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    • CommentAuthorhelene
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2017 edited
    I just remembered that I was on this site a very long time ago and it might have been under a different username. I have been in a fog and don't remember. I thought it might be good to connect again and read how others are coping as widows or widowers after AD.
    My husband was finally released from the ravages of Alzheimer's, after more than 6 years in a long term care facility and not speaking nor knowing me for the past 3 years. It has been a long and difficult journey of 15 years since diagnosis.
    Of course I miss him terribly. He was my "big baby" and I visited every day, most days more than once. I miss him, the routine, the other residents and staff who cared for my husband for such a long time. I feel lost and am struggling to figure out what to do with my life which no longer includes caregiving. I have the time now to do the things I have not been able to do for many years but most of the time it is hard to get motivated.
    I plan to catch up on the news of some of the people whose names I still remember on this site. Your wisdom and support will be welcome, I know.
    Hi Helene--welcome back. I wouldn't' worry about not being motivated--I think that is part of the recovery process. The "blahs." I think while you are in that apathetic, lethargic state, you are healing.
    It has been a little over a year since AD claimed my husband, but I, too, lack motivation to do anything.

    I view my life as having an enormous black, bottomless hole in the middle of it that looms over everything I do. If I might laugh too heartily, I find myself teetering on the edge of it. If I get distracted with something interesting, I am suddenly startled that I almost walked right into it. It is scary and cold and has consumed most everything that held meaning in my life. It transformed my love into a zombie and pieces of my life (still) fly into that black hole at warp speed.

    Yes, helene, our lives as caregivers held some structure and importance that they don't now. I don't have to make small talk with the staff and residents. I don't have to get ready to go over for supper or change my plans at a moment's notice because the facility called about a problem. That lifestyle, though, just sucked out the lifeblood and now that it is over everything left seems superficial and trivial and I spend what energy I have trying to not fall into the black hole.

    It seems like the safest place is in my bed. And yet I know this is nonsense. I force myself to get up and attempt to do something, but most everything I can think of doing just seems like a meaningless waste of time. I wish I had a solution to give you because I need one too.
    A lot of the solution is just to go with the is something that is just going to take time, and maybe a lot of time. I think recovery is a two-pronged process--we are learning to live without our loved ones, while at the same time trying to re-invent ourselves in this new life that we are living. And it can't be hurried or forced. The time will come eventually when you look back with a smile first thing instead of sadness.

    Of course there is a "big, black hole", marche. How could there not be? But it will gradually go away as your life becomes filled with other things--things that are authentically important and meaningful for you. And as you go forward onto the foggy, misty path, all that gray mist gradually evaporates, and you will see a clear, joyous path that you are taking.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 14th 2017 edited
    Hi helene, I can sympathize. My husband died in March and, like you, I considered him to be my child. How I miss his sweet presence! It’s a real jolt to go from spending time every day at the dementia unit to not going there at all. I wish he were still here, even in his sad state. When I drive by the facility he was in, I picture going in there and finding him still alive, smiling and talking nonsense. I have to admit, though, that by the end, I was running on fumes and my health was going downhill fast. I don't think I could have taken much more. If he were still alive, I might well be dead now. I went into this dark world as a youngish 59 and Alzheimer’s turned me into an old woman. I don’t live in the black hole that marche describes but I do have trouble getting up and going out. In retrospect, I can hardly believe that my husband and I went through this nightmarish experience, which killed him and left me badly wounded.

    My problem is that I don’t want to reinvent myself at all. I want to be the same person I always was. But I feel obligated to live as a sensible old person. For example, when I’ve brought up ideas about a possible project for the garden or a change to the house, people say, “Well you won’t get your money back from that,” as though the living of one’s life and trying out of ideas are no longer worthy activities. But I know they’re right in thinking that if I maximize my limited assets, I could move into a retirement apartment (which I have no interest in doing at this point). In the meantime, since I’m still loath to go out of the house, I’ve started to clean it out and get rid of a lot of junk, which needs to be done anyway. To tell you the truth, the basement has so much junk in it that I might not live long enough to finish cleaning it. Anyhow, I’m hoping the way forward will occur to me by the time the place is organized.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 15th 2017
    The leaves have dropped from the trees here, about 3 weeks later than usual. In mid-October, the foliage color was the same as it was on Oct 1 last year. I know this because my husband's daughter & granddaughter visited him then and I have pictures of them in our back yard. During their visit, he was so happy. I don't think he knew them but he did know that he was the star of the show. Now he is dead.

    I know (at least theoretically) that I can carry on because others have done it. But I find that when I'm faced with even slight annoyances or roadblocks, I have little resilience and I wonder what the point is. Maybe this is why marche has to force herself to get out of bed.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 15th 2017
    That sounds very much like what I felt like after a year, Marche. I just kept on going because there wasn't anywhere to land. It never really felt like a process even though the real truth about one year later was that I hadn't had enough time yet.

