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I've begun to realize that I'm actually doing less with other people, and becoming more and more afraid of going out anywhere as a woman who is obviously alone.  After Phillip first died last January, I still had a sense of what to do with myself - I just did everything we used to do together, but alone.  As time has gone on, however, I can see how so much of what we did was fun simply because we did everything together.  And I feel self-consciously alone and vulnerable to attacks of any kind - whether I'm fearing being mugged or raped, or I can feel the criticisms of others pointed towards me, and I have no white knight to defend me anymore.  

I guess I sort of feel as if I'm shrinking;  not only have I lost the only man I ever truly loved, and who loved me completely and unconditionally, but I've lost the sense of security I felt as someone who had a partner even if he wasn't right there at the moment.  When Phillip was alive, we used to enter into various social and other situations with such confidence and exuberance that everyone everywhere we went knew who we were.  Now, instead of making an entrance, I slip in and out as invisibly as I can.  And there have been countless nights now when I have planned to go out and listen to a band we loved to see together, or join a few fringe acquaintances to shoot some pool, and by the time I'm nearly dressed and ready to go, I don't feel like going anywhere, so I just undress, put on sweats, wash my face, and hope I can sleep that night.

Has anyone else ever had this experience?  Or should I be seriously alarmed by my own reclusiveness? 

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At 18 months I still find it hard to "get out".  I have a job to go to and I manage that, along with appointments the VA has for me, I can go shopping but to just get out to be out is still a challenge, a few months ago I met a nice man and we have been seeing each other and it was at a birthday party I almost did not go to.  I am still in touch with several of my husband's friends that he grew up with and they all keep telling me they are glad for me, that is what Steve would have wanted for me, to live.  Some days are harder than others but this is what I found that may help set a goal, every day make yourself go one step closer to that goal.  Being reclusive is a way for us to try to cope and in the beginning it does help, but the longer we stay shut away the harder it is for us to get out.  It took several months of counseling for me to finally start getting out.  I do here and there and yes, there are times it is very hard for me to just go, but I also look back and see where I was to where I am now and I am so glad I get out.  You will do it, but it will happen when you are ready.

Hi Aeleice -

   I'm so glad things are getting a little better for you - I've been doing all the counselling, trying to get out, going to bereavement groups, etc., but I'm accustomed to being alone now - I'm just either completely indifferent about everything, or a mess about Phillip being gone for good.  I want him back and that's all there is to it.  I lived 43 years before I found him, and most of them were pretty lonely if not downright miserable - and that included 2 marriages - both awful.  I feel pretty much the way I did before we fell in love and stayed together 24/7 until the night he died.  If only we hadn't been so happy together...

Yes defentlly relate.. such a lost feeling I feel like I watch to world go by.  I get up go to work do errands but I have absolutely no feeling doing it all.  I feel I'm just going through the motions.  It's not a fun feeling.  So I guess it's just part of mourning after your special love one passes.

I have either no feeling, or worse I feel very very angry. I kind of skip past sad. I was never this angry, but here I am. I really hate this widow stuff. 

I hear you, Paula, and Teresa, too.   It's a complete roller coaster for me.  I keep writing these days that I hate my life - it's the most honest I've been and I can only say it here - and to God and Phillip when I'm raging around my apartment like a lunatic, saying over and over again - how COULD you do this to me???

Paula,

It will be 3 years for me in May. I am very angry. The D word and F word has become part of my vocabulary when I think of my husband dying and my being left alone.

I think I am getting worse as time goes on. Went badk to work right away. I functioned so well the first few weeks, everyone told me how strong and brave I was.  Now I am at 5 weeks and can barely remember why I should keep living.  Everything and all the decisions I have to make about my husbands' estate, the house, etc, are all just too much for me.  Wish I could sleep 24 hours but can't.  Everything seems empty.  Can't take any time off work till April.  Plan a week off then.  Thanks for reading.

