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We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

I think we all can agree that none of our parted loved ones would want us to feel the pain and sadness that we feel but it's really not like any of us can really help it.  One minute we would be "okay" and the next minute that tidal wave of pain just sweeps over our grieving shores, blanketing us.  I know that it comes and goes and just as we can't control the gravity of the moon and sun to try to control the tide, we can't control the pangs.

I've been really thinking about my grief and realized there are different reasons for the pain and sadness I feel.  Sometimes there are specific triggers for them like looking at a picture of my wife beaming into the camera.  Other times it's just that I wasn't distracted enough.  I know there are no "answers" to the grieving process but I thought it would be good to at least identify the different reasons so I can try to find a way to work through each one.  Some of these are derived from reading articles, listening to podcasts, and watching videos about grieving.

Feeling Incomplete/Emptiness

This is probably the most "selfish" one where it's about us.  We are grieving for ourselves.  The person that we used to be when our loved one was beside us.  Grieving for the "normal" lives that we lost.  Grieving for the emptiness we now feel.  We are sad and also afraid of the future where we no longer have our love and soulmate that we have become to depend on.  Our view of the world is completely different now and I'm scared of what the future holds because it's very fuzzy now.

Whenever I feel this, it does not last long as I've come to think how selfish this is and also because of how stronger the other pains are.

The How

I keep thinking about the last day and a half of my wife's life.  She fought through the pains of delivering our baby girl with no pain medication.  Pictures of her in the ICU with so many cables and tubes around her flashes in my mind sometimes.  The doctor asked if me and my wife's family would like to see her body and warned that due to the resuscitation attempts she would look different.  I had to say goodbye and see her one last time.  I do not regret this decision but her looking different does also flash in my mind as well.  The very first time they let us see her in the ICU, she was not as responsive to me although the nurse did say she did seem to respond to her requests to squeeze her hand.  At this time, she had a single tear from one of her eyes.  I can't help but try to imagine what she felt at this time.

At one pointer later, she was alert and conscious in the ICU, she was able to make eye contact with me and respond to me.  I let her know that her baby was healthy and to not worry.  She used to be a nurse a while ago and I wonder if she knew what would happen or not because I knew she could hear everything the nurse and doctors were saying.  There were no tears during this time.  They had to take her to the OR and I told her that I would see her in an hour or two.  I asked her if she knew I loved her, she nodded.  This brings me some comfort but not much.

I asked the doctors if she suffered at all.  Of course, they said no but who could really know other than my love.  I wish I could feel everything she felt so I would know and share that at least.

I have no idea how to reconcile this pain at all other than pray to God that He embrace my wife, give her comfort, peace, and His unconditional love.  I sometimes beg Him for this in my prayer.

Wanting to Memorialize and Honor Her

I want the world to know how amazing my wife was.  How she cared for the elderly as both a nurse and optometrist in her career.  How she always put others before her.  How she always thought of me before herself.  How much she cared for her parents and even my parents as well as her sister.  How she sacrificed for our daughter.  How much of an impact she made on so many lives; me, her daughter, her family, my family, her coworkers, and her patients.  She made friends so easily, much much easier than I can ever befriend others.  I suppose the big part of this is trying to come to grips with the fact that a person like this did not deserve how it ended and trying to let the universe know the type of person it lost.  I wish I could trade places with her.  She made the universe a warmer and brighter place than I ever could.

This saddens me even though there are steps you can take to memorialize your loved ones (beyond just having a memorial service) but the question will rise "is it enough?".  I know one definite way for me to honor her is to raise our daughter with overflowing amount of love.  I will try my best and will get help doing so but I wish there were quicker ways for me to honor her.  I have no idea what kind of father I'll be and how our girl will turn out.  I can only pray she is a lot like her mother.

Lost Time

My wife was 36.  I still have her phone with screenshots and notes of all the places she wanted us to visit.  She wanted to see the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan.  Machu Picchu in Peru.  The aurora borealis.  She wanted to pick fruits and vegetables at farms and orchards.  She wanted to own a home of her own again where she could have a garden in the back.  She wanted to be a mother.  As I take care of our baby girl, it's tough sometimes especially when she's being fussy, but I imagine us doing it together while crying or laughing or yelling at each other.  She never got to hold her baby in her arms (she did for a few seconds but later told me she didn't remember).

I can't even imagine this right now but I also have to consider how our daughter will live and grow up without her mother who was a great mother and would have continued to be a great mother.

Very difficult to reconcile this.  Lost time is also relative.  Even if your loved one was on his or her 40s or 50s or 60s or 70s, you won't help but feel the sadness of the time they could have had.

Guilt/Regrets

I love my wife.  And I know she loved me.  I can't help but feel that I could have loved her more.  I can't help but feel that she gave me more of her love than I gave her.  She gave me more of her time than I gave her.  I could have been more supportive.  I could have been more positive.  I could have criticized less.  I could have done what she asked me to do sooner.  I could have helped her more.  I could have... I could have.... I should have.  I can't help but feel there are times where I took her for granted. The regrets.

I know there are things that I did that made her happy and feel loved.  But these things are harder and harder to think of than everything I should have done.  I thought of this one time yesterday where I made her cry because something really stupid I said and I broke down hard.  Why did I do that to someone I love the most in this world?  I'm trying to count the number of times I made her cry, I think I came up with six to eight times maybe even up to a dozen?  Who does that to someone they love?  I've always understood that marriage takes effort to work and every couple fights but I really can't help but have regrets about all of the mistakes that I made.  I thought I had time to make it up to her. 

