Widowed Village

A community of peers created by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation

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Widowed in 2010

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Comment by goingon (Cynthia) yesterday

Hal - Thank you.  I just want the end of my life to be peaceful and quiet; like everyone else.  My father in law and my father both just "decided" they were done and ready to go and died in their sleep; my father in law one night; my dad made the decision and died 3 days later.  He just said, "I can't live this way, I'm done" went to bed, and allowed himself to die, or maybe willed it.  We'll never know.  My mother detached herself from the his dying; it was me who moved a chair next to my dad's bed for my mom to sit by his side, but she didn't want to, so I by him, holding his hand and saying my goodbye, telling him it was okay to go.  My mom I think was just in shock.  Even tho he was sick, she couldn't accept he was leaving her, and her Alzheimer's had already started to take hold; maybe that was a blessing for her.  When she did cry, it was with me, but she never really let go that I saw.  Even now, when I talk about him, she gets teary, but she tells me she's glad when I bring him up and talk about him- no one else does.  Our society just doesn't do death well.  It's so sad.

But thank you again, Hal, for your kind words and your understanding.

Comment by Macduff (Hal) on Tuesday

Cynthia, I am so sorry you went through this... a reminder that many if not most of us will face medical crises without our beloved by our side. Unless we die suddenly - we will go through our own terminal illnesses without them too.

We will likely be thinking of them and their experience of dying as we go through our final days and hours. I know I will feel Betty with me and, if I am in pain, will remember how bravely she death with her own pain. 

I can only hope that my very last thoughts as I slip away are of our love for each other.

Comment by goingon (Cynthia) on Monday

I was writing that I would be having surgery and not wanting to go though it without Don.  But I did.

I told the nurse first thing I was very anxious and I needed the good drugs asap!  The anesthesiologist was there; my surgery was planned for 6 - 9 hours so I don't think he had any other cases; actually there were two of them; anyway, the woman explained everything they would do down to the positions I'd be in (too much information!) and they nurse did give me something before the surgery but I can't say I felt it much!

The surgery I think went well, but then I seemed to have some kind of reaction to the drugs that night; I was feeling pretty calm and relaxed and comfortable, but then I heard some nurses talking and they were concerned my respirations too slow; my body temp was dropping, my heart rate was in tachycardia (too fast) and they went for a doctor... then there were like 3 doctors and all these nurses and the anesthesiologist all in this room that felt very small to me; and I found myself thinking, so it this is?  Is there where Don comes and takes my hand and takes me with him?  They gave me narcane to remove to drugs from my body so I was in a world of pain for a bit; they gave me something else for the pain that I guess they didn't think would send me into some weird spiral again; I wasn't scared.  I just wanted them to go away and leave me alone and let me leave; and the nurse asked if I was scared because I was crying.  And I shook my head no, and she asked why I was crying... I managed to squeak out "hurt!" (duh...) fresh out of major back surgery does cause some pain.  Well, the hospital pretty much sucked; some nurses were great some not so great; the food was never great; at least for the most part my pain was managed; but my dr. was nervous because of my "reaction" so as soon as he could stop the percocet, he did and now I'm on dilaudid as needed (and I don't like taking drugs anyway, but when it gets too uncomfortable I will take a pill).  So after a week at the hospital, they found a rehab hospital to send me to; it was hard for some reason to find one that either my insurance was okay with, or that would take my ins: not sure which.  Now I'm here, it's kind of depressing, and I was going to go home today, but the hospital make a case for my really not being ready to go home - because I'm alone.  And they are right.  I think I'm just really missing Don and having him around now.  But I know he was with me the night of my surgery, if not during it.  I felt his presence, and it was so strong; and I was lucid enough to even question if it was from the drugs; but I felt like I saw a figure sitting on something nearby; it never moved; people walked around it and past it and it just sat there, watching, and I so wanted him to just take me with him.  My friends keeps telling me that my purpose hasn't been fulfilled yet; I still have a lot to give and offer.  I just don't know what it is.  I wonder if I ever well.  But this is the last time I going through something like this, unless they find me on the side of the road unconscious I can't speak up to say "to away; leave me here...."  I can't help  it.  Yes, my one daughter still needs me - she's a new mom and I think you always need your mom, no matter what.  I have my mom, but her Alzheimer's is gradually getting worse and the truth is I really miss her.  It's like having her here and not at the same time.  We talk a lot, but she doesn't always follow me, and I have a hard time following here.  It's sad.  And now after being in this place, I won't let myself live that long if I start to have signs of that illness, or any illness that would place  me as a burden or cause me to spend my days in a place like this.  