    Settling down happens. You can hear it in Elizabeth and you can hear it in me. I think that only when we settle down inside more, can we see how we really were in a period of psychological, emotional, mental, and spiritual effect.

    I'm getting clearer on what I would advise. Informed patience, trying to discover more genuine self support, commitment to nursing the patient through overwhelming times, effort as available to start to claim (eg: roles our spouse did), reclaim (our bed, our bedroom, entertainment, lots of etc), integrate (our experiences and situation), land (settle down inside), and move into life (remains fairly invisible until you're in the process of landing I found).

    I think Elizabeth and Myrtle each touched on important aspects. One is to try to improve our skills in going with the flow. The other is to discover more of yourself which Myrtle is talking about. I, personally, could discover squat in the first two plus years because I lived what Marche is talking about.

    In fact, I've just re-read it and I can put on her current suit and it would fit like a made to measure, tailored glove. That's me to a T because when I looked out of these eyes I saw things exactly the way Marche wrote.

    If you'll remember, last year I went on about how things were getting better. I could actually tell and even feel that I was improving from that well earned state. This year I don't talk about that because I still am 'improving' and the recovery from caregiving isn't complete; but they are in the background and getting smaller compared to feeling like I'm discovering my own life (fingers down my throat).

    Look up in any decent dictionary the word 'last' and you will see it described as where I would choose what happened to me among pretty much all of the choices. Last. However; however, I am here, and I choose to claim it.

    I left one out of my list. Learn to love what you hated. I'm learning how to like the last choice I would have made in life, and that, my friends, is the key. It's my route and my circumstance and the pain left along the road which I would have chosen last. Until I came out of the serious effects of grieving alone - never mind anxiety, depression, stress, Stockholm syndrome, PTSD, years of mental torture and isolation, recovering from pounding into yourself that you don't matter (only they do), guilt, and, what no one has talked about that I've seen, the effects of a salad bar of all of these building up and festering for years because there wasn't time to deal with any of it until grief arrived. NOW you have time. BTW here's a bag of bits left over that used to be you. Good luck!

    Informed patience. Key number one. You've been through a ton. If you don't believe it go and inform yourself because it's true. Grief is universally recognized as profound trauma gone through in sometimes strange ways. It alone can take you out for some time. We're so backed up we might not even notice vanilla grieving.

    I mentioned to Mary75 a while ago that we might notice that taking care of her father and her husband Sid, creating and running this website, and advocating for Alzheimer's at the same time didn't seem to be nearly as hard on Joan as afterwards is. In my opinion what we've gone through requires more respect than is generally acknowledged.

    Coming out of those very real effects is a serious life experience of it's own and the current flounder in silence society doesn't help.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 15th 2017

    My nephew was here yesterday to talk all day. In there somewhere I told him my research showed you don't go to Amsterdam, you go to Switzerland to end it voluntarily. In Amsterdam they still ask you questions, but in Switzerland zey know nozzzing! (Sorry, I had to, they don't have any questions). My nephew looked concerned and asked if I was still having suicide thoughts (I did that once when things got really bad). I laughed and said I didn't need to go to Switzerland; I could draw a picture of Mohammed with my name and address on it and send it out there. Death would come to my door like an Amazon delivery and it wouldn't even be suicide - it would be freedom fighting! He laughed.

    He comes on his one day off without job, wife, or kids. Or he has for five years. This year he didn't write or call to say he was coming. I went to bed on November 11 and 12 with those familiar feelings that I'm invisible and whatever I do things leave. "He didn't even call. Why would he do that? What happened here now?" And so on. Then I woke up yesterday morning sure that he loved me and knowing him taking those five days was probably more time spent in actual effort caring about me - than I myself had done in that time.

    Then I got my coffee and opened my mail and there was his email from later the night before that OMG he just assumed and of course he was coming was that alright? Well, no, I've already been through the entire dramatic experience and have already buried the body. Of course, come ahead. I told him that story. I told it to him fully and honestly and I told him why. Because he's right behind me.

