it) and several other things that were John's to do. You have a partnership as a couple- you each take on certain chores and duties and however ridiculous it is....I had little to no clue how to deal with some of that stuff. Really only- because I had never had to. So I'm learning- and I'm sure there will be many more things I learn. I have been doing pretty well actually until recently.... although maybe I was more on autopilot than anything the last three months. John died at the end of the school year. My daughter was a sophomore and my son was graduating. I had a funeral and a graduation to plan, a trip we had planned months prior with friends to prepare for in early July, prepping for my son for college over the Summer including driving down to register in June and then moving him in a few weeks ago. Then my daughter got her permit, she had dance and theater all summer and started her Junior year of high school yesterday. I knew I had a busy Summer ahead of me and knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to focus on much of anything until my kids were both settled into their new school years. I grieved for weeks after John died, don't get me wrong...But I have been soooo incredibly sad the last few weeks. In part I'm sure because my son is now gone at college and he and I are very close. But now both my boys are gone. I find I see little to no happiness in much of anything right now. I am simply going through the motions and like you, I can manage to get through the day and possibly plan for tomorrow but beyond that I can't. I start thinking about future things- trips or holidays or birthdays etc...and I just cry. I see pictures of John and listen to videos and voice mails I kept and I cry. I see mail in his name and I cry. I cry a lot. I'm scared. I'm scared of this new life without him here. I'm scared of who I am without him because I have no idea yet who that person is. And my friends- while empathetic, simply don't understand. They don't know what this horrible grief feels like. They can't. And I get it- I couldn't either until I experienced it. I long for my normal "boring" happy life of work, kids in sports and making dinners and doing laundry and watching a movie together as a couple or a family. I miss going for coffee with John or a drive with him or sitting on the porch. I miss holding his hand and feeling him next to me in bed and just knowing he is there with me. I miss my life. I miss fun. I miss happiness. I miss joy. I have been told it takes time....but it's so hard right now. I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.
Let me know what you decided to do with yourself and your cats. Thinking good thoughts!
My Lord you are so right. Sometimes the grief just catches your breath and you feel as if you will suffocate. I really try to talk to him, yell at him and above all else, make him proud. you are so right about learning things you didn't have to do. The hot tub got a leak this weekend and I had to trouble shoot it with the service over the phone and finally told them that the darn thing was 8 months old and I was not going to fix it for them so they had better send someone out here! I'll tell you a funny story though, he is here in odd ways. Does that happen to you? He was retired and during the week he stayed up late and would sleep in one of the spare bedrooms. On weekends he would come into the Master bedroom. He would always complain that I had the $100 sheets while he slept on sandpaper. It was a joke between us. well the week after he passed I went to change the sheets and the two spare sets that were in the linen closet were missing the flat sheet. From each set! I still cannot find them. I had to go out and buy two separate flat sheets to complete the sets.
FYI - I just made a reservation at a hotel about 30 miles inland. I read on one of the county sites that you should not try to relocate 100s of miles awayt, 10s of miles is usually fine. So I found a pet friendly hotel and we are taking a mini vacation on Friday :)
This is probably not the time to do anything drastic or irreversible. The experts always say to wait a year or so unless financial necessity forces changes.
I know it's hard thinking of what YOU want after so many years of thinking of another person's wants and needs, but it can be a positive experience. My 86-year old father reported after my mother's death that he'd gone out and bought new sheets and replaced the clothes hamper because the old one had a hole in it. I was surprised- Dad is a retired engineer and NOT Martha Stewart- but I considered it a healthy sign. In my case, I'm traveling to climates my husband didn't tolerate well; we had SO many wonderful trips together but he didn't tolerate hot weather (got itching or sweating attacks) and this year I went to Central America and loved it. I also keep the windows open because I don't need the A/C to keep the house temp at 74 degrees. I can tolerate 80! It's the little things. Baby steps.
I instantly love your father :) Dennis had his man cave with this great big recliner in there. He kept this towel over the back of the chair. He said it was so that if he sat down after doing yardwork or something he would not get the chair dirty. I said "but you are getting the towel dirty, at least let me wash it" I was not permitted to touch it. The night he died I was up all night because I could not sleep, I went into his man cave and grabbed the towel off the chair and cursed at him LOL I was thinking of selling the house and moving. We were only here 2 years so there is no strong attachment. I decided not to do anything yet as the neighbors are great and I think I need their support right now. I may end up moving or maybe not, I'll stay in the place we fell in love with together. Some days are good and I go to sleep and say "you didn't cry today" ... then I feel guilty for not crying. Sometimes you can't win :)
Hi there-thanks for your post. Man you hit it on the head when you shared "I'm not sure who I am alone, I don't know if I will ever be able to define me without him"
The only difference between you and myself in that sentence is the last word for me is her. This is a surreal journey isn't it?
I just joined a gym to workout and try and be active. What memory hit me? I walked by a step class and a moment from 4 years ago when my wife talked me into taking one class with her-I remembered exactly what she wore that night, an orange workout blouse and black tights, and I remembered walking behind her and admiring her curves-man I hate this some days!
Today I was talking to myself (I have done that a lot the past 10 months-lol) and I said "Maybe I can define myself today as a grieving widower who is suffering inside and doing the best he can to survive in circumstances that are just too much to handle sometimes"
That's about all I can define myself today. Tomorrow? Maybe something different.