(((Hugs))) So sorry for your loss Cindy. I also lost my wife 2/17/17 after 8 years battling cancer. The fog is just now starting, I had been soo sharp for soo long, I think because I needed to be. This is brutal, no two ways about it. My mother said the same exact thing to me last week, that I need to move on. She also questioned my counselor's effectiveness because I'm feeling worse as time goes by. It's been 3 weeks. This is not helpful. I am taking a break from speaking with her for fear I will say something I cannot take back. I am stunned at how much my brain seems to be letting me down right now. I can see the value in it, but my kids are embarrassed at how forgetful I've quickly become. I hope they never understand it. This place is a Godsend, and the people here "get it" like nobody else can.
I think that people say you have to move on because a) they think it's helpful (it isn't), b) they are belaboring the obvious; and c) to make themselves feel that they are helping. The truth is that no one gets it until and unless they've been through it, I don't care how empathetic one claims to be. Dealing with someone who has suffered this kind of a loss makes people uncomfortable. And if you "move on", it means that THEY can be comfortable again and don't have to deal with your grief (or think about how they could also end up in your shoes).
From my experience, the bottom line is that with your existing friends (unless you know someone who has also lost a spouse; people who have lost a child also "get it") you will have to "act as if" you are fine...and seek out other widows/widowers. Because no one else gets it and most people just don't want to be bothered getting you through this.
I know this sounds harsh, but it is such a common experience for us. I was helped greatly by a friend who lost her young adult daughter to drugs. For some reason she thought I was helpful to her for that time. I think all I did was listen when she wanted to talk, stay in touch, and ask her to go to dinner frequently. I never told her to move on or anything else. People with children would tell me "You can't possibly know what she's going through because you don't have children", and I would reply "You're right, I can't know. And neither can you, because you are going to go home and tuck YOUR kids into bed." Advice is NOT what a new widow/widower needs.
I echo each and every word you wrote in this posting. Thank you for writing what I have been thinking i the past 4 1/2 months since my husband of 57 years died.
I have friends that continue to advise me, counsel me, give me many "shoulds" and "should not's",and tell me "they understand". How could they? They continue to live life with their husbands, buying and selling homes, taking trips, send me "chit/chat" notes that are full of their daily lives and never once, lately, ask how I am? I have decided they don't really want to know and before your posting, l could not find the correct words to say to them when given the chance. I am trying my darndest to find out what the rest of my life will be...struggling each day with the thoughts of "just going back in time, where things were normal" and regretting every single moment of wanting more than I had - that STUFF is just not important, never really was...the trips, the baseball games, soccer games, meals shared on a daily basis, holding hands as we walked, shopping for groceries together, saying I love you to one another just before going to sleep....all those things are what were and are important. How foolish we were to think we would have 10 more healthy years - God had something else planned and now, I must do what I can to cherish my memories, hug my Tom's pillow as I sleep and get on with "it", without having a clue as to what "it" really is. Thank you, again, for helping me understand what I have been feeling lately.
I've had to just accept that people don't get it, they don't want to know, and they want us to just shut up about it. Ultimately this is a journey we take alone, or among strangers, like this. Don't even try. Look, I had times even after my husband got sick when I couldn't take anymore and the thought of living another minute with a sick man who was angry with me all the time was enough for me to want to take my own life. I now know that his social phobia, his depression, his inability to hang onto a job, was because he was having TIAs and they were affecting his executive functioning. But I didn't know it then. People think I should be happy that he is gone, because of so many times I was unhappy and often at the end of my rope. They don't get it. They don't get that when you are married a long time you have an intimate bond of love that transcends all of that. That on any given day you may not like your spouse very much, but if you dig deep, you would have to admit that you still love him. Sometimes we don't find that under all the garbage of depression and chronic unemployment until those day-to-day aggravations are gone.
I don't expect anyone to get that.
