How do you carry on? (Passing of a SO or spouse)

This is not so much a sympathy thread as a ‘now what’ thread. As I posted previously in the MMP in MPSIMS, my boyfriend passed away suddenly two weeks ago. On Sunday we were coming home from a great little vacation. On Monday he had a heart attack and passed in his sleep.

Acts of sympathy and kindness have been generously coming in from friends of his that I’ve never even met. I’ve had several people express their sympathy and tell me (nicely) that they don’t know what to say because they’ve never been in my shoes and they don’t want to be either. I do have one friend who lost her husband previously and she had been tremendously kind and helpful. But still, I feel totally lost some days. Nighttime is worse when i just keep think that my boyfriend isn’t supposed to be dead. We had plans. We had a future. We had love.

I am trying really hard to keep it together because I know that he would want me to be happy and healthy. I even went to my first meeting of a grief support group at my psychologist’s office. Even still I don’t know how to get over this mountain.

Any thoughts from anyone who has tread this journey before?

Be patient with yourself. It will take longer than you think, but you will make it over the mountain. When my husband died, I had moments when I truly thought I wouldn’t make it. I couldn’t see how people survived this. Now I know we do, largely because we have no other choice, and because time can be healing. Keep going to the support group–nothing helped me more than the group I went to.

My lovely bride died about a year ago now.
I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t make it and I almost didn’t.
But, I made a decision to live and I am now finally enjoying life again.
The pain never goes away, and I am quite lonely, but it is bearable.

I wish you the very best. If you ever want to share via PM please feel free.

I haven’t done it myself, but from what I’ve seen, it’s one of those “one day at a time”, and sometimes “one minute at a time” things.

It’s also very much a “different strokes for different people” kind of thing. Oh, and you never know what stupid little things will be hitting you forever.

The father in law of my mother’s friend’s Rita’s daughter’s (English needs to acquire a shorter way to say that) died in June. During the last week of July, which is the local fiestas, his widow went alone to a hotel and beach which was a favorite spot of theirs; her son and daughter-in-law had invited her to go on vacation with them, but she’d refused, saying she needed to be alone. I got royally pissed off at Rita and Mom because they were both saying “that’s not what anybody needs when they’ve lost someone”. It’s not what the two of them needed (Rita’s solution was to get as busy as she could, Mom’s to cry at her children and friends), but from what little I knew of this lady, I could perfectly believe it was what she needed; she’s neither a queen bee like Mom, nor the workingest lass in a family of leeches like Rita, her favorite hobbies are stuff best done alone or in a couple. We saw her yesterday, she was coming from a long, fast walk and trying to decide where to continue it; she joked that “with how much I walked while I was saying goodbye to my husband down at ‘our hotel’, you would have thought I’d be tired of walking by now!”

I am going through a similar situation, but a bit longer down the line. My husband was 42 and very active, he died almost a year ago quite suddenly. We ate dinner and ten minutes later, I found him unconcious. I wish I could tell you it is easy, or give you some great advise on how to get through this. But I can’t. I really believe that we just have to get through it in our own personal ways, which is a different journey for everyone. It is a day by day process and nothing can change that. Some days are way easier than others but then other days are so incredibly difficult. I think we all have different triggers, too. One of mine is music. Certain songs can make any given day much better or worse for me, depending on my mood. Running into someone that I haven’t seen since Larry died can be very difficult, but talking to someone else that was close to him can be very healing. You will figure out what works best for you and what to avoid. I wish you the best, please take care of yourself.

When my husband died, I got a lot of help and support from the forum here. Even though the word “widow” is in the name, all SO’s are welcome.

Have something planned for the next day before you go to bed. For myself, I couldn’t bear to be at home alone, so I spent just about every evening out late at someone’s house and only came home to eat a snack and go to bed. Others (which you will see if you join that other forum) were just the opposite: they never left the house. Do whatever you need to do (that’s not blatantly self-destructive) to give yourself even a minute of relief. I cried a lot, every day, many times a day. After crying, I felt better for a little while, until it built up again. Don’t look too far ahead. Keep your eyes on the ground in front of your. Don’t (figuratively speaking) look at the horizon. I also told myself that billions and billions of people have gone through this, and if they can get through it, I can get through it. I read everything I could get my hands on about how other people got through the death of a spouse.

I won’t kid you: it is the single **most **painful thing that I have ever gone through in my entire life. People would say “oh you’ll feel better in a year.” But a year was NOTHING-- a drop in the bucket. After a couple of years, I did get into another R, and that was prolly too soon for me. You don’t ever really get over it, but you get used to the idea.

Don’t judge yourself or how you’re feeling. Don’t say, “I should/shouldn’t be feeling this or that.” Whatever you feel is okay… including anger, despair, cynicism, relief, resentment… anything you feel is okay.