Well, thank you for listening to all this.  I appreciate it!

Comment by Cathy on April 3, 2014 at 6:25pm

Thanks to all who write, it is good to connect by words, and know others are doing and thinking like I am. Hal, good luck in your house purge. I have been doing that for several years, with no timeline to be done. It does get easier once you start, I can go back through a closet and purge it again, saying to myself "why did I think I needed that?". Out it goes. I cleared out my parents house of 55 years, my inlaws house of 40 some years, I don't want my kids to have to do the same. Stuff is that, just stuff. The burden gets lighter as it gets recycled, or reused or gifted or tossed. I had been after my husband to do this for years, he is probably watching and saying "no, no, don't get rid of that!".

I love to hear about everyones volunteer activities. I have yet to find my nitch, TIP does sound like a good fit for many of us. Maybe after I'm done with the house purge and move, I will feel the urge to do something. I think in helping others we also heal ourselves.

Comment by IwillNeverBtheSame on April 3, 2014 at 1:20pm

Corlene- Wow, I wish TIP had been there for me when my husband died. I really needed emotional help and guidance. I did not even realize how much shock from the trauma, etc. I was in. As the years go by and I have found appropriate help, I see my healing happening and I feel happy about that. I applaud you for becoming a part of TIP, I'm sure you are having a positive impact on the world.

Comment by goingon (Cynthia) on April 3, 2014 at 1:10pm

Corlene -

Lately I have responded to just a few posts, but yours is such an inspiration!  Nov. 12 last year was 3 years without my Don, and yes, it gets easier in some ways; harder in others.  I'm having major back surgery - and I mean MAJOR - the doc estimates 9 hours of surgery - next Tuesday and it's the first without Don; it's very depressing and stress-producing to wonder how I'll manage.  My daughter's live in two different states also; We lived in CA and raised our family there, and after he died, I cared for my mom for a year (2 years after he died) and when she moved to assisted living, I moved to Flagstaff in Arizona which I love; but it's lonely.  I'm making friends, and I'm volunteering my time which I love doing.  I never heard of TIP but I am going to look into them.  I'm a retired therapist....

Your training to run a marathon is an inspiration to me, too.  Every time I think about training and losing weight, my back is my sticking point.  So maybe getting it "fixed" (let's hope this works!) will help; I really want to get a bike - it's so beautiful up here and there are so many places to ride. And hiking - as soon as I finally got a good pair of hiking boots, well, my back... so I'm waiting to try them out on a trail nearby!  By then it will be summer and I won't have to worry about snow.  Maybe... we have snow on the ground from yesterday! 

Thank you for your post.  It helped me, for one. 

Comment by Corlene on April 3, 2014 at 12:12pm

April 14th is fast approaching.  That will mark the 4th year without Jack.  Looking back on those years, i realize how many holes are in my memories.  Widow brain is real.  I lost a dear girlfriend 5 months before Jack.  When Jack was gone, I asked my friend's husband, 'When does this terrible ache inside me, go away."   He said it would get better.  Well, it did get better but it took years not months.  Macduff, I too moved across the country.  I( left CA to move back to Florida.  We bought a house here in 1980 but in 82, Jack got orders to CA.  We ended his military career there in 1991, but had children and grandchildren living close who needed us.  Well, maybe we needed them.  :=)  By 2010, when Jack died, the reasons to stay in CA were gone.  Granddaughter moved to Portland, OR, grandson joined the Army.  By 2012, i was mentally ready to retire from working.  Moving back to my little house near the beach made sense to me.  While I still miss Jack every day in so many ways, I can truly say I am happy again.  I didn't think that would be possible but we are resilient.  A few months ago, I joined a volunteer group called Trauma Intervention.  TIP is nationwide with a big group in Portland, OR (Macduff)  and 25 other groups around the country.  I have been on calls to assist a wife who woke up to find her husband dead.  While the EMTs, law enforcement, & other first responders dealt with the husband, who is there for the widow?  That is where TIP comes in.  My family thought I was too tender hearted to do this work but I have found my calling.  Some calls are very hard.  A 20 year old rides her bike into traffic & dies.  Her family is all in Asia as she is here on a work visa.  Her young friends are in shock.  Who helps them regain their balance?  TIP. 

