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Widowed in 2015

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Comment by Nieta on October 9, 2017 at 4:27pm

Hi Maggie,

Firstly, please accept my sincerest condolences for the loss of your husband.  And, Bundles, please accept the same for the loss of yours.

I'm lucky in many respects because things were definitely much better between us before he passed.  We were planning an Easter vacation in the Finger Lakes one day and he died the next.  I still remember mending his pants for work the night before and they were handed back to me in a plastic bag all cut up because they had to cut his clothes away.

I regret not having at least one baby with him but I cherish the memories we created raising our canine son for nearly 17 years.  In the end it was our little boys decline in health and our commitment to each other and our little family that brought us even closer together.  Neither of us were perfect but, we were perfect for each other and, if I had to do it all over again I would.  

I have felt at times as if I were, as you say, "filling time."  But then things like my parents declining health demonstrate that the point is that I'm still needed.  I try to help others when I can by cooking  and/or serving a meal for those in need.  The point is that I am here to make a positive contribution when and where I can.  

I sometimes wonder what will become of me when I get older and, hopefully, another individual trying to find their purpose or point of their lives will help me.   

Comment by Maggie on October 9, 2017 at 1:50pm
@Bundles and Nieta...my husband died in 2013, but I had to respond to you both, as so much you experienced was so like what I experienced with my husband too.

Briefly, after retirement he didn't adjust well. He had a sense of no longer a purpose and not fitting in the neighborhood, as we had moved out of state. He became depressed and irritable and would verbally at times take it out on me. I grew weary of it and hurt that he could treat me as he did at times. The earlier years were fine while he still worked.
I did not leave him, but he eventually was diagnosed with brain cancer and died 5 months later. I probably was not as supportive mentally as I should have been, but frankly, I was hurt by the later years and just tired of it.

I too have no children and wonder what's the point now. I do keep busy and I'm very social, but at the end of the day, it's just filling time. I do however enjoy most of what I do, but there is an emptiness for what was long long ago and what should have been not only in time together, but in closeness.

But recently I read an article really concerning pain and dying, but it could apply to mental anguish as well. Basically it was saying you have two ways of thinking. One is for the duration of your life and the other actually focuses on the worst of times and what it was like at the end. The brain focuses less on all the other times unless you really try hard to remember. So I figured out that is why to this day, I still anguish over his past treatment of me in those later retired years and not all the other happy times that were there as well. It's just the way our brains work. The bad, I guess, can have more of an impact. My last year with him was rough too.

I try to just accept it for what it was, but that can be difficult. I do love him and always will.
Comment by Nieta on October 9, 2017 at 12:35pm

PS   Hindsight can be 20/20 when it comes to choosing a career and/or being financially responsible.  I certainly have my own share of regrets.  No sense asking "Why?" or "What was the point?" now because it no longer matters.  What matters is what you are going to do now and going forward.  Even at 65 a job can be a good distraction, while earning a living.  There might even be things you could do from home.  I know it's easier said than done and I don't mean to trivialize your situation.  I've had to make certain cutbacks of my own and I'm still learning to budget things as a result of having one less salary for income.

Try to seek pleasure in the memories of happier days because you've earned that right.  The less pleasant memories were a result of cause and effect (i.e., depression, etc.).    Even if the last year did not hold the best memories, you did make beautiful ones in your world with your husband.  I'd love to have your cocoa from scratch recipe!

Comment by Nieta on October 9, 2017 at 12:08pm

Dear Bundles549,

Your life with Al was about a "real marriage" with all of it's ups and downs.  I still love my husband more than words can say but I wouldn't be entirely honest if I claimed that all of our years together came without life's challenges. 

There was a time when he was not working for 3 years, which definitely put a strain on our marriage.  In some ways I felt abandoned because it did not seem like he was trying hard enough.  Here I was working all day, going to school at night to finish my undergrad and helping to look after his invalid mother, as well as walking his sister's dog because she traveled a lot.  I'd get home and our own pup had not been walked and he was sleeping or laying down for a good part of the day.  He'd claim he got some things done that I probably would not notice.

Sleeping and withdrawal as you may know are signs of depression.  His frustration with himself also caused him to be verbally abusive towards me at times and we very nearly split up one time because I did not like the way he was treating me or speaking to me.  I am ashamed even today to admit that I told him I'd had enough and that I was done.  Thankfully, he loved me enough to apologize and we worked our way back towards each other.  I even apologized to him for nearly bailing on us because I wanted him to know that he would always be safe with me.  I was truly ashamed of myself for making him feel unsafe even if only for a moment.

