Loss of Spouse – Ageless

Tonight I had dinner with my 80 year old father and during dinner I asked him if it seemed like five years since Mom died, he shook his head and replied “No, not really, seems like it was much more recent.” There is a strange phenomenon that happens when you lose someone significant in your life, in this case grieving a spouse – its almost as if time stands still. We remember with great clarity how our life “used to be.”  During dinner I teased Dad about eating all of his vegetables and that I bet Mom was looking down to make sure that he was!  He laughed and agreed. He went on to say “I don’t eat as good as I should, Mom used to be sure I ate salads and the other vegetables”, I just nodded my head in agreement and knew that this strong, smart, articulate man who ran a successful business for 35 years didn’t know much about cooking let alone nutrition.  The loss of a spouse is life changing regardless of age or gender, we simply have lost one half of who we were and are faced with the challenge of finding a new normal alone.

Here are a few things to consider if you have lost a spouse;

  • The change of being alone will take time to get used to, you may struggle with redefining who you are now, who you are without your partner and give yourself time to re-develop and remember who you are and who you were before you met your spouse.
  • Remember you can and will exist alone, just as my Dad has had to learn to live without my Mom preparing his meals and providing a balanced diet, he now relies on other sources.
  • Allow your family to be there for you, accept their love and support
  • Maybe it’s time to reconnect to and old friend or colleague and renew a friendship if you are seeking companionship
  • Sometimes long after the death, something simple like a picture, a sound or smell reminds you of your spouse and it brings on what is called a “griefburst” – allow yourself those feelings without judgement no matter where it occurs.
  • Losing a spouse can happen at any age, it is sometimes helpful to remember some childlike behaviors to lighten up a little. Remember how children live in the moment and in wonder, so do something childish once in awhile – I guarantee it will lighten your load.

Have you read “Heartache To Healing, My Journey Through The Grieving Processit’s a book of practical ideas to help you, give you comfort and inspire you to better days ahead. For more info CLICK HERE

Widow Shares Heartbreaking Story

I’ve read several blogs on widowhood recently, yours has a sense of peace and hopefulness. Thank you.

I lost my husband three years ago this June while we were traveling in Europe, my husband was an invited speaker at a distance education conference in Vienna, Austria. The day after his presentation we were getting on a cruise of the Danube River when he had a strong pain in his belly and couldn’t catch his breath. Gratefully two men were immediately by my side helping him – they both spoke English. They recognized the seriousness of his symptoms and called for the paramedics. He was rushed to the hospital, where they confirmed that he had had a heart attack. He was 51 years old, very healthy otherwise. They said the heart was caused by a blood clot.

He lived for over 36 hours and stayed alert most of the time but he was very weak and his heart was pounding in his chest. It never occurred to me that he could die. People had heart attacks all the time and lived. I was just wondering how long we would be in Austria, how long before he could fly again. When I finally spoke to his doctor in the US who had gotten through to the doctors in Austria I grasped the critical situation we were in. I was told that if he went into renal failure the only thing that would save him would be a heart transplant and they didn’t perform those at the hospital we were in. I begged them to move him to a hospital that could and would perform such an operation. They refused because he was not yet IN renal failure. I asked them that if he were, would they move him, they told me no, it would be too dangerous to move him at that point. The frustration! His condition worsened and I was escorted out of the room so they could intubate him. Before I left I looked him in the eye and told him that I loved him. He blinked back his response.
Two hours later I knocked on the door and begged them to simply let me be in the same room with him. The nurse looked at me and said in his far too casual and less than perfect English, “Sure, you can come in. But he died.” Those words will echo in my mind for the rest of my life. I could not believe that the God I had been praying to, been pledging everything to if he would only save my sweethearts life would leave me alone in a country where I knew no one and didn’t speak the language!

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had been in contact with the local missionaries as soon as possible after arriving at the hospital. I could not have survived without the sweet and tender care of those boys. They were at a loss as to how to help me but they had access to resources and people who could. Other members took me into their homes; they helped me with the piles of paperwork and red tape involved with the death of a citizen abroad.In less than two weeks we were able to fly his body back to the US.

A sad side note to this sad story. My husband and I had only been married for 14 months. It was a second marriage for both of us. We had finally found what we had both missed for so many years! I had never been happier. We had plans for the future, plans we had never been able to make with previous spouses. It was all before us. Until it wasn’t. I was hurt and angry. I felt cheated beyond belief. My faith assures me that there is life beyond this. I am not at all sad for my husband. I believe he is in Paradise patiently waiting for me to join him. I believe we will be together again. And for him, it will be but a small moment in time. But for me, it will be years and years of loneliness.

