Overcoming the death of a loved one

  • BCSwimmer

    Posts: 209

    Mar 11, 2011 1:50 AM GMT
    My spouse of almost 17 years passed away 8 months ago from a brain tumour.

    At times I feel like I am "getting better" and at other times I feel like I am so overwhelmed by the grief and sense of loss that I have lost my zest for life. I often feel listless and like I am just "moving" through life (as opposed to "living" it).

    For anyone that has experienced the loss of a loved one (whether a partner/spouse; parent; sibling; etc) do you have any suggestions for working through the grief. Is it really just a "matter of time"?

    Any suggestions on getting/keeping motivated?

    I am fortunate that the Cancer Agency in a nearby city has given me a number of sessions with a grief counselor but those are soon coming to an end.

    Thank you, in advance, for reading and for any suggestions.
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    Mar 11, 2011 3:04 AM GMT
    I think the grief/hurt does go away with time but the amount of time greatly varies depending on the person. I've lost numerous close family members over the last 5 years and even more friend/acquaintances over the last 20. What I do is think to myself, if they were still here or you could talk to them in some way would they really want me pining for them and the answer is always no they wouldn't. Just like I wouldn't want my partner or sister pining over me when I go. It's not a 100% recipe for success but it helps along with not dwelling on their final days but on the fun and silly times you had.

    For example my close friend back in my Vancouver days who died of AIDS way too young. We used to head to Seattle or Bellingham to party plenty of weekends and to cut a long story short... we had a saying between ourselves about "bending over in Bellingham" so whenever I think of him or Seattle etc that always comes into my mind and I can't help but laugh about the circumstances around it, cause the reason for our saying it I won't say here , your imagination is correct LOL
  • commoncoll

    Posts: 1222

    Mar 11, 2011 3:51 AM GMT
    I remember my brother daily several times. To this day, I try to hold on to the details of his face: the way he smiled, tilted his head, his hair colour, the shape of his eyes, his voice, his laugh. But I am forgetting those. Slowly, I forget did he used to tilt his head to the right or the left when he laughed? What did his favorite shirt used to look like? What was the exact wording he used in a phrase?

    Strangely, all these things help me with the grief process. I talk to my other siblings and my parents about him frequently. It is largely a matter of time. The grief has lessened over time, but lately, I am remembering him more and more. The things he said, the time he got married, when he graduated from college, the way he used to sit, the songs he liked, etc.

    But 8 months after 17 years is very soon. How can you forget such a huge part of your life. The grief never ends, it only lessens; it is also discontinuous. I find it helpful to speak to others. I tell my wife about my brother. I remember from another post that you used to share a partner. Perhaps you can tell each other stories of him, find solace in him. You might find it helpful to speak to his family and friends, the places he used to visit, the things he used to like to do. You may feel closer to him.

    Allow yourself to continue your relationship in your heart if you like.

    You must remember that he wanted you to be happy.
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    Mar 11, 2011 8:37 PM GMT
    You must remember that he wanted you to be happy. Take care of yourself, first and foremost.
    Please keep this in your mind.

    I, too, find it helpful to share stories about my father who died years ago. Remember your partner through your friends and family members. Continue any rituals you used to have with him along with activities he liked to do. You may find it helpful to keep in touch with his friends and family members as well. You may develop new interests that help keep you busy, be they your new partner or another activity you enjoy. Write your feelings out in a journal regularly.

    If you don't want to move on, that's fine. It is very difficult to unlearn a deep relationship like that. Allow yourself time to feel grief. If it helps you to cry, cry.

    This is a topic similar to yours.
    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/1043601/
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    Mar 11, 2011 8:43 PM GMT
    Yes, sharing your story is a powerful self therapy for healing the hurt. You may draw some level of comfort from the American Brain Tumor Association's Sharing Hope Stories project.

    "These stories offer a variety of perspectives from patients, family members, caregivers and those who have lost loved ones. They offer hope, support and encouragement to those facing similar circumstances."