    I got him into the organization he's currently a senior director in. I did that when I was 46. He's now 45. Blink twice I told him over twenty years ago and you'll be here. Well guess what Cinderella? Click those ruby slippers because this ain't Kansas anymore. "Accelerating decripitude bites" I told him. Blink twice and it's be him turning on the spit over the nephew not even phoning! Oh. Nevermind.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 15th 2017
    Hi Myrtle, we about three weeks late too.
    • CommentAuthorAliM
    • CommentTimeNov 15th 2017
    Myrtle, DH died one year ago today, 11-15- 2016. I am neither happy nor sad. I spent the first few months with the paperwork an the next few months cleaning out the clutter. I am about three-fourths finished and in no hurry to completely finish. I try to tell myself that I walked in the trenches and deserve to live on top of the mountain after the ALZ disaster. So far, I am with you in trying to figure out "what's the point?" We will figure it out or let time slip away until it's our time to go. For me, time is slipping away and I have no motivation to proceed onward. I can't go back far enough to remember the good times in my life with DH. I am still so bitter with the thoughts of the care the so called medical professionals render to ALZ patients. I spent way to much time visiting the NH during the 5 1/2 years DH was there. Hopefully we will soon find a purpose to motivate us upward and onward. I just hope no one suggests visiting a NH! Big (((hug))) sent to you!
    • CommentAuthorNicky
    • CommentTimeNov 15th 2017
    Alim, I'm curious to know why you feel you spent too much time visiting the NH while your husband was there?
    • CommentAuthorAliM
    • CommentTimeNov 15th 2017
    Nicky, I allowed his life to be mine. After 6 to 8 years of caregiving at home I now believe the 5 1/2 years of LTC visits took the bigger toll on me. He did not talk at all so I walked the halls with him. Although we were married for 50 years he did not give any indication that he knew who I was. As long as he was walking he was happy. The lack of training for staff in dealing with ALZ patients will haunt me forever. I now realize that the time spent there was trying to ease my guilt trip for placing him in LTC and not because he was happier when I visited. Live and learn. We all know what the end is for any ALZ patient. At age 70 I am trying to get back to the crazy and fun old lady I used to be. I just wish I had started a long time ago. Take care.
    • CommentAuthorCO2*
    • CommentTimeNov 16th 2017
    AliM, having been on the grief journey a little longer than you, trust me u will eventually get back to yourself but it will take time. At one year I was still pretty numb as far as feelings go. Just try to allow yourself to be and do not,push yourself to try to accomplish too much. That first year I attending 2 bereavement groups--one with hospice and another through my church. It helped immensely because I,was with people who,understood and it was a place that was safe to open up and have people listen. It is 2-1/2 years and I still have days that are not so good. Today was one of those days. But I know that tomorrow will be better. I do understand your guilt as I had a tremendous amount also. That first year I basically ate, slept, exercised, and did a lot of knitting. Did not want to socialize too much even with family. Keeping to a daily routine kept me sane. Walks helped too. God bless.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 17th 2017
    My husband's life became mine, too, it I don't see how you can avoid that. Alzheimer's is like a tornado. It is all-consuming; it takes over everything in its path. Luckily, my husband's LTC facility was excellent and the staff were well-trained. After he was in there for a while, I had to admit that he was better off there than he was at home. He liked the activities and the staff and made friends with some of the other residents. I probably spent too much time visiting him but it was for my benefit, not his. I would give anything if I could just visit him there one more time.

    Not happy and not sad describes me, too (although I cried when I wrote that last sentence). I'm glad to know that numbness is one of the things we are likely to experience. Maybe it's a defense mechanism.
    • CommentAuthorAliM
    • CommentTimeNov 17th 2017
    CO2, Good to hear that you are plodding along in the "after" journey. With your encouragement I know there is hope. I am really happy for you. With the exception of my aching back, leftover from caregiving days, my health is fairly good so I will continue trying. I do go for long walks several days a week which helps a lot. Myrtle, I am all cried out. Don't believe I have any tears left. I have the opposite feeling on visiting the NH. I am thankful everyday that I do no have to go back there and see him that way. That sounds so cruel but it is the truth. We will eventually be okay if we keep hope and faith. Take care.
    Plodding along is a good description of how the life "after" feels...I've just passed the one year mark and i think i'm more confused now than i was 6 months's hard to find any christmas spirit this year, i tear up just watching a video on you tube for heaven's sake!!! This too will pass, but clearly it will take more time and there will be still be bumps in the road...its just hard, at 57 years old, to look ahead to the rest of your life and not have a clue how it will play out...On the upside of things, I appear to have stumbled into a hobby of sorts lol...when hubby was in the care home, i thought of making him a busy blanket but after some thought decided on a busy board with locks and all sorts of hardware as hubby was a guy who always worked with his hands and i thought it would be more interesting for him...Sadly he passed less than 2 weeks after i gave it to him...several months after he passed a woman wanted to contact me about these boards which I thought was kind of odd as I didn't have a clue who she was...I met with her and talk about the strangest of coincidences...she got my name from my aunt who she had worked with at a hospital in the city many years ago, but who she had reconnected with recently ... this woman is a recreational therapist at a veterans hospital here and which my grandfather was residing in...this was how she reconnected with my aunt...when I met with her she was asking about the connections of people in my grandfathers family so i start with my aunt and then go through her siblings and when I mention my mom, she says oh I know her, I got all my Avon from her...I'm thinking that's kind of strange that this lady knows my mom my aunt and my grandfather and I've never heard of her...then she completely blows my mind when she tells me that she did relief shifts at the care home where my husband was and she worked with him whenever she was there!!! I was stunned! Anyway she loves the boards so we are getting together to try to get them into the hands of those with dementia...It won't be any kind of booming business but an enjoyable creative hobby for me...I am really enjoying taking everyday items and flipping them into something totally different that will provide an activity or a sensory element...I guess it just goes to show you never know what is around the corner in our lives...I'm going to call it creative therapy!!!
    29scorpio, what a strange series of coincidences. It sounds like it would be a good project for you as long as it doesn't get overwhelming. I guess the boards wouldn't have to be all alike so you can use whatever comes to mind or what you find in your home. Even friends might contribute when they know what you are doing.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 22nd 2017
    Yes, that is a very strange series of coincidences. I can't work up any holiday spirit, either. To be honest, though, for a long time I've found Christmas to be a big turnoff, with all the hype, constant sales pitches, and replaying of the same tinny music. I would decorate and buy gifts and everything, but I was always tired and stressed out about how I was going to pay for everything. My husband made it special, though, even after he got sick. I spent the last three Thanksgivings and Christmases at his LTC facility and that was fine with me. I wish I could go there this year.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 28th 2017
    Removed?! Was this the one about how you organized a family vacation to change the whole dynamic of the Thanksgiving holiday? I thought that was a good idea but when I signed in to say that, the comment was gone. I wish I could come up with an idea like that but I don't have any children, so there's no one to join me.