Sheila -

    You have already been BEYOND strong and your mind and body are screaming at you to STOP!   PLEASE, take a moment for yourself, breathe, and realize that you are STILL in the very midst of a terrible trauma.  Forget about all the clueless people who were so impressed that you functioned like someone beyond human for a few weeks.  This widow thing is not a sprint - it's a triathlon, and you will not survive the ordeal - which, as you can see from mrsmcgoo's comment just above, is going to take years to get through - and there's no "endpoint" either.  April is a few weeks away - I'm concerned that you have set yourself a goal you may not have the physical, mental and emotional strength - nor should you - to reach.  You need a break NOW.  You need help NOW.  Please keep posting and let those who know better than I do what is going on with you.  You are not alone in this horrible struggle.  Keeping you in my prayers,

Maura 

    

Thanks Maura  I appreciate your caring response.  And thanks for starting the topic.

I have today and tomorrow off, and only have to work 3 days a week till APril.  so hopefully I will make it ok.

I have a therapist whom i called a few days ago, unfortunaetly was unable to see because of snowy roads.  I suspect she just doesn't 'get' the widow thing.  She asked me what 'stage' I am at very clinically....I have discovered that the stages of grieving are very fluid.  I can be in complete shock again that he is dead, then disbelief, then anger and depression  all within the same minute.  It is not a nice easy transition series.  And it is so much more painful than I can express verbally.  I do hope she can pull up the slack for me when I see her next.

I know I have no clue about what you are like, or what your therapist is like, but I already don't think she's the right person to handle this part of your life.  There are many therapists who specialize in bereavement, and I would encourage ANY widow in early grieving - or at any point during their lives, really, since nothing will change the fact that he's gone, even if 50 more years pass you by.  You should be able to ask her for a referral to someone who routinely handles grieving survivors - there's a lot of training involved, although, there's no substitute for the real thing - that is, one of US.  I suspect that those of us who find our way to WV have been particularly shaken because our marriages WERE everything marriages are supposed to be - and the couple we formed was much larger and more sacred, somehow, than the sum of two individuals.  Phillip and I formed such a phenomenon - for lack of a better word right now - we were inside each other's head and heart and soul from the moment we locked eyes.  Thinking of it like that makes it easier to believe that he still lives inside me, but I'm still (after 14 months) angry, despairing, lost, lonely, profoundly sad and confused, hurting so badly sometimes that I don't cry - I shake, hard, from head to toe, twisting from the violence of it, and ending up in the fetal position on the floor.   And then there are the hours, endless hours, of just grayness, feeling defeated by the reality of it all, paying  just enough attention to the rest of the world to avoid getting locked up - like the crazy person I feel like sometimes.  I'm told it never goes away, but the pain lessens over time.  Right now,  I assure you, if the pain has changed in anyway whatsoever, it has merely become more familiar, an integral part of who I  am now.  I am a woman in pain, and no one can ever convince me that there is anything good about a 52 year-old man dying suddenly during the night, on his belated honeymoon, in the place that both of us felt was Paradise, and where we would live together, growing older and walking the beach, thanking God for this beauty he created on earth, beauty in our love for each other, and in the place we found together.  Now, Phillip will be forever 52 in my mind, as I grow older without him, trying to see some purpose at least in the fate that decreed one of us should go and leave the other one behind.  In the meantime, just to breathe through each day, moment by moment, I focus on my two grown children - far away, in school, and seldom reachable, but they are both happy in the ways their lives are taking shape - and that's all I really need - is to know that.  And I stay busy as much as I can, because that's what keeps that wracking, writhing pain from devouring me.

Not terribly cheery, am I?  I totally forgot it was Ash Wednesday today until about 20 minutes ago, when a friend called to say he'd just come from Mass and did I get out today.  Did I get out????  No,  NO. NO!  I'd be really popular this time of year in New Orleans, wouldn't I?  I'll have to go now - tears on the keyboard.  At least you know you have lots of company along this wretched road.  Peace,and be gentle with yourself.  You are a fragile soul at this moment. and a precious one, so you need to take good care of yourself, almost as good as if your husband were to do it.

Peace to you, Maura.  I am thankful at this very moment that I am having a brief respite from the pain.  I think it comes in waves, as they say, and currently I can breathe.  Yay!

I will take your words to heart.

Hugs

Sheila

"Peace" - I think I knew what that felt like at one time.  I have no idea where to look for it now - and I don't think I really care.  Yes, I'm breathing - one ragged, sobbing breath at a time.  i hate my life as much as I loved it when Phillip came to share my soul.

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