What if we had just never met?  She would still be here.  Making her family and friends smile and laugh. I kind of thought in my head that because someone like my wife didn't deserve something like this to happen to her, the other reasoning could be because it's really a punishment for me.  How cruel it would be if it was true.

I also wasn't there for her at the end.  She was in an OR room somewhere with a bunch of strangers prodding and poking her.  I wish I was there to hold her hand at the end; she always liked when I held her hand.  Her hand was almost always cold; my hands were warm.  Another regret.  It piles on.

As for reconciling this, I know I have to try to break this terrible loop that plays over and over in my head.  I've also read that we have to accept that we are human and we make mistakes and aren't perfect.  I've found that discussions about regret and guilt is sparse as it pertains to grieving which actually makes me feel worse.  Should've.  Could've.  Would've.  If only I can go back in time.

Others?

The reason for your sadness may be different based on the circumstances.  There are also probably ones I feel or felt that I have not identified.  If you have other core reasons for sadness in your grief, I'd like to read about them if you are willing to share.  Or if you have any advice for me for handling any of the above.

If you read through all this, bless you.  I just needed a place to write down my thoughts.  Vent.  Memorialize.  Grieve.

with deep condolences,

loveboo.

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loveboo, yes, I can identify with regrets, guilt, shoulda, coulda's and things I didn't tell my husband. He went to bed one night and never woke in the morning. He had a cerebral aneurysm, and I have beat myself up every day since. Today, for some reason, it came to mind that it is said "your life passes before you" when you pass. I thought if that is true he would know all the feelings I'm beating myself up over. I believe in God and heaven, so I figure as smart as my husband was here on earth, the ability to understand everything must be magnified tremendously in heaven, so I have no doubt he knows how much I love him and how much I miss him. I believe he understands the why's and reasons, for any disagreements we had during our life together, far better than I know at this moment. I don't know if I'm right or wrong, but believing has seemed to help with the guilt. I haven't been able to ease the pain of his loss. Our home is a tapestry of out life together and everywhere I look a video plays in my head. We were together 49 years, married 43, so there are plenty of videos to play. God Bless you .

I think we can all identify with the guilt that comes along with losing anyone, not just a spouse.  The coulda, shoulda's will drive you crazy if you let them.  It's so hard but please try to retrain your mind not to even go there.  You loved your wife, and I'm sure if you allow yourself to think differently, you'll begin to see how you made the best choices for that moment in time.  I hope you'll find some peace, lord knows it's hard to do.  However, with anything that goes "wrong" we can all look back and see things that could have been done or said.  Just look deeper, and have peace knowing for that particular moment you did the best you could.  

Thank you for your comments.  It does help me knowing that I'm not alone and of course that my daughter is healthy.

While I wrote a lot about the guilt/regret reason for sadness, I woke up today feeling tremendous sadness for the last 36 hours part.

And thought of another one yesterday:

The Finality of It

Trying to come to grips with the finality of what happened.  I can no longer talk to my wife.  I can no longer hold her hand, hug, nor kiss her.  She is no longer here and there's no way to reach out to her.  There's no undo button.  There's no going back.  There is absolutely nothing that I can do to help her because that is what I desperately want to do.  Help her.

As someone who believes in God, I pray but there's no answer.  I realize my faith is not very strong.  My wife was raised in a Buddhist household and had Buddhist beliefs.  I thought maybe her soul would stay here because of our baby.  I talked to a flickering light last night while feeding our little girl.  I don't know why but I felt like saying that it's okay for me to be sad, I will be sad for a while and if she can move on, she should.

If my faith was stronger, I would be able to believe the "she's in a better place" saying.  I want to believe it but it's difficult not knowing.  I guess that's why they call it faith.

Thought this quote concisely describes this type of sadness:

  • "I look up at the night sky. Is there anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch?" - C. S. Lewis

Loveboo, 

Exactly my thoughts about the finality of it!  It seems like it hit you a little sooner than it hit me.  After about a year, it hit me.  Unfortunately I think this is part of our grief healing...at least I hope so.

I continue to pray for your family,

Broken Diva

You mentioned C.S. Lewis so I thought you may be reading.  Do a search on Matt Logelin, he has been in your shoes.  I think he may have a blog.  I know he has a book out.  Perhaps some of his insights will be helpful to you.

Thank you Misty.  Matt Logelin's story has been mentioned to me before and I did go through and read most of his blog posts (which I believe is actually on this site now) and gave me the idea of wearing my wife's wedding ring which I found does not fit on my pinky so maybe I'll put it on a necklace to wear.

Matt describes the pain: his memories, encounters with strangers, the difficulty with raising Maddy on his own, etc.  It sounds like he had it worse than me as I have family that are going above and beyond to help.  Unfortunately, at this time right now, I found that reading about his pain and experience does not help me, it just makes me relive mine or anticipate a future scenario.

At the same time, I can't help but empathize with fathers whose stories of loved ones were not told as broadly as Matt's... especially fathers who lost both his wife and child due to maternal complications that I was beyond shocked to find out still happens relatively frequently.  My wife read and took every class about birthing to childcare... but the one class that wasn't even offered or even mentioned during any of her OB appointments is the risk to maternal health.

As much as this grief hurts me, I am hurting much more collectively with every past, present, and future families that this has happened and will happen to.  What really should have been the happy and miraculous day of all of these families' lives turned into a day of nightmarish shock.  This, to me, is extremely hard to live with.

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