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I'm new here, but not new to widowhood. I don't know if I'm posting this in the right place on this site. My husband died very suddenly and unexpectedly in 2015.  I live in a small rural community.  My friends have all disappeared.  There are no widows groups or really any women's groups in my area. The nearest counselor is 3 and a half hours away.  I'm just looking for someone to talk to.  I suffer from severe anxiety.  I do try to get out to the limited places I have to go.  I am so lonely.  Is there anyone out there who is "not better" at almost 4 years?  I seem to get worse instead of better as time goes by.  I was a strong, independent woman and am now just an empty shell.  I never thought I could ever be this weak and distant from the world. I don't know where I'm going with this.  I'm just so desperate.

Linda

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I am only 6 months out. I just had the worst birthday in my life without my dh. I pretty much cried most of the day. I too live in the country and not much i around. I am pretty sure most of my friend are tired of hearing how bad it hurts. but it does doesn't it?  I am sure someone will come along closer to your situation. You arent alone.

So sorry to hear about your loss. I lost my husband this April but I was talking to a close friend whose husband has been gone for several years and she told me that even after all these years she sometimes has those moments. So don't think what you are experiencing is odd. She lives in a rural area too and said she was not doing well physically or mentally. Then her daughter continued to urge her to go to the senior center which is located in a nearby town. She finally decided to go and now they cant get her to stop going. I was telling her how despondent I feel at times. She said it really does help to have some sort of human interaction each day. I don't know how old you are but it sounds like you no longer work. I have started attending weekly services at my church and just that social interaction 3 times a week has helped me so much. Another friend of mine who lost her husband suddenly said she did volunteer work for awhile. She too lives alone but after over ten years since his passing she said she as adjusted. Her advice to me was to take it one day at a time and not to get discouraged when I have those feelings of despair. The friend I spoke to yesterday said she tries each morning to find something to smile about and that makes her feel better. Please know that you are not alone. Sending you hugs and wishes for a good day today.

Hi Linda, and welcome!

I think sometimes we focus too much on the timeline of grief and we become impatient with ourselves. I used to think I was “slow” to make progress as others seemed to be at a better place than me earlier on. We are all different and our circumstances vary. I remember having a lot of anxiety too but it did pass in time. 

I hope you find hope here and continue to participate in discussions so that you feel less alone. You’re not an empty shell, you are still grieving and human! We somehow survive and come out stronger with a new understanding of life and ourselves. Be patient and take good care of you!

Hi Linda,  I wish I had words that would really give you the comfort and strength you are asking for but all I can do is share my own feelings and hope that will help you feel less alone in your grief.  First, yes—I am four years out and while I can’t say that I am not at all better I can say that I am by no means fine.  I have horrible days, sometimes several at a stretch.  This Fall for some reason I haven’t yet figured out seems to be worse than usual.  I am fighting a wish to just crawl into bed and stay there and finding it hard to keep up with activities that take me out of the house.  Like you I have always been independent and everyone who knows me thinks I am strong but I surely don’t feel that way right now.  What HAS been of more help than anything else are the messages of sharing and support I have found here.  In the first three years that was especially important and I came here often and felt that people here who I don’t really know in person were understanding and generous friends whose stories made me feel less alone.  I hope that can be the case for you.  I live in a smallish city—larger than a town and not really rural—and there are many things going on but I am not always willing to join.  I have pushed myself to do so anyway and I can tell you that getting out and with others rather than just sitting home and dwelling in sadness and thoughts of loss does help.  Even in very small places there must be church groups or agencies needing volunteers even perhaps a short way away.  I do recommend that you try to push yourself out of the house and into something that will take you out of sad thoughts.  But do know that you are not alone in your feelings.  I am trusting the supportive messages from people here who have said that four years is still hard, that things WILL get better and that I will never really not have times when tears and sadness overcome me.  I guess that is the price of having had a good marriage, a loving husband and a good life together.

Hi Linda,

My name is Frank.  I live at 10,000' elevation inside the Colorado Rocky Mountains, in south Park County, Colorado.  The nearest town to me is the town of Como (pop-16).  This is considered "Frontier" by the government and as such there is no mail delivery.  Instead, the government gives us a "Small" Post Office Box in the nearest town that has them available.  In my case that is the town of Como.  It's a 37 minute drive one way, over packed dirt/gravel road for me to get my mail.  Denver is a two hour drive for me and I go into town once a month, sometimes once every two months with a rather long list of things.  I grocery shop, go to Home Depot, Pet'sMart, and depending upon the time when I get done, I stop and visit my wife of 35 years, at Fort Logan National Cemetery.  I also stop at a restaurant like Red Lobster or another nice one to eat an early dinner that I don't have to cook.  I love cooking but sometimes cooking for nearly an hour, then sitting down and eating it in 5-10 minutes just does not seem right.  I have to drive to the other side of Denver for my grief group, the Heart Light Center.  I go there when the weather allows.  I have a mountain pass to go over, and then I have to hope the pass is open so I can get back home that night.

As I look back, it has been six years since Susan went to sleep one Sunday night and did not wake up on Monday.  She'd had a silent heart attack.  When that happened, I screamed NO NO, I cried and cried, I could not catch my breath and felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach knocking all the air from my lungs.  I was in terrible shape and scared my two children.  My oldest found the Heart Light Center, but due to the weather it was three months later when I could finally make my first meeting.  In between, I was introduced to Widowed Village, and I joined. Between reading, and later writing, and then finally feeling brave enough to get into the Chat Room, I was able to meet and read about, chat with folks going through what I was.  There were folks "newer than I" and folks who where further along their journey than I, and from them all I managed to climb out of the sink hole of pain, loss, and confusion that I had wound up in.