    By the same token, I don't have memories of catering to little kids on Christmas morning, so when it comes to that holiday, I don't feel I have to compete with the Hallmark image. Since sorrow and suffering are part of life, I think it would be easier for everyone if we did not feel obliged to ramp up the jolliness to the nth degree and instead, if we just tried to do something special for ourselves and, if we can, for someone else.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2017
    Myrtle, yes it was about that. Maybe Marsha felt it was too positive an idea for the widow thread. More likely it's part of the afterwards experience Marsha described in her November 13 post - and which I can relate to because my experience after a year was also the kind of feelings she described there.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2017
    Marche's comment reminded me of a Thanksgiving trip an old friend made from California to NYC about 20 years ago. His parents were dead, he was estranged from his only brother, and was very unhappy in his job. One thing he loved was the theatre, so he flew to NYC and went to plays every night of Thanksgiving week. He called to tell me he was coming East, so on one of those days, I took a bus from New England to New York. We had a nice lunch and then sat in the lobby of his hotel, gabbing about old times. His trip was a gift to himself but also turned out to be a gift to me. He is dead now, but I still remember that visit.

    BTW, one should not overlook the long-distance bus as a way to travel. I was hesitant to drive into the City (a 2 1/2 hour one-way trip) by myself and my husband suggested the bus. It turned out to be an easy trip.
    • CommentAuthorlindyloo*
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2017
    Since my partner died in September I have systematically moved nearly every stick of furniture in this house. Only ones still standing where they were originally are too big to move and wouldn't fit anywhere else anyway. I think I am trying to feel comfortable in my home now that I am alone. Not being terribly successful I must admit. The tree I struggled to put up yesterday is in a different place too. I always had it near a window so it could be seen from outside. Now it is in a corner. It looks okay. My partner liked Christmas trees because she liked sparkly things. And I did feel I was decorating the tree for her even though she is not here. I needed to put it up because on Christmas day the house will be filled with my family (except for son and d-i-l) and my brother-in-law is bringing his family and his new girl friend.

    I want the day to be festive, and it will be. Its just, just....... Maybe if there were children...... Maybe if my partner were here and could enjoy Christmas too...... Maybe if my son and d-i-l were going to be here........ I don't know. I just feel sad. Maybe if I bake the cookies tomorrow the Christmas fairy will wave her wand and a little bit of seasonal spirit will be sprinkled over this house. Right now I feel I will have a houseful of people on Christmas day and I will still feel alone.
    • CommentAuthorAug44
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2017
    Lindylou, I am only an in limbo widow, but I think I understand your pain a bit. I can’t imagine what it will be like when he’s actually gone. I too will be around people this Christmas, but there will be an unrelenting cold draft in the house caused by DH’s absence and probably an inability for me to engage. We will be low-key with DH at the MC so as not to upset him. It will be depressing for DD, DS and his partner, and me. I too wonder if children (I have no grandchildren) would help.