One more thing: I have kept journals all my life. The only thing that made it possible for me to climb into bed at night was my journal. It was waiting for me like an old friend. I poured out my heart. And I’ve never gone back to reread any of those entries-- it was 12 years ago.

It never goes away. The cursed sun rose the next goddamned day and I had to get up to face it. It really shouldn’t have. Life and the struggle was over, there was no going forward, there was no reason for the sun to come up and the next day to begin.

but it did.

I was a shell, and in a lot of ways, I still am. I’ll never love like that again; fully half my life from 15 to 30 had swirled around her and the two of us growing old together. Its very very hard at first, I can’t think of anything more difficult, save for the early death of a child. I saw so many things in other people…thats how she walked…is that her over there in the distance, it can’t be. Those blue eyes, my wife had those same blue eyes.

The nightmares lasted for years; there she was beside me again, it was just a bad dream…she was sick, but got better. Then I’d wake up…
Enough of that. Everyone is different, and do what you feel you must. I did things that surprised people, but everyone was kind enough to not press me to do certain things and not do others.
I did marry again, and my now wife is wonderful and carrying and completely understanding. But I do hide things from her to spare her any pain; and I still cry.

It is a choice, isn’t it? The first couple of days I thought that they may as well spread my ashes along with his. But, yes, I chose to stay here and to try to be happy because I know that is what he would want me to do.

Twice now it’s been chairs that have gotten me. First when the chair next to me at our weekly game day was filled by a squirmy little girl instead of him. Second, just this Saturday at a birthday party when I saw ‘his’ chair sitting there empty.

Thank you. I will check that out.

And thank you everyone for your kind words and your helpful thoughts.

Thelma Lou’s advice is very wise, read Widownet even if you don’t participate, just to assure yourself that you haven’t gone insane, you’re grieving. I couldn’t stand to leave the house for anything but work. And I will tell you what saved me–I got a cat. I rescued a cat from the pound, and it gave me something to look forward to coming home, and someone ( ! ) to talk to at nite and weekends and to sleep with.

I’m sorry for your loss Sticks and Scones.

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t? Maybe there’s something new that would pique your interest without the painful reminders, something that could take you outside of yourself.

I wish you peace.

(my bold)

Before I address this post I want to say my heart absolutely breaks for those who have responded to the OP; as well as the OP herself.

But to Sigene, does your current wife know what you’ve said here? Or is this admission among the things you hide from her?

Sticks and Scones, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this suffering. I was 37 when my husband died suddenly 28 years ago. I still think of him very often, but the pain faded to a mere shadow of itself over time.
There is a lot of good advice on this thread, take what suits you. Each person lives this differently.
The best thing I did the summer following his death was to go on a month-long vacation on my own, where nobody knew my story. One of my friends who lost her husband couldn’t bear to be alone and needed a friend or one of her sons around for quite a while afterwards.

My husband Jesse also died in his sleep this past March. I feel like I have said that a thousand times on the dope…

There are some days when I still feel like my life is over and I have thoughts about not wanting to live. But I have my two wonderful daughters who get me out of the wanting-to-die funk…
It is really one day at a time. Sometimes, one hour at a time and for me it has also been five minutes at a time. There will be constant reminders of him and the two of you and the love and that is hard, but fuck…I totally understand. All of a sudden…here you are. Alone. And he is gone. But please trust me, there will be a day when those memories wont be as painful as they used to be.

Today is our wedding anniversary. :frowning: I almost called in sick, but I went to work because I have slowly reached that point where helping my clients is helping me heal. I read somewhere that it helps to let people know that you have had a recent death and that you are in pain. It is like a wound that people cannot see, but it might help to treat it like you would an actual bodily injury. So nurse it. Talk about it if that helps. In the beginning, I would talk to anyone who cared to listen about Jesse’s death and that helped me. That is what I needed at that moment. The lady at the bakery down the street, the liquor store dude, my hairdresser, the AT&T store lady, the UPS guy, the gardener…I have cried to them all and they have hugged me and listened to me and some have even cried with me.
Build your own support network and reach out whenever you need to. I am also thankful for a few friends here on the dope (you know who you are) who have been through the same loss and their support continues to be extremely valuable to me.

Writing on my blog and my journal helps me to organize some of the chaos in my head and my heart. I also started therapy recently because I felt ready.

I am here if you need anything from me. Please feel free to pm me.

Much love and hugs to you. Take good care.

It’s been 3.5 years since my first husband died. It was brutal and devastating and by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through, even though we had been expecting his death for years. You don’t really ever manage to expect it, even when it’s right there.

I read a lot. I moved the bed and would stay up at night reading and trying very hard to lose myself. I went to work every day and created a new habit of visiting my brother nearly every night and we’d watch goofy things from Netflix and I got to be surrounded by all of his children.

