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    • CommentAuthorlindyloo*
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2018
    Grief. It hit me harder than I thought it might. I knew I wanted my life back. I knew my partner wanted me to have my life back - she told me so two years ago during one of her lucid moments. But waves of grief washed over me. I called them tsunamis. They’d catch me by surprise and the only thing to do was ride them out. I didn’t want to fight the grief. Its a very real emotion, like love and joy, and sadness and anger. I didn’t want to drown in it either. Each time the wave would pass.

    I promised myself I would feel no guilt if I spent three months and did nothing but grieve. I promised myself I’d make no impossible demands on myself. I kept that promise. I spent lots of time in bed. And lots of time moving furniture to different places. I think I was unconsciously trying to reclaim the house so it didn’t feel as if my partner was busy in another place. The house felt incredibly empty without her sometimes. Sometimes it felt like she was right behind me, Sometimes it felt like I needed to go into another room to check on her. So at present, unless the piece of furniture was too big for me to move it now exists in a different place. And it feels comfortable. My place now. Not our place. Sometimes that makes me sad and I cry. But I’m definitely more comfortable now.

    When I was able I began what I call throwing an anchor into the future. Didn’t have the emotional strength to throw it far at first. The first anchor I threw was into Thanksgiving. Better to have it here as usual, I told myself. So I did. I made it a simple feast with everyone bringing something to the meal. there were six of us.

    The second anchor I threw was into Christmas. More elaborate. There would be 12 people. I would need to put up a tree. I had to find someone to get the oak table out of the attic. Definitely more logistics to be concerned about and more work involved. But we, and I, had a good time.

    Since the start of the year I have had the strength to throw my anchor a little farther into the future each time. I was assistant director in a musical play. I entertain monthly, go out to lunch or museums with friends two or three times a month. I recently put on a formal seven course meal along with a friend. It was hard work. It took over my (and her) life for several weeks. It was fun. And folks attending had a good time. I’m glad I (we) did it.

    I too feel normal now. But I don’t know yet what I will do with this future that has been given me. Do I have the strength to throw my anchor further yet? Work? Travel? Volunteer? I do not know. I cry sometimes when I talk about my partner. I wish like hell she was still in my life and we were facing the future we had such fun planning. But feeling normal means I feel okay now 8 months out on this new journey of mine without her.

    In no way should my experience be seen as typical. I just put it out there, as others have done for those still in the trenches. Everyone helped support me then when I was in those trenches. I took the love offered, and I took the advice that I needed. And I was glad for the rest of the advice that might well help others. You were my lifeline.

    If my experience helps anyone I am glad. I just put it out here. There are probably as many paths through grief as there are through the dementia journey itself. Where survival is the goal.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2018
    This is nice Lindylou. I was thinking of you the other day and had an image of you surveying your rearranged living room and feeling comfortable with it. Strange thought. It was well before this post.
    I like the image of throwing the anchor out into the future. As a sailor, I can definitely relate to that. I am not a widow yet, but am searching for some way to find me. Recently there was.a.discussion about being here. At first that felt real. I am still here too, I thought to myself. But then for the rest of the day I actually felt like I am NOT still here. Where did I go? And how can I find me?
    I tossed one anchor -- trying Adult Day Care.
    I tossed another -- I have been practicing golf and today I played 9 holes! Ended up playing with an older gentleman who was very encouraging. He's even from my rural neighborhood. It was fun.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2018
    That sounds quite good overall, Lindylou. There may be as many completely individual experiences as there are people.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2018 edited
    I don't think I have suffered grief to the extent some others have. I've always thought that my reaction to my husband's diagnosis was so severe that I kind of "front-loaded" my grief while he was alive. Another event that forced me to grieve deeply was his admission to long-term care. When he left our home, I was desolate. Some days I would walk around just moaning with grief. I keenly missed his physical presence. Even though it was emotionally exhausting for me to visit him, I did it almost every day, mostly for my sake. I needed to hold his hand, to put my arm around him, to tidy him up, just to touch him. Based this experience, I'm thinking it may be harder if your spouse did not move to long-term care. As usual, I'm over-analyzing this.