    If you feel comfortable, you could share your story here. Know that you are not alone.
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    Mar 11, 2011 9:00 PM GMT
    We lost my big brother to depression in November.

    I realize that nothing will ever fill the void that he left in my life, and so I fill it with new memories, taking him with me every new place I go. I try to be a better person, to do more for others. These things help bring me comfort at the end of the day.

    Life is an unending experience.
  • BCSwimmer

    Posts: 209

    Mar 11, 2011 9:28 PM GMT
    Thank you all for your posts, kind words, suggestions. I appreciate it very much.
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    Mar 11, 2011 9:36 PM GMT
    My partner of 12 years was killed in a fire in October 2006. The first year was by far the worst, the most painful and the most difficult.

    But it does get better and the physical pain that went with the grief does fade and although it never disappears you learn to live with it and accept it's part of you forever.

    In that first year I found many ways of coping: going to the gym, seeing friends, working hard, getting plenty of sleep after i'd tired myself out going to the gym.Counselling was helpful though it didn't give me any answers.

    I would say all the things above are helpful. Ultimately, you have to be patient, you are getting used to existing without someone special in your life and that is hard.
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    Mar 11, 2011 9:42 PM GMT
    Its cliche, but time.

    the one year anniversary of my Dad's passing occurred recently and my Mum is how you describe yourself. Feeling as if you've moved forward, then only to be blindsided by overwhelming grief, her friends who are in similar circumstances always say, in time it becomes easier and to keep busy. Spend time with friends, family, pets.

  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1925

    Mar 11, 2011 9:46 PM GMT
    I am sorry for your loss BC swimmer! I think the replies here have been awesome and I hope they help you in some way.
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    Mar 11, 2011 10:02 PM GMT
    When I saw my dad in his coffin in October this year I thought to
    Myself , "this is not my dad" it really, really wasn't him . Later my mom, as if she was reading my mind, said the exact same thing.
    I haven't shed a tear since. It is so cool that he is off on another one of his big adventures. More power to him. Illncath up with him
    Later.
  • BCSwimmer

    Posts: 209

    Mar 12, 2011 2:25 AM GMT
    Thank you for the kind words and messages. It's rewarding to see such kindness and humanity from all of you on RJ.
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    Mar 12, 2011 2:36 AM GMT
    I think people deal with their grief in different ways and it all depends on how you view life here and whether you have a belief in the afterlife. So without really knowing anymore about you, it is hard to answer this. Email me, if you want to talk more about it because I lost a close brother, but I don't view it as a permanent loss, but rather as a temporary separation that will end in a happy reunion.
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    Mar 12, 2011 3:19 AM GMT
    I have four brothers. The one closest to me died suddenly in June. The pain was such that I couldn't speak his eulogy.
    In October it was time to scatter his ashes. With another brother and his wife, my partner, and my late brother's son, we hiked into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above Santa Fe as we used to do. We found the most serene, the most beautiful spot in a grove of aspens and scattered his ashes there.
    I still miss him terribly but it helps to recall how we gave him his resting place.
  • jb63piedmont

    Posts: 42

    Mar 12, 2011 3:43 AM GMT
    I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.
    It's especially terrible when someone so young passes away.

    My mother died in 2007, my father less than a year later, and last year my only remaining aunt passed away. Everyone of that generation is gone and my only remaining family member is my older brother.

    I asked a grief counselor after Daddy died exaclty what grief was. She replied that it was a "process" that was different for everybody, but also the same in the types of feelings we go through.

    I still grieve, especially for my mother. For me, being around my friends has helped, Sharing stories w/my brother helps, and exercise definitely helps. Staying active is especially helpful. But sometimes we may need more professional help if our grief triggers depression. If you can at all afford to continue counselling, I would definitely recommend it. Maybe you could talk to the grief counsellor and they could give you some advice on additional sessions.

