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Overwhelmed with loss and new life

Hi everyone. I've been feeling very overwhelmed with life's changes lately. Also have been extremely reflective of my past. I am currently 53, turning 54 in April. As I look back over my life, starting back in my early childhood, the overall feeling I have is gratitude, grateful for the people I have known and loved, grateful for most of the characters that have entered and left my life. I have had many, many wonderful, crazy, fun experiences, experienced such tender love, have truly been so happy in my life at times, I remember thoughts of "this is heaven" and just being so joyful, grateful and at peace. But part of this life has also included tremendous pain, loss and devastation when these parties have been taken, or left my life. Yes, it's part of life. Nobody escapes it, unless we ourselves are the ones to leave early, before we experience love or loss. I have experienced what I consider, a lot of loss, from a fairly early age. When I was 11 yrs old, in school, there was a boy that moved into our neighborhood named Glen. As it turned out, we were in the same class in school and his first day, the teacher introduced him to our class and it turned out he sat down in desk right next to me. I remember him as he stood in front of our class, teacher arm around him, I thought, "we are going to be best friends". We were. It was as though we had known each other for 50 yrs. we quickly became inseparable, spending every day together, he was so funny, so hysterical, he made me laugh so hard. The things we experienced together, we "came out of the closet" together at 15, dated, went to our first gay bars together, explored becoming adults together and so on. I experienced my first alcohol, first joint, first loves, it was all so fun, crazy. In 1982, we were 20yrs old and I remember the call from him stating, "I have AIDS". At that time, I had never heard about it, it wasn't in the media yet, but very soon after, it hit the media. It was so scary and crazy. Glen struggled with his health up and down for many yrs. tried various medications with horrible side effects. We remained very close, although he moved to Vancouver BC in 1984 to follow a beautiful cowboy he had met and fell in love with, and I moved to Indianapolis in 1988 with my partner, we spoke daily and took turns flying across the country every few months to spend a week or two together. 1993, he came to Indy to visit my partner and I for a month. I had set up a side trip for us, to surprise him, to Washington DC for a long weekend. Just glen and I. We had a lovely time, found a nightclub that was playing all the music from the 70s, that we both loved and we danced for hrs. I remember leaving the club, we could barely walk, from dancing all night in our cowboy boots, we were trying to find a cab to take us back to our hotel, and glen was saying one liners, 1 after another, I was laughing so hard, I could barely breathe, as we walked down the street at 3am, carying our boots, barefoot, looking for a cab. When we got back to Indy, woke up the following morning, glen wasn't well, he looked and felt horrible. He wanted to go home early. We got his flights moved up and he flew back to Vancouver the next day. This was the beginning of the end. Glen grew increasingly tired, he looked horrible at 31, he told me he was tired and was ready to die. I took a month off from work while glen moved to Texas to be with his parents, I flew down to Dallas and spent a few weeks with him, curled up on the sofa together, sleeping in the same bed with him, I didn't want him to be alone, I wanted to be there for him if he woke and was sick, or scared. The conversations we had during those weeks, laughing, crying, reflecting over all the times we had shared, he told me how much he loved me and cherished our friendship, he passed on July 3rd, 1993 at 31 yrs old. I was so lost after his passing, it was so hard to learn how to live without his daily phone calls, our times together, our always planning trips and things to do. I still haven't found another friendship like we had. Since Glen's passing, I have loved many, my partner whom I met with Glen in a nightclub, at 17, was wonderful man. I loved him so completely, we shared 30 yrs together and like glen, Mike was diagnosed with fatal illness when I was 45 yrs old. We fought it hard, I was by his side 24-7-365, and again, I heard the words from someone I loved so much, "I'm tired babe, you need to prepare, I'm going to die soon". He passed when I was 47, after almost 31 yrs together. So grateful for the love we shared, times we spent, we knew ea other so well, understood each other so well, and again, I was left behind, trying to figure out how to put my life together, how was I going to live without him in my life. Of course through all these yrs lost many to drug overdose, alcoholism, accidents, stroke, (had wonderful friend Alan for several yrs), we were becoming very close, he had this very weird habit of pinching his nose when he sneezed, I remember having dinner with him near his home in Virginia, and he sneezed, and pinched his nose as he sneezed. "I told him, "Alan" you have to stop that, you are going to hurt yourself with that habit". The following week after I had returned to Indy, I was calling him daily to see if he was still coming to Indy that following weekend, and no answer, no return call. A mutual friend I had spoke with, telling him I was worried about Alan, who lived in Washington, drove over to Alan's and broke into his apartment to find him dead at 40, on his kitchen floor, from a brain aneurism. After Mike passed, it was soon discovered that my father was suffering from dimensia. Slowly over the following months and yrs, I took over my parents lives, sold their home, moved them down to San Diego with me, and recently went through process of hospice, and dad passing on February 12th. I have mom with me and I am doing my best to help her, be there for her while she adjusts to being a widow, after 58 yrs of marriage to my father. Also, last November, mikes mom whom I'm very close with was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and is non treatable, Drs gave her 4-6 months in November. It was very bizarre driving mom to visit dad in hospice, talking to Drs and nurses about dads condition, making decisions for him about feeding tubes and stopping food and so on, then driving mom home, getting her dinner, then lieing down in my bedroom to rest, having mikes mom call me to discuss her scan results and the horrible outcomes of these tests, discussing bringing hospice into her home, us discussing our lives together for the past 36 yrs, discussing Mike, my partner and her son, and preparing to let her go as well. It's a very bizarre time. I'm completely surrounded in death, life's passage, after dad passing, now mikes mom, and my mom loosing her memory, it's just very terrifying, scared to be all alone on the planet and left as an adult??? I'm not ready for that! Lol. There has to be some mistake, right???

