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-JQ-

My Wife (10-29-05) ....3 years ago today

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Last year, I was still in shock and just kind of numb over the holidays. This year the holidays seem harder. Reality has long set in and there is no doubt it wasn't all just a really bad dream. Hang in there, man. "Holidays suck" kind of covers it; I can't think of anything more profound to say. All I can think to do is just be there for the family I have left.

Except for the last sentence, I could have written AustinMike's post. Last year, my loss was so recent, and no one expected me to "celebrate" or join into the holiday festivities. I sent no Christmas cards. I did not shop for gifts, bake, or decorate my house, and everyone understood.

This year, I get the attitude AustinMike mentioned earlier: "You're not over it yet?" No one really says that, but it is on their faces in the silence that follows when I decline to attend holiday parties or other organized holiday events. I have 20 years of pictures of Tim and I at the Hospital Christmas party and the Cath Lab Christmas party. It is essentially all "couples" at these parties and I prefer not to go alone. I cannot go there yet.

Instead of spending time with my family (who are all out of town), I have been working and concentrating on charity work. I put a large amount of time into Toys for Tots. Rather than adopting a family, I talked my unit at work into adopting the local homeless center. I have taken the donated items (clothing, boxes of fruit, shampoo, aftershave, deodorant) to the Oliver Gospel Mission's Shelter. I volunteered to work the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Holidays - followed by being 'on call' over the weekend following the Holiday. It keeps me busy & allows my co-workers with young families to be home for the Holidays.

I am not ready to attend fancy parties, shop for gifts, go caroling, or drag the Christmas decorations out of the attic. I almost feel like I need to tattoo "we all grieve in our own way" on my forehead.

Linda Chico (L-2035)

Columbia SC

Edited by LChico

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It's been just a a year since my father passed. I've never been a big fan of the holiday season but I truely have no interest in it now.

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Beautiful thread. One thing I might add...

If you haven't asked every question or know every aspect of your parents' or spouse's life, please begin now. Take on the role of bibliographer. When my Dad was given a 3-6 month prognosis in December '08 I sat down and asked questions and received minute details of his life (growing up, schools, jobs, Navy, etc) I asked what was his biggest joy, his biggest loss/regret, best time in his life, worse time, etc. I used a digital tape recorder as well as writing everything down. He passed away on 1/1/09. My Mom was given the same 3-6 month span at the end of Sept '08. I repeated the process, although starting right after my father passed away. Mom died on 10/15/08. I now have a great understanding on how and why my parents did what they 'did' with parenting. More importantly I have their words in their own voice when I need to 'talk' to them. I started the same fact finding with my wife of 36 years, not so much for me but for our kids.

The real crap part was the Docs saying 3-6 months. I could accept the 2 week outcome and would have made plans to stay there instead of traveling back and forth.

Joel/Mike: Holidays are rough times. Thankfully I have 2 grandsons that enjoy me being a part of their lives.

S

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The universe at large and local space around each of us are literally seething with miracles, moment to moment. We forget to look and thus we do not see. There are Angels all over the place and you can miss them easily if you judge what you see only with your mind, see through your heart. Remember, the real purpose of your mind is to figure out how to get you to the place your heart tells you to go. Attend closely the directions that come from the heart. The "good stuff" in life really can't be "figured" out.

You are blessed, you have been blessed and you have shared those blessings through what you have written here. Finally, remember that "things" are only "things". Illusions, mostly empty space literally "beside the point". Listen to the old ones before they pass. It's about love, not what, but WHO.

Thank you for touching my heart, reminding me to watch the miracles and helping me to see the Angels around me.

Merry Christmas!

Remember to treat everyone you meet, first with compassion, you cannot imagine the burden they may bear.

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Wishing you and all my IPSC friends with lost loved one a Happy New Year.

I believe the new year celebration is more about hope for the coming year. Hope that our loved one is in a better place, our pains will be less and we will have joy in our live again.

Thoughts and prayers to all my friends out there!

Pez

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Just sitting here with the wife and kids after the opening of gifts has settled... I never read the original post... and I almost lost it just reading it. A good reminder to enjoy life while we can- thanks for sharing your story.

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Thanks Joel and everyone who has posted here,

I lost my wife 2 years ago this past Thanksgiving and wish I had found this thread then.

Three Christmas' have passed and this has been the worst. The first I was just too numb. Only a month had passed. Last year I think I wanted to show everyone that I was ok. But this year has been the the worst.