    I've heard it described as like standing in the ocean as waves pass over us, lifting us up and putting us down again. That's what the emotions are like. The important thing to remember is that their effects are only temporary, they pass by. I've found it best to try to just "ride them out" and let them pass. And they do. There may be more to come, but they will pass as well.

    Just try to do what you feel like doing, sometimes you may not feel like doing anything. You may have to allow yourself that. My only other real advice is to try not to isolate yourself too much. Almost everyone has gone through something similar and sometimes sharing the stories is a comfort.

    I don't consider myself to be terribly religious, but I can't believe that our consciousnesses don't continue in some fashion after our bodies die.

    For you, the grief is still fresh, and it is true that it will get better with time. You have to allow yourself that time and know that different things may trigger it.

    Good luck and let us know how you're doing.

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    Mar 12, 2011 9:24 PM GMT
    Yes, BC, it takes a while. But it gets better.icon_wink.gif

    My partner of 16 years died of a stroke and heart attack. He was 55, I was 40.

    For two and a half years I carried on pretty much living the same life as we had together... I engaged in all the same recreation, did all the work around the house. I tried to keep everything about my life the same... only he wasn't there. But I think it really helped me for a long time to continue on with the routines. Holidays were pretty rough, but I was fortunate to have family nearby to spend the time with.

    Our two dogs were a blessing.

    I had kind of resigned my self to being a widower.

    Eventually, though, I realized my life just wasn't progressing. I wasn't growing as a person. It was as if I was just frozen in time, and I was ready to move on. I felt a little guilty for having those feelings arise, but knew Mike would have wanted me to continue on. Mike's life ended, but that didn't mean mine had to.

    I opened myself up to new experiences. I joined a ski club. I learned to SCUBA. I didnt "throw out" who I was before... just added to it.

    Oh... and I met someone. Rod and I have been together for eight years now. We've been through some wonderful highs and sucky lows that come when two people build a LTR. I'm having the best sex I've ever had, and I Love him more than anything.

    Above everything, I know that I am "more" of a person than I have ever been.

    I assure you, you will be too!icon_biggrin.gif





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    Mar 12, 2011 9:36 PM GMT
    I'm very sorry to hear about your loss. I have never had anyone that close to me die (except for a friend many years ago).

    Just remember, he would want you to be happy and go on with your life, but grief is natural.

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    Mar 12, 2011 9:42 PM GMT
    BCSwimmer saidMy spouse of almost 17 years passed away 8 months ago from a brain tumour.

    At times I feel like I am "getting better" and at other times I feel like I am so overwhelmed by the grief and sense of loss that I have lost my zest for life. I often feel listless and like I am just "moving" through life (as opposed to "living" it).

    For anyone that has experienced the loss of a loved one (whether a partner/spouse; parent; sibling; etc) do you have any suggestions for working through the grief. Is it really just a "matter of time"?

    Any suggestions on getting/keeping motivated?

    I am fortunate that the Cancer Agency in a nearby city has given me a number of sessions with a grief counselor but those are soon coming to an end.

    Thank you, in advance, for reading and for any suggestions.


    Gotta grieve your fucking heart out for as long as it takes......cry, man....
    it's ok......and then one day..........you meet some one.....and the possibilities run wild.........allow yourself to experience the depth of human emotions and to cut yourself a break and move on......icon_sad.gif
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    Mar 19, 2011 4:46 PM GMT
    8 months isn't a long time, that's about the same time I lost my mom.