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Comment by Steve on March 26, 2016 at 1:54pm
Hi Cindy, thanks so much for your wonderful post. I truly appreciate it and understand, and agree with what you are saying. I'm determined, keep pushing myself to become a happier, more fulfilled, peaceful person. I do recognize that a portion of my grief, is self induced. Trying not to beat myself up for this, just accepting the decisions I made in the past, trying to just forgive and move on. Today is a new day, I know without a doubt Mike wants me to be happy, know he is pulling for me and helping me as he can. I know that love lasts forever and never dies, so it's time to stand on my own two feet, dust myself off, choose another adventure and move. Thanks again so much for your note. Take care, Steve
Comment by Hornet (Cindy) on March 26, 2016 at 8:29am

Dear Steve, I often wonder why some are burdened with so much death...and others left almost unscathed by it during their lifetimes. Your life experience is incredible. So many here have been through so very much, like you, that it boggles the mind and heart.

I have no answer for you...except...I do believe that you have it in you to survive these tragedies. Not only to survive then (let's face it...having a pulse is NOT the only thing you need)...but to live with grace, dignity, hard-won wisdom...and gusto! You have it in you to fashion a meaningful and HAPPY existence for the time you are here. It's the 'figuring it out' part that pains the ass. The daily routines that must adjust after each blow...the 'big' picture that changes against your will...the plans that you once made with the ones you love that you now abandon because, often times, they are simply meaningless without your partner, your mother, father, or friend.

I've read many of your posts, and even in this somewhat sterile environment - words on a screen without the inflection of a voice or the beauty of a facial expression - your personality is there. You write beautifully...the sign of a bright, inquisitive, interesting man.

What a loss it would be for the world to lose that spirit...and to be left only another human with a pulse.

So, while I can't answer "Why?", I can tell you that, like me, you are here for a reason. And we have it in us to live life meaningfully and happily.

I am hoping that the spark in you remains, and that the bright, inquisitive, interesting man you continues through it all...with gusto!

Cindy

Comment by Steve on March 14, 2016 at 4:12am
Hi Diane, so nice to hear from you.
Comment by Patience (Diane) on March 12, 2016 at 4:40pm
So sorry to hear this, Steve .... You've suffered so much loss. Sending love and hugs ....
Comment by Steve on March 3, 2016 at 9:14am
Hi SweetMelissa, thank you for taking the time to respond. I have read and enjoyed many of your prior posts and comments. I have found the same thing, grief has to come first for me, even though I'm wanting to feel better, wanting to feel at peace, discover new things about me through this new circumstance, I found out if I fight the grief, hold back the tears, refocus my attention on not feeling, it only gets stronger, more debilitating, makes me ill. I have found I have to listen to my heart, soul and if it craves some grief, sad time, it's better to schedule it as soon as possible. Clear my schedule, get into bed, watch a super sad movie and allow the tears to flow. If I give myself permission to do this, I usually feel better within a day or two. If I don't, the longer I put it off, the crappier I feel, the shorter temper I have, the more cigs I smoke, the more alcohol I consume, the more arguments I have, the more people I piss off, and hurt. I do remember how joyful life can be, how warm, safe, content I can feel. For me it's about coming to terms with doing this alone, for now. Life, God, universe is telling me it's time to face being pushed out of the nest. I guess life is telling me I'm ready at 54. Lol. I've been highly resistant to it. Always have had many people around me to love, share life with. There is a huge part of me that loves people, loves being needed, loves being in love, having one or more people in my life that I can count on to always be there to be a safe place to fall if I need. I've been very lucky so far, in that I haven't really had to grow up. Lol. There has always been someone there to help me fix whatever I got myself into. Lol. Thanks SM, take care
Comment by SweetMelissa on March 3, 2016 at 8:05am

