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Old April 20th, 2012, 06:03 PM   #7
rjsfeminist
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: west central Florida
Posts: 1,512
(((Kimie))) First of all, I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It is always hard to lose a husband or wife, especially when you've been married for 26 years!

Before I go any farther, what I'm about to tell you I learned the hard way. My husband died October 24, 2006. While we'd only been married 3 weeks shy of 9 years (we'd both been married before), he was the love of my life, so I know exactly what you're going through.

First off, I realize you're feeling guilty about putting him in a nursing home, and not being there when he took his last breath. I wasn't with my husband when he died, either (he was in the hospital), so I know how bad you feel about that. And about putting him in the nursing home...you had to work. If he had stayed at home while you worked, you most likely would have felt guilty about not having him get care while you were at work. Unfortunately, feeling guilty about everything dealing with the loss of a spouse is normal. As the surviving spouse, it is too easy to mull over the "what if"s and feel guilty about what you feel you could/should/would have done. But even if you'd done something else, you still would feel guilty.

I'm sure many people have told you how strong you are; I heard the same thing. But for someone who has never been in your (our) shoes, it's impossible to know what the loss of a loved one does to the survivors.

Okay, here's the deal: The first year or two are the hardest. You're an emotional yoyo? That is normal. Crying one minute, laughing the next? Normal. Holidays, birthdays (yours and his), anniversaries...rougher. You'll remember all the good times, etc. But this will get easier, I promise. Slowly, you'll be able to remember him without crying, you'll be able to remember the good times without feeling guilty that you're remembering them - with a smile, no less!

If you haven't contacted the local Hospice, contact them. They may have helped you while your husband was sick; even if you didn't contact them then, contact them NOW!!! Okay, if you're reading this over the weekend, you might not be able to contact them until Monday morning, but if you work a 9 to 5 job, call them on your first break. You can look up their number over the weekend so that you'll have the number handy when you do call. And if you're afraid that calling will start the tears (it just might), if anyone at work mentions it, you can mention that you just called Hospice, or that the phone call reminded you strongly of your husband...whatever you feel comfortable with. If it's someone you don't feel comfortable discussing that you've just called Hospice, a simple, "Just a rough moment, I'll be okay, thanks for asking," then, if they persist, change the subject, even if you have to tell them that you'd rather not discuss it at the moment.

When you do get hold of Hospice, tell them that you lost your husband and that you'd like to go to a spouse survival group therapy session. When I went to the sessions (which lasted 6 sessions) were very helpful. You know those travel-packs of Kleenex tissues? During the first session, the 5 or 6 of us went through 6 to 8 of those travel-packs for the group. By the time the last session rolled around, the group went through maybe one (if that). One of the members of our group had tried another survivor's group, but said that the first one didn't help, since it was too big, but that a smaller group helped. With a smaller group (under 10-12 people), you get support and get a chance to share your story, your husband's story, etc.

When I went, the Hospice worker also gave each of us in the group a piece of paper that we could show others that helped explain that we've gone through a painful experience. Can't remember everything it said, but it did help reading it...

Also, if you can get hold of a copy of C.S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed," read it. It's a fairly short book, but it describes how Lewis felt after his wife died. He wrote: "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." He goes on to describe it feeling like there's a blanket between himself and the world. Someone this spiritual took this hard, too.

Kimie, please know that it takes time, that you will pull through, and that talking through this will help.
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