Between us, we have six children. He had two boys and I had two boys and two girls. They are all young adults now, going through all the typical stuff and none of them lives at home. My nest seems prematurely empty.

Since my husband’s death I have completed an advanced degree, found a new job and am managing day by day. I cycle through periods of great hope, of contentment with my situation, to periods of resentment, frustration and anger. But I truly do try to focus on the positive.

I was given a second chance to discover what love really is, what marriage should be like. I count that among my greatest blessings. I don’t believe God punished me by taking him away, I believe he blessed me by giving him to me in the first place.
I remember saying to myself” I didn’t sign up for this! This was not the plan!” But then I realized that if the choice were; to have this man in my life, for only a short time, but with the promise of eternity with him or, never know him, never feel the loss of his death. I would have signed up gladly.

This was long. I’m sorry. I haven’t really told the story before. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

Ann

Loss of a Spouse

Today I reflect again on the death of my husband, you see today marks the third anniversary of his death. And this year the date falls on Father’s Day which seems particularly sad because not only was he my husband, but he was a father.
I decided to honor his memory today by reflecting back on the great times, the times that I grin with joy about.

Grieving a spouse creates a different complexity to your grief, because of the intimate connection as husband and wife – you feel like apart of you like a limb has been ripped off. Things you shared with the one person who knew you better than anyone is now gone…whom do you now confide?   Who understands me?  And who will tell me everything is going to be OK?  Depending on your age, you might ask, Will I ever find someone else to love?

I’ve worked through these questions and many more, but I admit I shed a few tears today anyway because I miss the man who loved me so.

Here are a few tips from Author, Educator and grief counselor Dr. Alan Wolfelt;

1.  Start each day with a meditation or prayer – because for many widows waking up in the morning is the hardest part of the day because you confront this new day with the realization that your mate has died. When you begin to have the power to start the day with a prayer or meditation or simple affirmation such as “Thank you God for giving me this day, help me to appreciate it and make it count”

2.  Reach out to others for help – this connects you to other people and strengthens the bonds of love that make life seem worth living again.

3.  Always remember your pain is normal, it is in embracing your grief that you will learn to reconcile yourself to it.

4.  When your spouse dies, they live on in us through memory, to heal you need to actively remember your spouse and commemorate the life that was lived.  Remembering the past makes hoping for the future possible.

5.  A large part of your self-identity was formed by the relationship you had with your partner who died, now that you are single your other half is gone. Remember you can and will exist alone, it is just a different reality. You are special and find a new way of developing a new self-identity.

6.  Recognize that your friendships will probably change, the best way for you to respond in the face of faltering friendships is to be proactive and honest, tell friends how you feel and ask for what you need. Pick up the phone and keep in touch even if its you who has to make the first call.

7.  Keep it real with the kids – sometimes your own grief will have to take precedence. If your grief has left you with little energy for the kids, ask you family to step in and help. Remember it takes a village to raise a child!

8.  Be mindful of anniversaries, of the death, life events, birthdays can be especially hard.  These are times you need to plan ahead, take the day off work, visit the cemetery and most importantly reach out to others on these difficult days, talk about your feelings.

9.  Take good care of yourself is nurturing and necessary yet it is most often overlooked.  It may sound trivial but try hard to eat well and get adequate sleep.  Don’t overlook exercise, it is good both physically and mentally.  Now more than ever you need to allow time for you.

10.  Learn something new.  Sometimes mourners get stuck, feeling depressed and the new daily routine can be joyless.  This is the best time to learn something new. Think about one thing you always wanted to do and do it – art class – french lessons – cooking class – travel?  start with one thing and just do it.

Grieving A Spouse

Today I reflect again on the death of my husband, you see today marks the third anniversary of his death. And this year the date falls on Father’s Day which seems particularly sad because not only was he my husband, but he was a father.
I decided to honor his memory today by reflecting back on the great times, the times that I grin with joy about.

Grieving a spouse creates a different complexity to your grief, because of the intimate connection as husband and wife – you feel like apart of you like a limb has been ripped off. Things you shared with the one person who knew you better than anyone is now gone…whom do you now confide? Who understands me? And who will tell me everything is going to be OK? I’ve worked through these questions and many more, but I admit I shed a few tears today anyway because I miss the man who loved me so.

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