(((STEVE)))

My heartfelt condolences ...

Letting go or in other words coming to terms w/loss is what the grief process is about. Its not a decision we make. We all need time to get our questions answered, find ways to cope as well as internalize them heart, mind & soul. For me, it was almost impossible to make any decisive steps of great importance w/a heavy heart. I had to let grief have its way w/me to move forward.

Comment by Steve on March 2, 2016 at 8:23pm
Hi hope and laurajay, I appreciate your comments so much. Hope, So sorry to hear of your brothers passing. He sounds like a wonderful guy. So true that we carry all these wonderful people in us and in our hearts, grateful for that. Just tough as we all know to live without them physically to touch, hug, love and take care of. Also so sorry to hear of your husbands passing. That I know about so well. It's now been 7 yrs since my partner Mike passed, it has gotten a bunch easier, but still there are moments I have to remind myself he isn't physically here and those moments take my breathe away. Laurajay, thanks so much for those words of encouragement and sharing your thoughts. I strive everyday to live, strive to find peace and joy and gratitude, and I do find it. I feel there is some part to healing, some lessons maybe to be gained by reflection. I am truly so grateful, for having had these people in my life, the intense pain I have felt over loss, to me, is a testament of how much we loved. Thank you
Comment by Hope on March 2, 2016 at 9:28am

Dear Steve, You certainly have had your share of grief in losing so many special people in your life. My brother was diagnosed with AIDS in 1982 and was a long term survivor. He and his partner were together for over 30 years.. Many years it was touch and go and many years there was hope for recovery. He finally succumbed to complications from AIDS 4 years ago. Over those years my brother Rodger worked with they dying and witnessed so much sadness and loss. He formed a group called THRIVE for men living with AIDS and established a recognition event for nurses working tirelessly for AIDS patients.  All this to say, I understand some of what you have struggled with ...so many lives. Please know I will be thinking of you and hoping the outcome for you will be ok. You will never really be alone. They are there...in the next room and they live in your being. At least that's how I see it. Having said that, my husband of 30 years died 8 months ago unexpectedly. Its a struggle. Hold on to hope...hope for some calmness, peace and contentment through all of this.. this is my prayer for you

Comment by laurajay on March 2, 2016 at 9:20am

Steve. Of all the things we learn as we grow up it seems we are not really taught that the life cycle includes death.  All part of a continuum .  Like a circle with no beginning and no end.  Therefore we worry and are scared and anxious when loss rears its ugly head and we feel abandoned, alone and overwhelmed as we journey and life happens.  Looking back at our lives as you are doing is beneficial and gives us a sense of what was that got us to this point but it also serves to help us to see we have the ability to make choices for the rest of our years that will maximize our joy.  I do understand your current feelings! Nothing about loss is easy. But we are all here for some limited time.  We cannot go back...and while we stand transfixed and pondering  life goes on in a million ways. I figured out this past year  ( 4 yr anniversary 3-30 for me) that even if I meditate and draw still and quiet, even if I simplify and act in a compassionate self-controlled way, even if I draw on my strong faith for a reprieve from all this...life still goes on, more people die, more problems come in to fill the places where other worries have left. It is neither just nor fair!  Only my reaction to all of it can I control and that takes constant attention.  We are alive now though surrounded by sickness, loss  and dying- but we are alive. Everyday express gratitude for every breath you take.  Every challenge you have been given to meet attempt it knowing it  will strengthen you to continue on the path to victory.  We are born alone and we die alone.  Take comfort that there is a plan you may not completely understand but that you are an essential part of. Glance back but keep your vision focused forward- the only direction where there can be healing and progress.  It is all normal---just looks bizarre because it's like a new door opened to a part of reality you either didn't expect or caught you by surprise.. Every thing is going to be OK.        hugs         lj

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