I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that. My hubs didn't have TIA's, he was diabetic and non-compliant. He would go to the hospital and be so sorry he was putting us though all of it, he was so sorry and when he got out, he promised he would do what he was suppose to. It never happened. I would get so aggravated with him, just do what the doctor tells you. I said the other day it was like a defiant 2 year old and there were days I wanted to yank him out of his chair and paddle his butt. Why wouldn't he do what he was suppose to ..... we'll never know. He would get so mad at me, tell me to pack my shi$ and leave. I think he actually didn't feel well on those days but I would get so mad.
I understand the depression and the day-to-day aggravation you had. I DO get it. Many hugs to you.
NoLonger and mcbeth, I appreciate reading your honest remembrances of the negatives. I feel like everyone who knows me knew I was unhappy and I fear they think I'm happy now that he's gone. I think that's my fear and not their belief. I think. (?)
For my husband and me, the depressions as well as the aggravations were mine. My husband was childlike and childish and happy go lucky. He didn't understand me and didn't try to. We were married 34 years. I remember when we were married about twenty years and I was around 40 and thinking to myself with complete dismay and agony, really, that I would likely have another FORTY years I'd have to live with him: another length of time equal to all the years I'd already lived. ACK! And, now, he's gone after "only" fourteen more years and I'm thinking, ACK! I still don't say I loved him, not in a romantic way, but I do know now that we had a sacramental marriage that united us and I do love him in THAT way, as the person I was united with, for better or worse.
NoLonger, I'm expecting to learn that my husband also had something going on in his brain that will explain things to me. I tried a number of times to get medical explanations but ran into the strangest obstacles each time (One doctor pooh pooh'd me and asked my husband if maybe the trouble was that he'd been married too long? in front of me!!).
I'm sorry both of you struggled with your husbands' failings that made life difficult. It's a burden, to be sure!!
Tom was the baby in his family and his mother doted on him. When he got sick he acted like I should be his mother and he shouldn't have to do anything on his own, I should baby him like his Mom did. I didn't mind helping him, but when he wanted to do things that he was perfectly capable of doing. He could call on his phone to talk to people but couldn't call in his own prescription because his fingers were to big to dial. Silly nonsense stuff like that.
When we were first married, we were both working full time jobs, I did the housework, laundry, supper, dishes and took care of the yard work. When I made him pay bills instead of having the guys over for a beer, he got made an moved home to Mommy, we had been married 3 months.
Since 2011 I was not treated as a wife or partner, he treated everyone nicer than he did me. It got to the point where when we went places and people asked if I was his wife, I'd say "I'm just the driver".
I miss him, boy do I miss him. At lest I could talk to him and he would help me figure out what I needed to do at the time. I think I really miss how our life would have been if he hadn't gotten sick at least in my mind that's how it would have been. Well life is what it is now, no sense in wishing how it could have been.
On a different note, I had fish sticks for supper tonight, plain old Gorton's fish sticks. Haven't had them since before I got married. He didn't eat fish, so I never had then again because it would make the house smell. I'm taking it one day, one fish stick at a time.
This is exactly what I'm talking about -- that bond which transcends all of the bad stuff. My husband was a real Peter Pan. He wasn't interested in a career, he just wanted to have fun. He used to say when we were first dating that I bring the structure to our relationship and he brings the Slack. I had literally given up on ever meeting anyone nice the day before I met him through a friend. There were three things that drew me to him: 1) We both had the same weird pop culture references, so we were weird in the same way; 2) he never played games. He would ask me out and then before I'd get on the train home he'd set up our next date; and 3) he was drop-dead gorgeous and did NOT know it.
When I think of the things I tolerated because I loved him -- drugs in the early days (including when he got busted for pot), having NO help with housework at all, some friends who were less than savory...it's kind of amazing. Then he decided to pull himself together and grow up. He told me right after he got sick, when he was so frustrated that his career seemed to be over, that he decided to get a career because he wanted to be the man I deserved. He never realized that the one I chose, and the one I broke for a while with my own mother to be with, was the happy-go-lucky one who balanced my own "the wolf is at the door" mindset. We did balance each other well, but later on when he had bouts of depression and became unable to hold down a job for more than a year, and after he had an emotional affair because I was finishing grad school and working full-time and he felt neglected but was unable to ask ME for what he needed, my need to be responsible didn't work so well and I would have liked him to step up to the plate.
