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Should I be able to handle more than I do?

I feel I am getting stronger and then things fog up again, I start to miss meetings and events, my head is muzzy and I go around in a dream.  I find myself watching tv with no idea what I am watching and falling asleep and waking up two hours later.  I wonder why I am fine for a while and then suddenly it is like I am just a few weeks out from his death?  Tonight I turned to his chair to remark on a program I thought "we" were watching.  It is as if there is a time slip and all of a sudden I am back there.

It is winter so I am not getting out as much as I usually do but today I went with some of my grandchildren to an indoor heated pool complex and it was nice to go into the warm pool and do laps and then into the hotter pool to do gentle exercises.  The downside was that a man came into the pool with the same left side defects as Ray had and for a moment or two I just wanted to rush over and help him even though he was a stranger.  It as if the caregiver in me is just lying dormant ready to regenerate when and if I need it again.

I guess I see these details as an inability to move on, as a treading water instead of swimming, a kind of lethargy of body and mind that reappears every time the status of life around me changes.  I do want to move on, move forward, whatever now.  I don't want to be stuck as the grieving widow and yet sometimes that is exactly how I feel, as if I haven't done grieving yet.

How do I change any of this?  I have been reading motivational material in the hope that I will find an easy answer.  But they don't address restarting your life after grief.  I guess I need to read more books about widowhood and grieving.  I do get a lot of help from this site but sometimes I feel out of step even here.

I used to do phone counselling and if you had said I would be in this wobbly state I would have had a lot to say about slowly changing your lifestyle, taking up new hobbies etc.  I am not so good at doing what I would have advised others to do.  I wonder how effective that advice was anyway?

This afternoon I went to a church meeting and once again got some suggestions of tasks I might like to do in the church.  I know I look as if I have my act together and "should" be able to handle a lot more than I do.   Yes, I have the skills and the past experience but not sure as yet that I have the emotional stamina to attack a job in the way I would be expect to do - jobs like funeral planning and follow up...not really ready for that yet.

And so I go on, looking good, looking like I am recovering, looking like a person you could depend on etc.  But underneath there is still a lot of things to be dealt with, I know.

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Comment by Blue Snow on July 5, 2014 at 3:55pm

I've had a similar experience with you and the guy in the swimming pool. A stroke survivor in a wheelchair who obviously couldn't talk was trying to get his wife to understand that she was sliding a pull-up table up backward (the legs are off set to get closer if done right). I jumped out of my seat and showed her the right way. You and I have so many years of caregiving under our belts that I don't foresee us ever sitting still if we can help in anyway. I try not to read too much into this stuff because so many people helped me with little stuff out in public that I'm just paying it forward now that I can.

Changes come one tiny step at a time. Don't be so hard on yourself when it feels like you're stepping back once in a while instead of forward. Those backwards steps will get farther and farther apart over time. It does help to stay busy but to go back to roles you took in the past at your church, in my opinion, isn't as productive as joining or volunteering at something brand new where the people have no preconceived ideas about you and what you did in the past. Keep looking. You'll find something...a book club, a lunch or movie club, a charity seeking volunteers...anything that gets you out among strangers on a regular basis can help.

Comment by Choosing life on July 3, 2014 at 4:56am
Feel the same only1sue. I am at 13 months and I go back and forth all the time. Some mornings get up and get going; some mornings get up and for a few seconds wonder where he is. Go out for the day and think to myself that I have to get home and cook us dinner. And the best one --- doing the laundry and wondering why he didn't put his dirty clothes in the hamper! And yet everyone tells me how great I am doing. As someone else on WV said --- I have gotten good at telling the lie I am OK.

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