I joined a grief support group the same week that Steve died and it helped me a lot. I also very briefly participated on a message board for widows and widowers, but I found that there was an atmosphere there that I didn’t care for after the first little while. I remember a poster saying that she was doing well and a number of other people actually came in to tell her that it was just a matter of time before grief handicapped her again. Infuriating.

Anyway, there are so many ways of grieving, as many as there are people, so try not to let anyone put you in a box and insist you feel a certain way. If you read a lot on the subject, you’ll probably think “Oh, this person knows exactly what I’m thinking” on one page and then “Who is this person talking about? This is bullshit!” on the next.

I decided to challenge myself after Steve’s death and do some things I couldn’t do while he was alive. Eventually, I decided to go back to school, so I sold the house, packed what I wanted to keep into my Jeep, then moved across country to start school and get remarried.

I still cry. It will still hit me at times how incredibly unfair Steve’s life and death were. It will just hit me randomly. But I also know that he would have been incredibly proud, and that makes everything better.

I’m so sorry to hear about your boyfriend. It’s unfair for you because “boyfriend” so often doesn’t convey enough. Just try to hang on and survive. I know that it hurts so much that you can’t even imagine it not hurting this much, but you will probably have good days mixed with the bad, even early on, or at least good hours or good minutes. Try to recognize and celebrate them.

And lean on people when you can.

I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.

Not a spouse, but my mother’s untimely death was very hard on me. I still remember absolutely nothing about the two or three months afterward. My mind did not want to remember it, so it basically blocked out everything. For months I would go into a room and not remember why I went there.

It took a long time to recover. I should have gone for grief counseling but did not. Is such therapy available to you?

I’m very sorry for your loss. I haven’t lost a spouse or SO, but over time, you get used to dealing with the emotions that are probably overwhelming you right now. It doesn’t stop hurting or being sad or infuriating and sometimes it will still be too much, but you do come to understand that it’s part of what you’re going through. Over the long haul it’s probably not possible to keep hurting the way you are hurting right now. Eventually I think you learn to live your life partly in tribute to the life of the person you lost. The things that meant a lot to you together still mean a lot, so it’s possible to continue to enjoy those even though there’s a sadness to it. You may also find comfort in doing things that sustain their memory or passions. All of those things take time. For now I think you can just do whatever it takes to hang in there- you may not have the energy for anything else anyway. Don’t try to put on a brave face or uphold other people. Just take care of yourself.

hugs I’m so sorry, hon :frowning: I never lost a SO but I did lose my mom unexpectedly. There were times I thought it was gonna kill me.

You’re still in shock. You don’t have to keep it together. As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others, how you react to this is your business and EVERYTHING you do to cope is ok, hon. If you need to go the grief counseling route, that’s fine. If you need to do pretty much nothing but sleep for a few months that’s fine too. Me … I knitted. Haven’t picked up the needles in over a year (I think I now associate knitting with sadness) but at the time it was just what I needed.

You’re probably gonna feel like you’re going crazy at times but you’re not. Promise.

My heart goes out to you. I’m around if you need to vent.

Thanks everyone again. I am going, at least temporarily, to a grief support group which happens to be run by the therapist that I have been seeing now for several years. However, once the fall semester starts I’ll have to quit this group and possibly find someone else.

As a matter of fact, I went tonight. The thing that seems to strike me is that I can have intellectual/academic conversations all day long about what happened and about grief and what to do with it but at some point in the day sooner or later it hits me all over again that this isn’t an academic topic of pursuit, he’s really gone.

I guess I’m the typical American. I want to feel better now. I don’t want to lose him or the memory of him but I want this sadness to just go away and leave me with happy thoughts. Right. This. Minute.

I know, it doesn’t work that way, but damn, I sure wish it would.

This is what I love about the Dope, such an outpouring of kindness. Hugs to all of you who have replied.

I’m glad you’re going to a support group. Even if it feels like a drag at times, at some point someone there will say something that you’ll find incredibly valuable.

Remember that everyone has their own baseline of happiness that they return to, no matter how terrible or wonderful an experience they’ve had. You will come back in your own time. In the meantime, grief isn’t a smooth gradual progression. Some moments I was walking along fine as before, then later my knees would threaten to buckle under me. It’s not like climbing a hill: it’s like going around a track where some stretches are deep mud.

Be easy on people as they attempt to be easy on you, or make no attempt to do so. You know you are much more than “that girl whose boyfriend died,” and eventually they will too.

One more thing: no matter what you do with the rest of your life, I won’t pretend that you’ll ever have a day when you don’t think about your lost loved one. But I guarantee that someday, before too long, it won’t be the first thing you think of each day.

OMG, this sounds like me for the whole first year-- I wanna feel better now, I wanna feel like me again. My heart goes out to you, and to everyone who has gone through a recent loss. It’s so hard. It gets better, but the road is a hard one.