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Suddenly Widowed

For those widowed suddenly or unexpectedly by any cause. 

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Discussion Forum

Grief, guilt, and regret

Started by Crabby. Last reply by Melissa 15 hours ago. 11 Replies

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…Continue

Grief, guilt, and regret

Started by Crabby. Last reply by Crabby on Sunday. 4 Replies

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…Continue

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Comment by shelley on April 1, 2018 at 6:22pm

Dreamt last night that my husband was in bed with me, holding me.  So sad to wake up and realize it was a dream.  Tried and tried to get the dream/feeling back but couldn't.  Cried all day today.  

Comment by shelley on March 31, 2018 at 7:59pm

Was looking forward to seeing an old friend of mine.  A male friend that I dated 40 years ago.  He was a sweet guy, still is.  Was hoping to connect with a man- to get a hug, some male energy.  Not that I'm ready at all to be with another man.  Miss my husband terribly.  I was so disappointed to hear my old friend say, "Well, I guess  you just have to move on".  I've been so fortunate that none of my women friends have said that.  I've read about it here on this web site.  But hadn't experienced it.  Yuk.  

Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on March 30, 2018 at 12:09pm
  1. For me, the worst was not being validated or told in advance how bad grief could get & being told to go out socializing when I was suffering from extremely painful anxiety attacks. Panic & anxiety attacks were not the same for me as well as the causes/reasons that spurred them were different. Panic attacks were from decision making - anxiety attacks made me jump out of my skin from unknown fear of the future. In any case, I found it better to nurse myself rather than exacerbate it by engaging in outside activities. Months of periodic isolation didn't make me agoraphobic or a hermit. I certainly can relate to Tjtango in having been a young when suddenly widowed - mine by a car collision ...

There was no subconscious preparation for his death. Bob didn't suffer from a short or long term illness/disease. For a time I beat myself up for not being able to do other things some widow/ers were out doing. I tried, I pushed myself & I suffered for it as well as almost caused a few car accidents myself. It was months before my own therapist asked why I kept holding my chest or gasping for air. That's when I realized he had not heard a thing I had been saying. I was angry feeling like I had been patronized - patted on the head for months by that moron. Later on, I came to learn those widowed by cancer or a life threatening disease, etc do recover sooner than those from a sudden death b/c they are fully subconsciously of the inevitable  ...

My kid's counselors reassured me they were just trying to figure out things  - not to worry, they were resilient. I found they were not immune to death. I took my daugther immediately to ER for what we thought was an asthma attack - it turned out to be an anxiety attack from learning of counselor's death just weeks after her retirement. I always thought something was wrong w/that woman from obvious signs of constant weight & hair loss as well as forever looking nauseous. When I had asked if she was ill - she never once mentioned she had been battling breast cancer for almost 5 years. The following day, my daughter was admitted into the psychiatric hospital - 4 other kids who were also the same therapist's patients were already there. What they experienced was not protective shock but severe traumatic shock - most associated w/victims of a sudden accident. This was the kind that kills as w/Debbie Reynolds learning of her daughter's death. Apparently, I'm still angry at that therapist all these years later for not giving my daughter & all the other already grief stricken kids a heads up by informing us or leaving her practice much sooner to give everyone the opportunity to choose what was best - to protect them by breaking the bond - to not compound their existing state of grief from the loss of their parent ...

Socializing is great for those that do not have problems that prevent it ...

I'm all into listening to those that do suffer from trauma as well as offering support to those that grieve differently as I once did ...

Comment by Gunnerx2 (Carol) on March 30, 2018 at 11:53am

So I talked to my son last night (my step-son).  My daughter (step-daughter) has not spoken to me since December 2017.  I was not sure why or what was going on.  I've reached out and not received any response from her.  I invited Junior to my retirement party at work and told him to see where his sister is if he felt she wanted to come.  He told me that he talked to her about what was going on and she said "She's the adult, she should be calling me".  I should mention that she is 45 years old and I have called, texted and emailed her since December and never get any response.  I really don't have the time or energy for this kind of crap and I'm trying to define "me" after 30 years of being "us".  Her Dad always babied her in every way, she was never wrong and now she does not have that so I know she is hurting and having a hard time but I really do not want to have to validate her existence the way her Dad did.  I'm sure she will never call or reach out again and right now I'm okay with that.  (oh, the check I gave her for $15,000 from some of the insurance money was cashed and cleared before she stopped talking to me).  Sorry, I just had to vent and this is the only safe place where I can.  Carol

Comment by chef (John) on March 30, 2018 at 10:03am

"...I have to keep reminding myself that I have already been thru the worst thing that could happen..."

This is key--and has been my own response whenever someone poses the "what's the worst that can happen?" question; thereafter, everything else is reduced to "small stuff". We still have anxiety because we no longer have our spouses with whom we can discuss things before making any major decision. The realization that everything is now on our own shoulders is daunting--and certainly a cause of the anxiety many of us experience. Learning to trust ourselves to make the right decision (especially with well-intentioned family and friends putting in their oars where they often don't belong) and accepting the consequences of our own decisions takes time. Accepting/Learning from our mistakes can be just as difficult.