In addition, my boss at the time callously said to me, "Maybe that dog just don't hunt."  I replied to that particular individual by saying, "As difficult as this may seem for me and as difficult as it may be for you to understand, imagine how terrible my husband must feel.  Sometimes emotions such as depression among others things, take their toll and have an effect on the individual.  I only hope that, if you should ever find yourself in such circumstances, that you are lucky enough to have a wife that will stay by your side even during your lowest moments."    This person had been married and divorced 3 times.  Ironically, the third one left him after he lost his job and when she learned he was disloyal to her.

Forgive my rambling and scattered thoughts but, the point I am trying to make is that your life is was and continues to be about "love."  I also remember the wonderful road trips my husband and I enjoyed and even the simple pleasures of watching TV together or going on a walk together. 

When my husband died, one of his friends called from a different country and started grilling me about the state of his health and if I knew whether he had any heart problems, etc., etc.  I abruptly replied, "I don't know and what is your point?"  He stopped asking questions and offered his condolences.  Unfortunately, people often say the wrong thing when they really don't know what to say.  In such cases, silence can be golden and a compassionate ear and shoulder can be invaluable.

Comment by Bundles549 on October 9, 2017 at 9:33am

So today is the 2 Year Anniversary. I am at work, luckily it is a quiet day - because my head is not in it! It's raining outside. I have nothing planned for the day. Over the weekend I spent some time working on his room...rearranging a corner with a table with photos and candles and a salt lamp. Moving out some boxes of books and old VCR tapes. There's a little more room to maneuver in there now. I stretched out on the futon and "fell asleep"? More like a half-sleep. I wasn't dreaming but I was aware of having a conversation that went on for a long time and I could not remember what it was about. Then I woke up because the phone rang and I had that feeling of when you wake up from a deep sleep and have to gather your wits again. So I figure it was some conversation with Al in my subconscious. I know it happened but I don't remember any content.

Lately, I have been moving past the "He really loved me" stage into questioning what my life was about, what I have to show for it. I have no children, hence no grandhcildren. It feels like no family because my cousins' children are not connected to me in any fashion and don't live nearby. As they marry and srat their own families, I doubt that we will ever be connected and their parents will have even less time for me, or interest.

I have no house, very little money in the bank. All this leaves me plenty to think about as I approach 65. I chose a career as a social worker, against the advice of some and with the encouragement of others. I have paid the price for that choice for the last 40 years of living in New York City. And my husband's incmoe was never reliable. Add in my own financial ignorance in my 20s and you can see where this is going, or went. When Al and I were together, we could at least struggle together and be there emotionally, as well as still having fun in the ways that we could afford. But now I seem to have some regrets. There were always those coulda-woulda-shoulda moments but I was committed to Al. We even separated for 6 years and I went back to him for all the non-finanical reasons. My world was his world. I have so many indications of his love for me, and he told me over and over again. Yesterday I was looking at a stache of the cards I gave him for all of the holidays...before I stopped buying them because he wasn't buying me any. The last 10 years of our relationship were very challenging...his health was not good and declined, his mental health got bad as he became more depressed. I started having health issues too. So, now I am stuck with trying to make some sense out of all of this. What was the point? I still have people asking me about why Al didn't work, why there was SOMETHING he could have done, and it puts me in a bad place. It's so simple for other people and they just can't or won't wrap their minds around him not working, like no answer is good enough. I don't see why they need to ask about it now. Al is dead, thre's nothing to be done about the past.

I'm having a hard time finding pleasure in the memories of the last year before he died. It was so difficult. I was working in a very draining mental health job where every ounce of energy was sucked out of me. I feel some remorse that I wasn't more "there" for him, although one of my last phone messages from him was him telling me that he understood how tired I was and he needed to be more compassionate. But we did struggle, not always together on the same page. My memories of the last year are of him sacrificing and pushing himself to be "there" for me and me struggling to take care of him also. Our fun was simple things like hot cocoa made from scratch, Sunday breakfast listening to Melissa Harris Perry on MSNBC, the occasional road trip (the ride together was the fun part) to see my elderly Mom on Long Island.

