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Hello,

I lost my husband of 38 years suddenly 11 weeks ago tomorrow. We were empty nesters with two grown children, and two adorable granddaughters. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Don was in our driveway helping my son-in-law change the brakes on his car.  The plan was to have a cook out once they were finished.  My son and daughter-in-law were also there.  I was in the back yard playing with my granddaughters, when I saw Don come in the back gate.  We made eye contact, but he didn't say anything to me. A few minutes later, my daughter-in-law came out and said Don needed me.  I went inside to find him in the recliner.  He said he didn't feel well, and he had a cold towel on his head.  I got some ice packs and put them on him.  It was a humid day outside, so I attributed this to the heat. He felt a little better, so I told him I needed to go pick up the pizza I had ordered.  He asked me to send my son.  I told him our son would need to help our son-in-law finish changing the brakes on his car. (Son-in-law is not mechanically inclined at all).  Don said oh, ok.  I think he said good idea, I can't remember.  I told him I'd be right back, and not to get up from the recliner. I asked my daughter-in-law to check on him, and I went to pick up the pizza, and that's the last time I saw him alive.

When I came home, Don was not in the recliner.  I went upstairs and found him on the bedroom floor.  His eyes were half open, and his face was sort of purplish.  I screamed and ran downstairs and my legs gave out.  Everyone else was still outside, but heard my scream and came running in.  I ran back upstairs to do CPR, and my son called 911.  I knew he was gone, but I kept doing CPR until the paramedics showed up. 

So now, 11 weeks later, I still struggle with such guilt and regret for leaving him when he wasn't feeling well.  My therapist always asks me, "Would you have left knowing he was in serious trouble?"  No, of course not, but I still should have known.  He asked me to send our son to get pizza.  I didn't pick up on that... why??  My therapist also says that if I would have stayed, whatever happened to him still would have happened.  Yes, probably, but I would have been there.  I would have gotten him help quicker.  He would have at least had a chance.  And if he didn't, at least he would not have died alone.  He was alone.  This man who I adore, died alone. We don't really know the cause, although judging from his symptoms, the doctor thinks it was a heart attack.  He was 56.  I was asked if I wanted an autopsy, but I said no.  I didn't want them cutting him up.  But now I find myself regretting that decision. Nobody knows what happened.  Nobody knows why he got up and went upstairs, or what he was doing when he collapsed. I keep trying to fill in the blanks, and it's driving me crazy.

To add to the guilt and regret, we were in a rough patch before he died.  Not to blame him, but he always had this habit of decreasing his antidepressants every summer, and I could always tell, because he was more anxious and impatient.  We had a stupid argument two weeks before he died.  It was so totally stupid, but he got very upset with me. We were in a restaurant and I brought up something that could have waited until later, and he got angry and left. In the days that followed, he barely spoke to me.  He stayed upstairs mostly.  Gradually we started to talk, then it was "sort of" like it never happened, but we never openly discussed the argument.  Two days before he died, he picked up steaks and grilled them.  As he was grilling the skies turned dark and we had a storm.  He brought the steaks inside, and the power went out.  We ate dinner by flashlight, laughing about it.  I guess you could say the air was a little clearer between us, but again, we never resolved the argument. 

I am finding that the "ok" times are lasting a little longer, but my lows feel ever lower.  I'm able to laugh and play with my granddaughters, able to go places with my kids and not burst out crying.  But I also find myself crying alot more when I am alone.  I'm talking all out sobbing until it feels like my ribs are going to break. He was my one and only, my best friend.  We enjoyed each other's company.  We could do things together, or just sit there and not say a word, and be completely content.  I miss him so much, and my heart and my life are completely shattered.  I haven't been able to work a 40-hour work week since I've been back to work.  I get to around mid-day and I just fall apart, because I know when I go home, he won't be there. Just me in this big empty house. It's so painful.  

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Replies to This Discussion

 Hi crabby, it all sucks! I suddenly lost my best friend from the time I was 14 years old, together 40 years and married just short of 34 years. He was also 56. We started CPR, my daughter and the youngest until the paramedics. We also did not autopsy. I refused for same reason and have second guessed over and over. His father died at 61 and his grandfather died at 64. We are scared for the boys. Our lives flipped nine months and two days ago. Went to bed so happy and woke up and he was gone. I stopped working in January and slowly started back in in September. I’m blessed enough that I was financially able to do that. My children are now 29, 27 and 21. The youngest is a college athlete living in a different state. So rough on him. The oldest traveled 300 days a year...he came home and is working shorter tours. My middle is our daughter. She struggles with her health and lives in and out of the house. All I can tell you for sure is take care of you. Say no whenever you want. Breathe. Journal. Start counseling. Trust others you love. 

I know this is disjointed, sorry. I am traveling but felt the pull to respond. I’d like to talk more private, if you are interested I’ll give you an email.

wishing you happy thoughts,

Rhonda

Rhonda, I sent you a friend request.

Oh my goodness.  I am 2.5 years in to my new normal.  I am now able to work again, laugh with friends, tell stories about my husband and best friend of 30 years and then...without warning...am plunged into deep heartache where I avoid friends and cry and cry.  11 weeks???  Crabby, These are such such early days!!  Hold onto whatever you can whenever you can.  This grief process is very long and very painful so don't expect much of yourself.  Please listen to your body and your heart.  You will need to take care of yourself, in whatever kind way you can.  Find friends who aren't afraid of your grief.  Speak to a counsellor often.  Sleep when you can.  Cry as often as needed.  Surround yourself with people who "get you" or who have "been there" and, then, when necessary, be alone to wail and scream and sob.  When the grief overwhelmes you...give in to it because it's only when we are in the depths of it do we somehow, incrementally move forward.  Grief is not linear so don't expect to feel better each day.  Sometimes, it's one step forward, two steps back.  What you have lost is enormous.  One day, you will be grateful that you had such a love, but right now that just makes the pain all the more painful.  I am so sorry that you had to join this shitty club.  But know this....we are here.  And sharing our stories snd our grief makes us feel just a little bit less alone.  Hang on by your fingertips and reach out as much as you can.  

Thank you going.on.slowly.  I think I'm at the stage now where much of my support have gone on with their lives.  Not that I blame them - they have jobs and kids, etc, but it does leave me feeling very alone sometimes. I do feel like most of the "outside" world doesn't get it, and that I am expected to move on. On my end, I'm like...it's only been 11 weeks.  On their end, it's like... get a grip, it's been 11 weeks. 

Some days I have trouble wrapping my brain around what happened, and the fact that he is gone, and will always be gone. I do see a therapist. She listens to me and when I start to blame myself for not recognizing that he was in danger, she guides me out of that blame. But it usually sneaks back in. I look at the sky a lot, and tell him I'm sorry. Sorry for the dumb argument, sorry for not staying when he needed me. 

I feel like a zombie just going through the motions of life. Cleaning, eating, shopping, laundry, paying bill, and lots of crying in between. Our story wasn't over yet. We had many more chapters left. 

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