    Unfortunately, this process is solitary in nature. No one can truly understand, nor can they take the hurt away. I will share my story with you. The best thing for me was to take time to myself to work through the process of grieving, always realizing that there is no short cut. Thus the phrase "the quickest way around it is to go straight thru it". To successfully move on from one stage of grieving, it has to be rode out to exhaustion. Knowing that, keep in mind that the stages don't come in a specific order, can simultaneously exist, and can emerge again if unresolved. Denial can be the biggest hindrance to this process, but it's also our greatest asset to protect us from what we are not ready to face. This may not be the right time for you to deal with this. Once on the other side of this process, comes the decision to finally take that first step "to move on". For me, that first step also became the last step, a reality of the fear that will need to be faced as the time has come to "let go". I remember that unsettled feeling, the conflict between logic and emotion, the bargaining with myself that it was not time to stop feeling this way, the subsequent panic that arose from thinking about the guilt I would have if I were to stop my suffering, and the feeling of betrayal for not being with her, but for the selfish act of "moving on". Then, in that flood of raw emotion and flowing tears, it happened without thought or forewarning, I "let go". That happened after I unexpectedly felt this coming on at a NYE party 15 min before midnight. I couldn't and didn't want the emotion to stop, it had to come out. At 10 min til, I ended up in a parking lot between 2 cars at the base of a palm tree crying my eyes out, increasing in intensity as it got closer to New Years. I remember dreading the year to change, i wasn't ready for that year to end. However, at the stage I was at, it only seemed fitting to leave that year with all its glory. As soon as MN hit, the tears stopped and the grief was over.

    It was all just an illusion, the brain lost in thought and grief was never running the show. There was no way to contemplate "getting over it". It was the heart, that poor heart I relentlessly allowed to suffer. When the heartache became too much, the order came to "let go". That was not a choice. I freed her to rest in peace and in turn her presence grew stronger in me. With open eyes and awareness, the universe gave me messages of her presence. A smile is born from that feeling, a nod to the peace I had made. And so, life began again.

    safe travels on your journey!!
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    Mar 19, 2011 5:09 PM GMT
    As I've posted before, there is NO time table on grieving. Despite popular belief that you should be 'over it' within 12 months, that's not the case. You will know when you've moved from grieving to acceptance when it happens but it will differ for every person and the relationship between them and the person that died.

    The grieving process is needed to convert the pain and loneliness of loss to the fondness of memories.

    I recall after my mother died, having been very close to her, I struggled with my grief well after the 1 year mark. I kept thinking there was something wrong with me that I couldn't let it go. I would breakdown in the car at the sound of a song for no reason, tears would fill my eyes thinking or speaking of her, then one day it happened. I realized that I was OK with her being gone, I loved her and could forever hold on to the memories I had of her. Moving on to a new level of memories just happens.

    I would only say that if you felt depressed and were unable to function several years after you lost someone, then professional help would definitely be in order. In your case, even though your grieving process started long before your partner died, your grieving may continue for some time. It's all good. It shows what a wonderful part of your life this person occupied. It's a great memorial to them that you continue to have them in your heart and mind. Don't rush the process, it can't be changed. At some point you'll realize that you've finally accepted the death and are ready to turn the grieving into memories and at that time, you'll move forward.

    I'm sorry for the loss and your struggle. Hang in there.

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    May 15, 2011 12:37 AM GMT
    Like I said before, I definitely can relate to where you are man. Some days are just normal days - and those usually end up feeling the worst.

    Music/travel has been a huge outlet for me. Wherever I go, I take my brother with me, showing him parts of the world, his eyes had never seen. Home is where the heart is, and so I just keep his heart with me everywhere I go.

    Here's two songs that have really helped me. One, for the days that I want to embrace a sense of anticipation. Another, for the days that I don't want to see anyone ever again





    My prayers are with you man, and everyone looking for their path back to themselves after losing a part of their hearts. It's a long journey, one that I'm certain I'm not close to finishing... I still look at my sister after losing my brother-in-law to depression, and wonder how she will ever love again.