    Much of the recovery process seems to be about the ability to enjoy "trivial" pleasures again. I keep telling myself to fake that smile because it might affect my mood, and I accept all the hugs I can get hoping it will warm my heart for even a moment. Bah humbug.
    • CommentAuthorAug44
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2017 edited
    Lindylou, I forget to mention music. Seeing how music affects my husband and the other MC residents, I’ve been thinking I should try a musical concert (raido tunes don’t help me) perhaps at a school or church and let it wash over me for some therapeutic relief.
    I think celebrating the holidays after your spouse has died is another one of those areas where you need to just relax, go with the flow, and not get caught up in what "normal" people do for the holidays, or in what your own family and friends expect you to do. This will be my fourth Christmas without DH, and it has taken me this long to really re-create a somewhat new kind of Christmas for myself. I do know that I like a lot of music, chosen by me and personally meaningful to me, and that I am still working on my "look" in terms of how I want the house or apartment to be decorated. It seems to involve a lot of naturals (greenery, pine cones, winterberries), a lot of old English and Celtic Christmas songs (CD player in the house and also in the car), and a lot of flameless candles. And a big, 7.5 foot Christmas tree, the "slim" model--not too broad at the base, but not one of those pencil trees, either. Garlands that look like they came out of the woods. A certain amount of delicious food and drink, not necessarily shared with others. Mbwaa--ha-ha-ha. But again, you must be good to yourself, and realize that these things take time. I can't think of anything more phony, fake and painful than trying to do some kind of holly-jolly Christmas (or whatever holiday it is) when you're grieving badly for your spouse. I think that using the holiday season for a quiet, peaceful time of reflection is a wonderful way to do it. Another thing might be to do something completely different than what you would normally do--I remember after Natalie Wood drowned, Robert Wagner took the family for an out-of-town vacation for Christmas--just turned the holiday upside-down for the kids...didn't do their traditional stuff...trying to make it less painful.
    Just a quick word of advice about your holiday music--be careful about some of your old favorite CDs or whatever might be too emotionally evocative--that might bring on too much nostalgia. I've played a couple of my old favorites, and for some reason they're making me miss the past and pine for it--they threw me right back into aching for the good old happy days before Alzheimers. I have a new holiday CD that I like very much, and my eldest DD sent me three Christmas CDs--one is OK, two are excellent and very enjoyable--and none of these new four CDs make me sad or homesick for auld lang syne.
    • CommentAuthorNicky
    • CommentTimeDec 9th 2017
    Yes Elizabeth I agree about music. In my case it's not just Christmas music - it's just about any music that brings back memories - it always takes me right back to the good old days - makes me sad & cry. I couldn't have music in the house, because I'd end up in the bathroom crying - I had enough other things that made me cry, didn't need the music giving me another reason. I'm also having difficulty with the music on the radio while driving - I would cry - not the best thing when you can't see the road.... I would have to turn off the radio. In October I had started dealing with that a bit & was getting better especially since at the time my husband's residence was about a 5 -6 minute drive.

    But now my husband has been transferred to a long-term care facility, so I feel I'm back to square one again... Not only is LTC a sad & depressing place to visit, my drive is now 25 minutes - a long time to listen to music that makes me sad or no music depending if I need to turn off the radio. I just can't seem to find much music that doesn't evoke sadness - still looking. Not to mention I'm not comfortable driving & this is a new route I had never driven before with 3 roundabouts, which makes me nervous & now with winter coming, I know they'll be days I won't be able to visit him because of the distance - just adds more stress to my life. So, for now I've accepted the best thing for me is no music or very little, until I can control these emotions.
    Nicky, I totally "get it" about music in the car. For me, driving time is music time...but the minute a sad song comes on, I flip off the radio for a couple of minutes. When I'm playing a CD in the car, I make sure it's nothing that could make me sad. I do find that happier, upbeat music--or at least something relatively mood-neutral--is the way to go.
    • CommentAuthorCO2*
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2017
    Interesting conversation about music. Nicky, I hear the sadness and frustration in your words. Having sung in many choirs and having played the piano as a younger person, it is very true that music does have the power to evoke emotion, which is the very reason so many people love it. And indeed it can bring up painful memories of the past but it can also serve to elevate one's spirit. Christmas is such a nostalgia driven holiday it is no wonder that we who are grieving the loss of what we had are touched by it in a particularly powerful way. This year is the first year since hubby's passing that I have been even able to play holiday music so where U are in your journey is perfectly okay. Do what you are comfortable with. I have always found Mozart to be calming for me. It is not holiday music but just because it is Christmas does not mean you cannot play other things. Your post brought to mind that last Christmas we had together and it was in the assisted facility. I felt so bad because I knew I would not take him out for the holiday and I recall sitting in his room and looking at his face when the aid came in and gave me a hug. That hug meant more to me at that moment than anything in the world. She understood my feelings and when the caregiver is literally watching that loved one die an inch at a time having someone "get it" is truly a gift from God. I am sending you a hug right now and know that we truly do understand what you are experiencing. You will get through this, Nicky
    • CommentAuthorAug44
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2017
    Hello Nicky, I am a long-time time reader but new to commenting. Sometimes an audible book can help distract me during those painful drives. As first, I have to rewind several times, sometimes many times, as my mind wanders back to DH and AD, but eventually it captures my attention and helps clear my mind for a bit. I get them from the library and find the reader matters more than the story or subject.

