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Grief

I lost my husband of 55 yrs on April 9th 2016. I was his caregiver for several years. He had a stroke at only 48 years old, that was in 1988, he pretty much recovered from the stroke except for his speech, for the last 26 years I was his voice.  The last 6 years I was his complete caregiver. I don't know how to live without him!  I was 15 when I started dating John and we've been together ever since. Dementia takes its toll on every member of the family, but especially the caregiver. I miss him so 

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So sorry for all.. Lost my wife of 11 years just about 5 months ago.  We knew eath other 20 years total.  An absolute Angel she was.  She got sick and in 6 days she was gone from my life.  Was just too sudden, to quick.  Trying to do better but i have my days of sorrow...  She was 71 and i am 65.

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Hello JaneCares and others.  I'd like to participate in this group hoping it will help me deal with the pain I am stuck in after losing my husband of 25 years to lung cancer.  I'm not to tech savvy, so am using "reply" to someone else's post as I couldn't figure out how to start my own post.  I am an AARP member.  Do I have to register to be in this group?  The problem is I am just stuck in my grief, traumatized by witnesseing my husband suffer and die the most horrible death imaginable.  I am paralized it seems.  Since it's been 3 years, no one wants to talk about it anymore.  It was a long, unhappy marriage.  My husband was self-destructive and physically abusive.  I filed for divorce twice.  He was addicted to marijuana and cigarettes, and refused to stop or to buy life insurance.  Once his cancer metasitized I stepped up to the plate and took care of him.  He was abusive toward me during this time.  I had not expected to feel such grief for so long.  The best diagnosis I can give myself is post traumatic stress syndrom.  If I were a vet, I could maybe get help from the VA.  But I am not a VET.  I have no helpful family or friends.  I am under the care of a psychiatrist and on medication.  His advice is to find another man.  After my horrible marriage and witnessing my husband's horrible death, finding another man has little appeal.  Thanks for listening.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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@koshapiro wrote:

Hello JaneCares and others.  I'd like to participate in this group hoping it will help me deal with the pain I am stuck in after losing my husband of 25 years to lung cancer.  I'm not to tech savvy, so am using "reply" to someone else's post as I couldn't figure out how to start my own post.  I am an AARP member.  Do I have to register to be in this group?  The problem is I am just stuck in my grief, traumatized by witnesseing my husband suffer and die the most horrible death imaginable.  I am paralized it seems.  Since it's been 3 years, no one wants to talk about it anymore.  It was a long, unhappy marriage.  My husband was self-destructive and physically abusive.  I filed for divorce twice.  He was addicted to marijuana and cigarettes, and refused to stop or to buy life insurance.  Once his cancer metasitized I stepped up to the plate and took care of him.  He was abusive toward me during this time.  I had not expected to feel such grief for so long.  The best diagnosis I can give myself is post traumatic stress syndrom.  If I were a vet, I could maybe get help from the VA.  But I am not a VET.  I have no helpful family or friends.  I am under the care of a psychiatrist and on medication.  His advice is to find another man.  After my horrible marriage and witnessing my husband's horrible death, finding another man has little appeal.  Thanks for listening.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Hi K!  I'm glad you wrote. There is no need to register, since you already registered to be part of any of our online discussion groups.  This is a bit of a quiet group but folks do read and i hope that others besides me will add their voices.

 

I am very sorry about what happened to you: the domestic violence, the witnessing of a horrible death, the months and now years feeling parallyzed.  i am glad you have a psychiatrist. i don't know what i'd do without my antidepressant.  let me ask you a few questions. As they say in AA and Alanon, take what you like and leave the rest: 

 

I wonder if you could find another therapist to talk to besides that psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medicine and some of them are also good therapists. But i wonder if there might be someone else. The advice to find another man seems, well, inappropriate. If you could find someone who is familiar with domestic violence victims, that would help. I agree, it sounds like you have PTSD. 

 

I also hope for you that you find friends or family or a community of people, perhaps a place of worship or a volunteer crew or something, to reduce your isolation. You say you have friends and family who aren't any help. But perhaps with some good coaching, one or more might actually come through for you. And hard as it is to make friends, it might be worth your while to try. 

 

Is there a women's shelter nearby? Perhaps they have counseling or a support group. In some ways, since he's gone and you aren't being victimized anymore, you could be a real support to other women in the group.

 

On another note, do you have any interests that might bring you out to see other folks, and leave behind some of this heaviness? I knit and crochet like a maniac, and i find great comfort in knitting with other women. (i've taught a few men but they are rare.)  Or a garden club. Or a wood working group. I know a young woman who teaches other women how to weld!  SOMETHING that would help you take your mind off what's going on inside your help. 