    But I know she will. Some people were just born to love. We all serve our purposes.
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    May 15, 2011 12:42 AM GMT
    TexDef07 saidI have four brothers. The one closest to me died suddenly in June. The pain was such that I couldn't speak his eulogy.
    In October it was time to scatter his ashes. With another brother and his wife, my partner, and my late brother's son, we hiked into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above Santa Fe as we used to do. We found the most serene, the most beautiful spot in a grove of aspens and scattered his ashes there.
    I still miss him terribly but it helps to recall how we gave him his resting place.


    This is beautiful, man.
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    May 15, 2011 12:49 AM GMT
    Grief is the price we pay for love. Your memories of her will always remain alive in your heart, and the love you shared for oneanother can never be destroyed by death. Keep strong and know that she is smiling down upon you with everlasting love. My prayers and thoughts are with you.
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    May 15, 2011 12:53 AM GMT
    There's so many levels to deal with, when you lose someone so close who's been with you for so long.

    Start with the rational level first, because it's the one you actually have conscious power over: understand how your partner would want to you be, how he would only be happy knowing you're doing well. Tie up all loose ends, and ensure no financial issues surprise you. Clean out his stuff, and donate it to friends, family and charities. Keep only the most useful and meaningful artifacts.

    Keep tabs on his family and friends, and let them know how you're getting on; offer them any help as they need it. It will do you a world of good to continue to take care of your partner's sphere of influence. However, do not attempt to live out your partner's life--that would be a big mistake.

    Then, allow time to adjust, with new activities and new relationships that aren't specifically geared toward things that remind you of your partner. You need new neural pathways that circumvent the old ones occupied by your partner. This will help you wean off of the synapses that access important memories, and avoid the wash of neurochemicals that anticipate his presence.

    Grieve all that you need to. You'll know you've gotten over it when you go a day without being reminded of him. And since you're the one left behind I'm sure you'll have plenty of work to do to complete the dreams that the two of you hatched together.
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    May 15, 2011 2:01 AM GMT
    BCSwimmer saidFor anyone that has experienced the loss of a loved one (whether a partner/spouse; parent; sibling; etc) do you have any suggestions for working through the grief. Is it really just a "matter of time"?

    Any suggestions on getting/keeping motivated?

    I've lost a number of people. Some of them right before my eyes. Not easy. Some of them my soldiers, and then I had to supervise their burials, and comfort their families. You wanna know how much that toughens you? Actually you probably don't.

    Then I had my Father have heart attacks right in front of me, 4 over several months, and had to save him 3 of those times. Do you have any idea what it's like trying to save your own father's life? What it does to you? Or finding him dead on the floor one morning, from a nighttime heart attack you didn't know was happening, the scene too disturbing to let your sister in to see it? I hope none of you ever have to find out.

    Maybe that's why my late partner's nickname for me was "Iron Bob," the toughest guy he claimed he ever knew. Little could he have imagined that one day I'd have to deal with his final difficult AIDS illness, and have him literally die in my arms.

    And afterwards I wasn't so iron -- I finally broke down, after all I'd been through. I went into some kind of shock, that lasted about 6 months. My gay friends did an intervention and brought me out of it. And it took another 6 months before I began to act myself again.

    My conclusion was that time is the cure. With the help of family or friends who support you. You are much younger than when I lost my partner, and so I would think more resilient. You will get better over time.

    What I did, after my friends finally dragged me out of my shock, was to MAKE myself re-socialize. I instinctively knew that's what I needed. And so that's what I did, making it a plan, but away from the community where I had lived with my late partner.

    That new community became Minneapolis. So I made a new circle of gay friends for myself there, a new scene, a scene with few memories of my late partner. Because if I had not moved away from where we had lived, I would have seen him at every place.

    You may need a change of scenery, as I did. And after that, well, I dunno. My current partner and I both lost our last partners to AIDS. You lost yours to cancer. Neither of us, being older than you, thought we'd ever find another guy again at this late stage. We were proven wrong.

    You're the same age as when I first came out. I call it my "Golden Age," the most marvelous time in my late-blooming gay life. I see no reason why you can't have your own Golden Age, starting today. Yes?