    I hate being trapped in the Ad world but I am in it and probably addicted to it as well. To go the distance I need the distractions - some are easier to accept than others. Take care.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2017
    I agree with Aug44 that audio books are a lifesaver when driving. Like her, I get mine from the public library. They have fiction and nonfiction, almost anything you can get in paper form. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the story, I'm reluctant to get out of the car.
    I haven't listened to any Christmas music this year. My new car (2 years old) has Serius radio and was already on for a limited period, (until you get to liking it). Then I paid the "low introductory price" for a year. I only listen to Symphony Hall, all Classical music. When it was time to renew this year they doubled the price so I called and said I only listen to the 1 channel and it was too much money so they gave me the low price for another year. It is not the kind of music DH and I listened to so it doesn't bother me at all. Just don't start playing Christmas Carols.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeDec 21st 2017
    A friend is raving about a book called, "Confessions of a Funeral Director: How The Business of Death Saved My Life." The author is Caleb Wilde, who has a graduate degree in theology and is a sixth-generation funeral director in a small town in PA. I haven't read it yet - maybe will wait until after Christmas - but my friend says it is inspirational for both religious people and non-believers.
    It gets 82 per cent five star reviews on Amazon, out of 137 reviews.
    Well, here's one for the Twilight Zone, or the "woo-woo" factor. As the choir was singing "Silent Night" in church last night, when we got to "Son of God, love's pure light"...the minute I sang "love's pure light", Larry was right there beside me. I swear to God, I just about fell over. He was wearing his gray jacket and his striped tie with burgundy, navy, and gray in it. So nice to see him, although startling to say the least. When we finished the verse, he was gone. I guess he just came to say "Merry Christmas." You can't make this stuff up.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeDec 25th 2017
    Elizabeth, This is the second time this has happened. I envy you. I'd give anything to feel !y husband's presence again, even for a moment.
    Today was a nice day, especially since early December I wanted to ban Christmas altogether. I wouldn't listen to Christmas Carols and didn't want to put up the tree or do any decorating. I even tried to go back on the antidepressants. I have been off them for almost 3 years. I dreaded Christmas with only Daughter #1 who had to work till noon and my handicapped son who is no company at all.

    Then this last week I found out that daughter #2 was coming with her "boyfriend" and her 18 year old daughter. Suddenly I was ready for it all.
    A quiet, pleasant Christmas day, with the tree lights on, the flameless candles lit, good things to eat, and several expeditions outside into the snow with Bandit. (No sign of the pit bulls.) I have just been enjoying the peace and quiet at home, with no pressure to do anything this year--just what I needed. I refused an invitation from a friend for Christmas dinner with her family--just have a different agenda, but was able to politely beg off because I do have a cold.

    Myrtle, I would not normally relay that experience in the choir loft to just anybody, but feel like it's appropriate to share on this forum. I told one friend, and she also was very happy to hear it. You all know that I'm pretty level-headed and rational--not some psychic weirdo. It was a nice Christmas surprise to see him, and to see that he is looking happy and healthy. I don't know exactly where he is, but I can tell that everything is OK.
    Two days before Christmas I happened to turn around and look out the back door to see a magnificent peregrine falcon perched on the deck railing. The deck isn't that high - maybe 5-6 feet from the ground. I didn't think falcons perched that close to the ground. It was a breathtakingly beautiful and amazing sight.

    I don't want to read too much into it, but I recently found a flag my husband made as a child titled "The Falcons." I'm entertaining the thought that perhaps he sent a friend to check up on me.
    That is amazing, marche. What a nice incident.
    • CommentAuthorNicky
    • CommentTimeDec 26th 2017
    Wow, I think what happened to Elizabeth & Marche wonderful. I truly believe we can feel, sense or see our departed loved ones. My husband is still alive, so I don't know if I'll be lucky enough to experience that. But I "physically felt" my mother's presence at my daughter's wedding. To make a long story short, I was tense & anxious on her wedding day. I know this is going to sound "corny" but I physically felt a "lightness" come over me from the top of my head to my feet as my son was escorting me to my seat at the church - it was like a sprinkling of "fairy dust" & I know it was my mother helping me to relax & enjoy that special day. Strangely, before I told anyone this, my daughter told me she felt her grandmother's presence at the church.