 

Do you have any interest or background in a particular faith tradition?  Shapiro is sometimes a jewish name. If you haven't been to services in a while, perhaps a nice reform synagogue might be a welcoming place.

 

i'm just thinking outloud, really.

 

when i have been stricken with grief, it was over my parents one at a time and a nephew who died too young. i have found the grief to be all encompassing at first and then it fades somewhat but could still sweep me into a pile of tears without notice. Since it's been a while for you since his horrible death, i'm thinking that what you might be strugling with is a sense of purpose. does that make any sense?

 

say more? write more?

 

i do hope that 2017 brings more joy into your life.

 

Jane

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Thank you Jane for your kind reply.  I do think finding someone to talk to other than my psychiatrist  would be a good idea.  My psychiatrist does do therapy and does tell me most of the things you said.  The find a guy thing was I guess a  last ditch effort to help. I was raised in a Jewish family but my father was abusive to my mother and their four children.  It was horrible.  And isolating. All of my siblings have emotional issues as a result.  I don't feel comfortable in synogogues.  They remind me of my childhood isolation and my hypocritical parents.  I think I really need to find a group that supports PTSD.  I feel crippled inside.  Unsafe.  I used to be interested in lots of things.  But my husband's horrible death I think was the straw that broke the camel's back.  I've been in grief support groups online for women who lost their  husband's to cancer.  But all of them had happy marriages, so I don't really relate.  I have a hard time being around other people and seeing them with their friends and families, because I never had that, and it's painful to watch.  This is getting depressing and I'm crying which isn't helpful, but cathartic.  So I'll close now.  Thanks again.

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Perhaps, Ms Shapiro, this time in your life is the universe giving you permission to really delve into healing. A full time job of healing yourself. And not alone. I believe we all help each other heal. One of the tricks of this self healing business is finding the people who will help you heal. And finding the information, the pathway, the expertise, and the tenacity, to go about healing.  

 

There are books about PTSD. There are therapists who specialize in overcoming it. There are some promising drugs, which i wish would hurry up and become available. Perhaps now is the time to 'do you.'   I think you need a really good, really compassionate therapist. Some antidepressant if you aren't on one already and if it's not helping, try another. And some activity that pulls you out of yourself. 

 

Once when i was so depressed i could barely move, i rented DVDs (in the early days of netflix.)  Being drawn into another world was so soothing. for 2 hours i did not feel my own misery.

 

i'm sorry you were crying. 

 

I'm here if you want to write some more.

 

Jane

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thanks Jane.  Yesterday, after I posted I left a message with a local therapist who in her bio said she is trained to help with PTSD.  I am waiting for her to call back.

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I have an appointment for tomorrow 1/5 at 3:30 PM with a woman whose office is about 5 miles from my home.

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Excellent!  I deeply believe in psychotherapy, although sometimes it takes real research to find the right person for you. If you want to, you can look at this test for PTSD online, and if you have a printer, print it out for her or him. Or just reflect on it. If you want to.  https://www.adaa.org/screening-posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd

 

I am rooting for you!

 

Jane

 

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Thanks Jane.  Took the test, definately have PTSD.  Printed it out.  Appointment moved up to 10:30 AM.  Rainy day here in Southern California.  Have to leave house in about 30 min.  Leaving the house is hard for me.  Will let you know how it goes.  

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Therapist thought my case was too difficult for her and I needed someone more specialized.  She gave me names of some other therapists she know who may or may not have the expertise to help me. She also thought I might join a domestic violence support group.  She didn't change me for the visit.

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@koshapiro wrote:

Therapist thought my case was too difficult for her and I needed someone more specialized.  She gave me names of some other therapists she know who may or may not have the expertise to help me. She also thought I might join a domestic violence support group.  She didn't change me for the visit.


Well, hmm.  I hope you feel validated that you're not just making this stuff up. I've found that getting validation from a professional that something is wrong with me, is comforting. Odd as that sounds. 

 

Sounds like she was fair. More digging for you i guess. More calling. But you dealt with that husband all those years. You can do this.

 

Rooting for you,

 

Jane

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Made more calls.  3 called back.  1 not accepting new patients.  1 (Lisa) have appoint. w/ Monday at 3 PM.  Lisa said she specializes in domestic violence and PTSD and has been practicing for 30 years. Nina called after I made appoint w/ Lisa.  So left it that if I didn't click with Lisa, I would call Nina back.  1 hasn't returned my call.  One step at a time. Thanks for holding my hand through this process.

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@koshapiro wrote:

Made more calls.  3 called back.  1 not accepting new patients.  1 (Lisa) have appoint. w/ Monday at 3 PM.  Lisa said she specializes in domestic violence and PTSD and has been practicing for 30 years. Nina called after I made appoint w/ Lisa.  So left it that if I didn't click with Lisa, I would call Nina back.  1 hasn't returned my call.  One step at a time. Thanks for holding my hand through this process.


