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Since my husband died 5 years ago, I find that I don't deal with stress very well. Anyone else?

I get overwhelmed and stressed out under pressure, more than I did before the illness and death of my husband. I definitely do not "sweat the small stuff" anymore, but still, I find that I feel more vulnerable to stress. Can anyone else relate to this?

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For me it is because I have no-one to bounce ideas off off and share decision making with now so I tend to stress more.  When Ray was alive and well he would often just put a hand on my arm and say:  "Chill" and that would break the cycle and allow me some down time and some time to think more deeply before I made any major decision.  I think now I am mostly on my own I do obsess more about things.  I am three and a half year out, nearly five years alone so I would have thought I would have been past this stage by now.

I can relate to your pain at many levels.  I have stated the same, "I thought I was through this stage.  Do I really need to go through it again?"  The truth is we will never be through any stage for good, it just becomes part of our life.  With new miles stones, we need to work through the process ore steps  again. 

I married my husband because he helped me relax and take brakes to get refocused.  He was always available to help answer the tough questions and bounce ideas off of.  I saw him as my backbone.  We were only married for 13 1/2 years - I can't imagine what challenges would be like if we were together for 30+.

I have found the 12 step program to help me out a lot.  Emotions Anonymous is a 12 step program for grief, anxiety, depression, etc. (The feelings we have when we lose a loved one are equal to mental illnesses but are short term and brought on because of the stress of the death of a loved one.)

I realized last fall I was at the state of just being present and doing everything like a robot.  I found little joy in life.  After being accepted into a day treatment program for mental health and diagnosed with major depression, I realized it was when I chose to stop loving because it hurt too much that I stopped doing things as a way to communicate love toward others.  Everything was just another task or job to be completed because I was obligated.  It was unhealthy for the kids, myself and my extended family.

I have since started to take care of myself first and then remind myself that I have been blessed with 4 amazing children who are thriving, friends and family who want to help me and the kids, and faith to guide me through the challenges that await for me.  The least I can do is offer my abilities to do work as a sign of love toward them all.

I would recommend you find support whether it be with social groups, church groups or professional therapy.  I use all 3 of them.  Grief is real.  It takes an enormous amount of work to face it and figure out what is needed to become healthy once again.  It takes time.  It will be years.  The grief path will always be near you as we were fortunate to love someone so much that they have become part of us.  One is never through grieving but it does not hit as hard or as often as time passes.  I pray you find the light of hope.

Gosh, isn't this unfair?! I recently got through the "terrible 2" second year, when you are no longer busy with paperwork and/or numb, and you realize it's real and permanent, and it's awful. So then I thought I've made it this far and, well, this is doable, not great, but it's manageable. Haha. I'm falling apart just buying a new computer. The desktop computer was really his computer, it's old, Windows Vista, nothing works very well on it, but I'm having a terrible time shutting it down and replacing it. It's unbearable. I finally hired a computer-savvy colleague to back up the hard drive, go with me to the computer store, and install the new computer while I'm at work and don't have to watch. Not because I couldn't do it myself, but I couldn't deal with it. Got a new mortgage servicer -- stress out. Need new tires -- stress out. Budget time at work -- stress out. Need to modify a contract for my side business -- stress out. I'm like a mental paralytic. Everything takes six times longer to get done than normal. I just don't beat up on myself, and take the dogs for a nice walk. Seems to help. My widowed friend at the office is two years ahead of me and she says while in some ways it gets better, in other ways it gets worse. As life moves inexorably on, everything we shared recedes further and further into the past. Milestones are no longer shared. I keep thinking of that Gravity astronaut movie where the George Clooney character just floats away from the Sandra Bullock character, tinier and tinier, until she is all alone and must save herself. Oh bother this stinks. 

Hang in there.  It is true things shift.  We either hire out or learn new skills to fill in the gab of our spouse.  Yes take time for yourself because no one will give you time and you need it.

Absolutely.  Every single day.  I had to take a leave of absence from work because the stress caused my flashbacks to get worse.  I found my husband in our house.  It's debilitating at times.  I try to take walks or do some type of exercise to calm me down.  Therapy has helped but it is a challenge everyday.  My prayers are with you. 

Donna

Jill,
I can absolutely relate to that. I used to deal with so much stress in my life at one time I thought it was normal. Now, sometimes things I should be able to deal with make me crazy. Recently, someone hacked into one of my accounts and for two days, I could not function, I was so upset. I actually shook the first day--I believe it is someone I know. I don't know, this world is just getting crazier and crazier--you cannot talk to a human on the phone until you wasted time listening to their menu when all you want to do is speak to someone who may have a clue! They ALL want you to go online--well, that's where my account was hacked into! No thanks. Yes, I do understand how stress seems so much harder to deal with, I'm not sure if it's due to the fact we no longer have our husbands, for sure, it is more difficult dealing with business matters. It could be age-related-- not that I am that old yet but I do recall my Mother overreacting to stress. Maybe, and this is what I tell my son & DIL--I must have burned out my adrenals! What ever the cause, it is harder to deal with--my heart will pound, can feel my bp rising, it's awful. Do you feel any of that?

It is never ending.  I believe we are in reboot or reprogramming when we loose our spouse whom we loved and learned to live with so well for so long.  I have learned to take a step back.  "Let go and let God."  What I know I cannot handle on any given day will still be there tomorrow.  Then the next day if it is important, I will tend to the issue a little bit at a time.  Remember . . . take time to enjoy each day, take care of yourself and relax.  This will help you stay in control of yourself and your emotions, rather than everything controlling you.  "Changes is a constant, all one can do is control personal reactions to change."

Thanks Rollercoaster for your thoughts. Yes, let go and let God is a good mantra. I am trying to find something each day to enjoy and as you say, if there is something I can't get done today, typically I can do it the next day or the day following. I just wish I could release the anxiety I carry in my body...its really very physical and its been there for the past 11 months since he died. I guess this is my body still settling down from the shock of it all.

Since the day my husband died I have carried so much anxiety in my body. I have taken some medications which help a little but I wish I could lose this feeling.

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