    Added later:
    Thinking more about this more, it's helped that I have some interests that have taken my mind off my misery. One of these is gardening - not just doing it but also reading about it, talking about it, and socializing with others who are similarly obsessed. If you have something that can grab your attention to this extent, it offets a welcome break from grief.
    • CommentAuthorNicky
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2018
    Myrtle - Reading your post makes me hopeful that perhaps once my husband passes away I won't be paralyzed with grief. I also felt my reaction to his diagnosis was severe. Putting him a long-term care was emotionally devastating. I visit him daily & I want & need to see him. It's emotionally painful, but I need to hug him, hold his hand, stroke his face, rub his back. When he hugs me back & tells me loves me, my heart breaks & I cry - as painful as that is, it's also comforting - it feels good. I cherish those moments - it's a strange feeling to feel such sadness & happiness at the same time. I hope that when the time comes I'll be able to let him go & feel a sense of peacefulness, knowing that I enjoyed him as much as I possibly could.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2018
    Nicky, That is what I hope for you, too.
    I keep wondering what is wrong with me. I loved my DH with all my heart and miss him but feel that he is in a better place. It's been almost 4 years and I have never cried sine he died. I cried a lot from depression and his abuse during the ordeal but not since. I may be escaping but I have been traveling as much as I can in the last 3 years. Just got back from a trip to Europe where I was in 7 countries in 23 days. I did a Collette tour of 9 days and 5 days on my own in Vienna and Budapest, then a 10 day Danube Riverboat cruise to Prague. And I still have a 38 day cruise coming up in July and August. It that escapeism or what?
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2018
    I don't think anything is wrong with you Maryin PA. I can't imagine experiencing the kind of grief many of these gals are talking about. But I am grateful that they say sometimes it surprises you when they.actually do die. Perhaps it matters if the person we cared for became abusive. For me, I am continuing to care for this person who is inhabiting the physical body of the man I am still legally married to. But I have no idea who this person is.
    Sometimes I wonder what's wrong with me. I pick him up at Day Care and he gets emotionally glad to see me. I don't know why. I am having a hard time remembering what life was like back then. I think, for me, it will be like you, Mary. I will go to all the places I ever was interested in.... assuming I am strong enough t travel.
    • CommentAuthorCO2*
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2018
    Like Myrtle I grieved deeply when I placed him. I was not emotionally able to visit him every day. It would exhaust me. My grief after the fact like most people comes in waves but the waves are much smaller now. Yes I am lonely and I miss being married but I do not miss the caretaking and the myriad of decisions I had to make On my own. Some days are better than others. May 3 was 3 years since he passed and I was gearing up for a wave of grief and it never came. I actually had a wonderful normal day. I thought wow maybe I have passed through a door. Also like Myrtle my passion is knitting so have gotten in several knitting groups for socialization. I work a little part time job from home and try to exercise. The most challenging thing is making new friends and finding people to do things with. Everyone seems to have their own lives. But I am grateful for having survived it all and look forward now instead of back.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2018 edited
    That sounds good too, CO2. Passing through a door.

    I was thinking about throwing out anchors last night. Lindylou, I threw out another. We have a neighborhood group of ladies who get together once in awhile for pot luck lunch at someone's house. A meeting was scheduled for Wed. 16 May, but had to be cancelled. I haven't been hosting for several years. Realized hb would be at Day Care. So I told them they could come here. Good excuse to clean the floors and a few windows. Not willing to go crazy though. They will just have to take it as it is.

    For the non-sailors I thought I'd explain a bit about tossing anchors.

    You use anchors when you are away.from home base. At home you tie up to a.slip at the marina or clip onto a bouy at your mooring spot. I grew up on Long Island NY and sailed the Great South Bay. We would sail across the bay and toss an anchor on Fire Island. Cross the dunes and go swimming in the ocean. Or go clamming with our toes

    Sometimes the tides, currents and storms create a sandbar in a new place. If you know the bay you can read the surface of the water and "see" it in time to change course. These days my brothers have depth guages to help.
    Nevertheless, now and then you run aground. Here is where tossing an anchor is helpful. Sometimes you can toss an anchor out into deeper water and pull the boat off the sand bar. It can take several of these tosses and some strength to get the job done. The feeling of relief at the exact moment when the keel comes free of the sandbar is a feeling like no other.