When I got laid off in 2008, he had a job he was content with (his last fill-time permanent job) and he told my sister that we would be OK beacuse he had a good job now. He was proud of that. But by 2011 he got let go of that one and never recovered emotionally.
Fish sticks -- In the weeks after my husband died I made all the things I loved but had never made because he didn't like them. I made lamb chops. I made my mother's old braised beef and lima beans recipe that had been my favorite when I was a child. I don't know if I was expressing anger at him for dying by making these recipes or if I was reclaiming my childhood or what. But I found comfort in them.
This is one of the things I love about this group- I see so many things people post and realize they apply to me, and it always makes me think!
Bergen, I don't think it's anger that makes you cook stuff your DH didn't like. We all make compromises in a healthy marriage to accommodate the tastes of our spouses. Since DH died my TV/Netflix viewing habits have totally changed. I enjoyed what we watched together, and especially liked commenting on everything with DH, but now I watch things that didn't interest him at all, or that he couldn't follow because even with hearing aids, soft voices and accents were hard to understand. The refrigerator and the pantry have far fewer processed foods, less meat and potatoes, more fruits and veggies. My next two major trips are to warm climates- DH didn't tolerate hot weather well. I see these changes we make post-widowhood not as any act of rebellion against a beloved spouse, but as a healthy focus on what YOU enjoy as you move forward.
GrandmaH, that was one of my strongest feelings right after my husband died... how little everything really means in the end. All the spats, the struggles and worries, are just gone. That phrase: you can't take it with you; that applies to everything. Material stuff and emotional stuff. It's just gone. Done. It sort of puts the world into perspective.
That is a long time to deal with an illness 8 years. I am sorry for your loss and I guess 2/17 is a date neither one of us will forget. When you say you are feeling worse I agree with that I do think it will get harder for a while. At first you are in such shock and than you just kind of go numb and than the reality hits that you are never going to see your spouse again and I think that is why it gets more painful. I know with my husband we did everything together and now he is just gone. I remember when my husband had a seizure and he would not remember anything. I was told that was normal that it take a while for the brain to catch back up. I think maybe in losing someone so close to us the brain takes a while to catch up and that is why it may become more painful, or at least that is just my guess at it. I agree with the reply I got from "Ibelieveinyou" that the fog is away to protect the brain because we can only handle so much at a time.
I agree it isn't helpful when you parents tell you to move on or get over it. I don't think they mean it in a bad way. I think it just hurts them to see his/her child is so much pain. You need to do what feels best for you. We can't let anyone tell us how we should feel. I have learned there is no time table on grief from talked to people here and my friends that have lost a spouse. I am sure because you were strong for so long during your wife's illness, that your kids were used to that and maybe it isn't embarrassment so much but rather shock that now you are forgetful. You probably have been there rock and they can't handle seeing the rock have a chip in it, again that is just my guess on it.
It has been a blessing that I found this site. Everyone has been so kind and helpful.
oh my goodness, that is one of the biggest things I've been struck by: my mind's degeneration. I know it's grief and trauma. My 24 year old daughter has shared with me that the same has happened to her. She's become forgetful, irritable, less tolerant of the little troubles that occur. Everyone is different... I do agree kellygreenstrat, that your kids might be feeling anxious about your forgetfulness. I have a 15 year old daughter, with special needs... I've tried hard to be sure to talk things out with her. One thing I came to realize is that she is fearful that something will happen to me, now. It's understandable. Her world has been rocked in such an unimaginable way (mine too! and I feel that same lack of security, myself!) and she is afraid of losing me. Once mortality hits you, it's sort of everywhere you look for a while. We need to heal more than move on. Healing takes TIME!