Comment by Nieta on October 8, 2017 at 7:35pm

Dear Evolving,

I am so glad that anything I have shared here has also brought you comfort.  And, I hope today was one of th he better days for you. It was a quiet day for me.

This site and its members, including yourself, are a truly a haven for me.

Comment by Evolving on October 7, 2017 at 8:10pm

Nieta, I am so glad you could take the time to talk with that gentleman!  I "identified" with him because I remembered how two months after losing my husband, I was having an especially bad day at work, when I saw from afar a widowed lady who works in another department.  I ran down the stairs yelling her name, (because I was desperate to talk to someone who had been through something similar) and I asked her exactly what he asked you.  She was not as articulate as you are, but I remember it was encouraging to hear that  in the future I would learn to handle the ups and downs a little bit better.

Comment by Nieta on October 7, 2017 at 5:15pm

Comment by Nieta 40 seconds agoDelete Comment

I took a 1/2 day off from work yesterday so that I could supervise the installation of a door on a cabin early this morning.  It's a 3 hour bus ride from The City to get to the place and, I wanted  to get there before it became dark.  On my walk to the cabin from the bus station, I heard someone shouting "Hey, hey..." louder and louder.  I turned around to see if it was me they were calling and, it was.  It was a gentleman that I had met along with his wife on my walks to my cabin.  I'd sometimes see them enjoying a glass of wine together on their porch and he'd often asked if I needed a ride to my cabin, but I'd reply that I liked getting a little exercise and appreciated the offer.  On one occasion, I offered them a white hydrangea plant for their garden because I could not properly care for it at my place and their garden was magical.  They happily and graciously accepted my gift.

On this instance, however, he was standing in the middle of the sidewalk in front of his house calling out "hey" because he did not remember my name.  I walked over to him and asked if he was okay and he replied, "No, I'm not."  He explained that his wife died at the end of August as a result of what they thought was a sinus infection but turned out to be a mass on her brain.  He knew that I'd lost my husband and asked me, "How long it take to get over this?"  That poor man.  I recognized his pain and desperation because I'd experienced that physical and emotional pain that is incredibly overwhelming.   I replied that we should sit down and talk and that I could not leave him alone at that moment.  He invited me in and we started talking.

I explained that from my own experience, this is not something that one "gets over."  It is something that changes you and your life going forward and that everyone's journey was unique.  I further explained that he was now part of a club that pretty much no one wants to be a member of, and that when he was strong enough and/or able to, he should engage with friends and, whenever possible keep busy and distracted because one doesn't get over grief, they distract themselves from it and that one simply learns to deal with it better as time goes on.  Everyone's timeline is different and it is anything but a straight line.  It has many twists and turns and just when you think you've made some headway, you feel like you're back at day one as a result of a triggered memory or something completely unexpected.  Moreover, this journey comes with no manual and only you can travel it in your own way and in your own time.

I was able to speak to this gentleman and, thankfully, provide some comfort because of my own experience but also because of the experiences of everyone here.  It underscores that while, we are traveling on our own unchartered and unique journeys, we are not alone.  There are those who have gone through this before us, those who travel their journey the same time as ours and those who will follow behind us.

During my husband's memorial service, a  friend of ours whom had lost his first born son at the tender age of 3, approached me and said the following.  There is not much that I can say that will take your pain away because grief is the price of love, but I can share what a priest said to me when my wife and I lost our son.  "There is no way out - there is only a way though."  It did not make the experience any less painful but it did for a brief moment put things in perspective.

Comment by Evolving on October 7, 2017 at 10:38am

Terry, I am very glad that going to the jeweler's turned out to be a good experience for you!

Flower, I hope your day yesterday went well, as well!

Bundle549, I have been thinking of you, too.  

Nieta, wanted to thank you once again for your kind words!

It has been good for me to read your messages and realize that a lot of mixed feelings, ambivalence, etc. was not "me being crazy" but may actually be part of this process we all go through: rebuilding a solo life after being part of a couple for so long.   I thank you for sharing!

Comment by Terry on October 6, 2017 at 11:47am

I made that trip to the jeweler's today to get the rings linked.  When I walked through the door, I had no doubt that I was doing the right thing.  I explained to the clerk what I was wanting.  She asked me if next Friday would be soon enough to pick them up.  I said it should be fine as they weren't going anywhere until I die anyway.  It was a light moment that gave both of us a chuckle.  Looking forward to seeing the symbolism of the finished product:)

 

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