    Elizabeth & Marche you are both very lucky to have experienced this.
    Jane Brody has a column in the Jan 15 New York Times, "Understanding Grief." It is well-written and insightful and worth reading. You should be able to access now by searching for "Understanding Grief." Do read the reader comments that accompany the article as they are as rich and full of grief awareness as anything I've read.
    Good article, marche. She really nails it. I spent quite a bit of time reading through most of the readers' comments--very poignant and heartfelt. I found the article by going on and scrolling down to the "Health" section, and just scrolling down through the articles until I found it.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2018
    Yes, marche, that's a good article, and many of the comments are like little articles themselves. After I read it, I noticed a sidebar with some links to other articles and saw another one by Jane Brody, entitled, "When a Spouse Dies, Resilience Can Be Uneven" (Sept. 26, 2016), which was also good.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2018
    There are advantages and disadvantages to most things. Almost everything we choose affects us in some way whatever choice we made about it. Some of our choices become life changing like marriage and children and moving to a new place. Many choices are immediate and don't have lasting consequences. Most choices have unknown consequences because we will never know what or how it would have been different if we had made other choices.

    There are other aspects of choice which are less apparent. We choose all our life how we react in all the situations we face and while most view that as living our life, the truth is also that we are programming what we are all along by making choices and reinforcing some of those choices while changing our minds about others.

    When the first child (not the second and definitely not the third) wants to go somewhere alone for the first time and the mother decides it's time to let them. A massive choice that changes everything going forward where the mother does all the changing.

    One of the fundamental aspects of life is that some of the choices we make become bigger committments and core drivers of how we see our lives. Marriage (general term) is one of those. We chose a partnership that extends to living and sleeping together which then becomes a core driver of other choices. Having children is a more illustrative example of core choice drivers because for most people, it's the children that will leave and go out on their own while the core partnership remains.

    Children are more illustrative because they change more visibly throughout the 25 years or so and then move out. Babies become a two year old, then five year old, then twelve year old, then twenty year old in exactly that time. Most parents are aware of this.

    Ask the same couples about how they are changing and the answers aren't nearly as clear. We seek a permanence in our continuity that tends not to be fond of the idea of change. The vast majority of human beings overcome this by ignoring those aspects. More choices we make.

    In all that road which is our life so far, we have several deeper aspects that help determine our experience - our own core nature and the ideas we have built up as being right are two of them. We may be shy, we may be controlling, we may be analytical, we may be active. We might hate conflict, we might fight for our ideas, we might value appearance, or privacy, or the display of what we own, or believe God does all things.

    All of these things, whatever they personally are, come into play in what we experience after the grieving ebbs. (Be careful with what grief is for you. It has numerous guises it can be present in from denial of state to embracement of state where the state itself can have a range of aspect. Your core was ripped up. That almost certainly has deep reprecussions for a human being.)

    When our partner isn't here anymore and their modifying influence is gone, then we are left with those parts which are us. When the topic starts transfering from surviving this to what the heck happens to me now - part of the oddness is singing solo where you were always a duet. You don't do baritone even if you really need it for your song.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2018
    We chose to survive for them. We really did. Can we do that for ourselves? Probably not. That would be selfish for one thing. We should be in intensive recovery with a team of professionals around us for another. We could really use help facing what we don't want while trying to heal so we can reinvent ourselves. There is help in many places. Well meaning and possibly good for you but it tends to be limited until you already heal enough to engage with it. The real help we need early on is akin to AA kind of help, offer the rope kind of help, being able to really talk about it kind of help. Nadda. All that was used up helping our spouse die - there isn't hardlly anything on offer for us.

    Which is sad. For a while. But it's core reality and the truth is it's only when the survivor starts wanting to rescue themselves that rescue begins. We cannot transfer this to anyone else because it's inside us that makes that turn - and turn it is, from survivors of the ordeal to seekers of answers. That's probably a transformation not an epiphany. Part of that is the long healing time from this truthfully horrific and long ordeal. Part of that is the extraction of important parts of you. Part of that is the alien landscape the world appears to be.

    The thing to do with people in this state is to kick them. Obviously not. People facing such a life trauma deserve to be helped in any way we can. Unless they're you. That's different because it would be selfish to put the kind of energy into our own well being that we put into our partner's. We might do something kind for our partner in hopes that it would make them feel better but human thought can't apply that in equal measure to themselves.

    I can guarantee you that those that think otherwise (and there are some), are not here and were never here for long. They don't have any problem applying that to themselves because that's how they see life and what they believe. Most people are genuinely the opposite and do have trouble not only understanding themselves and what they want; but, also have trouble authorizing and believing in that.

    You're not going to solve this in a single step even as everything gnaws at you and there's only a few more seperators to go. One is the people who want to solve with occupation as a solution. Some need to be occupied to feel valid and that is a characteristic by nature. They do better finding something to occupy them that meets at least minimal other requirements.

    That leaves the majority who pretty much feel and trial and error their way because they're not fringe enough in any direction and, once enough healing occurs that they can start, are faced with furnishing an empty house with enough things that it begins to feel like home. There are more things that can be appreciated as that process evolves. There are less things unresolved as that process evolves. There is no correlation between the two except for those we might call heavier 'feelers'. Some people place great importance on how they feel and how they feel guides their actions. Others don't experience it that way.