There is a lot of space on the spectrum between being the inaction of being petrified with fear and the activity of running with scissors because one has adopted a devil-may-care attitude. I think all of us are just as capable of traveling the breadth of the spectrum as sticking to some straight line. 

Comment by Maggie on March 30, 2018 at 8:46am

Tjtango...I'm coming up on the 5 yr mark and I can give you my perspective from here. While my husband's death due to brain cancer was not sudden, it was only 5 months, which isn't a long drawn out illness either. So maybe I qualify to answer here.

I dealt with anxiety a lot and still do. I am on a low dose anti depressant and it works for me with no side effects and keeps that anxiety in check for the most part. I moved two years ago out of state to a smaller home, all of which I'm pleased with. I've made a few new friends and have two ex SILs living here and we are friends as well. I volunteer once a week at the hospital and go out to eat a lot with these friends and they are mostly widowed and one divorcee.

I make myself keep busy. It is work that use to be so easy and it was so easy to just do nothing  with my husband. But now if I don't stay busy, I can feel the anxiety go up a degree. I'm fairly content with my life, but I can't say happy. I still long to be at peace. When your life doesn't turn out like you dreamed it would and yes, even assumed it would, it is a real shock that seems to stay with you forever. At least it does for me. And since I'm not in any way looking for another man, I don't have that to look forward to either. So it's kinda just muddling through.

I'm probably older than you (71) and that makes a difference too, but it will get better for you and the anxiety will lessen. Just keep busy and try to make some single friends. It's a slow process and one or two good friends is all you need...

Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on March 30, 2018 at 8:41am

Yup, the overstimulation just made my skin crawl - shock was all gone. Who would've thought w/the constant crying in the first year that shock was a protective shield - until the day came when sudden manic behavior from anxiety set in. Boy, did that suck!

I would've preferred being in shock much longer or in a coma till that time of grief ended. However, the change into this intense hyper emotional state was the most powerful test of my strength in "fight or flight" to keep from running out the door to do something really stupid. I often put myself to sleep w/the help of Tylenol PM, a body pillow & wrapping up in a quilt made from Bob's t-shirts as well as wearing one - they provided security to calm my anxiety & fears from the unknown ...

Some widowed do not suffer from panic/anxiety attacks, but those that have need a longer period of convalescence. Socializing is for the ones that have no issues w/it. The world will still be out there - it doesn't ever stop rotating ... 

As for close friendships, I had them. I let most of them fall by the wayside b/c I didn't have the energy to maintain them. Those that didn't require work hung in there w/me - they knew me well enough to know I'd come around regardless of how long it took.

Nothing is more important than healing - taking care of yourself as best you can ...

Comment by Tjtango on March 30, 2018 at 7:04am

I am coming up on the two year mark in May, and I must say I am nodding my head in agreement with everything I am reading on here.  Especially the anxiety, I’m not sure where that is coming from but it definitely seems to be the new normal for me. . I feel always on edge like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I have to keep reminding myself that I have already been thru the worst thing that could happen.  I try to make a conscious effort to look for the good things that I still have in my life, but some days are still just plain hard.    I think the big difference for me  was when my husband was alive I didn’t have to “try” to be happy, I just was.  Not all the time mind you, we had disagreements like most couples, but for the most part I was content with whatever we were doing because we were doing it together. I was lucky enough to be married to my best friend.  A double edged sword now that he is gone as I never bothered to cultivate many close woman friendships.  The ones I do have are married and for the most part don’t really know what to do with me now.  Not that I blame them, i don’t know what to do with myself most of the time either.   

In this new normal, I am coming to the realization that if I want to have joy in my life again I’m going to have to go out and  actively search for it.    I think it is the taking action part that is the most difficult. But as Frank so wonderfully wrote, it is in the looking back that we truly can see how far we’ve come. I like to tell people that while my life is not great, it definitely is better then what it was, and for that I am  greatful.  Slowly but surely I am making progress in this new life I didn’t ask for, taking baby steps to try new things.  I volunteer at an animal shelter now, which has been very therapeutic for me.   Visiting with the cats helping them stay engaged in life.  I like to think we are helping each other that way. 

  While I definitely wish I didn’t have to be on a website like this, it does help me to know that I am not losing my mind.  .  Thanks everyone for listening.  

Comment by Melissa on March 29, 2018 at 11:55pm

That's exactly it. It feels like overstimulation. I can handle three hours of adulting at the maximum, then I just melt down from exhaustion and anxiety and wanting to feel safe for a minute or two.

I don't think I'll ever feel safe again, and that's the worst part. I used to be able to take a nap if I felt tired or a bit unwell. I haven't been able to take a nap since Gilbert died, even if I've been awake most of the night. I just can't unclench, you know?

My love to you all.

Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on March 29, 2018 at 8:41pm

(((Hugs going.on.slowly)))

My 2nd year was worse than the first as well as for many others. I constantly felt like I was jumping out of my skin - the anxiety was intense - similar to a baby crying & screaming in public from overstimulation. I walked around holding my chest gasping for air for months ...

Try to convalensce as much as possible. Build up to public outings &/or visitors - take as much time as you need & try to ask for help. This too, shall pass while you're nursing yourself. It can last awhile or a short time before your emotions & senses calm to fully engage the world again. Don't be concerned, the same ole, same ole will always be out there ...

Blessings ...


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