The only constructive thing I can add to this is to get everything in order right now. Don't procrastinate. I figured that we were only in our early 50's = plenty of time. WRONG. Julie was fine on Monday and gone on Thursday. Cherish every moment with those you love.

Doug

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Mods if this isn't appropriate just drop me a note or do as you see fit.

After great internal debate I have decided to share this with the BE forum so that others may hopefully find some comfort when a loved one dies...

I don't claim to know it all - or even that much really - but I have learned.

A brief background - My wife was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer on September 30, 2005 and dies on October 29, 2005. She spent the next month in Ohio State's James Cancer Institute with the cancer running rampant. It progressed at a pace that the team of doctors had never seen. The cancer metastasized throughout. It was a brutal month for all involved. Luckily I was blessed with a truly great boss who let me "work" remotely - but they never assigned any work to me during this time. It was my decision to take her off life support on the 28th...she passed the next morning...we were alone - thankfully. She was THE nicest person I have ever met. And I miss her deeply to this day. I have "moved on" and have found a truly great lady that now shares my life - she has great understanding and may in fact be an angel.

I'm not writing this for your sorrow or pity. And you don't have to reply.

You grief will be different than mine - we are all different.

These are in no particular order:

  • Get more official copies of the death certificate as "everyone" is going to want an official copy, banks, etc, etc. I suggest at least 4-6 copies of the official copy from the state.
  • There is no right or wrong way to grieve - everyone grieves in their own way....some work to excess some may want to hide away, etc, etc
  • People may tell you they'll help anyway you need - some mean it
  • Some people will give you the "pitiful" look - they don't know they are doing it - try not to let it get to you.
  • Some of your "friends" will never call or come by anymore as they don't know how to/can't handle the situation. This is particulary true of the "friends-in-law" or your "couple friends" - this will happen to varying degrees.
  • People will ask how you are doing...tell them what you want...many times I'd just say fine, of course. Most people aren't in a position to truly understand what you are going through anyway.
  • There is no set time to take off your wedding ring(s) some do it immediately others do it when ready...or not
  • There is no set time to start dating or considering dating. This is a tough one I found. My mother never re-married or even considered it.
  • Buying a head stone...again no time frame. This one was also very tough...by the time (almost a year) I could do it her parents did it without even speaking to me. They really proved to be worst case scenario. That is probably all I should say about them without ranting...and that isn't the point here.
  • Buy more insurance than you think necessary. This isn't just for the service (which averages ~$8000 IIRC) you may need this for many other things as well (or the loved ones you leave).
  • Don't assume the other family members will do what is right. (I'll briefly elaborate: Her policy still had her parents as the beneficiary. She was to change it but never got to it. She had said her parents would let me use it as "they don't need the money" - wrong they kept it and knew this would be devastating)
  • People will say things that really make you mad when they don't mean to. You'll learn to take deep breaths a lot.
  • You will feel like someone kick you in the "kiwis" - or at least I did EVERYDAY for months. There will be true physical pain.
  • People who drive while crying are also dangerous - you will cry. Do it.
  • Find someone who knows grief and will listen to you.
  • Your grief will sneak up on you later - sometimes days weeks months or years - you won't expect it but it will come.
  • All "firsts" are especially hard. First trip to the grocery, first time you do the laundry...and of course the holidays, special days, etc.
  • Clothes - I had 2 of her close friends go through them with me...we donated most to the local battered women's shelter - your choice. I kept some but I don't know why.
  • You will be tired confused and miserable - you will not understand many things - many things have no answer.
  • Must must eat. Do it. You must keep on going. Do it.
  • You will find out who are truly your best friends. Don't shut them out - let them help - they need it too you aren't the only one suffereing.

Hopefully you will have more years of happiness, than sadness, with your loved ones.

I hope that others can post here things that helped them...sort of a FAQ...if you will...or links to places that may help.

Thanks Brian for this very cool community! Thanks to the rest of you for letting me get this out.

I am very very sorry to hear the bad news and I promise I will pray for you.

You are very brave to try to provide some constructive information in the aftermath of your loss.

God bless you partner

Brian

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I just wanted to ask all the previous posters...I would like to share some thoughts from this thread elsewhere. Many of you shared some really nice thoughts and ideas here and I'd like to share this with others...non-benos board.