Sorry, I didn't mean to make this sound like a pitch for TIP.  What I want to tell all my widowed friends is there is good left for you to do.  Don't rush or push yourself but be aware of a need you can fill. It wil fill you as well.  BTW I will be 65 on May 31st.  AND I am going to do my 1st 5K on that day.  I am way overweight & haven't exercised much since I retired.  I am still going to do this.  Training has started but it is slow!!  :)  

I tell people Camp Widow saved my life.  This site has been an inspiration to me.  I have shared your grief & your triumphs.  Even if I never see your faces in person, I will always treasure you all! 

Comment by feelinglonely on April 3, 2014 at 8:09am

Phaedra--My husband died 2 months shy of his 64th birthday.  We always talked about that Beatles song "When Im 64"---we never got to play it for his birthday--and now, whenever I hear that song, I get choked up.

You know, I never felt old before--but I do now. I look in the mirror and think who is that person looking back at me?  The person I used to be is gone.

Comment by Macduff (Hal) on April 3, 2014 at 7:37am

After my wife, Betty, died, I was nearly insane with debilitating grief. I felt like a raging perfect storm threatened to sweep me under. Indeed,  for months I cried so hard I felt like I was gasping for breath.

I sold my duty gun when I retired from the auxiliary police but kept a small revolver. I have to admit had fantasies of ending my pain with a quick trigger pull. But every time I did, my mind went to the solemn promise I made, when, a month before she died, I told Betty I couldn’t live without her.

She made me promise to stay alive to care for our dogs, Mac and Duff, who she loved just a smidgen more than she loved me.

I never believed I could survive the death of Betty. However, as all the grief counselors, and the books about surviving the death of a spouse say will happen. Eventually, life began to feel like it was worth living.

I ended up with only one close friend left here after our couple friends fell out of my life. With no children, there was really nothing to keep me from moving one last time. I love New England, but every place I went reminded me of good times with Betty.

I will miss my friend who, more than anyone by far, help me through my worst periods of grief.

I will miss my 92 year old father-in-law, who is a recent widower himself. Together we grieve the loss of our wives, and we grieve the loss of his daughter. While I don't cry real tears very often when I'm alone these days, when we talk about our losses, I usually do.

Until recently I’d been very reluctant to consider moving to a top notch continuing care retirement community in Portland, Oregon. Here I figured Betty and I would just grow old together and find enjoyable things to do as a couple or with a few married friends.

Now I feel like I’m replacing the Atlantic coast with the Pacific coast, Boston with Portland, and Cape Cod with Cannon Beach. Perhaps I’ll learn to like their clam chowder as much as I like New England clam “chowda.”

My 70th was a birthday I didn't anticipate as having any emotional impact. Then I had some physical symptoms which concerned my doctor. I had an X-ray, an ultra-sound, eight blood tests, and an exam by a neurologist. The result: I am healthy.

My house sold last week in four days. My new duplex will be ready on June 1st. Now, in the process of downsizing from a house twice as large, I am discovering that the things we collected and accumulated over 40 years of marriage are mostly just “stuff.” 

The entire process of deciding what else to take and what to give away or sell is another story.

I see that making such a huge change is a recognition, very deep down inside, that Betty is gone forever. It took four years; but finally I accept that this part of my life can never be approximated, let alone duplicated. I now feel I must construct something entirely new for my final years.

Photo: My first visit to Oregon was in 2012 when I drove across the country. The picture along Route 80 is The Great Salt Lake, a sea of tears for me and perhaps the graffiti writer.

Comment by Phaedra on April 2, 2014 at 9:33pm

Feelinglonely, I am now also 2 years older than my husband was when he died. I remember so vividly, the first time he was hospitalized it said on his wristband "Age 60 years, 21 days." He didn't make it to 61.

I was calling myself old the other day, and a woman said, "Oh, I'm 70. You're not old." I told her, my husband died at age 60; anyone older than that is old.

 

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