My background consisted of 20 years in the navy, electronics and later geology and philosophy. I wanted to know how long I was going to feel so afraid, so insecure and unsure of myself.  Susan was my rock and when I lost her I was not even half of myself and felt adrift on a rubber raft in a terrible storm a sea, a sea of wildly fluctuating emotions.  I was lost. At one meeting I asked how could I get to the "other side" of all of this?  How long was this going to last?  I even asked when should I change the sheets ( Susan's perfume was still on them.)   They told me that there was no absolutes.  We all go through this at our own pace.  Their answer was "Frank, you will know when it is time."   

For me, it was around the 3-4 year mark where I finally climbed out of that sinkhole, pushed myself up  and started to move forward.  These are the things that I've done.  I started going to the Como Community Center for dinner and bingo once a month (weather permitting).  I joined the HOA Board and became the treasurer. I went down to the Emergency Operations Center for the county and installed radios and antennas. I rejoined the amateur radio club that Susan and I helped create and am now helping to teach electronics for new ham radio operators.  I proctor the FCC exams for folks to get their licenses.  In short, I got out of my cave, and into the sunlight of meeting other people.  It also seemed that just as I was starting to feel somewhat better, some occasion would come along.. Mother's Day, Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary, the Day of her death... The days working up to that were filled with dread and tears, yet I found, that the actual day was rarely as bad as I though it was going to be.  Each occasion seemed like I was tearing a bandage off of a healing wound and the pain would start anew.  About year four, I decided that I would only honor one of those days, and I decided upon the day of our Anniversary. Now on our Anniversary, I get out our wedding album sit down on the couch, and go through it page by page talking to Susan as if she were right at my side leaning against me. I talk about each picture and the story behind it and when I'm done I close it with a prayer to the Good Lord, thanking Him for His gift of my time with Susan. 

I tend to think of the good things, the joyful times, the exciting times, I had with her, and have slowly been able to push back the feelings of pain and loss.

It was tentative at first. I did not do all that at once I just slowly started getting out.

As the fog started to lift, and I started to do things, I discovered that the loneliness set in.  I had two "Attack" house cats, but that was not really what I needed. The loneliness became a real problem and perversely, I started to cut back on my going out.  I realized what the talk about the "New Me" was all about.  I needed to rebuild my world as a single person.  Especially way up here there is not a huge bevy of available women.   :)   Those that are, are set in their ways and have no use for a man in their lives.  I realized that before Susan, I was busy and happy and single.  Somehow I needed to accept the situation I was in and have friends again.  This loneliness is kind of a step or plateau on the "Wheel of Grief."  It's kind of like being in a terrible automobile accident with broken bones a fractured pelvis and once they have everything treated and you are on the mend, suddenly you discover that your hand was broken and now a finger or two are really hurting.  Actually they were hurting all along, is just that as the other things get worked out and now the loneliness rears its ugly head.  Once I accepted that I was alone, that loneliness began to subside.  

It all takes time and only you will know when it is time.

The first thing you can do to reassure yourself is to look back at those first days after his death and how terrible and terrifying it was.  Remember how you could not figure out how you could make it from day to day, much less minute to minute, and now, how you are feeling. There is a difference for the better. Build on that.

((((HUGS))))

Frank

Frank, thanks for sharing your experience.  I have been upset with myself for having such a decline after four years when I really thought I was getting better.  I appreciate knowing that I am not unusual in feeling that way.  I am trying to stay confident that sooner or later this black fog will lift.  To follow that analogy, I guess I have to recognize that it is now more gray than black and less so than it was at first.  But I can scarcely even remember how it felt at first. I think I was numb for the first year and now that numbness which was protective has gone away.  Your comparison of broken bones is very apt and I will keep thinking of “the Wheel of Grief.”  I guess I have just reached a plateau.  And yes, at first I could scarcely figure out what to do minute by minute and now I do pretty well for reasonable periods of time.  The only thing I would say to you and to Linda is that living in a rural rather isolated area does certainly make it more difficult to find people and activities to take you in new directions, I live in a town where there are many more opportunities but it is still not easy.  There are lots of people around but I still feel very much alone a lot of the time.  Linda and I both have children and grandchildren but they can’t fill all the minutes in our lives.  It is still up to us, and finding how to deal with that reality is sometimes kind of overwhelming.  I congratulate you on pushing yourself with such determination.  But I understand Linda’s sense of desperation as I do at times feel completely unable to move in any direction.  I do find it helpful to tell myself that if you can manage with such daunting obstacles—and you didn’t even mention the winter snows up there in the mountains that surely make it even harder to get the things you need—then I can stop feeling sorry for myself and get moving.  I will keep thinking of that.

Hi Bonnie

Thank you for your comments.  I can only make suggestions and comments that I have found worked for me.  Perhaps variations of my comments may help another individual, or the fact that something I did worked for me and may be an incentive for someone else to say "If he did it then I can too."

This evening I found out that I'm to be a grandparent sometime in the latter part of the summer.  My first.  A new chapter in my life will open then.  I hope I'm up to the responsibility.

So far we have had a little over 2 feet of snow here this winter.  We are fortunate in that generally speaking, our winters consist of a few days of winter as a front goes through leaving us measurable snow, followed by a few days of spring like weather with temps in the 30 to 45 degree range where the snow melts and we are ready for another Low Pressure front to come through.  At 10,000' elevation the sun is more intense and the snow melts faster.  I marvel at our sun room that Susan and I designed.  It has a slate floor and the southern windows are 9, five by five foot windows. Around noon to 1300 the sun starts streaming in through windows and strikes the slate floor.  There are days when it reaches nearly 80 degrees in the room when it is in the 20s outside. The plants love it, as do my cats.  When I let them in the room the first thing they do is flop on their backs and rub and rub their backs on the stone floor.

((((HUGS))))

Frank

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