    One year a monster storm hit the Eastern Seaboard. It was not quite a hurricane. It was at a full moon. I think it was even a harvest moon. The storm hit at a low neap tide! This is when the moon is very close to the earth and looks huge in the sky. The tides are exaggerated in both directions. Our 34 foot sloop was moored offshore in about 10 feet of water. The keel.draws 4.5 feet. Normal low tide was about 2.5 feet lower than the average depth. This storm, hitting at low tide, pulled perhaps half the water out of the bay out to sea. Someone called to warn about our boat. It was high and dry in the mud and about 3 feet of water leaning on one side. Keel stuck firmly in the mud. My Dad climbed aboard on the low side, fortunately his weight didn't capsize the boat. He attached some ropes as far up the mast as he could and tossed the anchors out to me on the high side. We set the anchors as far apart as we could to try to keep the boat as upright as possible til the tide came back in. What a wild, wild night!

    There was a sailing race going on from Rhode Island (I think) to England. The smaller yachts went first and were caught in the fiercest part of the storm. A number of the captains died. A number of them abandoned ship during the storm. The boats were found floating afterwards and Ted Turner wrote a book criticizing those guys for not staying with their ships. Of course Ted was sailing a much larger ship and started much later in the race and did not experience the brunt of the storm. I never forgave him for speaking of those fellow sailors the way he did. Some of those guys had broken arms, ribs and legs from being tossed around in that storm. As I recall one guy finally abandoned his boat after it had rolled no less than six times. (A sailboat is built to right itself when capsized.) This guy had battened everything down and lashed himself to a.bunk hoping to ride it out.Even so, he had numerous broken bones. Don't know how he even managed to lauch a life raft. Or survive that!
    • CommentAuthoraaa
    • CommentTimeJul 17th 2018
    Hi, this discussion is old but I was just looking through some posts, funny how I can look every day and miss so much, then when I only have a few minutes now and then I find little gems. Like LindyLoo's comparison to throwing an anchor out a little more each time. I've done very little sailing so appreciated bhv's expanding on the meaning of throwing out an anchor.

    Throwing it out a little further each time is an inspiring thought, keeps you moving along but still anchored to reality.
    Like Myrtle and CO2 I was a basket case wen I had to place my husband! I couldn’t lift him and it had become necessary. I was so emotional formonths! I banged my car up quite a bit, couldn’t keep my mind on anything for long, worrying! When hepassedI was very sad, but also so glad t was over, for both of us, He died peacefully after just going into a semi conscious state, and I knew it could have played out so much worse. This was an answer to my prayers. I have moved on with my life, traveling wen I can, making new friends. Just grab all the life you can!
    • CommentAuthorlindyloo*
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2018
    Coming up on the one year anniversary of my love's death. Made the decision today to drive down to DC and spend a week with my son and d-i-l. I don't think at this point grief will impact my driving. Family won't have to spend hours entertaining me - I can just go down to the Mall and visit the Smithsonian every day. Last time I was there I visited the African American Museum - a very powerful place and very well done. Was only able to visit about half of it while I was there, will try to see the rest this visit.

    I continue to miss my partner a lot. There is a picture of her placed just before I go into the kitchen. I smile and she smiles back each time I pass it. I keep myself engaged socially with friends. And I have begun "Swedish Death Cleaning". You can google it if you want more information about it. Basically it means cleaning out things and disposing of items you neither love nor need.Theory is it will make things a lot easier for family after you die. For me the hard part is the 'what if I need it someday in the far far future?' My answer to myself is "what if someone else needs it right now?' Goodwill has been seeing a lot of me.
    • CommentAuthorNicky
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2018
    lindyloo, I can certainly relate to "what if I need it someday in the far future". I have a lot of trouble getting rid of stuff - always thinking I'll need it. To make matters worse, there have been many times in the past, that we kept something for years & actually did need it - unfortunately, it just reinforces my need to keep it..... A couple of days ago, was in my sewing room going through all my fabric & I know I should donate a lot of those fabrics that I know I'll probably never sew, but just can't seem to do that...
    I seem to have a problem finding the things I have kept, sometimes p, knowing I have something, but can’t find it, I will go buy another! Easier. What I like anymore is what is easier!
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2018
    Dee, I've done the same thing. However, my biggest shopping mistake was when Costco first started business, and I needed some slug bait. What a bargain for the big container, how could I resist? I finally threw it out after years of it sitting in the garage practically unused.