I won't use your name/real or screen-name, unless you want me to. I pretty much plan to roll these posts into a single post of sorts.

Thanks again to all who have contributed, and those who sent their thoughts and prayers.

Maybe I should adjust the title of this thread...It will be 5 years this fall.

Anyway, thanks.

Joel

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I don't mind at all. I consolidated my thoughts, including some of the things I learned in this thread, in a note on my facebook page. Shoot me a PM and I'll send you my link.

-Mike

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I don't care if you use what I wrote. I don't see much in my post that would help but if you do feel free. Hopes and wishes that you are doing well!

Doug

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I've been trying to get around to updating this thread for a month now.

I just crossed the 5 year mark (like it is some sort of milestone?) and going on my 6th set of holidays.

To those of you who are following in this journey yourselves, I will say this. It does get "better". This used to REALLY make me mad to hear people say (reason unknown). And "better" maybe isn't the right word...but it is less of a dragging anchor and more of an anchor that I've learned to carry as part of my daily "gear". Its still heavy gear but I'm learning to shoulder the load.

Anyway I hope everyone is hanging in as we approach the holidays...again.

Here is something I dug up quickly but is worth reading through the 10 points. I don't care for them all but, what works for some, doesn't others, so use them or don't.

http://www.suttervnaandhospice.org/support/support_holidaygrief.html

It is OK for you "not to be in the spirit" or "cheery" - just get through it. - JQ

Again thanks to all who've posted here and PM'd.

JQ

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I was thinking about you and this thread the other day. I wanted to update the thread about my mom too. The 2 year mark just passed for me. It doesn't get easier or better per se, but over time I've come to accept the situation and live with it. I have learned some more things and will share more after this week is over. Holidays are the toughest time. I wish the best for you and thanks again for sharing your experience through all of this. You definitely helped me.

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In the last two years, my Aunt, my mother and today my mother in law passed away. I just sat down and this post literally jumped out at me.

I was executor for my mom and aunt. My wife will be for her mother. It is never easy. I was just able to close my aunts estate this summer, mothers estate last week. The relief was amazing, but short lived.

There is much good advice here. Most importantly is that there is help, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Death is what makes life so special.

My best to you all,

Gene

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I believe this thread is one of God's blessings. The loss that most impacted my life was the death of my dad. To this day the holidays are a struggle for me and it has been almost 20 years. It is easier but I still miss him.

It is because I miss his thoughts and wisdom that I started a disaster file with letters to my wife and children on significant events in their lives. Graduation, special birthdays, marriage, first child, etc. to be given to them on those occasions. I left the letters of events that have already passed in the folder to give them a physical reminder of what the event meant to me.

When mom passed away a few years after dad I woke up one day and told my wife I realized why the Scriptures say to take care of the orphans. It is because we eventually all become orphans.

Joel, Linda, Doug, Bill, Mike and others thank you for sharing. For those who are reading this and not yet had this loss, know it is coming. Plan for it, talk with your spouse and older children, this is gift you can give now that will make a tremendous difference in their lives. Build memories with your family. Hug your friends and say I love you. Remember in your grief to keep your heart open as you may be another persons angel.

John

Edited by SteelDown

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I miss my mom and dad a lot. Mom has been gone 17 years and dad 9. What makes me sad is that each year the memories get a little more difficult to remember.

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What makes me sad is that each year the memories get a little more difficult to remember.

Yes...and it sux. I take more photos now than ever.

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...and I still don't know what to say to people

sorry singlestack...thanks for sharing

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Thanksgiving was the third anniversary of Julie's passing. Starting 4 years without her. Sometimes it seems like yesterday and sometimes it seems like a million years.

Edited by DougBarnes101

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Sometimes it seems like yesterday and sometimes it seems like a million years.

Like someone else mentioned - the fear of forgetting really gets me too. But I still have a hard time seeing pictures. None of it makes any sense.

I'm sorry to hear about Julie, Doug. I'm continually amazed how many of "us" there are, just on this board.

thanks to all those on this board who allow us to keep this discussion going...it must be the most unpleasant thread on here. I know I'd rather be reading about loading, shooting or goofy gun shop owners.

One day minute at a time...

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JQ I am sorry for your loss also. Thanks for putting this in words.

I am surprised how many of us there are here also but thankful we can be here for each other. I am also thankful that Brian allows us to keep this discussion going.

My prayers are with your all!

Doug

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