    There is a life saving aspect available when we come to understand that we are really here (for now) and that all this has happened. That is where I have come up with my own definition of the word 'acceptance'. It means we've passed the point of coming to realize that it's only ourselves that can solve these things and are living in a reality that actively accepts that. That may sound like doing something active but it's not. It means accepting that this is my life and it's unfortunately up to me is actively 'on' in how I see things now.

    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2018
    To win a war you have to understand the battles you're actually in. Nobody actually wins a war. You win enough battles that the war ends. Preferably, it's the opponent that gives up.

    We would do well to stop trying to win a war and concentrate on winning battles. It's helpful to point out that you can't win a battle unless you know what side you're on and what winning means.

    It may seem overdone to talk like this when the entire war is happening inside you but I can assure you that the journey to your own domain is littered with battles you won whether consciously or not. The road to greater peace of mind and health of spirit is littered with the specifics of individual battles in places where sometimes we fought the same ground over and over with a specific memory or a chain of memories connected within us where the last piece had to fall before the chain did. It's a debris field so diverse it includes finally buying something or doing something for yourself where the first time it felt wrong but the second time we didn't notice it was the second time.

    I doubt anyone knows exactly where they are. I believe that applies to everybody without exception. Everyone's life is in flux and always has been. It's very hard to articulate exactly what we mean by happy. That's on ongoing thing that ends with our death which is when that 'war' ends. It's much easier for me to know I sleep well overall at night and I like my chicken soup and I like my Toronto Raptors and riding along in their world and that I have no undue complaints.

    When in doubt, all I have to do is look over my shoulder at the debris field behind me. I used to sit on the step by the garage key in hand hearing Dianne rummaging around getting into things while I wanted to go and get some groceries quickly but seemed to numb to move. Right beside that is the berber carpet that ripped up her face when she fell down the steps that time. It was full of blood. I don't care because those memories are there but have no hold on me now. Neither does the cement floor in front of my washing machine where I slobbered begging to be released. I know but don't care. Those things aren't on my mind when I use that step to mix my bird seed or put in a load of whites into the washing machine.

    I have other plans now that I long own the place. I'm good with the college dorm, beach house, cottage by the lake, winter lodge kind of thing I'm developing. Oh, and artist's studio. Plus chef's kitchen. And basketball gym. I have so many basketball games on partly because the shoes skidding on the wooden floor is balm to my soul.

    So many of my plans are unworkable. I want to make a video using the Animal House song but replacing the falsetto lyrics with our story of suffering from a completely irresponsible and juvenile slant. I've even got some of the lyrics. I can't sing though or edit something like that so it languishes as life passes on to the point where even the references become historic.

    That brings up one of my favourite little stories now. I'm at the pearly gates and Peter is looking through the big book saying, "I can't seem to find you on the guest list." Eager and bright eyed I answer "look under selflessly sacrificing for another". Hee hee hee.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2018
    Hi Wolf, Where have you been lately? (I'm hoping at Raptors' games.)

    It's been 11 months since my husband died and I've been OK and not-so-OK. The OK part is that I've renewed my interest in some areas, like cat behavior, gardening, and misc. odd things. I've also come up with ideas about turning my home office back into the dining room it started out as. I bought some new chairs but will use my old table (which has been stored in my sister's basement) as well as junk from yard sales and stuff I thought had been thrown out but that my husband had put in the basement and garage loft. The look I'm going for is what I'm calling "European farmhouse," by which I mean French country without the frou-frou. But I'm not yet at the fun part, since I have to get the office cleaned out first.

    The not-so-OK part is that I've been in a very nasty mood, which I can't seem to kick. It was triggered by my seeking knee replacement surgery. I started that effort last June, but I still don't have date for the surgery, due to having been on a merry-go-round of medical procedures, many of them duplicative (e.g., I had 10 blood tests in 2½ months). What happened was that a pre-op cardiac test showed a cause for concern, so that triggered other tests, etc., etc. All of them turned out OK and the original pre-op result was ruled to be a "false positive." Despite that good news, the stress of the process delayed the knee surgery even more because it caused my psoriasis to flare up, including at the exact point of the proposed knee operation. The dermatologist injected the lesions with a drug that will kill them and I'm getting "phototherapy" treatments to back it up, but I've been sent to the back of the line when it comes to scheduling the surgery.

    As far as my husband goes, most of the time I find it hard to remember him, except in his demented condition, and have trouble believing he ever existed in any other state. Other times, especially when I'm being jerked around by the medical system, I remember him clearly, for he took always such good care of me and I really need him now.
    Myrtle. in reference to your last paragraph, it is only recently that I remember DH in any way except in his demented condition. even now the last few years are what I remember first but I do also get the fun times peeking out in between the bad times. We did have our good years but it still takes an effort to get back from them.