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All through my journey of 13 years with my husband with strokes and my last four years of my journey as a widow I keep hearing the word "soon". Soon is when everything is going to happen.  I will feel better soon...come to terms with it soon...get used to it soon...accept it soon.  This is all from people who of course have not been through any of these experiences that I have had, have not had a husband who has gone from a healthy, strong man to a man who can hardly walk, has some problems talking, slurs his words as the evening progresses. Looking back I am glad we managed to get out for so long to meetings, to the dinners etc of the organizations we belonged to, maybe that put others off the scent of how bad things really were, and enabled them to still be in my life now even after experiencing the bad times.

Some did not see Ray as  a man who had multiple strokes, battling back from each one after weeks and weeks and weeks of OT, PT. Speech Therapy etc.who had  been to a multitude of specialists at great expense to us financially.  Of those the exception were some friends with husbands who have had cancer, they too, sat by the side of the bed on numerous hospital visits and had seen their man get weaker and weaker until he was not even a resemblance of the man they married. They could see it happening to us, but their lives were busy as ours was and it was hard for them to be supportive.  Finding the stroke support group alleviated some of that lack of support.. Some of our past friends slipped away, overcome no doubt by tales of incontinence and experiences of dementia, that blank, bland look Ray had that said:  "Do I know you?" was so off putting as a friend who should have remembered you had known each other for years. Poor old Ray, no longer able to join in the conversation.

And then he died, and I was told as a widow will I get over it...soon.  When as a woman will I find some resolution of the sadness and the loneliness and the sense that the world as I knew it has ended...soon. And so it goes on, the magic time when all of this will end is....soon. Don't you get sick of it?  The waiting for something to change, something good to happen? But each day we go on with our mourning something does change.  I found after the first couple of years the days got easier to bear, the living alone less tedious, the busyness more acceptable.  The nights were always the loneliest times, the hardest to bear.The feeling I got was that this IS the way life grows back into something manageable, something I should be able to cope with.

I don't know when exactly I accepted that it had happened, that this was the rest of my life, that "soon" was never going to come and the time was actually "now".  But I think I did.  Somewhere in the last six months I turned the corner and stopped listening to all the promises that all of this would happen "soon".  In fact I accepted that probably it never would happen.  I would go on mourning but at a lesser level, without as much pain, falling asleep sometimes without thinking that there was no point in tomorrow. After all I was supposed to have faith, right? And I did, and I do.  I am not sure that made any of this easier but I do have faith that there is a future that is worth living for now.

Acceptance never seems to come as a package though and so I slipped back into wishful thinking sometimes and thought that things were not so good now but would get better "soon" just as my friends said.  But then I realize that if I don't live as if I have that now then I would never have good memories of this time of my life to look back on in my old age. And that would be a shame. I must say I have lost a lot of memories of the last four years of my life.  When someone says we did this or did that I take their word for it.  Luckily I have the blog here and one on Strokenet and that has helped and I would recommend having a blog as an online journal to anyone who is having the same trouble with remembering what is happening right now.

I am trying to tell you I am going through another attitude change, I am trying to live now as if today is a good day.  It may or may not be a good day but I will try to react as if it is. One of those fake it till you make it times. I go out and I speak to people and I laugh and joke and look like a person who is having a good time.  People tell me I do look well and I think I do now, my body has finally recovered from those grief years because grief is very hard on your body. Now I look my age but a more cheerful version of the person I used to be.  The person I have become is better perhaps for the experience. It has been a hard battle to get here and I am not sure that is entirely over but I am trying to live in the "now" and not in the past as much.

Today was a good day because I visited some people in the nursing home in a retirement village I have friends  in, one I visit on a regular basis and I realized I am not ready to go there yet.  Luckily I am still able to live happily out in the world.  I can come and go in my car and I decide where to go.  I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a house to live in. Even last year it did not seem much like my house but now it does.  It has taken a long time for me to say "me" and"mine" but now I am doing that at last. Largely I have retired the word "our" when I am talking about the home Ray and I put together.  I do wonder why it has taken so long but I guess it takes as long as it takes as we often say here.  Maybe I have finally reached the point in my life called "soon".  I hope so.

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Comment by only1sue on October 24, 2016 at 8:42pm

WithoutJim, I am glad you had those good years.  I am sorry you only had twelve of them.  Ray and I had 44 years of marrige, after his stroke in 1990 we had 9 with some stroke effects, then from 1999 13 with major stroke defects. We did struggle, looking after him 24/7 was no picnic.  But now I go on alone but not entirely alone as I have my friends, my faith and my family.  I do have a man friend but it is a friendship only and I welcome the company one or two days a week.  I am fine, independent on the most part and my children are in the background somewhere but not close by.  We all find our way through this time somehow and I am finding some joy in this part of my life.  Didn't think I would for the first two or three years of widowhood but I am more settled now.

Comment by Liss on October 16, 2016 at 6:22pm
Hello, Sue.
Having been a widow only two months, I am appreciative of the insights of those who have been bereaved for much longer. The promises of "soon" and the gradual transition to "now" give me food for thought. I lost my husband of 31 years suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition, though his body had been ravaged for many years by progressive muscular dystrophy, so I have had the sorrow of the long decline with the shock of the sudden death. People not in this position mean to be kind, as those who said "soon" to you I suppose, or as the man who asked me to rate myself on the happiness scale last week from 1-10 with 10 being utterly joyful, I answered honestly, "About a 2." I saw his face fall, but I did not have the strength to lie to make him feel better. The modern world has no use for grief, that is obvious. I am thinking soon people will stop inquiring about my state, which seems infinitely preferable to being asked absurd, insensitive questions. Your blog entry gave me comfort because of its honesty. Thank you.
Melissa
Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on October 9, 2016 at 9:38am

(((HUGS SUE)))

For me, grief ended when I woke each morning feeling light & thinking only about the day ahead consistently for months starting to add up as years.

When it began to happen I just thought of them as good days. After a week or so, I began to think I was strangely missing something I couldn't quite put my finger on. When I realized grief had ended, Bob had become a loving spiritual friend & a memory of what once was. At the same time, finally feeling my soul at peace was/is too powerful to regret. We will see eachother again.

Some widow/ers say their grief ended when they started feeling better or no longer crying or when they've remarried/recoupled or feel ready to date or the mounting years seem shameful/embarrassing to one's self, etc, etc, etc. It's subjective, and might still require more work ...

Take care ...

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