You bet. I've been a client of psychotherapists off and on since i was 16, and now i AM a psychotherapist. Whatever it takes to get folks to help, i'm there. i so believe in it. How did it get to be Friday?!?  Monday will be here 'fore you know it.

 

i hope it's a good weekend for you. we're expecting more 'weather' in the oregon outback where i live, and it was 13 degrees BELOW ZERO last night. had all the taps running water. i'm not used to this. i'm from the mild east coast...  

 

got any plans?  I plan to binge on watching season 5 of Downton Abbey. I was a bit late to the party...

 

Jane

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Thank you for posting, jwc, so many feel just as you do. Astraea has excellent advice in looking for other widows and grieving people. It must seem so very strange to have your identity as wife/companion/helper/caregiver and VOICE completely upended by your husband's absence. 

 

Your grief is still very fresh and new. When people are part of a home hospice program, the free bereavement support lasts THROUGH the 13th month because that first anniversary is often very painful. Bereavement programs are almost always available to anyone in the community who has suffered a loss. It may feel like a huge leap into the unknown to contact one of these groups but, if you step out on faith that something good will happen, i think you'll find company and solace.

 

I also hope that you will eventually live into your next chapter. That you will find purpose and eventually, joy. Patience is so hard. But purpose and joy are his legacy to you. I believe that.

 

How are you these days? It's been a couple of weeks since you posted...

 

Jane

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I am so sorry to know of the loss of your husband, of so many years! But isn't that time you had together in itself a joy?...Hold on to that, the memory of all those years of love and companionship. He is still with you, really, in all your habits, surroundings, memory. I think someone wrote a poem, that grief is a thing with feathers, or something like that, and if you look at a bird, with its feathers, they are beautiful but not tangible. ....I hope you will get out and about, meet some friends, take up a new interest -- such as journaling, exercise, maybe travel to some lovely place and walk and rest. Read, talk, and listen. In my own experience, writing has been a way  to connect with my mother and father again, who I still miss dearly. In writing my memoir, editing it, re-reading it, talking about it, I feel close to them. Writing is a pathway to understanding our feelings, and I hope you will take a look at the way I walked that path with my Dad in my memoir. All the best to you and those wonderful memories.

Nancy Nau Sullivan, Author, THE LAST CADILLAC: A MEMOIR
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Hello Nancy,Thank you for your inspiring words about losing your husband. Mine died almost two years ago and I still miss him. I visit with my neighbors and go to an excellent begreavement group(lovejoy Hospice)here in Grants Pass,Oregon. I go on Mondays to the begreavement group. Thank you again for your kind words. Heidi Rousseau,Grants Pass,Oregon
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@hr2 wrote:
Hello Nancy,Thank you for your inspiring words about losing your husband. Mine died almost two years ago and I still miss him. I visit with my neighbors and go to an excellent begreavement group(lovejoy Hospice)here in Grants Pass,Oregon. I go on Mondays to the begreavement group. Thank you again for your kind words. Heidi Rousseau,Grants Pass,Oregon

Hi there, Heidi~!  I'm so glad you wrote and shared your positive experience with bereavement support group there in Grants Pass. I'm east of you near Lakeview. We have a hospice here, too. Hospices usually have a bereavement group and they are open to the public even if your loved one didn't have hospice services at the end of life. I'm also glad to hear that it meets weekly. There must be good quality leadership. I'm glad.

 

I think you'll always miss your husband. He lives in your memories. I hope that Christmas was okay. Sometimes the second Christmas after the loss is easier to get through than the first one.

 

Thank you for writing, Heidi, and all the best in the new year.

 

Jane,

a huge believer in groups

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Hello Jane, Thank you. I am doing a little better.It has been exactly two years ago that my husband died, I still miss him terribly,I keep his ashes here in my home and say Good Morning and Good Night to him everyday. I wonder at times I should let the military bury him but I feel better having him here near me. Maybe that makes me weird but I don't care. He was a veteran of both vietnam and Korea and served his twenty years.I sure do miss him.He was very cantankerous at times but he hadn't been well 4 sometime. Sorry about my spelling but I don't have an F on my tired old computer anymore. Anyway thank you 4 your very nice reply.    Heidi Rousseau,Grants Pass,Oregon

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I strongly recommend that you look for a bereavement support group in your area! Many houses of worship, senior centers & other community groups have 6 - 8 week programs that are free or at minimal cost. They'll have a trained facilitator & reading material, to take participants thru the stages of grief, and there's great emotional value in sharing personal stories!

 

They may suggest exercises where you think about the activities you enjoyed, before your loved one became ill. Some of these support groups foster long-term friendships; 2 of my best friends met thru a bereavement group they both attended years ago.


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